April 18, 2014

Carrot and stick…

…in inner city

Reading of the latest effort to get some changes going in Albouystown, your Eyewitness was overwhelmed with the famous song by the King. (You young whippersnappers don’t know who’s “the King”? There’s only one King, friends….Elvis Presley, who still rocks!) We have to print the lyrics in their entirety:

As the snow flies

On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’

A poor little baby child is born

In the ghetto

And his mama cries

‘cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need

it’s another hungry mouth to feed

In the ghetto

People, don’t you understand

the child needs a helping hand

or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day

Take a look at you and me,

are we too blind to see,

do we simply turn our heads

and look the other way

Well the world turns

and a hungry little boy with a runny nose

plays in the street as the cold wind blows

In the ghetto

And his hunger burns

so he starts to roam the streets at night

and he learns how to steal

and he learns how to fight

In the ghetto

Then one night in desperation

a young man breaks away

He buys a gun, steals a car,

tries to run, but he don’t get far

And his mama cries

As a crowd gathers ‘round an angry young man

face down on the street with a gun in his hand

In the ghetto

As her young man dies,

on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,

another little baby child is born

In the ghetto

For “snow” just substitute “rain” and for “Chicago” substitute “Albouystown” and you’ll have a glimpse of what life’s like “in the ghetto”. Point is, life in Albouystown’s not going to be changed by well-meaning people handing out hampers and what not. It won’t be changed also by the police charging round the neighbourhood like bulls in a China shop – as has been recently charged by residents.

Albouystown’s problem is Guyana’s problem writ large. Just as we were mired in poverty for so long we’re now regarded as scum of the earth by even neighbours like Trinidad (you think a Bajan would’ve been harassed with a “pink form” while having a heart attack?) Albouystown has been mired in a culture of poverty that is very difficult to break.

We’re going to have to come up with programmes that address the root question of “culture” which makes the problem systemic and structural – “another baby born” into the same poverty-stricken world with all the same upbringing and expectations of failure.

…on Linden Radio Station

The Opposition politicians are so hungry for power, they just don’t care about who they trample over. Take the wannabe warlord of Linden, Sharma Solomon. He and his cohorts in APNU – locally, regionally, and nationally – have been screaming bloody murder that the Government’s controlling the airwaves in their town. They need a new, independent outlet.

But when the Opposition says “independent” you know they mean “Opposition” right? Look what they just did in the mining town. An upstanding member of the community scraped together all that he can muster, applies for a radio licence and begins broadcasting. He then runs into problems paying for the radio licence fee, much less run a profit.

But because the fella tries to stay neutral in the Opposition’s quest for seizing power, Solomon declares the man is about to lose his licence!!!  But the Broadcasting Authority never said such a thing. Business, of course, falls off and deepens the downward spiral. But most viciously of all, Solomon withholds regional payments owed to the station – and denies this was the case!!

It’s been stick all the way for the Linden fella. Isn’t it time for a carrot, Solomon? Is he not a man and a brother?

Misdirection…

 …on AG’s salary?

As they promised, the Opposition parties continue to behave like they’re filming a tropical version of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. But somewhere along the line, they seem to have forgotten that like in all movies, all they’re doing is “make believe”. Nothing changes in the end. The chopped-off hands of the actors remain at the end of their arms; the spilled guts are so much spaghetti and the sauce for the latter does come in useful as “blood”.

Fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, the Opposition parties can’t really “chop” anything. They can plead. They can suggest. They can threaten. They just cannot cut the estimates. So it really doesn’t matter that they’re jumping up and down like a “fowl-cock” on steroids – nothing will change. It all depends on which way the Government wants to return the items that would be “not approved” by the Opposition. “Supplementaries” and such like.

But suckered in by an “insider Internet news” site that’s sprung up like a jumbie umbrella, (they grow on dung), the editors of this newspaper headlined the AG’s and a Presidential Advisor’s salaries. This, of course, wasn’t any real news – just the jealousy of a rival. As a matter of fact, just last month, an ex-AG, Bernard De Santos, commenting on the (vexed) matter of the possible nexus between the qualifications of magistrates and their pay, reminded all and sundry of the origins of the super-salary of our AGs.

