December 21, 2014

Coalition building in Guyana

After years of fervent, if implausible, denials Khemraj Ramjattan has admitted his AFC is willing to coalesce with the PNC/APNU. There are of course, the demands that he will be placing on the table, but these are merely pro-forma. When Rafael Trotman was his co-Leader in the party he had fought unsuccessfully for this coalition to be consummated before the 2011 elections.
Ramjattan apposed the idea tooth and nail – but over sheer cold calculation rather than any principle. If the coalition were consummated while Trotman was around, Ramjattan knew that he would personally have been “dead meat”.
The PNC would have had no problem with Trotman becoming a senior leader in the coalition – and possibly even being THE leader. Ramjattan’s calculation was vindicated with the choice of Trotman over Nagamootoo as the Speaker of the National Assembly, by the PNC/APNU.
So while Ramjattan will be demanding “leader or nothing”, during the negotiations he will still be paranoid about losing “corn and husk”. The “corn” of course, is the “big position” he is calculating to secure in the AFC/PNC/APNU coalition, while the “husk” is the block of seats he is hoping to salvage from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), based on nothing more than “incumbency fatigue” and local sentiments for himself and Moses Nagamootoo.
We can expect Nigel Hughes and the African Guyanese members of the AFC to plug the coalition, as of course, Rafael Trotman, who has begun to re-appear on the AFC’s platform. Moses Nagamootoo, who already knows how he is perceived by PNC/APNU will oppose any coalition – if not openly, then covertly, for the reason stated earlier.
From the foregoing, we can begin to discern the course the coalition negotiations will take and the possible outcome. From Ramjattan and his partisans, they are entering what is called a “coalition of convenience” with PNC/APNU: both groups just want to replace the PPP/C in government.
Ramjattan is totally consumed with “getting back” at his ex-comrades in the PPP/C, who, in his estimation, have “done him wrong”. He, of course, is also motivated with having a powerful position in any new Government and this is why he will bargain very hard with APNU.
Looking ahead, even if formed, “coalitions” of convenience are very unstable, since the centrifugal forces of self interest are not countered by comparable centripetal forces. If, for instance, the new coalition were to win the upcoming elections, there will be constant internecine battles over leadership and programmes.
We saw this play out with the PNC-UF coalition of convenience that was formed in 1964, under US-CIA prodding, to oust the PPP. The PNC ditched the UF even before their term of office was over.
That experience brings to the fore another handicap to the “coalition of convenience” in the unfolding scenario between the AFC and the PNC/APNU: the effects of the “disequilibrium of size”. As we saw with the “coalition” that constitutes APNU, the PNC is so much larger than any other “partner” it is quite difficult for them to give much credence to the opinions of the “minnows”.
While they provide cover, or in the case of the AFC in the National Assembly created the “one seat majority”, their demands can become irksome.
In Guyana, the Opposition parties have rejected the proposal of the PPP/C to initiate talks for a “coalition of commitment”. In this type of coalition, the parties come together because of their commitment to certain overarching values that transcend the parties’ and just the base urge to gain power.
While such coalitions are more difficult to form, because they demand a certain level of trust that can only come from demonstrated expressions of values in action, they are more durable.
While the AFC promised such possibilities when they were launched, the sirens of political power, proved too seductive for them.

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Barbaric actions

The world, including many of us here in Guyana, was deeply shocked and in disbelief when it was learnt via the international news networks about the recent school killings in Pakistan. When events such as these happen, there are more questions than answers, as no one can justify such barbaric, senseless and brutal acts committed against their fellow human beings, more so innocent boys and girls.

It is indeed horrifying that children are slaughtered for the simple reason that they want a decent education so that that they can lead better and more productive lives when they get older. In this part of the world, targeting students because they chose the path of education is simply unheard of.

