June 18, 1999
It is extremely annoying to come in to the car park at the National Park to find that some genius has parked slap in the middle of two streams of cars so that no one in those cars can leave. The culprit is clearly either a moron or a thug, that is he is so foolish that he does not realise that he has severely inconvenienced some 40 or 50 other people or he doesn't care. Regular parkites say this has happened more than once, the Park is now so popular for walking in the afternoon that the car park is not adequate to accommodate all the cars and the park attendants apparently make no effort to regulate parking. Rather than park outside on the road, therefore, which many people do, a few utterly thoughtless people park blocking traffic, forcing those who are ready to leave to sit waiting in their cars.
It is, unfortunately, a sign of the times. Lawlessness of one kind or another has become endemic since the sixties when a hooligan element was cynically used for political purposes. A kind of lingering disrespect for the law remained, later compounded by the stealing of national elections and all the hypocrisy and moral compromises that that entailed at so many levels. There was a resulting moral ambivalence which made things seem tolerable or at least defendable if they were apparently to the advantage of one section or group. It is a disastrous legacy and the modern manifestations are many and varied.
Societies will not prosper where there is widespread illegality or disrespect for law and order. Development requires a settled policy, where citizens can have an optimistic vision of the future and can make long term investments and commitments confident in the fact that their businesses will not be pillaged, their homes will not be destroyed and years of hard work and enterprise will not be wasted. Stability is one of the prerequisites for development.
Poverty is an important part of our problem. There has been very limited economic development in the last thirty years, the standard of living in real terms is lower than it was in the sixties. This is the source of much of the underlying dispossession, the widespread unemployment and underemployment and low real wages. People have been deprived of economic opportunities for two or three decades, mainly due to disastrous economic policies. There was a change in l989 but the ground to be recovered has been enormous and much of the hopelessness has persisted. There is a lot of real desperation, for which in all fairness the present government can only be saddled with some of the responsibility.
People need more and better jobs and better salaries to give them hope. Rapid economic development is vital. At the same time, however, respect for the law has to be reasserted. No one is going to want to work or even live in a country where anarchy prevails and their security is in jeopardy. There has to be an increasing intolerance for violence and illegal activity, however just the cause of those who practice it may seem.
A © page from: Guyana: Land of Six Peoples