And this is where the irony of the PNC-dominated APNU castigating the AG’s salary’s gets so rich: it was Burnham who set up this salary. While not quite in the “As I lay dying” mode described by Faulkner, Burnham was approaching the end of his days and did a nasty thing to the profession of law – which he claimed to love.

The man took Keith Massiah – Chancellor of the Judiciary and the highest judicial official in the land – and decided to make him his Attorney General. Now we know – because the Opposition has been screaming long and loud enough about every AG the present Government’s appointed – the AG’s   the legal hound of the Government. He HAS to be partisan. But what was Massiah to do against the wishes of a petulant and vindictive dictator?

He demanded that the AG’s salary be equivalent to his much more stellar Chancellor’s remuneration. Burnham, of course, could do as he wanted. And the next day Massiah was AG with a salary that was put into law.

And this was what APNU wanted to “cut”? Can’t be done…because of Burnham!!! But imagine the treachery of the “insider”!!! What strange bedfellows does ambition make!

…on democracy

Last week, a PNC councillor from Region Nine complained that he was organising a “workshop on democracy”, but the big bad PPP didn’t want to attend. They spoiled things, because they told their people to do the same. But we’re a bit confused, why should the PPP and their supporters attend a workshop conducted by their political opponents?

And more to the point, why would APNU expect that the PPP would show up at their workshop? But hold it!!! Maybe it wasn’t an APNU workshop? Could it be those fellows from the IRI who’re doing much to teach us benighted natives about the real meaning of “democracy”? After all, USAID pocketed a cool US$7 million in funding for this sacrifice and we guess they have to spend that dough.

          Thing is, how come they’re working through an Opposition official to spread the good word on democracy? But we’re assured that all is kosher: Amit Shah, the head of USAID that’s doling out the funding, said apropos another (secret) project to spread democracy (in Cuba): “the operation isn’t covert…it’s just discreet”.

…on inner-city youths

The police want to institute change in Albouystown. Too much crime emanating from there. But shouldn’t the police lead by example? Let’s stop those traffic shakedowns!

New thinking…

…from Granger on Federalism?

One of the most intriguing utterances from David Granger, Leader of the PNC, Leader of APNU,  Leader of the Combined Parliamentary Opposition (and not so incidentally, the opponent of Carl Greenidge and sideliner of Aubrey Norton), was his take on the Budget.

No. We’re not talking about his promise to “chop the Budget viciously”…that might have something to do with fending off Greenidge, more than anything else. You think?

What intrigues us is his cry that even though the hinterland’s producing so much wealth with gold, timber, bauxite, diamonds and what not…they’re not getting a proportionate share of the budgetary allocations. Now here it is, silly us, we thought we’re an indivisible state and no matter where the revenues come from, we’re supposed to spend them to increase the “national wealth”. Emphasis on the “national”.

So, for instance, if 90 per cent of the population lives on the Coast, we oughtn’t to be surprised if most of the road-building projects are located there. But Granger, the old-time military strategist, thinks otherwise. He feels that since we’re, say, digging up so much of the gold from the Pakaraimas, the folks up there ought to be getting pitched roads also. It’s their money.

Never mind it’ll ruin that big tourist attraction we’re building for the rugged he-man tourist type – the Pakaraimas Safari, Granger’s insistent we ought to be tooling around the mountain passes with panache.

But we detect from this utterance something revolutionary from the old soldier: when you examine his thrust, the fella’s calling for federalism. Each state has first dibs on their own revenue streams and all that.

And here we thought that crackpot idea had sunk into oblivion along with its originator Ravi Dev! But like your Eyewitness said, Granger’s a strategic thinker. Didn’t he play chess with Odo himself? So what’s he up to?

Well, one theory that immediately springs to mind is he’s given up on believing he can break the PPP/C’s stranglehold on coastal politics and believes he can do better in the interior.