By the end of the hours-long siege at the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan, at least 141 people – 132 children plus nine staff – were dead. More than 100 were injured, many suffering gunshot wounds. CNN described the scene as “horrifying”. The network reported that gunmen barged through the school, mercilessly shooting children.

On a typical day, the school is home to about 1,100 students and staff, most of them sons and daughters of army personnel from around Peshawar. The students were in the middle of their school day when a car exploded behind the school. Of course, this was used to distract the attention of security personnel.

Many would ask what would the terrorists hope to achieve by killing innocent children. From reports gathered, the identity of the group behind the massacre is well known. CNN reported that the Pakistan Taliban – who has long conducted an insurgency against the Pakistani Government as they seek to overthrow the authorities and bring in Sharia law – was quick to take responsibility. They said it was revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen and their children during a recent offensive by the Pakistani military.

Pakistan has seen plenty of violence in the recent past, much of it involving militants. International Security Director for the Asia Pacific Foundation think tank Sajjan Gohel was reported as saying that the Pakistan Taliban want to stop the authorities from interfering in the tribal areas, but also have an extremist ideological agenda. The Pakistan Taliban is against Western-style education for children and the employment of women.

Last year, choir members and children attending Sunday school were among 81 people killed in a suicide bombing at the Protestant All Saints Church of Pakistan. A splinter group of the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the church attack, blaming the US programme of drone strikes in tribal areas of the country. And in 2012, militants shot schoolgirl education activist Malala Yousafzai in the head as she traveled on a school bus. She survived to receive a Nobel Peace Prize a few days ago.

Earlier this year, the Government held tentative peace talks with the Pakistan Taliban – formally known as Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (or TTP) – but it suspended them after two brazen attacks around Pakistan’s largest airport in Karachi in June. Since then, Pakistan’s military has been conducting a ground offensive aimed at clearing out TTP and other militants in the loosely governed tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan.

Certainly, dealing with this level of terrorism is not an easy task. But the terrorists must be defeated at all cost. The Pakistani Government and the international community must utilize all necessary resources and do everything possible to win this battle. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already announced that Pakistan will have a national plan within a few days to combat militancy. This must be acted upon immediately.
This is indeed a dark moment in the history of the world. For us every child has the right to education and every effort should be made to help children avail themselves of educational opportunities. This constitutional right to education should never be interfered with, least of all through violence and intimidation.

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GNCPP’s summit boycott

The Guyana National Council on Public Policy (GNCPP) on Monday commenced what it called a series of “discussions” as part of a Summit on various public policy issues that affect Guyanese.

At first glance, the organisation headed by Dr Phillip Thomas appeared legitimate as it aimed to revitalise the seemingly “dying” Civil Society Movement in Guyana.

Thomas reportedly wanted to create change, to make the movement more “effective” in lobbying the Government so that Guyanese could impact public policy, which would automatically see them setting the country’s overall developmental and economic agenda.

The GNCPP announced that it had secured commitments of support and participation after numerous consultations with members of the diplomatic corps, local media, private sector, National Assembly, Executive, civil society groups and crippled State Agencies.

Up to this point, Thomas’s organisation appeared on solid footing until this newspaper started its investigative work, which revealed that there may be a hidden mandate being pursued by the GNCPP towards supporting an Opposition elections agenda.

Research showed that Thomas at one point had exhibited interest in running for a key leadership position in the People’s National Congress Reform after he struggled to get his Civil Society Initiative off the ground. He had also filed a bold court case against the Guyana Elections Commission challenging aspects of the country’s electoral system and laws.

That aside, a very interesting list appeared in the daily newspapers and on television with the names of persons and organisations that had either joined the GNCPP as sponsors or were nominated for various positions. Another list appeared soon after with the names of politicians and parliamentarians who were invited to attend what was billed as a “historic” summit in Guyana.

But history and time favour the ploys of no man or entity. Following the publication of their names without permission, GNCPP’s Civil Society sponsors and nominees started an outcry. Some rushed to publicly disassociate themselves while others privately expressed concerns over the GNCPP’s move.

