A time to stand firm against the threats

Guyana Chronicle
March 29, 2001

GUYANA's Ambassador to Washington and Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), Dr Odeen Ishmael, calls it "psychological terrorism".

"...an air of tension pervades many parts of the country. Such tension is a fertile breeding ground for rumours which inject fear in the minds of the ordinary people", he told the OAS Permanent Council at a meeting in Washington on Monday.

"The spreading of hostile rumours, as I indicated when we discussed the Guatemalan situation in this chamber a few weeks ago, amount to what I termed as `psychological terrorism'", Dr Ishmael said.

He recalled the unrest along the East Coast last week and other incidents and said, "such action gives the impression that some forces are not willing to accept the democratic decision of the people."

It is the `psychological terrorism' that the Ambassador has referred to that the majority of Guyanese have to be firm against.

It is clearly meant to wear down and beat down the spirit in a war of nerves by the forces Dr Ishmael says are at work here.

These forces, he told the OAS, "cannot and would not accept the democratic process, and are using non-legal measures to hold the elected government to ransom."

Fr. Malcolm Rodrigues SJ, in a viewpoint we published yesterday, notes the evil behind the spreading of the rumours, in a sense bearing out Dr Ishmael's contention about the `psychological terrorism' at work.

"Over the last few weeks, we Guyanese have been treated to a series of rumours and downright lies, which, the more they were repeated the more they seemed true", he notes.

"The calculated effect of this manner of behaviour was to give rise to various reactions across the spectrum of our people - from those who were ready to beat and rip up, those who were taking no chances and closed their business premises, those who removed their children from school as early as possible, as the details of the rumours/lies spread, to those who either ignored them altogether or took the trouble to check out the true value of these rumours."

While Fr. Rodrigues pointed out that at one point the "prince of falsehood appeared to have won the day", he stressed that it is "truth and integrity which ultimately will set us all free."

People are speaking up and out for truth, in spite of the attacks, and according to Fr. Rodrigues, the "prince of truth definitely won the day in spite of rumours and lies."

Guyanese are showing that they can withstand the psychological terrorism that has been unleashed and it is in this strength that the nation will prevail.

Ambassador Ishmael has briefed the OAS, to which Guyana belongs, about the situation here and has asked them to ponder the following:

"The question the OAS must now ask itself is this:

"Must it sit back while a democratic government is pressured by forces which act contrary to democracy; or should it help to develop forms of preventive diplomacy, including the application of conflict-resolution mechanisms, to defend such a democratic government against the forces of destabilisation?"

It is also a question that the international donor community, the observers and those committed to preserving the democratic process in the hemisphere should be seriously addressing.