Then again, with Greenidge yapping at his heels (that Greenidge does remind you of a terrier, doesn’t he?), it could be that if the Pakaraimas and the other parts of the Highland Region are separate states, Greenidge won’t be able to keep up with him on the campaign trail. You don’t see Greenidge rappelling down the sheer face of Ayanganna, much less Roraima, do you?

But it’s encouraging that at his age, (he’s about 80, no?) Granger can change his thinking. Who knows? Maybe he’ll soon be calling for “balancing the forces”!!!

…on ganja

Well, Dear Readers, those of you who’ve been following this column would know your Eyewitness’ take on this legalisation of marijuana business. And it is a business. Here it is, cigarettes are a known cause of lung and laryngeal cancer and yet they are legal.

Sold everywhere:  with warnings – but sold. Making billions in profits for the cigarette makers in the First World that’re busy shipping the death sticks to Third World countries like Guyana.

And let’s not even talk about alcohol and its effect on the liver. That’s nothing compared to the damage it does to the social fabric of our country. But up to now we’ve been going along with the U.S. line on outlawing the use of marijuana – even though they’re pushing the entire trade as the largest consumers.

So we’re very happy that we’re backing the region’s efforts, led by Jamaica, to legalise the herb – especially for medicinal purposes. Not to mention its religious use. It’s irie, no?

…on “units”

The Muckraker’s fussing about Minister Rohee saying there’s a “kidnapping unit” in the Guyana Police Force versus the new Commissioner claiming there are individuals distributed within the force that perform this function.

The turds over at the Muckraker obviously think a “unit” has only a physical attribute and not also a functional one.

Straining out a gnat…

…and swallowing a camel

The Stabber News gave its take on what’s playing out in Parliament. They called it “vulgarity”. “Damn right!!” you, dear readers, are probably snorting in indignation. Trouble is, it has missed the real vulgarity because of the blinkers firmly affixed over it’s eyes, and like the mad Don Quixote of yore, ended up tilting at old Kokers.

It strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel. It was an amazing feat. Here it is, the Opposition’s defying the Courts of the land and committing an illegality every time it  attempts to “cut” a Budget Estimate and the Stabber thinks it’s vulgar that some MPs from the Government benches aren’t raising their pinkies when they sip their tea! Talk about confusing form and substance!

Let’s get this straight, we aren’t advocating for MPs to behave like louts at a mud-wrestling contest. (Even though that’s their default setting when they line up for the $1.7 million of free food at every sitting.) But the point is, the niceties of parliamentary etiquette are geared towards achieving the ends MPs are supposed to be working towards –  the betterment of the people of this country.

So what’s the point if fellas in Parliament keep bowing and scraping and “sirring” each other to death, when one side’s busy screwing the country?

Let’s get down to some brass tacks. What’s really vulgar? Manickchand’s heckle illustrating the subject of child molestation or the Opposition chopping the entire Amerindian Development Fund? Who’s really interested in stopping child molestation rather than merely mouthing platitudes?

When those thousands of Amerindian boys and girls in the interior are forced to continue grovelling at the bottom of the economic barrel because of no development projects, doesn’t that make them susceptible to all sorts of exploitation and molestation?

And what’s more vulgar? Lumumba speaking frankly about the ethnic consequences of race-baiting (and speeches about “bailing out” sugar workers are nothing less than this), or the sick minds that further that project in the media in search of power for “their” group? But the most vulgar comment was about former President Jagdeo. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: these fellas have Jagdeo on their brains.

What gets their drawers in a knot is that he not only saw Guyana through the most deadly assault the Opposition ever launched to remove the PPP/C from office, but actually broke the back of the armed gangsters and their handlers.

Hell hath no fury like a thwarted Guyanese Opposition caught with their pants down. Ouch!!!

…and producing filth

And talking about “vulgarity”. Can anyone beat the “vulgarity” the MuckrakerKN printed as Freddy Kissoon ridiculed Hindus for “worshipping rats”? Some will blame Freddy Kissoon. But they miss the point: there are some people who can’t be held responsible for their actions. Morons and such like. But not for the Muckraker that’ll allow the largest religion to be insulted in this fashion.