Soon, the Office of the President urged Civil Society entities to stay away as it questioned not only the legitimacy of the agenda being pursued but the legality of the entity itself. The OP also questioned the credentials of Dr Thomas.

But this did not stop Phillips from moving ahead with the farcical initiative.

Surprisingly, a packed printed programme, featuring addresses by President Donald Ramotar, and his political opponent, David Granger, was distributed. Keynote addresses were supposed to be handed down by high-ranking figures, including Yesu Persaud and Ian McDonald while a slew of parliamentarians were supposed to be engaged in discussions.

The end result was shameful as none of the planned speakers and sponsors turned up to the event. Thomas’ GNCPP Summit suffered possibly the biggest boycott in the history of this country.

Neither the President nor Opposition Leader participated in the event or even graced it with their presence. Businesses whose logos were displayed pulled out and this had nothing to do with Government’s warning.

But this boycott has left more questions than answers. Thomas must disclose who confirmed participation at the Summit. He must come clean on the paper trail surrounding the financing of the Civil Society initiatives.

The good ‘doctor’ can ill afford to have more shade thrown at the ‘good’ initiative and must also say how persons were nominated and who nominated them. He must also frankly disclose the extent to which commitments were given by the country’s political parties.
If Thomas wants to be taken seriously again, he must publish his credentials and background information to counter the concerns raised about his qualifications and mental health.

Any failure on Thomas’ part to salvage the major blow dealt to GNCPP’s image and legitimacy will confirm the widely held perception that the initiative is being funded and backed by either the Alliance For Change, which had representation at the Summit on the second day or the A Partnership for National Unity, which sent one member.

Thomas must quickly confirm whether he was left ‘high and dry’ after the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic drew first blood and exposed the sordid attempt at forming another coalition partner for the would be AFC/PNC-APNU alliance through the backdoor.

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No 1 China and US

Everyone knew that China was a fast growing economy. Only six years ago, it was projected that China would surpass the US in its Gross National Product (GNP) – measured in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) – by 2030. PPP measures the GNP not in absolute dollar terms but in the quantity of goods and services the money can purchase in the country under question.

This is considered a “fairer” method of comparison since monetised metrics should only be compared via their purchasing power. And by this measure, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just declared that China has pipped the US as the number one economy in the world – 16 years ahead of schedule.

China this year will churn out a US$17.6 trillion PPP GNP – compared with US$17.4 trillion for the USA. Even though it is also projected that China’s growth rate will level out to around seven per cent – a drop from the double-digit rates it maintained for three decades – the gap between China and the US will increase significantly. By 2019, the IMF estimates the Chinese economy will be worth just under US$26.98 trillion – which would be a whopping 20 per cent larger than the US at US$22.3 billion.

The original forecast on China’s “catching up” with the US was accelerated due to a confluence of the continued buoyant performance of its economy and the parallel collapse of the US economy in 2008. While the IMF also forecasts growth for the US in the years ahead – 3.3 per cent – that will be nowhere near the Chinese growth rates – hence the increased divergence between the size of the two economies.

The question for economies like Guyana, is “What does this realignment of economic forces mean for its own development?” China’s growth has also been mirrored by India – now the third largest economy in the world – albeit quite some distance from the US and China with its PPP GFP at US$7.5 trillion.

This factoid reinforces the current trend in these two countries which focuses on securing raw materials and food, to support their growing manufacturing base with the concomitant needed human resource. As part and parcel of that drive we can also expect them to increase their investment in Guyana as they seek to “make friends and influence policies”.

Over the past two years, however, the Opposition has expressed a marked distaste for Chinese and Indian investment. Carl Greenidge, the point man for the major Opposition party APNU – presently negotiating with the other Opposition party AFC to form a coalition, has explicitly singled out investments from these two sources and threatened that contracts will be “re-examined” if they were to secure office after the upcoming elections.

