August 2, 2015

Wages of…

…my turn to loot?
If the PPP wanted to write a script as to how the APNU/AFC coalition would self-destruct, they couldn’t have improved on what’s unfolding. First there was the Orwellian News Speak of renaming Ministries. We now have a “Social Cohesion” Ministry that fulfills its mandate by dragging foreign working girls out of Bartica all the way to Georgetown. The Minister “I is” Broomes claimed the 29 or so girls were trafficked. So you’d think they were the victims, no? NO! They were the ones Broomes charged to increase social cohesion.
Then there was the trampling on the Cummingsburg Accord to effectively banish the AFC big wigs to Siberia. Like in the Gulag! Quick now…what exactly has Ramjattan, appointed Minister of National Security done? Excepting, of course, extrapolating his own compulsion for all-night binges to impose a 2:am ban on serving alcohol. Would solve the crime wave, the man says!
And now comes the latest howler. Imagine promising these to your supporters, to now tell them 1) you can’t give them school vouchers to cover basic expenses; 2) you can’t bring down VAT “significantly”; 3) you can’t give the 50,000 public servants …of all stripes – a “significant raise”. But you now give yourself 100-200% raises??!!!
This Eyewitness would just like to hear the explanation. Your $50,000 per month policeman or clerk can’t get a $750 A MONTH raise (15%) but a minister is bumped up from $579,000 to $1MILLION??? That’s a $431,000 a month increase!! 74%!! Extreme actions call for extreme reactions and all your Eyewitness can say is “WTF???!!” This is madness!! So not only have these jokers created 4 Vice Presidencies who’re drawing over $1 million each…but they increase the number of Ministers from 20 to 27, and give everybody a raise?
Now let’s take a simple example from the fella getting the smallest percentage raise… Nagamootoo’s 13 per cent. This still amounts to $200,000 – four times the minimum wage – on top of his $1.5 million!!! Now why give Nagamootoo $200,000 when he’s already going to be living in the fancy house on Waterloo St that’s being air conditioned and termite-proofed ($80 million?), he draws $500,000 in vacation allowance and millions for entertainment. Don’t talk about guards, maids, gardeners and drivers!
And then multiply that by 27. 37 if you throw in all those high-powered advisors to the president. Reminds this Eyewitness of the beauteous Marie Antoinette, Queen of France 1790’s. Told that the rioting peasants can’t get bread to eat, she remarked without the slightest touch of Irony: “Well, let them eat cake!!”
She, of course, lost her head on the guillotine. A hint to Beneba mek Quashie tek notice.

…sugar faith
So we have a “high powered” COI looking into the travails of sugar. We were assured that all these worthies are “sugar” men (not “sweet” men) who knew sugar “inside out”. Well their questions to Tate and Lyle earlier this week, reminded your Eyewitness of another “sugar man” interlocutor – Ian Mc Donald – and his faith in the European Sugar Protocol that was supposed to last “in perpetuity.
Ha!!! The Europeans broke that so fast it made Usain Bolt look like the fabled tortoise! They said that nothing lasts “forever” – even true love and “special relationships”. So these COI sugar mavens needed Tate and Lyle to tell them they had to bring down our production costs?? While the plan might’ve gone awry, wasn’t that what the Skeldon Factory supposed to do??
As as for Beet sugar, that was in the cards since the Napoleonic Wars as was later the U.S. HFCS – which Europeans call Isoglucose.
Let’s face it. They use us and then throw us away liked sucked oranges.
And we go back for more!

…being a hit man
Sean Hinds claimed he singlehandedly brought the 2000-2008 crime wave under control.
Nominations open for the next OR?

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Emancipate your mind…

…from mental slavery

There’s a downside to some “catch-phrases”: they become so popular that folks forget what the “catch” was all about. Almost every Guyanese will hear Marley’s inimitable phrase that forms the title of this piece this weekend. But who thinks about the “mental slavery” that Brother Bob crooned about? Or whether some new mental chains have been forge since then?

