Extradition to US likely to trigger alarm bells among big fish

Dear Editor,

I refer to the online article in Demerara Waves dated April 24 and titled, `Guyanese murder-accused extradited to US creates precedent -US Ambassador.’  Permit me to offer the following comments.

Speaking of extraditions in general, they are long overdue.  The presence in these parts of more than a few US felons-long operating under the radar, long cuddled and protected, and long practised in the criminal crafts-has long been a public secret, and a roiling one to boot.  There are those here, who have settled in while building empires dedicated to violating both Guyanese laws and American ones.  The serial violations are not of the misdemeanour variety, but rise to the top of the felony ladder.  They masquerade under many sophisticated commercial covers, while gaming Guyanese law enforcement and many within a helpful institutional apparatus.  In so doing, there are repeated and continuous violations of law everywhere.  Those violations hang over this country like the sword of Damocles.

Immediately following the actual extradition move, Ambassador Lynch was quoted as saying that this development evidences, “Establishing a road map for future extraditions, bringing a fugitive to justice, making Guyana a safer place for Guyanese citizens -this is the best example of rule of law existing in Guyana.”  That is a comprehensive mouthful and represents significant good news for the weary and resigned.  The bad news, from the perch of the targeted, and according to an online New York Daily News article dated April 25 article is that there are “twenty such extradition cases pending”. Those twenty will be the true measure of the rule of law in this society, and those who populate those fragile watchtowers.  As matters unfold, the law enforcement apparatus will determine how much of “a safer place for Guyanese citizens” this country will be.  How much of a cleaner, more reputable, more values-oriented place Guyana will become.  And how much the constitutional arms of government are aligned.

Now with this extradition-a long awaited precedent firmly established, alarm bells are sure to go off in multiple places in this country.  Trouble is ahead; serious personal exposure for a lot of sanctimonious adult choirboys.  Those alarm bells going off mean that well-entrenched men (some women, too) must manage their rising levels of consternation and discomfort, as to the suddenly looming menaces, and now palpable legal and environmental nakedness and the related dangers.  The political ones are unappealing.  For government has registered its seriousness with facing its responsibilities in an ethical and also legally laudable manner.  As part of having a desired place in the comity of nations, and in keeping with a warming international receptivity to things extradition, the Guyana government of today has taken a step that was publicly hailed by the US Ambassador.

The Americans have to be pleased, for there are reports for years now of an additional number of persons of interest in the local hoods, who feature heavily on their priority radar.  They are now able to work with a government in Guyana, to go after those whom the natives call ‘big fishes.’.  In this context, I would hope new candidate for leadership, old leadership, and the party ole-heads have all sat up and taken notice of not only the extradition development, but also the positive reaction of the US plenipotentiary.  She speaks for the most powerful country around, and there is peril in just saying, “no!” to their cases.

Now before law abiding citizens start celebrating, a word of caution is in order.  The extradited was one targeted for a capital offence, but still a routine one.  It was a good testing ground to see what would stand up, and who would in the judicial tribunal(s).  He is on his way.  But in the bigger criminal picture, he is a nobody.  The real big people in this town, the self-proclaimed powers are going to be a different river of piranha.  Successfully closing out cases tabled and sending the really powerful people on their way is going to be inestimably-perhaps insurmountably-difficult.  These people know that extradition, in effect, means a life on the inside.  They will not go easily.  They have the resources: unimagined amounts of money; known and secret political allies on both side of the political aisle; corroborating legal stalwarts available to cash in on what could be an extradition-oriented bonanza; and a bureaucratic framework willing to do their bidding for the right price.  Since price is not a showstopper, then local and international objectives can be denied, or at least stonewalled into oblivion.  Cumulatively, it is a powerful and near unbeatable combination.  Thus, I have a neutral, if not skeptical stance with Ambassador Lynch’s diplomatic optimisms.  Proof has to be in the judicial pudding.

Regardless, the peoples of this country are due a breather from the octopi that strangles clean business, youthful values, and national standards and reputation.  I, for one, reap no joy from being reminded by my American friends as to what kind of country (haven) Guyana really is at the core.  The state has shown a rare flicker of integrity in this instance.  The real test(s) and challenges would be where the real people are involved.  Then government(s) will have to show what is stood for and for whom.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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