There are two implications emanating from this threat for the growth and development of our country from the number one and number three economies in the world.

Firstly, we can expect the demand for insurance to cover political risk to be substantially increased on the massive infrastructural investment the World Bank had assured us is necessary to take us out of the doldrums into which the PNC had steered the economy.
When the same threats by the Opposition were made on the US$840 million Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project (AFHEP) that was going to be funded by the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the political risk insurance amounted to over US$56 million.

Secondly and more importantly, while behemoths like China and India are taken for granted by the Opposition that are still committing all their political capital on the older developed countries, the rest of the developing world, especially Africa which is the “hottest” investment destination, having read the writing on the wall, are looking East.

This newspaper takes the opportunity to congratulate China on regaining its historic role of being the largest economy of the world which it held for 18 of the last 20 centuries.

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What could have been

President Donald Ramotar reviewed the just completed three years of his Presidency and from his comments, he appeared rueful, if not regretful. He was evocative of the line by Whittier: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been’.”
With elections looming, the President was refreshingly honest in conceding that more could have been achieved by his Administration. But he was also honest to point out the role the Opposition played in torpedoing those plans.
In these matters we have to start at the very beginning, when, during the elections, the Peoples National Congress (PNC) and its alter ego A Partmership for National Unity (APNU) trumpeted a platform of “shared governance”. They promised to cooperate with other parties, including the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and even bring them into the Government if they were to win.
The Alliance For Change (AFC), for its part, conceded that it was a minor party, but if it held the “balance of power” between the PPP/C and the PNC – it would vote along with the one presenting the better option for the country.
The President would have regretted that when he won the Executive Presidency by a plurality and invited the leaders of the PNC/APNU and the AFC into the Tripartite Talks to reach consensus on the Budget of the country, they both ended up launching protests in Linden that ended with three persons losing their lives, and billions going up in smoke.
He would have wondered where Guyana might have been today, if APNU’s leader David Granger’s initial quid pro quo agreement had not been undercut by the AFC’s Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses Nagamootoo.
That initial Tripartite forum was “the road not taken” by the Opposition – but it is clear that they have no regrets about their choice. From that aborted beginning, both the PNC and AFC took as their guiding principle Raphael Trotman’s articulation of the PNC’s mission: “To expose, oppose, and depose the PPP/C.”
There would be no quarter spared towards this end. It is obvious from his interview that President Ramotar still harboured hopes that the Opposition would not completely jettison their earlier promise to work out a modus vivendi with his Government for the good of Guyana.
The President specifically cited the Opposition’s strangulation of the Amaila Falls Hydro-Electric Project (AFHEP). This one had to have stuck in the President’s memory: AFHEP was, and remains, a linchpin for the future development of Guyana. For us to move from being price-taking primary producers of raw materials for export, we have to add value to the supply chain and this means massively increasing energy-intensive manufacturing operations.
But we suffer from a tremendous comparative disadvantage – our energy costs are higher than any of our regional neighbours. AFHEP would not just have produced power from a renewable resource – river water – but would have freed us from the albatross of securing foreign currency to pay for the oil that fuels our generators.
Just as he had done with the Tripartite Talks on the Budget, the President broke new ground on AFHEP – he provided all the contracts and background information to the Opposition, which they protested, had been withheld from them. But after the initial, guarded commendation, they quickly reverted to their reflexive position to “expose, oppose and depose” the Government.
Their recalcitrance raised the political risk factor so high that when they threatened to revisit the Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) private-public-partnership contract with the reputable Sithe company, a member of the Blackstone Group, the latter walked away.
The President must have also regretted the Opposition’s refusal not to even listen to the international community, which spoke as one, on the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill. How could he not?
Which other group in the world would want their country to be blacklisted by the international financial community?