In Guyana, we’ll be rightfully reminded that by Emancipation Day 1838, the freed slaves of Guyana saved their money earned during the previous 4 years of “Apprenticeship” and were in a position to purchase entire sugar plantations from owners, who’d abandoned them. Even though these planters had received a most generous “settlement” for their freed slaves, they took the money and ran.

Marley sang his song back in 1979. The original exhortation, along with the caution, “None but ourselves can free our minds”, was from one of the speeches of the great Marcus Garvey. But while Marley referred to the past…he was grounded in the present. Only the year before he’d brought together the bitter political rivals of Jamaican politics – Michael Manley and Edward Seaga – on the same stage in a massive “Peace Concert”.

Jamaica had become enmeshed in a bitter concoction of violent gang-cum political violence between the two parties that made our “2000-2008” gang warfare look like a Christmas party. As he held the two leaders’ hand aloft in his, he offered some advice that bears repetition this Emancipation Day.

“Just let me tell you something (yeah), to make everything come true, we gotta be together. (Yeah, yeah, yeah) and through the spirit of the Most High, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, we’re inviting a few leading people of the slaves to shake hands…

“To show the people that you love them right, to show the people that you gonna unite, show the people that you’re over bright, show the people that everything is all right. Watch, watch, watch, what you’re doing, because I wanna send a message right out there.

I mean, I’m not so good at talking but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say… I just want to shake hands and show the people that we’re gonna make it right, we’re gonna unite, we’re gonna make it right, we’ve got to unite.”

Sadly by the time Marley died three years later, the violence was even worse. The politicians hadn’t liberated their minds from the mental slavery that made them divide their people to the extent that they were willing to slaughter each other.

Will our politicians heed “Redemption Song”?

We need unity even more today.

…from only blaming

Your Eyewitness learnt in Sunday school that the Lord expressly said: “Vengeance is mine”. So it’s either the present Government believe that they’re the instrument of the said Lord, or they’re the Lord himself. Just look at the vengeance they’re exacting on anyone associated with the PPP. OK…we know Governments have to clean up messes and straighten out corruption and all that.

But surely that doesn’t exhaust the functions of Government? Apart from rooting out the “bad guys” (let’s give the government the benefit of the doubt) wasn’t there a Manifesto on which they were elected? Let’s not even dwell on the touchy topic of their “100 day plan”. How about rice…which has been in the news for all sorts of reasons? Their Manifesto they’d be “Exploring options for providing more appropriate levels of trade credit to farmers, millers and exporters.”

Even after one Banker suggested several initiatives on the above, can the Government point to ONE option they’ve explored?

But exacting vengeance is too sweet, no?

…from excusing criminality

Confronted with the explosion of armed robberies, there are those who “balance” it with white collar crime. Crime is crime.

Beat them all with the rod of correction.

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Exclusivity…

…or payback time?

Well…well…well, it’s only been a couple of months in the new regime – even the “other” foot hasn’t fully dropped as yet. But you don’t need “signs” to figure out what’s up ahead. Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth by anyone who’s not in the new leadership’s good books, that’s what!

Imagine even the GHRA came out swinging about the dearth of women on the twenty or so STATE BOARDS, just announced. The GHRA, in case you hadn’t noticed, dear reader, would never, ever comment on anything that would put the APNU/AFC in a negative light. Ever heard of the term “lapdog” or “doormat” used in an anthropomorphic sense? That’s what the GHRA is to APNU.

But why’s the GHRA surprised women were scotched from State Boards?? Hadn’t they read Africo Selman’s testimony about what goes on in the party she’d served for years? “Barefoot and pregnant” pretty much sums up APNU’s position on women. Didn’t they have to amend their list of candidates because it failed the 33 per cent women threshold required by the law?? Didn’t they have the same problem with women in the Cabinet? So enough with the squeals GHRA…let’s see you protesting with placards outside OP, OK?

But while the GHRA saw only the sex (sexual?) disparity in the Boards, the even more glaring ethnic one went unremarked. Surprise!!! So it was left to Clairmont Lye, philanthropist, humanitarian and un-hyphenated Guyanese without any ethnic baggage to point out the state of nakedness of this particular emperor in the ethnic realm. Lye, owner of the Coalpot restaurant and founder of Beacon Foundation had left the bright lights of Gtown for the bucolic pleasures of the Rupununi. So maybe he can see a bit more clearly than us on the coast? Views from the Rupununi do tend to be a bit less obstructed – in more ways than one.