Mook Lall knows full well that Hindus don’t worship rats. His father was a Hindu, no? And his wife? And as for Adam Harris – who would’ve had the last word on what’s being published – he knows it was through this kind of standing libel on Africans that their indigenous religions were beaten out of them and today are mocked as “obeah”.

As in African and Indian and in all original religions, what is more profound than seeing God in all his creation and respecting all in the great chain of being created by Him?

But don’t tell that to Mook Lall – who’ll desecrate his mother’s grave to sell another newspaper.

…swallowing Larwah

Another vulgarity of immense proportions that’s been swallowed by the Opposition is, to use President Ramotar’s apt expression, the “Larwah” of killing all mega-infrastructure works, and expecting the country to develop.

It’ll develop, all right – right back into  the old  PNC’s basket case.

Bobbing and weaving…

…against Rodney CoI

For the umpteenth time, the PNC’s proved that “moutar” is different from “guitar”. Since 2005, when it started to court elements in the WPA, the party’s made much ado about supporting calls for a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into Rodney’s assassination. Sorry, that should be “Rodney’s death” because “assassination” –proposed by the PPP/C in its motion – would’ve been conclusive on what the CoI was supposed to investigate.

The eventual 2005 motion for the Inquiry was on “Rodney’s Death”. The PNC’d already conducted an Inquiry back in the day…and found the cause was “death by misadventure”. Obviously, the PNC had a thing about Rodney and “death”, Burnham had infamously warned the historian-activist that his “steel was sharper” and that Rodney should “make his will”.

In 2005, the WPA – with Rupert Roopnaraine as the point man – was responsible for drafting the Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the CoI in collaboration with Rodney’s widow, Patricia. No complaints then that the Rodney family was given too much leeway. The CoI never came off, because the WPA leaders decided that it would be prejudicial against the PNC with an election looming. The PNC had stoutly maintained it “welcomed” the CoI. Nothing to fear and all that.

Fast forward to the present…but not omitting that in the meantime the WPA and the PNC are now joined at the hip in APNU. After stoutly insisting it still wants an Inquiry, the PNC has now said it won’t participate!! Surprise! Surprise!! Its excuse?  For one, the Government depended too much on Rodney’s family, which now requested the Government exclude the PNC and WPA from setting up the CoI. Who could blame the family after the foot dragging and red herrings drawn across the trail of the CoI back in 2005? Well, the PNC and WPA!

But the PNC’s major objection for bolting from the CoI is that one of its ToRs called the “Commission’s attention to the persons in command of the defence and security forces at the time”. The PNC feels this “was prejudicial to the outcome of the CoI”. Well, gracious me! Imagine that no one now denies that Gregory Smith – a member of the GDF, from which he received specialist training in explosives – was involved in the “death”.

The GDF had denied Smith being a soldier, but backed off after conclusive proof was offered. Burnham had just appointed a new head of the GDF after threatening Rodney. Wouldn’t it be prudent for the CoI to question this head if he’s still around?

Well, ex-Brigadier David Granger, who just happens to’ve been that head, doesn’t think so. Why aren’t we surprised?

…in the Opposition coalition

Seems that it isn’t all sweetness and light in the the parliamentary coalition between APNU and AFC. After it “tried a thing” against APNU – to stir up the Linden protests back in 2012 – the AFC’s been a faithful handmaiden to APNU’s ambitions. There hasn’t been an initiative of APNU that Ramjattan and Nagamootoo haven’t saluted and snapped, “Yes sir!!” They’re dealing with a General, no?

But you know what happens when you make yourself into a doormat? You’re taken for granted – or worse. Word is out that down in the town of Linden, local APNU warlord Sharma Solomon hasn’t been dealing on the up and up with its AFC Councillor on the RDC, Audwin Rutherford. Rutherford complained he’s been shut out from the negotiations between the Region 10 RDC and the Central Government, for sharing out all the goodies agreed to after the protests.

The poor dear! Welcome to the realpolitik world of the PNC, where the word “shafted” has a rather painful connotation!

