Nothing is off-limits to the criminals nowadays

Dear Editor,

They even rob the blind around here these days.  That is no longer a sharp curse or unforgivable insult, but a disturbing reality.  A little while back a gathering of worshippers was attacked and relieved of valuables right in God’s house.  And just recently a group of school children met the same fate in a public business spot.  Once these incidents were unthinkable for the criminal mind; well, not anymore.

Nothing is sacred or off-limits anymore; the feared Mafia at one time had an unbreakable code: family and law enforcement were untouchable.  Now even aged grandmothers can be subject to the most appalling violations locally.  In Guyana the prevailing standard and operative conduct is to take what is there, and to seize it forcibly from wherever and whoever happens to have it.  Enough guns are around as instruments of persuasion.  Age, gender, time, place, and physical state do not matter.  Criminals might be inclined not only to rob the blind, but to carry away the seeing eye dog too; or take away the wheelchair from the physically challenged.  Men struggling to make an honest living are forced at gunpoint to give up the tools of their livelihood, as in grasscutters.  Pensioners are targeted, too, as part of sweeping criminal activity and reach that stops at nothing and operates with near impunity.  It is a new and different breed of criminals these days, who have lost any traces of humanity and would just as quickly maim or kill without provocation or reason.  There is a cold ruthlessness, a savage cruelty that is pervasive.  It is the dominant mindset.

As if the growing ranks of deportees and the criminally inclined are not enough to wreak havoc and fear, there is another expanding rogue battalion ‒ ex-cops.  All are helped by awareness of police tactics and police limitations, and too often police collaboration.  It seems that everyone has access to firearms: a twelve-year old injured a ten-year old the other day.  Children are maiming children; the intensifying gang culture only makes matters worse.  In Guyana, it might be easier to locate a house with a gun than one with a stove (of any kind).  Guyana is a Third World country armed with First World criminal sophistication and resources, including knowhow.  This society has transformed from bicycle bandits to motorcycle marauders in the crowded city streets; and from footpads to high octane highwaymen on the roadways; there is the ever-present threat of carjacking, and the numbing never-ending violence and trauma that comes along with that occurrence.

The speed of crime is now supersonic in this slow-moving land, with the Guyana Police Force outthought, outmanned, outmaneuvered, and many times outgunned.  Crime-fighting is not helped by the studied indifference of too many ranks, and the corruption that is killing; both are distinctive.  On the other hand, the perpetrators exhibit their own indifference (heinous, too be sure) to life and limb, and the supposed long arm of the law.  For all of the nonchalance and contempt manifested by the criminal crowd, that official arm of the state is way too short, crippled, non-invasive, and nonthreatening.  As if to confirm suspicions and disgust, there are police ranks stopping pensioners under the guise of checking papers, while men without helmets roar past without a care in the world.  Minibus drivers and conductors ply their trade at dangerous speeds (sometimes openly imbibing) while observing officers present a profile of disinterest and philosophical stargazing.  In the meantime, the shiny new police vehicles can be seen rushing back and forth throughout the day with windows rolled up and occupants purposely oblivious to the comings and goings in their path.  Criminals are encouraged and empowered; law-abiding citizens curse into the wind and in futility.

But the ordeals of this society do not end here; in fact, it is only some of the beginning, and what is visible.  The foreign underworld succeeded in erecting a beachhead and now a fountainhead in the heart of this society that has severely poisoned it.  With the introduction and proliferation of the narcotics and money laundering economy, many savvy criminal syndicates took hold through powerful, far reaching roots in every sector of domestic economics endeavours.  The language of this world is: payoffs, throw-downs, shootouts, and write-offs.  The vulnerable street teems; the citizenry flinches and ducks; sometimes it is not low enough.

Meanwhile, political figures dissemble; they do not even bother to conceal wealth or relationships or legacy.  In addition to street level and community crime, some of the faces of crime and forces of evil in this country wear silk ties, possess silky words, and drive duty-free vehicles.  They are that high up the food chain and that entrenched.  In this intimidating remorseless environment, the populace is faced with harsh choices: prostrate, tolerate, or emigrate.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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