September 30, 2016

Changing times…

…in Brazil
Your Eyewitness is sorely troubled at what’s playing out in our giant neighbour to the South – Brazil. And it’s not just his favourite escapism exercise this year – the Summer Olympics in Rio – might be affected. Hey!! We can’t afford to have Bolt’s last Olympic ruined, can we? And it’s not even the massive outbreak of Zika that’s also putting a damper on the aforementioned Olympics.
It’s the massive goings on in the country to bring down the government of President Dilma Rousseff that has your Eyewitness in a bit of a dither. A stable, democratic and prosperous Brazil, after all, offers a lifeline to our prosperity that goes far beyond being a counterweight to Venezuelan revanchism. Not that we should sneer… Brazil’s always resented Venezuela’s pretensions at strutting on the world stage – and checkmated them.
It’s not even our Lethem-Linden Highway and the Mazaruni-Cuyuni HydroPower being threatened with another half century of mothballing. And THAT’s not to be sneered at! Not… it has to do with your Eyewitness’ wider geopolitical crystal ball becoming all fogged up. With the US finally thawing relations with Cuba, all the reports coming out in the media, reminds us of the similarities between Cuba, Venezuela and Cuba back in the 1950s. They were all pretty much under the control of tyrants or oligarchs that toed the American line.
While Castro’s direct threat to turn Latin American “leftwards” faltered (or was crushed after the death of Che Gueverra) that’s the direction the continent DID turn – but through democratic elections three decades later. So the problem with the agitation to remove Dilma (and her mentor Lula) – and not so incidentally Maduro in Venezuela – is they aren’t led by forces that have exactly the best pedigree in democratic governance.
Now this isn’t saying that charges of corruption in funnelling funds from the state petroleum company Petrobras into Dilma and Lula’s party aren’t well founded. But most of their inquisitors wouldn’t be able to withstand the kind of scrutiny they’re imposing on their two targets. How do you deal with the Judge trying to try Lula leaking confidential conversations between the latter and Dilma?
And from a Guyanese perspective, it’s not in our interest to be surrounded by countries that’re sure to polarise the relations between “the haves and the have nots” even further than they already are. What would most likely happen is many of those said “have nots” from Brazil’s impoverished north (neighbouring us) might just decide to cross over to our side of the Takatu and “do their thing”
And it won’t be pretty… what with the drugs, guns and gang wars.

…in corporate ownership?
Basking in the halo of bringing off Local Government Elections (LGEs), Pressie made a rather surprising suggestion. Rightfully pointing out that the Local Democratic Organs (LDOs) – NDCs and Municipalities – will now be permitted to raise and spend more funds on their own without Central Government’s intrusion, he proposed LDO’s launch and run businesses!!
“Shades of the Co-Op Republic!” your humble Eyewitness involuntarily exclaimed. “Government’s gonna be owning businesses again?” What’s going to be different this time? Because the ownership will be at a lower level, the problems will be smaller? Business doesn’t work like that.
This Eyewitness thinks before this becomes a done deal like the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Pressie should have it examined… carefully. A more feasible proposal… suggests your most humble Eyewitness… would be for those LGOs to move all those small businesses – car bodywork shops; grill fabricators; chicken farms; furniture makers, etc etc into small industrial parks and institute appropriate fees and taxes.
That move will make residential areas more habitable and healthy – while generating more revenues and synergies at the local level.

…unchanging electorate
What’s this claim of crossover voting? With only 38 per cent of the voters turning out… how’d you know? Well… you could look at the voting breakdown in mono-ethnic constituencies.
And THAT went “race” down the line.

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