We are looked upon as a dysfunctional nation
Stabroek News
March 17, 2002

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Dear Editor,

It is with some frequency that we are informed of Guyanese being abused at the airports of Barbados or Trinidad. The simple question is why do Guyanese continue to travel with BWIA to the abusive destinations. Do we have a choice?.

In 1985 a BWIA flight was delayed at Kennedy airport, our connecting flight in Trinidad understandably had left for Guyana. We were then told that we would have to await another flight which would be arriving at some unknown time. The persons responsible (BWIA) refused to offer accommodation as the Guyanese passengers stood by passively without a word of protest. After some two hours I exploded in disgust, this behavior led to threats of incarceration, to which I did not pay heed. Eventually, after some hours of acrimonious accusations by both sides, we were escorted to a hotel in Port-Of-Spain where we stayed until the next evening. Since that time I have never traveled with BWIA and will not unless in dire emergency.

Guyanaese should realize that the route to Guyana is very profitable to BWIA, therefore we the consumers have the power to effect a positive change by refusing to travel with BWIA. Guyanese should not go to Barbados and Trinidad for leisure; Guyanese should not take flights that terminate and or transfer at either place, we must induce an effective boycott, then sit back and look at the changes that will be instituted by the airlines and both governments. I do hope that the Guyanese public realize why we are the scourge of the Caribbean. Americans or other nationals will never be treated in this manner. To say that we have been marginalized by airport personnel is to understate the consistent mistreatment of Guyanese nationals. Sadly, this behavior will continue until Guyana as a whole reverses its economic and political outlook. This behavior is consistent with the demeanor some have for the homeless. It is normal behavior for some to look with scorn at those that are less fortunate and without a sense of direction. Rightly or wrongly this perception of the homeless exists. It is in this light that Guyanese are looked upon by others in the Caribbean.

We are looked upon as a dysfunctional nation. We are paying the price for being less politically and economically fortunate than the countries mentioned. We are deemed to be pulling in separate racial directions. When we as a nation unite as Guyanese and start nation building our fortunes will change and so will the attitudes of our Caribbean brethren. This does not mean that we are powerless to quickly reverse this perception, but we must rid ourselves of our minute racial differences and have a nationalistic front. We must start supporting each other. We must look past our national racial quagmire, place less importance on race and be Guyanese first. We must be inclusive and accept our differences for the national good. If this happens, it will contribute to the upliftment of the nation's economic and political image both at home and abroad. Then the constant disrespect of Guyanese, even when in transit, will be reversed.

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Barker