Look at the larger picture
Guyana Chronicle
February 13, 2002

OVER the past six months as I rush to read the news in Guyana's two major dailies on the Internet, I am struck by the volume of `Quality of Life Issues' expressed - Police shootings, Boom Box nuisance, mini-bus strikes, protest, pot holes, broken bridges, etc.

With a few exceptions most of these issues would correct themselves if we as a nation shift focus to an issue that makes the others minuscule, and that is the border issue.

We are aware that oil revenues would mask and or eliminate many of the social ills we currently complain about and it therefore is in the best interest of the nation that the border issue is brought to the forefront more prominently and a permanent solution found.

Because we as a people continuously exhibit the intolerance for our own Guyanese of a different race, we are perceived as weak. We exert much energy differing with each other based only on race and fail to look at the larger picture.

We should see that we are in this "boat of poverty" together, and the insidious racial bickering does give fodder to others that we are fragmented and as a consequence, will never come together to defend that which is ours.

In the meantime, external political and economic irritants are applied to our domestic equation and keep us from achieving real prosperity.

Suriname and Venezuela do not view us as Black, Indian, Amerindian, Chinese or other. They see us as Guyanese, a people so divided that we fail to see the possibilities of growth, we fail to unite and agree to a national agenda.

Instead, we have a myopic view of race.

Both Suriname and Venezuela will use the opportunity to apply the pressure as long as we continue the public dislike and non-support of each other's efforts.

Until there is a national paradigm shift, they will continue to use their claim to our territory as a disruptive mechanism to hinder our national economic, social and political growth.

The Guyana Government feels that negotiation is the best path to finding a solution for this stalemate.

However, we should have contingency plans if this effort fails to achieve the expected results. It is imperative that the message is conveyed that a continuation of this stalemate is not in our best interest especially when these resources and land within are ours.

This border issue will not go away providing we as a nation continue to exhibit a fragmented posture. Any negotiation will result in us "giving away the store" if we continue to be divided as a nation.

All of the Opposition parties must support the Government with a united front.

Guyana should not negotiate with the hope that both Suriname and Venezuela will cease to demand a piece of Guyana owing to the goodwill of neighbours.

This issue has become too pronounced within each country's political sphere for them to cease their demands. Each country's government expects political mileage from their efforts.

Therefore, Guyana should go ahead and invite those oil concerns back and provide military escort as needed.

For too long we have been passive, hoping that the border issue will correct itself. To date, we have seen that such thoughts are a figment of our imagination.

How long do we sit back and allow the nation's resources to lay dormant because it is in the best interest of our neighbours to do so?

The Stabroek News proposal in the editorial of 2-11-02, that Guyana should invite investors to its safe offshore zones is contingent upon those zones having the necessary oil reserves to warrant the effort and expense.

If no oil is found in the safe zones, then what, whose cost is it? Guyana may be forced to hire or lease oil exploration equipment and expertise to explore for oil in its disputed territory, then await the response of the parties involved.

The only other alternative is for Guyana to continue the passive route by negotiating and sharing its resources with both countries, if they are agreeable.

In the end doing nothing will be more costly than preparing to fight if necessary.