The PPP had been making the point about the Government firing Indio-Guyanese from state jobs to the point where it can be dubbed “ethnic cleansing”. So what do you call a situation where one ethnic group doesn’t even get a shot at state jobs – supposedly open to all citizens? Ethnic discrimination?

Cheddi once accused Burnham of practicing “racial discrimination” against Indian-Guyanese supporters of the PPP. Burnham looked the Marxist Cheddi right in the eye and asked, “Comrade, what’s the socialist content of race?”

This Eyewitness can just hear Granger’s riposte to Nagamootoo – if he were man enough to raise the topic about the 11% he delivered.

“My Whim friend, what does ethnicity matter to a man who’s denied his ethnicity?”

…on Rodney’s COI

As he pointed out right after being declared President, Mr Granger didn’t see any point in having the Rodney COI hearings continuing. He’d been catapulted over several senior officers and made head of the GDF right after Rodney was accused of torching Congress Place – and just months before Rodney was killed. You’d think he’d want to have his name cleared – not to mention the name of the PNC , the party he now leads, – wouldn’t you?

But what does this Eyewitness know? Anyhow, the new Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, just offered a “reason” for not extending the life of the COI. He said it was a choice of either subsidizing the Berbice Bridge tolls and helping 60,000 Berbicians or looking in the death of one man!!

Now this kind of “reasoning” is known as the logical fallacy of “false dilemma”. The choice isn’t really between these two things, is it? The toll subsidies will cost billions every year, while extension would’ve cost at most $20 million.

But a fella gotta earn his keep, no?

…in data?

Funny thing happened on the way to the economic charts! Why else would ECLAC announce that because of “buoyant agriculture”, growth will be 4.5%?

Sugar’s dead, rice’s on the ropes but because coconut’s floating, this is “buoyant”??

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Unfinished business…

…on Cummingsburg
There’s all sorts of reasons being proffered as to why canaries are suddenly singing in Guyana – especially when the species isn’t a native of our fair land. OK…we’ve had – and certainly still do – our fair share of the bad, good and the ugly. Even those who’re bad AND ugly. But let’s face it, never in the annals of our history have be we have so few willing to fess up to so many crimes.
It’s not even the day of judgement, when, your Eyewitness was told in Sunday School, “Confession’s good for the soul”. So what gives? Well, one school of thought is that there needed to be a distraction from the castration that’s been inflicted on the two top leaders of the AFC – Moses Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan. But your Eyewitness don’t buy that. If the two fellas who’ve been most definitely been spayed had made a fuss or even squealed a bit, maybe that theory would’ve made sense.
But then on the other hand, even though a committee was established to enquire into the allegations of neutering of the two Berbicians of 11% fame, it would’ve taken some doing for that Committee to pronounce conclusively on whether Nagamootoo and Ramjattan had been made into eunuchs or not. It’s like those cases we have reported from the courts: fella beats the stuffing out of his wife but she refuses to testify in court – and the judge has no alternative but to throw the case out.
But let’s look at the evidence. After all, castration does lead to visible effects on the fellas who’ve been emasculated. In politics, they become invisible or reduced to cutting ribbons or kissing babies’ bottoms. Quick now!! When was the last time you saw Ramjattan – even cutting a ribbon? The folks in Berbice were about to stage a rebellion because the crime rate just kept going through the ceiling. And Brigadier Collins wants us to believe that Ramjattan actually sent HIM to soother the nerves of all them Berbicians?
What enquiring minds want to know is if Ramjattan was made the Minister of National Security, and Guyana needed to have all these military brass as advisors, why not make them advisors to Ramjattan?? Why have them report to the President who has to then send them over to Ramjattan to (if Collins is to be believe) to be told to shuffle down to Berbice and see why the natives are also agitated?
So Collins wants us to believe that Ramjattan’s gonna refuse the offer by the President? So we return to the question as to why so many canaries are singing.
Maybe it IS to hide the Berbicians’ balls being excised.