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Crime concerns

Citizens are understandably skittish about crime in the Christmas season. In what is supposed to be “the season for giving” it would appear that there have always been some that translate the aphorism as “the season for taking – by any means necessary”. The recent armed raid on the Sterling Products business on the East Bank Demerara Public Road invoked thoughts of the notorious Linden ‘Blackie’ London, who unleashed a wave of audacious and brutal attacks on businesses back in the late 1990s.
Those attacks – which included kidnappings, robberies of banks and cambios – are now conceded to have been part and parcel of the Opposition PNC’s programme of destabilisation of the PPP/C Government immediately before and after the 1997 elections. The PNC had been voted out in 1992 under “free and fair” elections, accepted by the PNC leader Desmond Hoyte only because the US, which had sponsored them since 1964, pulled the rug with the end of the Cold War.
In one of the earliest acts of provocation, Hoyte had descended on the East Bank of Essequibo, and told some of his supporters at the Rosinante Cooperative near Vergonoegen Coop to “shoot to kill” anyone who stepped on the Coop’s land. The land in question had been acquired by individuals deemed to be supporters of the PPP/C. It is not a coincidence that Blackie London hailed from Vergenoegen and was a Special Forces Member who had been trained during Brigadier David Granger’s running of the Army.
Hoyte, of course, notoriously attended the funeral of Blackie London, who had been run to the ground in Eccles and killed in a hail of bullets by the Police. In the operation, the army contingent, under the command of Captain McAllister, brother of PNC MP James Mc Allister refused to fire on London. Hoyte draped a flag of Guyana over the bandit’s coffin at the Square of the Revolution and armed gunmen were allowed to accompany his coffin in a “hero’s” procession to Vergenoegen.
The hundreds of millions of loot that the London gang snatched from innocent businessmen – 30 killed between 1998-1999 alone – we’re never recovered and it is widely speculated it became the war chest to finance the PNC’s disturbances launched after the 1997 elections, which the PNC again lost ignominiously.
Andrew Douglas, one of the “Mash Five Prison Escapees” was an ex-Policeman and a lieutenant in the gang of Blackie London. Along with Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins, who was one of his lieutenants, Douglas took the nexus between crime and politics to new lows in Guyana.
In light of the foregoing, it is now understandable why Winston Felix, as the Commissioner of Police during the height of the armed conflagration by the political bandits, refused to constitute and deploy a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team – even though one had been formed and trained by the British.
His secretly taped conversation with Basil Williams, Executive Member of the PNC about “heading off” the civilian authorities from the trail of the bandits, after one particularly brutal massacre at Agricola, is instructive of the crime-politics connection in Guyana.
It is not coincidental that directly after his mandatory retirement from the Police Force, Felix marched in the PNC protest of the 2006 elections and became their MP after. He is now the “Security Expert” to the PNC in Parliament.
As the PNC/APNU now prepares to make another assault on the reins of power – this time in coalition with the Alliance For Change (AFC) – the foregoing demonstrates that the fears of the citizens are not just paranoia. The question as to why the new SWAT team, which was commissioned last year, was not deployed to deal with the Sterling armed invasion and murder must be answered.
A condign message should have been sent to those who would want a repeat of the deadly political-crime cocktail in our country.

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Crime concerns

Citizens are understandably skittish about crime in the Christmas season. In what is supposed to be “the season for giving” it would appear that there have always been some that translate the aphorism as “the season for taking – by any means necessary”. The recent armed raid on the Sterling Products business on the East Bank Demerara Public Road invoked thoughts of the notorious Linden ‘Blackie’ London, who unleashed a wave of audacious and brutal attacks on businesses back in the late 1990s.

Those attacks – which included kidnappings, robberies of banks and cambios – are now conceded to have been part and parcel of the Opposition PNC’s programme of destabilisation of the PPP/C Government immediately before and after the 1997 elections. The PNC had been voted out in 1992 under “free and fair” elections, accepted by the PNC leader Desmond Hoyte only because the US, which had sponsored them since 1964, pulled the rug with the end of the Cold War.

