The early Tuesday, August 21, 2018, morning robbery and beatings of the proprietors of the Real Value Supermarket is the latest incident that confirms the fact that crime has our nation in a strangle hold.
When the APNU+AFC regime took power in May 2015, many felt that that regime would have been able to deal with the crimes. That false expectation was, no doubt, due to the fact that the list of candidates of the now ruling parties were littered with numerous former army and police officers. Indeed, President Granger was Second in Charge of the Army at one point during his career. The Minister of the Presidency Ministry Harmon was senior in the Intelligence Department. Both were in very senior positions when Walter Rodney was brutally assassinated.
The list too has names like Winston Felix, a former Commissioner of Police.
Just as they did to sugar workers and rice farmers they promised to; “increase the salaries of the law enforcement officers by 20% in the first year”. That really was not a promise, it was their intention from the beginning to fool the women and men in those organisations.
Crime has increased greatly under this regime.
The tough stand that they said they would take against the criminals proved to be totally false. Many police officers are feeling restrained in dealing with the criminals because they are afraid of being reprimanded by officials in the regime.
The APNU had long ago signaled to the police their displeasure in the strong actions the police was taking against criminals. Whenever a criminal of Afro-Guyanese descent was killed in confrontation with the police the PNC/APNU raised the cry of police killing young black men. They made it into a campaign to blunt the police efforts in curbing crimes. When they were in the opposition crime served their destabilization agenda, therefore, they encouraged it.
Today, criminals are killing people for pittance. Pensioners, children and other vulnerable people often lose their lives for a few dollars or a cellphone.
While the crimes have grown and all our people are vulnerable, small shopkeepers and vendors; workers and farmers as well as the rich, the attack against the Real Value Supermarket has another twist. It reflects a frequent and regular attack against Chinese business places.
The two parties in government wittingly or unwittingly created this “Frankenstein monster” while they were in opposition.
They had encouraged a lot of anti-Chinese sentiments. Almost all the businesses owned by Chinese Guyanese have had the traumatic experience of being robbed. Some in that community were even brutally murdered.
Those attacks began when the PNC/APNU and AFC were actively campaigning against investments coming to Guyana. This was most pronounced between 2012 and 2015. At that time, while in opposition, they had a one seat majority in the National Assembly. They used that position to frustrate investments and developmental projects.
Recall that they used that to vote against the Amaila Falls Hydro Project. They deliberately put Guyana in harm’s way by voting against the Anti-Money Laundering Bill. The idea was to have our financial system blacklisted by the international community. That would have been a serious blow to all businesses, our economy and most importantly our people’s welfare.
Recall too their attacks on the Marriot Project. The day it was opened they had a demonstration outside the premises. They voted against financing the new Airport Project among others. They worked hard to halt social and economic progress.
The Chinese business community, however, was busy investing in our country and making a valuable contribution to our economy. That was anathema to the APNU and AFC. They and their friendly media made all kinds of slander against the Chinese community.
They, therefore, encouraged an anti-Chinese campaign. Recall Benschop leading PNC supporters to attack some Chinese business places on the trumped-up accusation that the Chinese proprietor had hit a child. This historically is an old PNC tactic when breaking up public meetings. They use children and women for that purpose.
While in opposition and even after taking power, they forced the closure of Bai-Shan-Lin, Jaling companies among other businesses.
I have no doubt that it was because of the persistent and targeted attacks against the Chinese enterprises that the People’s Republic of China, via the Chinese Embassy, donated very generously to the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force.
All of that seems to have come to nought, as the crimes are increasing and the Chinese businesses are no better off. They remain targets for criminals who seem to feel empowered since the change of government.
It is time that the authorities in government give support to the police in fighting the criminals. Not just in providing some materials, but moral support to the crime fighters is just as important.
They must also stop politizing the disciplined forces. The use of the police to attack opposition members by creating trumped-up charges will have serious consequences. Corruption will grow and become epidemic when these political acts are encouraged by the regime. We are seeing the outline of this taking full form in our society.
Most importantly it is setting an example that would breed actions that we are seeing now. For example, police involvement in crimes; robbing and killing of miners, the continued shaking down of drivers by Traffic Police will become the norm, if the regime does not halt these practices.
The only way to get a handle on this situation is to involve our people, to gain their trust so that valuable information would be given to the police by the population in the fight against criminals. The people need to feel that the disciplined forces are protecting them as a whole and not carrying out the political diktat of the PNC/APNU.
More joint patrols in the business and housing areas are much needed.
If the regime stays the course and continues to make efforts to transform the army, police and judiciary into PNC/APNU arms, the consequences would be grave.
The Real Value Supermarket type of attack will increase in frequency and become much, much worse.
The lesson for the regime is that using criminals to obtain political goals is extremely dangerous.