…on Border
Some folks are a bit confused about the swords rattling on our western border. So let’s lay out some basics. First and foremost Guyana holds no truck with the position of the Venezuelans that the Geneva Agreement reopens a DISPUTE over the border. There ain’t no DISPUTE – just a controversy raised by Venezuela about some fella saying that one of the Arbitrators of the 1899 award was “tampered” with.
Now that is an issue – meaning that there two sides to that story. And the Geneva Agreement is to look into this claim. But on the Border Demarcation, that’s a done deal: signed sealed and delivered. Guyana ain’t reopen that award…even though there are some of the old maps that show our “Essequibo” included all the land drained by the Cuyuni – Essequibo River’s tributary – in Venezuela. .
So let’s not get distracted about all the different “interests” – for us Guyana, we just have to settle the Venezuelan controversy – at the World Court!

…on school vouchers
OK…OK…so maybe the PPP was politicking when they introduced the $10,000 voucher for school kids.
So what about the $15,000 demanded by Roopnarine’s old comrades in the WPA?

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Government’s responsibilities…

…and rice
Ah!! How quickly they forget!! We’re talking, of course, about what politicians do after that whirlwind courtship they call “elections campaigning”. Like all courtships, political campaigns are dominated by promises. While not necessarily promises about delivering the moon and stars to get into a girl’s jeans, the politicians aren’t too far behind to have their way with voters behind the curtains of the voting booths.
Take the promise the now incumbent – but sadly, also now recumbent – coalition APNU/AFC government made on rice, to the people of Guyana. Now rice ain’t just chicken feed in the Guyanese economy. Apart from bringing in hundreds of millions in U.S. greenbacks, the industry supports at least 100,000 Guyanese – and what’s most important for this discussion – the majority of them being voters. So, as you could remember, they were wooed back in May with some expansive promises.
In the APNU/AFC Manifesto – not the “leaked one” …they one they owned up to – under the heading of “Support for Rice Sector” it’s clearly stated in big, bold letters that “The APNU/AFC coalition will “Immediately initiate a sustainable Rice Sector support programme which would include: Negotiation of additional new international markets for rice from Guyana.”
So…hello????! What’s this about rice being a private sector enterprise and that the “stakeholders” must get up and get when it comes to marketing?? And imagine this being said by all the head honchos at the conference (also promised in the Manifesto) to deal with rice issues!! Have the new movers and shakers just woken up and discovered that government hadn’t nationalized the rice industry.
With all the data to digest in this plugged-in world, folks can miss a bit of information here and there. But not remembering who sells rice?? Jeez, that’s like forgetting that Nagamootoo’s from Berbice! But like your Eyewitness started out saying, rice voters will find out the fickleness of the politicians is as endemic in APNU/AFC as with the girl who sang “I never promised you a rose garden”.
The trouble is that the new Government had to’ve known that the bottom would fall out of the Venezuelan market when they promised finding new markets. How does your Eyewitness know this?? Well Exxon had already struck pay dirt off our Essequibo coast before the Manifesto. And the U.S. had already moved aggressively to bump up their campaign to shake up – if not remove – Maduro.
It was just a matter of adding 2+2. But when you’re wooing voters, who cares if you tell them the answer’s 5!!!
However payback can be a bitch.

…to “commercial sex”
It’s not surprising Guyana was rapped on the knuckles once again by the U.S. about not taking their tip on TIP. Well…it WAS more than a tip, wasn’t it? For years we were warned by the land that’d done away with TIP about throwing more of our traffickers into jail and throwing away the keys. They even honoured a daughter of the interior, Simona “I is” Broomes, who walked into those mining camps and brought out those TIP victims – so that the Government could see how it should be done.
But sadly the past Government was “hard ears”. The present Government will surely get a better rating come next year when their performance is rated. Didn’t the fearless “I is” Broomes wade into Bartica in a speedboat and pluck 29 victims of TIP and brought them all the way to Gtown? They WERE victims, right? But what confused Your Eyewitness was the report claiming “the govt didn’t make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.”
So apart from TIP, the Government’s gonna make “working girls” unemployed?

