Complaints by family on Oprah's programme were unfair
November 26, 2001
It was not the facts stated by the family that appeared on Oprah Winfrey's programme that bothered Guyanese. For many people slept on rice bags, on wooden floors and street corners. This was not the only country in the world this happened to.
But to make it appear as if this was institutionalized by the Government of the day is ludicrous.
Education was free, how come the family did not participate in it. They had to have money owning rice fields and livestock. They did not go backtrack and for all of them to leave at that time had to cost well over G$200,000.00 for airfare so how did they struggle?
Let's talk about the restrictions of food items. Two things caused this, the fall in prices of our traditional goods rice, bauxite and sugar; external pressure by the USA, in that we refused to jump to their beck and call, and they used flour under the PL 480 programme as a way to control us; also the US and Venezuela blocked the hydro dam project, since it would have positioned Guyana as the true breadbasket of the Caribbean. The PPP, burned the rice fields and destroyed the cane, did not pay their fair share of the taxes and went about imploring donor countries not to support Guyana's development programmes.
The impression the lady gives that these food restrictions were done to suppress and oppress Indians can surely not be true. Everyone suffered from these actions but the Indians especially benefited because they grew provisions and other crops and obtained greater land use. Another example will suffice. When salt fish was banned from being imported people reacted positively by making their own, labelling them as a 'made in Guyana Product' and exporting it, creating another Guyanese industry.
If you look at things occurring today we are worse off than before and people are still backtracking like never before.
The lady who claimed she was not independent in Guyana, that was due to her religious and social circumstances. This was not government's policy at all.