Overseas Guyanese have made a huge contribution, those who return should not be penalized
Stabroek News
March 11, 2002

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Dear Editor,

"Up above", the story is told of a long line of "departed souls" waiting to be processed to Heaven or Hell, when a voice suddenly announces" All those souls from Guyana please proceed directly to Heaven- you have already served your term in Hell"

"Down Below", ironically, returning Guyanese are being told that they have to live in poverty and suffer pain again for a number of years before being allowed to participate in the decision making process. However sanctimonious the reasoning, the simple fact is that political leaders and aspiring politicians fear that these returning Guyanese will educate the people on the way of life of the developed outer world and influence them to challenge the existing power structure which has, for so many years, been the main stumbling block to economic growth and significant improvement in the quality of life.

Overseas Guyanese have done nothing wrong against the people. They are part of the people- the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, other relatives and friends who have emigrated and who want to lend a helping hand to those remaining in Guyana. From the moment they arrive overseas their first thought is to help their relatives and friends back home. As a matter of fact, over the past years they have sent a tremendous amount of barrels and boxes containg wearing apparel, foodstuff, stationery, books, tools, equipment and machinery, or just hard cold cash to build houses, purchase motor vehicles, and pay for education and medical expenses- all gifts, of course. To this, add the presents and money splurges of visiting Guyanese. Their attitude may sometimes appear arrogant and embarassingly bold, but their presence not only contributes to the economy but more importantly helps the people to regain their self-esteem and rekindle their hope by seeing what they also can accomplish given the right conditions, environment and opportunity.

Unquestionably, overseas shipments, remittances of money and other contributions have had a significant impact on the economy, a fact that successive governments have failed to show in the national accounting. The staistics from the shipping agencies will attest to this.

Why then are we trying so hard to make returning Guyanese look like the bad guys and disredit their participation in politics? They are not out to steal jobs or rob the people of their hard earned money. On the contrary, these are part of the Guyanese people who have motivated themselves to success from the most difficult and seemingly impossible foreign environment. They are now offering to share what they have learnt to make a positive difference in their homeland and the lives of their own people.

We should, therefore, in all fairness, allow them the unrestricted opportunity to present themselves to the people and let the people determine their sincerity and their worth.

Believe me, the experiences, exposure, perception, and way of doing things in a developed society may very well be that which the people need to start seeing themselves as competitive citizens of a changing world, instead of creatures of the race and party politics culture that persists in Guyana.

What we have not learned from past experiences we can now learn from overseas Guyanese.

Yours faithfully,

Shawn Mangru

Editor's note

The restriction on returning Guyanese only applies to the Presidency.