…by the police

The Stabber suggests the police were less than diligent in following leads in the tragic Rajendra Singh kidnapping. But worse, claim that the police can’t come up with a motive for the crime. After $50 million was demanded?

Racist…

…false equivalence

The drumbeats of race are becoming louder in the society against the background of the Budget. The latter is painted by the Opposition as a mechanism for pandering to ethnic constituencies, rather than a plan for national development. Once again we warn of the dangers of letting the genie of racial conflict out of the bottle.

And the Opposition can’t say they weren’t warned. With the travails of the sugar industry dominating the pages of the dailies, the Opposition would’ve had to be locked up in some rum-shop for months not to know the industry must be subsidised to survive. Even pen-pushers in offices became familiar with terms like “mechanisation”, “ratooning” and “cane dumpers”. In the run up to the Budget presentation, the Finance Minister announced the quantum of the proposed subsidy.

But from Budget Day, the dogs of racial war were let loose. “Injecting money into sugar panders to PPP/C’s Indian supporters!!!” screamed the Opposition. Nothing about sugar being the last Government-owned productive enterprise and, as the “parent company” – to use private enterprise terminology – any cross subsidy would have to come from it. The alternative was to shut down the industry. Seems the Opposition wanted this.

During the debate, Government MP Odinga Lumumba, in one of his more reasoned presentations, pointed out the potentially dangerous repercussions of the Opposition’s drumbeats in a racially divided nation. But it was almost like throwing pearls to swine. Almost. However, even as the calmed doe, driven by the cold calculus of not solidifying PPP/C’s support in the sugar belt, the racial incitement continues.

Fresh from their cross-party address to a gathering of African Guyanese at Bagotville (Nigel Hughes from AFC, Carl Greenidge from the PNC and David Hinds of WPA), Hinds appeared to be the man appointed to carry the racial spear. Sanctimoniously declaring that he supported the sugar subsidy, Hinds slyly proceeded to draw a pernicious false equivalency between the subsidy to the sugar industry and the subsidy to the people of Linden for their electricity Bills.

That is, he’s pitting Indian Guyanese versus African Guyanese. Hinds deliberately shuts his eyes to the fact that when the Government owned the bauxite industry, they subsidised it far above anything that sugar is now getting. Ironically, for over a decade after they came into office, the PPP/C Government kept the PNC-imposed sugar levy that prevented the industry from modernising – and used it to subsidise bauxite.

Part of the problem of sugar, which everyone ignores, is that unfortunately, the chickens are coming home to roost from the PNC’s malicious and spiteful sugar-levy.

…suggestion

Hinds continued with his provocative and incendiary racist incitement by asserting that the police’s reaction to the sugar protesters in front of Parliament last week was different from the one against the Linden protesters. The difference, he asserts, is that no sugar worker was shot by the police, when three Lindeners were killed.

First and foremost, an Opposition-demanded Commission of Inquiry absolved the Police as the ones firing the shots that killed the protesters. The ballistic expert was brought in by AFC. Hinds was one of the provocateurs on the ground at Linden.

Secondly, the protesters were allowed to carry on for the entire day. It was only when, in the words of the COI, they “illegally” refused to budge from the bridge that connected Coastal Guyana to the interior, that the police demanded they move.

In the case of the sugar protest, at no time did they disobey either the police or the rules of peaceful protest. But this is of no interest to Hinds and the Opposition that are determined to fan the flames of racial conflagration in Guyana.

…against Amerindians

The Opposition’s slashing of the Development Fund for Amerindians as a “bribe” from the PPP/C perpetuates the racist slur that Amerindians can be “bought” for baubles.

Destroying…

…Amerindian dreams

Maybe just to emphasise the contempt they hold not only the rule of law, but everything that holds this nation together, the power-besotted Opposition went and one-upped their illegal chopping of the budget estimates. They shamelessly cut the estimates for the development of Amerindian communities.

We hope the Government will stand firm and not acquiesce in this illegal attempt at usurpation of Executive power. They have spending power!!!