…rice flour
So the Government wants to save the rice industry by having us revisit the rice flour “solution” from the seventies?
Rice-flour roti, anyone?

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Deja vu…

…on political accusations
Seems that some people – especially politicians – never learn. When the PPPC entered office in 1992 after the first free and fair elections in 28 years, they promised «no discrimination, no victimisation, no recrimination”. Even though former President Desmond Hoyte had initiated mass «retrenchment» in the Public Service under IMF pressure (pretty much like what’s going on in Barbados) the PPP put a halt to that.
But because they felt the need to have folks they could «trust» in the upper, decision-making echelons, they did make some changes there. Trouble was, their strategy was poor- they waited too long to make their move. In these situations, if you don’t make your changes immediately, folks settle back into their «entitlement» zone. The PNC, didn’t waste much time, and under the leadership of a very acerbic and confrontational Hoyte as Opposition leader, accuse the PPP for engaging in «ethnic cleansing».
Following, as it did, earlier accusations of harassment by the PPPC on the return of «state property» – notably cars, furniture and even drapes – the accusations set the stage for very bitter political engagements. Charges of the PPPC «taking away» land from PNC supporters and giving it to theirs at Boeraserie led to Hoyte going as far as advising them to «shoot to kill» if anyone stepped on their land. Hamilton Green, vying for the PNC’s leadership – on the platform that Hoyte was «too soft on the PPP» – raised the temperature on the East Coast by charging discrimination house lot allocation in «PNC areas». Etc., etc.
The problem in politics with this approach is that sooner or later, you’ll be asked: «Wah yuh gine do about it, budday??!!» You have to «put your money where your mouth is». Or else you’re seen as a «Christmas blow blow» or, worse yet, as a «sell out». Hoyte’s taking to the streets after 1997 can be seen as an almost inevitable segueing into actions to match his earlier, strident rhetoric. And of course that led to «slow fyaah…mo fyaah» and the cataclysmic events which occurred between 2000-2008.
Whether it’s a case of «abused opposition» becoming «abusing government», or the PNC just wants the PPP to get a taste of what it felt it got from 1992, the wholesale firings and accusations of «stolen assets» are flying fast and furious against PPP appointees. But more to the point, the PPP has now defined the coalition government’s moves as «witch hunting» and «ethnic cleansing».
Whether the PPP intends to go gown the post-1992 road already pursued by Hoyte’s PNC or not, we point out the results of «unintended consequences» to both parties.
Knock got knock back, no?

…on PPP’s leadership
Seems that your Eyewitness will have to revisit this (vexed) topic of Nagamootoo’s place in the PPP leadership once again. For years and years, the man who would be President – but is now PM without a portfolio – has insisted he was one of the «top» leaders of the PPP, which he joined right after he and Granger used to play marbles at Whim while in short pants.
Now unless Nagamootoo has lost some of those marbles on the way to «town» and long pants, how could he not know that the PPP was running a «criminal syndicate» for twenty three years – as he now claims?? Since he was a «top» leader during at least 20 of those 23 years, is he now saying such a vast undertaking was carried out without his knowledge?
That wouldn’t say much for the «topness» of his leadership, would it?
Or was he just a fella who let out hot air from his orifices, as his critics claim?

…on suicide
As the number of groups «addressing» suicide multiply exponentially, the suicide rates are keeping pace. Reminds this Eyewitness of the number of groups «assisting» Haiti – while collecting billions.
But the country’s still as poor as ever.

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West Indian disarray…

…in the air

So what else is new? We’ve been rapped again – this time by our own Caribbean Development Bank – that we need to re-look at our airline industry. For a region made up of islands but still hanker for some sort of unity – but more importantly depend on foreign tourism, you’d think that transportation links between the territories and the between the territories and the metropolitan countries would be way up on the agenda of CariCom, no?

No! For the longest while each territory insisted that it had to have its own airline. Not just a kind of prestige thing but seemingly as a sine qua non of being “independent”. Like having your own flag and coat of arms and such like. So we in Guyana had our Guyana Airways…with our Golden Arrowhead and name proudly emblazoned on the side. Some cynics felt that these airlines mainly served to flatter the ego of our political leaders so that when they went abroad, they could deplane from their “national airline” in style.

