The few honest individuals remaining in this country are, from time to time, made out to be secret Judases. The remnant of the principled can be subject to a barrage of sniper fire and creeping insistent treachery. I look at the public assaults on Mr. Hilbert Shields, director of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association and at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, and I recognize what this savage sick place that I now call home increasingly has come to represent.
For starters, let me disclose that I have attended gatherings with Mr. Shields on all of two occasions. That is the extent of our association. Mr. Shields’ crime is working diligently to clean-up. Not the coffers, like the dirty crooked people who target him; but to clean-up the plundering and pillaging so characteristic and pervasive in the places over which he is part of the superintendence. The lawless and their allies and sponsors (protectors) reach far and wide in this society; they are preponderant and dominant in many sectors, which are almost always rife with corruption. In this troubling place, the crooked sons and daughters of sludge are moneyed; they are admired, if not revered. Their limitless questionable resources provide recourse for them to be either dangerously reckless or anonymously slick, depending upon urgency and circumstances. The conspirators and corrupt are nothing, if not persistent.
In Mr. Shields’ instance, they first aimed at a lease through erroneously identifying a nonexistent conflict of interest. There was the harsh inference of a man using his presence to profit unfairly. It did not matter that the instigators knew the facts; the purpose was to inflict damage. And no matter how clean this man is, or any other one in different circumstances, some residue of taint is sure to linger. It usually does. The originators do not care about conflicts; they simply want to be rid of a probing exposing microscope. They failed.
They failed again on the issue of mining concessions and the acreage involved. And again, it did not matter that Mr. Shields was not part of the related deliberations and decision-making. They just had to shake this bone stuck in the throat. There are powerful ominous warnings embedded as to the lengths dirty people in this country will go to tarnish and derail those who are clean. Some of these character assassins reside in the pews, in palaces, in parliament, in parties, in panels, and in the press, among other places. This is more than axes to grind; it is about keeping the dirty clandestine economy alive and flourishing.
They come under a variety of nomenclatures: “anonymous sources” and “knowledgeable insiders” and “well-placed authorities.” These shadowy front-men mask even more shadowy motivations through poisoning the wells of opinion and the public image of upright persons in oversight positions. They try to get them removed for questioning embedded wrongdoing. When financial overtures are disdained, they seek to pressure in different ways.
Honest resistant workers are followed. I have been privy to reports of attempts to intimidate and force off the roads. The roots of the stalkers go high up in commerce and politics. There are those proven liars who have had no qualms about practicing that same trade publicly in the National Assembly; how less surprising it should be that there are no issues in associating with scoundrels who do dirty jobs. The money is there; so are the ambitions, the lust, and the will.
The ethical is endangered; unceasing attempts are made to entrap. It can come from the bosom; or simply anywhere out there, there are so many compromised, and determined to protect ill-gotten gains. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, there would be tremendous difficulty in finding not fifty or forty or thirty of the righteous (not to be confused with religious piety), but perhaps ten wholesome souls in this land. And that explains in part the slings and arrows directed at Mr. Shields, and the price he is made to pay.