But the people of this land, from Point Playa to Gunns Strip, should now see the Opposition exposed for the reptilian creatures they are. Reptilian in their cold-bloodiness…and reptilian in the instinct that leads them to even devour their young.

OK…we know the Opposition wants to show the Government “who is man”. We know because they said so. Repeatedly. But do they have to pick on the most deprived section of our population, to make their point?

There hasn’t been a socio-economic study on our society that hasn’t confirmed when it comes to “marginalisation”, Amerindians are off the charts. It’s not only ironic but downright criminal when we juxtapose this fact to the other we all learnt in school: this land was their land before Columbus or any other soul had set foot here.

And it’s for this reason, if no other, that Amerindians cannot be excluded from having their fair share of the national patrimony.

So Linden will have their billions in electricity subsidies; and after Nagamootoo was “all shook up” by the cane cutters, so will the sugar belt. And we know – wink, wink – the ethnic impact of those allocations.

And we ask: why can’t Amerindians get that $1 billion allocated for their development? The Opposition says that this is “just a political gimmick”. It would be more than a bit disingenuous to deny that all Governments craft budgets with electorates in mind.

In that bulwark of democracy, the U.S., they even have a name for the practice – “pork barrel”. But tell the Eyewitness, wasn’t it the Opposition that insisted Linden’s multi-billion electricity bills remain at one-twelfth of the national rate? Now that’s REAL pork barrel.

And can the Opposition deny that this community merits some form of affirmative action? We’re sure they’ll say “yes”. But they will chop just because they don’t want the good-will to redound to the Government.

History will certainly absolve Amerindians from any blame for their predicament. But will never be as kind to those with their jackboots on Amerindian necks. The Opposition’s name will live in infamy!

…last shred of credibility

It’s been years now that this Asquith Rose fella and some consort or the other have been bombarding us with their interminable letters haranguing the Government on one thing or another. Now nothing’s wrong in theory in this – democracy and freedom of speech and that sort of thing. But after a while, it did wear rather thin.

After all, your Eyewitness does live here, and while he’s as teed off about potholes or the gridlock with cars in Georgetown, he just can’t accept that there’s been absolutely nothing good this Government has done.

And that’s the trouble with Rose or whichever “Singh” he gets to sign their name. They don’t live in Guyana, but have no shame to preach about what’s going on down here – when you absolutely know different. Take their latest letter, “The Ministry of Education should put more emphasis on girls’ education”. Are these fellas for real?

Even if they read the online newspapers, they should know that for the last decade, girls have been outperforming boys. In fact, the cry in the Caribbean has been for more emphasis for boys’ education. Gwan over there, foreign wankers!

…Berbice

Nagamootoo claims the cane cutters who roughed him up were PPP/C paid. So what did they give the Abel AFC organiser from West Berbice who wrote the letter supporting Nagamootoo? Beads?

Power-grab…

…by Speaker

In one of the most barefaced moves to seize power in this country, the Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, is counting on the desire of the Government to get on with the business of developing the country to allow him to get away with it. As we warned yesterday about allowing “expedience” to guide political action, we hope the Government recognises Trotman’s Trojan Horse.

What are the undisputed facts? Firstly, that in our country, it is a settled matter of Constitutional Law that we accept and practise the principle of Judicial Review. That is, that if there’s a dispute about the interpretation between any set of parties, including the Executive and the Legislature, it’s the remit of the Judicial Branch of Government to resolve it. The “dispute” includes any and all laws, including the Constitution, which is the highest law of the land.

This was even accepted by Forbes Burnham in the aftermath of the famous case of Teemal vs GuySuCo. So here it is that the Executive felt that the Opposition-controlled Assembly, full of its one-seat majority and with the acquiescence of the Speaker, illegally cut its budget estimates and took the matter to the Courts.

The Legislature – including the Speaker who was named as a respondent – was told in no uncertain terms the cuts were illegal. We don’t have to rehearse the specifics for the millionth time: bottom line is the Government’s estimates can’t be cut.  Period.