Be as it may, these airlines were never profitable since both foreign tourists and returning natives only used them during the holidays. While Marxists point out that all capitalist businesses form one series of “booms and busts”… with our airlines, it was mostly “busts” and had to be highly subsidized. So since ego can only go “so far”, by 2000, Guyana privatized its airline and in 2011, Jamaican Air was sold to Caribbean Airlines, owned by the Trinidadian Government. This last one must’ve been a hard one to swallow since Jamaica always has a “thing” about those “uppity” Trinis who refused entry to their citizens with gusto.

So right now we have Caribbean Air, BahamanAir and LIAT…which collectively had yo be subsidized to the tune last year of US$1B!!! Now that’s a tune with a heck of a HIGH note!! So what to do? Since Jamaica’s venture to produce and sell Ganja on a mass scale will take some time (not least because of spliffs are ever to become legal over-the-counter items, the multinationals will ensure they take the bulk of the profits) we can wait on them to fund a consolidated truly “Caribbean Airlines”. But this must be done.

Your Eyewitness hereby proposes that CariCom finally gets off its collective haunches, and like they did with CXC,more an autonomous body to organize and run a Catbbean-Wide Airlines that at long last be professionally run.

And one that won’t have to five free tickets to every politician’s friends and friendly charity.

The airline business is a “hawk eat hawk” business in the skies.

…in the law School

Here was the new, always dapper and mustachioed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs about to have a chat with the law students at UG. As the self proclaimed “legal luminary” of the new government, you couldn’t blame him for expecting these apprentices – not even wet behind the ears – to look up to him with awe as he dropped legal pears of wisdom and clever bon mots.

Sadly, he’s still dusting himself off after running into what he must think was a buzz saw. Seem the budding lawyers’ve already imbibed the fundamental legal maxim that “attack is the best defense”! Before the AG could even strike his pose, the students waded into him. What does he have to say about UWI’s Hugh Wooding (necessary for them to practice) increasing their fees by a third? And so on…

The AG didn’t even get ask whether – if the government subsidizes their legal education – would the students serve as prosecutors for two years after their return?

Or whether UG law School should become a campus of UWI?

…in cricket

Now that’s it’s clear that there will be no changes in the WICB’s makeup or modus operandi, only CPL can save WI cricket.

Especially if Shahrukh landed in TT last night!!

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Plus ça change…

…and cynicism deepens
While we (and the Germans) may scoff at the pretensions of the French for trying to punch above their weight category, nothing expresses your Eyewitness jaded view of politics than that Gallic shrug of the shoulders, one lifted eyebrow and unturned palms that accompanies their world-weary expression: “Plus ca change…” The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Take this budget business. When the Opposition secured their razor thin majority to control the house, they fought tooth and nail to roll back the proposition that the Budget was the Executive’s responsibility. They chopped and hacked three successive budgets – the last two times even in the face of the courts ruling that an Opposition just can’t do that.
If their cherry-picking chopping were allowed, the resulting budget would their artifact -not the Executives, ruled the Courts. “Not so!” cried not only the APNU and the AFC but also the fella who was supposed to be a neutral referee in the House: the Speaker. Trotman jumped feet first into the fray saying in effect that the Chief Justice didn’t have all his marbles. If the majority Opposition in the Assembly wanted to use a chain saw on the budget, then – paraphrasing the inimitable Bobby Brown – it’s their prerogative!!
It had nothing to do with who’s the “Executive” or the “Opposition” – it’s all about the numbers in the House. But here it is, after first backing down from its braggadocio on not consulting the PPP, who were defeated (?) by a mere 5000 votes from being the Executive, the Minister of Finance sat down with them on the Budget.
But just to make it clear where they were coming from, the goodly Minister was careful to point out: “at the end of the day, the Executive is responsible for the budget”!! Plus ça change… (You, dear readers, have to do the Gallic gestures, OK?)
How many times have we experienced this sort of backpedaling? Shall we count the ways?
Salary increases for Public Servants, Policemen, nurses and all other government workers who normally vote for APNU? Lowered VAT? And you know their responses: “Hey! We have to look at the impact of these actions, OK? So we hadn’t thought of this when we made the promise, OK? Not OK? So what are we to do? Commit hara kiri? Hey! That was a rhetorical question, OK?”
For a host of reasons (gold prices, loss of rice markets, sugar travails, political uncertainty, etc) the economy appears headed into a free fall. So this Eyewitness will offer this gratuitous advice to the government.
Don’t cut PPP’s nose to spite Guyana’s face. Consult!!