In one of the earliest acts of provocation, Hoyte had descended on the East Bank of Essequibo, and told some of his supporters at the Rosinante Cooperative near Vergonoegen Coop to “shoot to kill” anyone who stepped on the Coop’s land. The land in question had been acquired by individuals deemed to be supporters of the PPP/C. It is not a coincidence that Blackie London hailed from Vergenoegen and was a Special Forces Member who had been trained during Brigadier David Granger’s running of the Army.

Hoyte, of course, notoriously attended the funeral of Blackie London, who had been run to the ground in Eccles and killed in a hail of bullets by the Police. In the operation, the army contingent, under the command of Captain McAllister, brother of PNC MP James Mc Allister refused to fire on London. Hoyte draped a flag of Guyana over the bandit’s coffin at the Square of the Revolution and armed gunmen were allowed to accompany his coffin in a “hero’s” procession to Vergenoegen.

The hundreds of millions of loot that the London gang snatched from innocent businessmen – 30 killed between 1998-1999 alone – we’re never recovered and it is widely speculated it became the war chest to finance the PNC’s disturbances launched after the 1997 elections, which the PNC again lost ignominiously.

Andrew Douglas, one of the “Mash Five Prison Escapees” was an ex-Policeman and a lieutenant in the gang of Blackie London. Along with Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins, who was one of his lieutenants, Douglas took the nexus between crime and politics to new lows in Guyana.

In light of the foregoing, it is now understandable why Winston Felix, as the Commissioner of Police during the height of the armed conflagration by the political bandits, refused to constitute and deploy a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team – even though one had been formed and trained by the British.

His secretly taped conversation with Basil Williams, Executive Member of the PNC about “heading off” the civilian authorities from the trail of the bandits, after one particularly brutal massacre at Agricola, is instructive of the crime-politics connection in Guyana.

It is not coincidental that directly after his mandatory retirement from the Police Force, Felix marched in the PNC protest of the 2006 elections and became their MP after. He is now the “Security Expert” to the PNC in Parliament.

As the PNC/APNU now prepares to make another assault on the reins of power – this time in coalition with the Alliance For Change (AFC) – the foregoing demonstrates that the fears of the citizens are not just paranoia. The question as to why the new SWAT team, which was commissioned last year, was not deployed to deal with the Sterling armed invasion and murder must be answered.

A condign message should have been sent to those who would want a repeat of the deadly political-crime cocktail in our country.

