President Granger ultimately responsible for tragic treatment of sugar workers and oversight of industry

Dear Editor,

The urge to write again, on the onslaught on the sugar workers is visceral.  I had first written to the primary media publication houses on the destruction taking place in the sugar industry in February of 2017. The letter was carried by Stabroek News, Kaieteur News and Guyana Times.

By the first quarter of 2017, I had stopped submitting letters to our state-owned “Nation’s Newspaper”, the Guyana Chronicle, as my letters were not published, although space was given to the administration’s obedient supporters to respond to them.

The letter below, takes precedence over the appointment of Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom); in my view the President had the full authority under our poorly drafted constitution to execute the appointment (no pun intended), in the manner in which it was done. Why the President tortured the Opposition Leader by asking for unnecessary subsequent lists is a question for the President’s viziers, as the President, once he found the first list unacceptable, has the power and authority, vested in him by the constitution to unilaterally appoint the Chairman of Gecom.

Of course, one could write on the tragicomedy of our mostly discombobulated Ministers, from the mismanagement of the D’Urban Park Jubilee event to the mixing up of two of our National Holidays: Diwali ‒ the festival of lights, and Phagwa ‒ the festival of colours and love; the mix-up or confused pronouncements, were further compounded by the statement in December 2017 in the National Assembly that only Guyanese of Kshatriya Indian descent, would know the difference between Diwali and Phagwa, thus making Guyana 99.9% a nation of Kshatriyas and also members of a noble and military class.

Also, writing on the cruel and unusual punishment of the sugar workers must take priority over the bungling of the Production Sharing Agreement between Exxon and the Government of Guyana, where the mouse has claimed to have had his way with the elephant.

Of course, malicious efforts by government to take possession of Red House, inflated rental fees for the conversion of a house to a pharmaceutical bond, unjustifiable pharmaceutical supply contracts and the exponential increase in the number of contract workers along with the bourgeoning contract monies for contract workers or the biased findings of the ‘neutral’ Speaker of the National Assembly, are subordinate to, though related to the termination of sugar workers.

The current flaccidity of our ‘unlearning’ political columnists/commentators, such as David Hinds, Freddie Kissoon and GHK Lall, to name some of our prominent scribes and their post 2015 elections inability to call a spade a spade when it happens under the current administration to the terminated sugar workers, who are largely of one racial group. These learned gentlemen commentators, have suddenly become tongue tied or restrict themselves to platitudes, and their pronouncements become twisted and biased by confusing ethnic bias with economic policy or by failing to say President Granger is ultimately responsible for the tragic treatment of our sugar workers and the oversight of the sugar industry. These same named writers do not hesitate to  blame former President Jagdeo for debacles that happened in Guyana from 1999 to the current date.

What manner of people are we, to see the suffocation of our Guyanese brothers and sisters in the sugar industry, as some of our writers and politicians exhale hot air in the form of words like praxis, uneconomical, impractical, and who wax philosophical theorems, while entire villages, communities, and regions are economically choking symbolically, metaphorically, and literally with the unjust termination of sugar workers.

How much more suffering must be endured by those whose livelihood depends on the operations of the sugar industry before our government acts in a righteous manner.

While the ‘sufferation’ continues, our government has set aside US$18 million in a “funds account” for some logically inexplicable and indefensible reason. Guyana with billions of barrels of oil reserves, and recording the largest oil find in the last decade, has leadership that has seemingly opted for the destruction of villages and communities in the sugar industry, on the basis that it is not economically viable, instead of leveraging our assets and considering the plight of the sugar workers.

It is unfortunate that the administration does not think it fit and proper to be our brother’s keeper and to create solidarity from our economic good fortune. A good parent does not neglect one child and favour another because each child has a different father, or because one child seems to be a better economic investment at a particular moment in time. Maybe, Guyana’s new parent company ExxonMobil Corporation will show the heart needed to save the sugar industry by allowing for a fair Production Sharing Agreement.

Guyana is on the verge of quadrupling its economic value twice over, and then some. Yet, this politically discriminatory, callous and calculating policy to terminate sugar workers, destroy the sugar industry and the kith and kin in the communities, seems to have the full support of those in power.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Hinds

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