…and Ramjattan’s quarantine continues
While this Eyewitness knows that “all skin teeth na laugh”, Ramjattan’s sequestration since he snagged the Ministry of National Security isn’t even a smile. This has serious implications for the parliamentary notion of Ministerial responsibility. So with upraised arms, we ask: exactly what is Ramjattan, as Minister of National Security responsible for?
We know he’s not responsible for Immigration, which was hived off to former COP Winston Felix, under the rubric of “Citizenship”. As to what else is covered under that umbrella, only time will tell. We also know that President Granger has some expertise in this area: witness the endorsement in the U.S. after his speech at his alma mater? And we saw this after his summons to Ramjattan to suggest a plan, when the latter was fumfering on the crime wave.
Then of course, there’s Brigadier Collins in Berbice and Commodore Best in Georgetown.
But the most alarming trend has been Harmon pronouncing on all crime matters, most recently on Sean Hinds’ warbling.
Is (gasp!!) Ramjattan just a token?

…on crime
As we head into another upsurge of criminal violence, the focus as usual is on the perpetrators and their angst and not the victims.
The latter don’t bleed, do they?

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The root of the problem…

…with the police

Some people, like your Eyewitness, swear that there aren’t any coincidences in life. Like, for instance, the Rodney COI and Sean Hinds singing like a kiskadee about police involvement in crimes ranging from gun running to murder for hire? You don’t see the connection between the events separated by an exact 25 years? Well your Eyewitness will connect the dots for you, dear readers.

What the testimony to the Commission up to now, has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that during the Burnhamite PNC years, the Police Force was subverted to do the bidding of the regime. We can look at the officers swearing personal loyalty to Burnham…but that was only the tip of a very large iceberg. Didn’t we hear of policemen assigned to spy on the WPA? Wasn’t it cops who shot and killed WPA activists Edward Dublin and OheneKoama, who in the words of Omawale, “were killed for no discernible reason other than” associating with the WPA. Turning a blind eye to thugs breaking up WPA meetings while sharing out “condign” licks was SOP.

Weren’t separate dirty tricks run out of Ogle by Laurie Lewis and his innocuously named “Professional Guard Service”? You get the drift? By the time Burnham died in 1985, the corruption of the police to do the (illegal) bidding of the government had become endemic. And when cancer of corruption played out in the midst of an economic meltdown that affected fixed-salaries folks like the police most – it should surprise no one that many policemen turned to “extra-curricular” activities to make a living.

It was no urban myth that many of the “kick-down-the-door” bandits were active or ex-policemen. Or that their guns were hired out for that activity. Or that the said activity was so ethnically directed towards Indian Guyanese that EusiKwayana remarked it had the “flavour of ethnic genocide”.

While Desmond Hotyte’s “hang em high” policy might’ve put a crimp on the “kick-down-the-door” banditry, the police force the PPP inherited in 1992, needed some radical reconstructive, root-and-branch surgery to get it back to a modicum of professionalism. This they never did for reasons best known to themselves.

And we reach the point where Andrew Douglas (an ex-policeman and lieutenant of Blackie London, an ex-soldier) launched a Freedom Movement by killing mainly Indian Guyanese villagers but more germanely, scads of policemen.

Why be surprised, according to Sean Hinds, that policemen from CID started doing hits?

Whether for hire or for their own loyalty to the “blue wall”.

…in Regional and local cricket

So you know that your Eyewitness is a “cricket tragic”. He’s confessed to his weakness. His nails are already bitten to the nub over the Warriors’ today’s game with the Red Steel. So when he heard there was a local tour by the WICB head honcho in which he’ll meet the Minister of Sports and the local cricketing bodies to straighten out to other forms of the game, he was ecstatic.

