Many Guyanese are bewildered by recent developments
Stabroek News
April 15, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Like most Guyanese I'm sure, I am hurt and bewildered by what seems to be this country's downward spiral into something close to anarchy. Who is in control? Who do we turn to? Who cares, if we sink or float? Many questions; few answers. Suicides, murders, sexual abuse, violent crimes, police killings, the killing fields that our roadways have become and the general disregard for human life and the rule of law seem to be prevailing over goodness, common sense, decency and accountability. The latest outrages - the controversial killings of Leon Fraser and Shaka Blair are just the latest visible and pernicious signs of a deeper and more widespread malaise, the 'slow poison', of an entire nation. Gloomy? Pessimistic? Hardly, I think. I am just being as honest and as objective as I can.

Ask yourself reader if you can see, in the near or even distant future, the proverbial silver lining behind the dark cloud or the light at the tunnel's end. Will you ever know for certain how Leon Fraser and Shaka Blair met their end, and even then, will it be the whole truth? Was Fraser a fearless, conscientious cop as some people say, or a corrupt, killer cop as many people feel? Was Shaka Blair a reformed hoodlum or a recurrent hoodlum? Were they some of each?

The government, the Guyana Police Force and some Guyanese rightly see the killing of Superintendent Fraser as a crime. But in my view they wrongly see the killing of citizen Blair as a lawful act, considering the circumstances surrounding his confrontation with the 'Black Clothes' police. The murder of the latter may be considered expedient and exigent at best; it can never be considered right or lawful - and that is the difference between 'us' and 'them', between 'our' understanding and 'theirs' and the gap remains, wide, deep and seemingly unbridgeable. And that is why some people are so sceptical about the assertion and the certainty of others that the jailbreak gang of five is wholly responsible for the recent spate of high-profile crimes, including the killing of Leon Fraser. One particularly worrying spin-off of this 'us' and 'them' thinking may be what sometimes appears to be tit-for-tat violence and criminal acts that are racially motivated.

Perception is often more real than reality because it is usually easier to be subjective than to be objective. There is a feeling and/or belief of some Guyanese that several persons in positions of wealth, power and influence are behind, and partially responsible for, the current and recent acts of lawlessness in this country. They include senior government officials, politicians, 'big' businessmen and some ranks of the disciplined services. Whether this is so or not is not relevant at this point. The perception of its existence is. Can this really be happening? Are we so bedeviled, so beguiled that we are being reduced to a state of individual and collective paranoia?

But if it is happening, where do we, the ordinary, poor and sometimes gullible citizens of Guyana turn to for redress and for justice, when we become the victims of criminal acts committed at the behest of those to whom we look for that very redress and justice? Who polices the policemen? Who judges the judge? And who presides over the president? Let us hope, and pray, that this is not so and that we still have among our leaders, law enforcers and legal authorities, men and women of unimpeachable integrity and of honour and compassion. We deserve, and should demand, no less.

Yours faithfully,

Dennis Nichols