Driving to Lethem is recommended

Dear Editor,

I found yet another positive story to write about Guyana. This one is about my trip to Lethem. As I write, my tee shirt is covering my nose from the dusty road. The bus service doesn’t have air conditioning, which is imperative for this dusty road. Inside the bus is a lot of dust, and it’s hot because the windows are closed.  One positive thing though is that the road is smoother than usual, which makes the ride a little more comfortable.

One of the windows on the bus broke on the trip so a lot more dust than usual is coming into the vehicle. I can’t sleep because the dust is stuffing up my nose and eyes and giving me a headache.

Another positive thing is that the driver is a very safe driver, which is very important to me. There is 24 hours non-stop music, and we hear the same songs three times each. The music is not too loud, which is another positive.

It’s 11 pm on Easter Sunday night. Myself and the driver ar the only Guyanese on the bus; the rest are all Cubans. One more positive thing that happened that made me feel proud of the police, is that at every police checkpoint not a single bribe was requested by the police. This is a huge positive for our citizenry. The Cubans will remember Guyana and the Guyana Police Force particularly for not asking for a bribe. I was very proud of the force and felt proud to be a Guyanese. This wasn’t the case when I came through these checkpoints not too long ago; the Cubans were paying bribes at every checkpoint.

Acting Commissioner of Police, David Ramnarine should be given credit for this change because he has been telling the force to stop taking bribes.

Another positive is that Guyana allowed these men to pass through its roads on their way to Brazil, and who knows where their destination is after Brazil. Editor, one thing is clear about these men, and that is whatever there final destination, they will be looking for work. Undoubtedly, the Government of Cuba has failed these people with its low wages, which  is forcing them to go to other countries to find a better living. I’m very proud that Guyanese are helping them to find greener pastures, but we can and should do more.

Some people may argue that it is illegal to let them go backtrack through Guyana to other countries, and they may be right. But is it unethical? Is it unethical to help someone leave a communist regime to find a better life? These men are not being trafficked nor are they traffickers. They are not drug traffickers. They are highly educated and skilled men looking for an opportunity to make their lives better.

Like so many immigrants, they are looking for a better life than what Cuba has to offer them. Like everyone else, they want to be able to own a car, house and live in a free country. They want to be able to pursue a life of liberty and happiness. Are they asking too much? I don’t think so. I think every human being should have the right to live in a free country.

All the men are between 25 and 35 years old. To pursue their dreams, they have to go through countless countries and daunting challenges like the Lethem Road. And even though the road is much smoother than before, it is still very challenging.

Wherever their final destination is, I am confident that the receiving country will become better because of them. My only regret is that I wish they were staying in our country so they can make it better. Therefore, I’m asking the Government of Guyana to find a way to keep them here. Despite the challenges of the road, I still prefer to use it to go to the Rupununi. The joy of going to Lethem is not just arriving at your destination. Instead, it’s the journey by road, which makes the trip worthwhile. It’s the only and the best way to see the interior up close and personal. Taking the road is wonderfully brutal. It’s breathtaking and backbreaking. The feeling I got driving through the interior is indescribable. Being able to see and touch the mountains and valleys is an awesome experience like no other.

How do I describe how it feels to be standing in the jungle at 3 am in the morning, listening to the crickets, watching the stars, breathing the fresh air, touching the trees and feeling fearful of a black panther attacking you? It’s an explorer’s dream come true.

This is why I highly recommend driving to Lethem.

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Pantlitz

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