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US human rights violations

It was more than ironic that on the even of the UN Day for Human Rights, observed worldwide on December 10, the nation that annually flagellates other nations for their “violations” was instead indicted by a report of widespread and egregious violations by one of its own governmental institutions.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, under the Chairmanship of Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) told a nauseating tale of US hypocrisy on the fundamental human right not to be tortured, that was violated by the CIA.
Confirming what had been an open secret for years, the report detailed numerous acts of torture by the CIA the wake of “9/11” in a host of countries that housed secret torture prisons. Authorised at the highest level of the Bush regime, other governmental organisations participated in a massive coverup by the CIA to mislead most politicians and the public.
What made the human rights abuse even more chilling was the US censure of countries, such as Guyana, for acts that were not even in the same universe of those of the CIA.
For instance, as apposed to the burning of the genitals of a youth by a Policeman using methylated spirits, the CIA used sleep deprivation extending for over one entire week, while the victims were forced to stand.
Waterboarding, which simulates in the mind of the victim the sensation of drowning, was common, as also was “rectal hydration”, in which individuals were fed through their rectum. These latter techniques induced convulsions and in several cases produced physical and mental damages.
Even after the release of the report, however, the CIA refused to accept that they used torture, only conceding that they “utilised enhanced interrogation techniques”.
What was very troubling to analysts and human rights activists was that one quarter of those tortured in the CIA reprogramme had been held wrongfully and not a single one of the claimed “success” in gaining intelligence during the torture programme actually led to new information.
At the UN, Ben Emmerson, its Special Rapporteur on Counter-terrorism and Human Rights, called for “the individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes”.
Even David Cameron of Britain, the US closest ally and one which supported Bush’s actions sycophantically, had to concede, “Let’s be clear: torture is wrong; torture is always wrong.”
Those nations that have been at the receiving end of the US sanctimonious censure reacted predictably. One Chinese official said, “US officials seek to present themselves as ‘the big boys on human rights affairs in the international community’, publishing evaluations of other countries’ behaviour, while clandestinely engaging in ‘notorious’ actions of their own.”
Human rights groups also echoed the same sentiments. Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, asserted, “The report shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are utter fiction.” As with the UN Rapporteur, he demanded that those responsible, whatever may be their high positions, be held accountable.
In Guyana, of recent there has been a host of groups and individuals complaining of “human rights violations” here by the Police. In addition to the incident cited above, there were two other cases that were raised against the Police. Representations had been made to the US Embassy here, and the Charge d’affaires demanded the torture claims be investigated.
But after the revelations by Feinstein, there has been a deafening silence in this country from the same individuals who were such champions of human rights previously.
It would appear that they are willing to go along with the evident US premise on this issue: there is one standard of human rights and torture for the US and another one for the rest of the world – especially those with which the US may want to pick a bone.

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Limacol CPL: looking ahead

The Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has agreed to review the rules and playing conditions for the 2015 tournament. We certainly cannot afford to allow what occurred last year to repeat itself in the future. When such things happen, cricket as a whole loses.
The entire region and in fact cricket fans from across the world who were following the CPL with much interest could well recall the contentious 2014 final between Guyana Amazon Warriors and Barbados Tridents on August 16 at Warner Park, St Kitts.
But the final came to an abrupt end when rain interrupted the Guyana Amazon Warriors innings at 107 for 4 after 15.5 overs while they were in pursuit of 153 to win the game. After the rain had stopped and mop-up operations had been completed, the stumps went back up. Fans were eager to see the teams battle each other for supremacy to the end.
After some delay, the match officials inexplicably decided that the allotted time – including extra time –  for the game had elapsed and the Barbados Tridents were declared winners on the Duckworth/Lewis method. This, of course, left many Guyanese fans, both at home and in the Diaspora, very disappointed as they were rallying behind our boys throughout the tournament.
For us Guyanese, if there was any team that deserved to be crowned Champions it was the Warriors; for the simple reason, they played very competitive cricket throughout the series and they were arguably the best team of the tournament.
The Guyana Amazon Warriors, in an attempt to ensure that the playing conditions and tournament rules were adhered to rigorously and to avoid such a recurrence in the future particularly in a final, sought legal advice on this matter.
Both parties have agreed that, in the interest of this great game of cricket and in order to maintain the excellent reputation of the CPL, the matter is now closed and all parties concerned can now move forward to the planning and implementing of a bigger, better and more exciting 2015 CPL.
CPL officials, Franchise Owners/Partners and the Tournament Committee are currently reviewing the rules for the semi-finals and final with a view to using international umpires and match referees and extending the match playing time to midnight, if necessary. This is certainly a step in the right direction.
Dr Ranjisinghi “Bobby” Ramroop, Franchise Owner of the Guyana Amazon Warriors said, “The game of Cricket should always be the winner and the Guyana Amazon Warriors Franchise remains steadfast in our commitment to make every contribution we can to bring enjoyment to the thousands of fans who support not only us, but West Indies Cricket on the whole.”
Caribbean people were beginning to lose interest in cricket mainly because of the dismal performance of the West Indies team over the years. Now the CPL has sparked renewed interest as persons all over the region, even those who were not avid cricket fans, are talking about the game.
That is the kind of impact CPL has had on the Caribbean and it would be to our own disadvantage if the authorities, meaning those responsible for the governance of cricket, did not take full advantage and capitalise on the many opportunities that have now been presented.
In addition to boosting the economies of the region, the League has provided the opportunity for new talent to emerge. Players like young Nicholas Pooran (Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel); Sheldon Cotterell (Antigua Hawksbills); and Steven Jacobs (Guyana Amazon Warriors), to name a few, are now given the opportunity to shine. Certainly, CPL has opened many doors for these young athletes to achieve their dreams.
CPL has shown both the West Indian public’s enduring love for cricket and the endless potential for growth and success in the region. We are, therefore, happy that the stakeholders are now looking ahead and the preparations for the 2015 tournament are in full gear.

