As I read the outraged reactions of Guyanese against foreign correspondent, Mr. Clifford Krauss, a few things became even more self-evident. One thing in particular stares in the face and is undeniable: Guyanese are terrorized by inconvenient truths. Rather strangely, they are furious at the humiliating truths as observed by a foreigner no less. How dare this rank outsider, this biased American, shout our national nakedness with a whole world listening and before the vast readership audience of the regal New York Times? What is Mr. Krauss’ problem? Let me tell my fellow citizens suddenly bent out of shape in disgust and embarrassment.
Every issue of significance, of grave national importance, almost always seem to require the assistance of foreigners to help us cross our unnavigable racial, political, and social roads. We are that blind; so shameless and enormously ignorant, too. Jimmy Carter is on the way again! How come Guyanese are not angry and bent double then at our failures to fix ourselves our chronic insipidity? Take a look: there have been calls and cries-at one time or another, and every time it appears-for outsiders to settle matters relative to judiciary selection, law enforcement, and national elections. We are so imbecilic that we can’t even count and beg for the help of dumb foreigners to manage our feet out of the morass. Where is our angst on all those occasions? But now we take umbrage at Mr. Krauss.
The man wrote of scant roads, and he is pilloried. I have called this place a “one-stoplight” and “one-horse” and “one-road” town and country from time to time to emphasize my own disappointment. To be sure, those expressions are devices to underscore the state of affairs, but deafer ears and more closed minds are the results. For decades citizens and local critics of every persuasion have castigated and ridiculed roads built, roads not holding up, and roads to nowhere and nothingness that enriched a corrupt circular cabal, a criminal one that is still around. Mr. Krauss mentioned three roadways; having stopped at one, I confess that his arithmetic is superior to mine -another dumb arrogant foreigner.
I move on to that now quiet place on the Western Front. Thank God for the small mercy of sparing Mr. Krauss that repugnance through keeping it from flaring up while he was present. If we can barely stand some of the people who are assembled in there as legislators of this land, then why should anyone else? My point is this: just like the things pointed out by Mr. Krauss, these are well-known ignominies. So why is he found wanting for pointing out obvious truths? Take this one: I am familiar with Mr. Dennison’s office; he should have visited the old Gold Board area in that same location. Yes, these are works in progress in a poor society; funding is scarce; and it is a dogfight to get to the coveted money bone. I am saying it: improvements are overdue and costly, oil money or no oil money. Just ask the men who stuffed their pockets and those of family and friends. Point Mr. Krauss to the abominations of that era, especially that monumental pension package. While those fine fellows were drinking Johnnie Walker Double Black, the yeomen had to be content with black tea and black sage and black out. That is why so many things lag and now embarrass. While political men were collecting millions to arrange and rearrange mining licences, antiquated steel cabinets were the best that could be garnered.
Editor, at one time or another, local observers and commentators have trashed ad nauseam and ad infinitum some of the same things (and many others) that Mr. Krauss had the temerity to tell. How come the locals are given kudos and the American a knife? Having witnessed on a limited basis the devastation of Guyana over the decades, there is some guarded hope. It is that the current leader means well and is genuinely dedicated to making Guyana a better place for posterity; regrettably, the same cannot be said for a bundle of his comrades. I persist in the optimism that substantive change will come. For this fault, I have heard: “yuh too eezee pun dem” and “yuh givin dem a pass again” and “yuh must be waan sum ting.” I readily admit to the first two; as for the latter, this is what I want: give me some honesty; give me some integrity; give me some decency. Give me all those things through progressive actions. Then I am in a position to condemn Mr. Clifford Krauss and his ilk for being falsifiers of facts and condescending exaggerators. I cannot do so today; today Mr. Krauss speaks to truth. Truth hurts.
So, once again, what is Mr. Krauss’ problem? An illustration serves best. As in those countless instances of domestic abuse and domestic violence circumstances, those involved bicker and brawl all day long, and daily. Whenever an outsider ventures to bring to senses, those same involved (abuser and victim) forget differences, join ranks, and pounce upon him to pummel. Mr. Krauss is now absorbing blows from all sides. Tomorrow he will know better; tomorrow the savaged hearth will return to its familiar sicknesses, degradations, and failures. Now expand to the whole political, racial, and social milieu and that is what pertains. Welcome to Guyana, Mr. Krauss.