The sad truth is that “a cricket tragic” is addicted to all forms of the game…and the dearth of Test and ODI’s in his native land had worn him to a frazzle. So here he was, waiting for the cricket “stakeholders” to tell the WICB what’ll be done to bring back West Indies cricket. Which, as everyone knows, means implementing the 2007 Paterson Report and revamp the WICB. The entire structure’s rotten

But all the “stakeholders” did was to carry on about their local travails. Hey…whatever they do in Guyana will be gone for guava if the WICB isn’t cleaned up.

And the WICB, like fishes, start stinking at the head.

…with Sean Hinds

Hinds has the nation captivated with his titillating tales. We all like salacious gossip.

Question is, how credible’s the gossip?

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Man in the middle…

…ducking fire

Before the election, crime and security (or lack thereof) were high on everyone’s agenda. But moreso in the community from which Moses Nagamootoo and KhemrajRamjattan had promised the 11% vote, which made them Prime Minister and First Vice-President/Minister of National Security respectively. Ramjattan had been hocking his “crime fighting” credentials for two decades – even since he crossed swords with old time COP Laurie Lewis.

So – wonder of wonders! – the coalition wins the election, Ramjattan’s ensconced into the security power position, and then…..SILENCE!! And INVISIBILITY!! What the heck’s going on? Murders and all serious crimes had skyrocketed since his ascension but when he’s cornered by reporters all he can blurt out is that “greed is the source of all crimes”!!?? What was this fella doing all these years? Hadn’t he come up with some concrete proposals and projects so that he could’ve hit the ground running?

So finally in desperation, his boss President Granger’s forced to summon him- along with his (Granger’s) Security Advisors to take notes on an overall strategy. Wasn’t that a shame? And that’s really what it was – long term stuff like “more police ranks”. And Ramjattan just took it like the mook he is. So Guyana’s supposed to wait for “ranks” to be recruited, get their six months of training, and then be launched into battle?? And we accept the status quo as “collateral damage”??

And why didn’t Ramjattan have the guts to visit Berbice and show his presence among the troops as his predecessors used to do? Why did the President have to send his advisor Brigadier (rtd) Edward Collins – just to tell the Police commander over there to “deal condignly” with criminals. As apposed to what? Handling them with kid gloves?

The Minister of Security’s the point man of the Government’s (civilian) control over the Disciplined Forces. And in dealing with men and women in these services, strong leadership is paramount. What Guyana’s facing right now is a battle against crime – and when leading troops into battle the chain of command must be as clear as Perspex. The leader must be seen by his troops as involved: armchair generals don’t win battles against even jellyfish.

Even more recently, there’s been a spate of revelations on high profile cold cases. So who pontificates as to what might be going on?? Joseph Harmon, Minister of the Presidency, that’s who. Ramjattan, as usual is nowhere to be seen or heard.

Even if he was appointed as a “token”, tokens have to be presented on occasions, don’t they?

Will Ramjattan at least show the nation he’s still breathing?

…singing like a canary

Well, well, well…whaddya know? Sean Hinds’ singing like a canary!! The question that’s on everyone’s lips, of course, is “why?” and “why now?” After all, the reason he offered – that the police’s trying to finger him to Crum Ewing’s killing – didn’t hold up. The police made a public statement that he was never on their radar. The PPP, however, says he’s part of the Government’s campaign to smear them.

Apart from the usual bad blood and scoring of political points (cheap or otherwise) it could be that the Government wants to distract the citizenry from the imploding economy. They tried the bread and circuses approach, but even with the claimed “private funding” – that gets expensive. As a fella once said, “spending a billion here and a billion there…pretty soon you’re talking about real money!”

But if Sean Hinds’ the point man the Government’s chosen to go after the PPP, they’re on real shaky ground. Everyone’s convinced he’s been bought out and is being played by one of his former bosses.

Right Bannuh?

…against Buxton?

According to Sean Hinds, like Horatio, he singlehandedly fought off the Buxton bandits who would’ve plunged us back into the stone ages.

He should get a medal – at least for his singing!

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