So it surpasses our understanding that the Government has evidently cut a deal with the Speaker and the Opposition (who, while epistemologically different, are ontologically identical) to have an “ad hoc” tri-partisan committee examine the budget to discuss what the Government is willing to reduce “voluntarily”. This is letting the barbarians through the back door…which has been emphatically “kicked” down by Trotman. And we all know what happens after the back door is kicked down.

It’ll be the Opposition all the way. So what happens when the Opposition demands a reduction of a budget item that the Executive doesn’t want to budge on? Some might think the problem is we’ve only moved the impasse one stage back. But it’s more than that. The Government has tacitly accepted the Opposition’s contention that its chopping isn’t illegal. And the Opposition, smelling blood, will rush in for the kill.

There was no need for the Government to keel over: even if the Opposition chopped, it could’ve gone along and spent in accordance with its estimates. It is what the courts, arbiters of the Constitutional order, ruled.

…and checkmate

And iconic West Indian figure – Norman Girvan, just passed away. A world renowned economist from the left of the ideological divide that he knew hadn’t disappeared but merely adopted a new guise, Girvan represents the best of what this region has produced.

When Naipaul provocatively proposed that the West Indies produced “nothing” we can point to persons like Girvan. And Naipaul, for that matter.

Girvan is of the first generation of West Indians who, like Walter Rodney, were turned out by the comparatively new University of the West Indies. His commitment to the improvement of the lot of his fellow West Indians rather than just dry academic analyses, made him a practitioner of “political economy”.  He was known far and wide, especially in Third World left circles for his unsparing critique of the new insidious capitalist relations.

Most recently, he vigorously shared and supported the scepticism of former President Bharrat Jagdeo towards the EPA that Carl Greenidge and his team negotiated with the EU. He died as he was attempting to alleviate the woes of Haitians disposed by The Dominican Republic.

…held off

Not so incidentally, Girvan had been appointed to represent the UN Secretary General “Good Officer process” in the controversy Venezuela precipitated by claiming two-thirds of our territory. We were in good hands. RIP Professor Norman Girvan.

Expedience…

…and the budget

It might be too much to ask political parties to act on principles. But surely at least they can be pragmatic, no?   We understand that things have to get done in the real world and you do what you have to do to get them done.

Call it what you will – real politik, or whatever…it’s what makes the world (of politics) go around. But it gets rather scary when political parties begin to act not even pragmatically, but out of expediency.

That is, they’ll even do immoral things to achieve their aims. They’ll try to convince you the ends justify the means. The fly in the ointment, of course, is that you really can’t compartmentalise life: means end up becoming the ends.

It’s like the Police Force. They were allowed to use “force” to uphold the law…but inevitably the use of force became standard operating procedure. And now everyone’s bitching because no one seems able to do anything about it.

In other words, what was supposed to be expedient has now become the norm and we all have to grin and bear it.  And we arrive at the song the Opposition’s been singing for two years now, on the budget.

In our system of governance, it’s always been the responsibility of the Executive to craft the budget of the government of the day. As was explained by the Chief Justice when the matter was brought before him, this state of affairs was not by accident.

The people of the country elect a government because of a programme they outlined in a manifesto or blueprint or some such vehicle. Sans five-year-plans, government’s programmes are executed through their annual budgets. And that’s why the government should craft their budget.

Fast forward to what the Opposition’s been arguing. They weren’t elected to the Executive, but since they control the Legislature they should now share in the Executive office and begging to also shape the budget.

And why should the Government go along with this idea that’s totally foreign to our system of governance? Well, it boils down to one word – expedience. Since the Government needs their votes to pass legislation like the Anti-Money Laundering Bill, the Government should violate their Constitutional mandate and allow the Opposition to chop and reshape the budget in their image.

This will not do and we exhort the Government to eschew the path of expediency. Therein lies disaster, not only for the Government, but for the entire country.

…and Walter Rodney

If there was one person in Guyana who lived according to principles, it was Walter Rodney. He didn’t even bend, by and large, to pragmatism.

Take his stance on Marxism. Like CLR James, he didn’t have any problems taking on the entire Black Power Movement to insist that the principles of Marxism took precedence in his analyses.

