This family did Guyana a grave injustice
Stabroek News
November 5, 2001

Dear Editor,

Legend has it that much evil is committed on Halloween Night by people who delve into the evil side of the spiritual world. The Guyanese family who went 'trick or treating' on the Oprah Winfrey show on Halloween night, Wednesday October 31, 2001 must be part of the occult world, all dressed up in turtle-necks and knee-length boots in the scary tradition of Halloween. In the process of telling their 'ghost story' about how they came to 'flee' Guyana, the family did an abominable evil deed to our native land by conveying to millions of viewers across the world a picture of Guyana, so false, so disloyal, that it borders on treason.

The topic for the night was " Why I came to America". While one could appreciate the patriotic zeal sweeping America at this time, it is unfortunate that the Oprah Winfrey show, which is a cut above the rest of American talk shows, should be used unwittingly to 'damn' a whole nation, our beloved Guyana.

There can be no justification for casting Guyana among the lands where various atrocities were committed as told by the 'horror story' victims. Let us quickly take a look at some of the stories. Mawi Asgedon escaped from Ethiopia - a war torn country, after spending years in a refugee camp and trekking through the brutal deserts of Africa. He spoke of a woman who walked through the desert despite the fact that she had no skin left on her feet; Leo Bunitz left Cuba because of Communism. He risked his life by swimming for 5 hours in shark-infested waters to get to the U.S.A.; Thida Mam was a teenager in Cambodia during the massacre of the Khmer Rouge also known as the killing fields during which time millions of people were executed. According to her, it wasn't, if I will die, it was when I will die; Elizabeth Ann of Vietnam spoke of the Communist take over in 1975. She and her family had to drop everything and leave the country forever while Holocaust survivor Kathryn Nikkel was eight years old when she was forced into slave labour and was placed in a refugee camp.

The Guyanese family spoke of their lack of freedom and independence. The father was a cane -cutter, so poor he said, he could not afford to send his daughters to school! Yet they owned land and cattle! Because of their poor state, they had to leave everything behind and flee. This was in the George Orwellian year 1984 when Guyana was the only country in the Commonwealth Caribbean to be offering its citizens free education from Nursery to University levels and Guyana Scholarships were available to all Guyanese. At that time also, Guyanese were being encouraged to 'be local and buy local' in a campaign of self-sufficiency. And there was religious freedom. According to Vanessa, one of the daughters, "My family and I are proud to be Americans because we are free to have no fear, to have public education, the Bill of Rights protecting us as individuals, proper housing, clean water and so many other things that are taken for granted but that are so precious. My parents story symbolises the true story of the American dream, you work hard, believe enough and the world becomes yours".

This 'nimakharam' Guyanese family has gone beyond the pale in their quest to perpetuate the lies and to denigrate Guyana. Flee Guyana for Public Education etc.? Ha! It was the great American President Franklyn D. Rooseveldt who once said, " Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds", and according to Antiphanes, "Two things a man cannot hide: that he is drunk, and that he is in love". It was clear that the Guyanese family on the Oprah show on Halloween night were not in love with Guyana.

Yours truly,

Stanhope Williams

146 Bagotille

West Bank