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Clearing the air on radio licences

Thursday’s edition of this newspaper published a clarification that unlike the claims Kaieteur News has been peddling, neither Government nor former President Bharat Jagdeo awarded to Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII) television or radio licences.

The company in 2008, through its Executive Chairman Dr Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, bought the television station from Vieira Communications Limited (VCT) owned by Anthony Vieira, a former People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) parliamentarian and businessman. An open and public transaction, it was heavily criticised because of Vieira’s association with the PNC/R.

Details of that sale were carried by the KN itself, under the headline, “Guyana Times owners buy VCT Channel 28”, on June 5, 2009. Yet, KN continues to publish articles about the Government awarding television and radio licences to QAII. Vieira himself conceded that it was the best offer he had received.

“As businessmen we enter into specific business ventures with objectives, whilst at the same time, seeking to conclude the best alternative or deal, and I believe, having considered all my years of hard work and investments in the television industry, the offer I got for VCT from the Ramroop group was acceptable,” Vieira said.

The Court of Appeal, on October 14, 2009, ruled that Government had an unlawful monopoly on the airwaves and it said the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) was not doing its job with respect to considering radio licence applications. It was ruled that the NFMU had been procrastinating over the years.

VCT had applied for a radio licence in 1993 and had asked that the court order the NFMU to issue it with a radio licence forthwith, but the court said there were technicalities involved in making such a decision and that it lacked the expertise to make such an evaluation.
It eventually ruled that the NFMU was the entity which was well placed to make such an evaluation. The court directed the NFMU to consider and determine VCT’s application for a radio broadcast licence.

The court ruled that the monopoly enjoyed by Government was not only unlawful, but significantly restricted VCT and the people of Guyana in their ability to receive and to communicate ideas and information without interference.

The court also ruled that VCT was entitled to compensation for damages resulting from violations of its rights. It also ordered Government to pay VCT costs in the sum of $500,000.

Then Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, who was present in court for the ruling at the time, hailed the decision, saying it was a milestone in the constitutional history of Guyana. He said the Court of Appeal was “bold and brave in relation to its tending of freedom and liberties at the judicial level”. Ramjattan added that the decision was consistent with what was happening in more profound democracies.

Government officially paid $500,000 to Television Guyana Inc (TVG), as successor to VCT after the sale to QAII, for damages after it was sued for breaching the company’s fundamental rights to a radio broadcast licence. The cheque was paid in March 2013, originally to TVG, which had purchased all of the properties and assets of VCT.

A decision was taken by Dr Ramroop to pay the monies over to Vieira as the final obligations and commitment to him following the sale of VCT and all related properties. Vieira received the cheque and promptly cashed it.

As successor to all rights of VCT, Dr Ramroop received the radio licence consequent to the judgment. With the judgment also breaking the radio monopoly, other radio licences have been issued.

Lall has revealed via his own newspaper another possible motive for his vendetta. On one occasion, Lall confessed that he had also applied for television and radio licences. But with Lall’s “sketchy past”, as revealed by the US Embassy, it would be virtually impossible for him to pass the ‘fitness’ test to secure a broadcasting licence.
Is this the real reason for Lall’s vendetta?

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