There was time, back in the day – before he linked up with the fellas that were to become the WPA – when Kwayana agreed with Stokley Carmichael’s proposition that Indian and African Guyanese couldn’t struggle under one banner. Rodney had already rejected this line in his “Groundings” and later, Kwayana had to back off.

So we’re more than a bit troubled at the expediency of his erstwhile comrades such as Rupert Roopnaraine and David Hinds, to reject Rodneyite principles on the matter of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate the great man’s assassination.

Can they blame Rodney’s widow for denying them (not to mention the PNC!!) a role in establishing the CoI, after their betrayal of 2005?? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

…in destabilisation

The head of USAID, Rajiv Shah, whose agency ran the fake Twitter-like platform – ZunZuneo – in Cuba, admitted that they did everything possible to keep their involvement secret. But it wasn’t a “covert” operation. It was just “discreet”.

Concerns…

…from Granger

We know Guyana’s a democracy and there’s freedom of speech and all that. But some people should gag themselves when it comes to speaking on certain subjects.

They would’ve already discredited themselves so damagingly on the issue that no one’s going to take them seriously now. One of those persons is David Granger when he commented on police leadership issues. Or any of the Disciplined Forces for that matter.

Recently he expressed “concerns” about Commander Clifton Hicken being appointed to head A Division. We all know what that was all about. The Opposition bet their entire wad of credibility they had left (pitiable as it might’ve been) on Nigel Hughes’ bold asseveration that Minister Rohee had instructed Hicken to fire on protesters in Linden back in their 2012 protests. It was obvious they’d adjudged Hicken as being “PPP/C”.

The litmus test APNU uses when it comes to the police’s orientation, as with every other institution’s or individual’s, is simple: if you didn’t tow APNU’s “kith and kin” line, you were a reprobate, scoundrel and most importantly a “betrayer of the cause”.

You didn’t have to necessarily take a “PPP/C” line – if an officer just tried to be professional and impartial, they were suspect. Quislings. And they must be hung and quartered…and left to swing in the wind. As they tried to do with Hicken.

And Granger’s incapable of moving beyond this mindset. After all, he’s a product of the kind of incestuous thinking he’s trying to foist on Hicken. It’s in his “professional” genes.

In 1979, Burnham bumped off the then Guyana Defence Force (GDF) commander, catapulted Granger over several officers way above him in seniority – and made him commander of the force. It wasn’t a coincidence that that was the year he’d advised the WPA and Walter Rodney to “write their wills” because his (Burnham’s) steel was “sharper”.

Burnham explicitly demanded that all officers of the Disciplined Forces swear personal loyalty to him. And Granger was the man in charge of “convincing” those who might’ve balked. Burnham’s parting words to HIS Disciplined Forces was that they should be loyal to his Government…and as to any other government…that was a horse of a totally different colour. We saw what that colour was with Winston Felix at the head of the Police Force and Collins as head of the GDF.

Loyalists like these to the cause of the PNC were the “professionals” that Granger would promote. And men like Hicken, who are willing to finally free themselves from the stultifying albatross of race, are “troublesome”.

…by Hinds

David Hinds wrote a letter in the Muckraker about what would’ve been quite a mouthful when he uttered the words at a conclave of African activists “over the river”.

Of course, it was about “race” and he candidly maintained that he had no apologies to make about having “race on his brain”. Now all he said was well and good. Surely no one would deny that the modern notion of “race” was invented just so black people could be enslaved.

The problem about race is not “race” per se, but the “race card”. And this is what David Hinds’ insists on playing. The race card is played when people invoke race to divide the people of this country – just so they could get their hands on power.

So we’re talking about race and politics. And we don’t have to go back to the days of Jagan and Burnham to show what we’re talking about…let’s just look at David Hinds’ agenda over the last decade.

Hinds spent years around the millennium justifying that under the PPP/C Administration, there was African “marginalisation”.

And then expressed surprise that armed gunmen used that rationale to wage war against the Government and state!

…about Caricom

We return again to the tepid response on the issue of the death of a Guyanese in TT. Let’s cut to the chase. It could only happen to a Guyanese.