Make Bryn Pollard the crime czar with UN support
Stabroek News
April 26, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I returned to the United States from Guyana recently and thought I should put 'pen to paper' about some of the issues which bothered me during my two-week stay.

What I found most interesting is the difference in perspective on issues in the society on the part of what I would term "reasonable" Afro and Indo Guyanese. I have many Indo Guyanese friends who are not in the slightest way racist. They may have ethnic pride, as should Afro Guyanese. But their vastly different perspective on the same issues is perplexing.

My reasonable Indo-Guyanese friends, some of whom criticise the current government's policies and praise those of Desmond Hoyte while he served as president, feel the People's National Congress (PNC) has gone too far in its seemingly unconditional support for criminal elements in the society and its inconsiderate condemnation of the police and the government for their crime fighting efforts. They feel that the PNC, having lost three consecutive elections has resorted to "terror tactics".

My reasonable Afro-Guyanese friends are of the view that the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has been unable to deliver even to its own power-base, the Indo-Guyanese population, and therefore its support is being eroded. Consequently, the PPP/C orchestrates certain activities, including the 'Mashramani Miracle Escape' which put on the streets five Afro-Guyanese criminals to create fear among Indo-Guyanese and forge a closer unity among them. Both argue their case with conviction.

But apart from the perspectives of my "reasonable" friends there is the rumour mill. The mill had long been "producing" the demise of police officer Fraser who was killed recently. The mill is currently producing tales that other prominent figures will soon suffer the same fate. The mill is not racist. Its "grinders" are multi-ethnic. The latest productions from the mill point to one big illegal drug controversy brought on by the disappearance of over 1,000 doors and/or the proceeds therefrom. These are not traditional doors. Apparently a certain quantity of illegal stuff makes a door, metric Colombian style.

If the perspectives of my two groups of reasonable friends are perplexing, then the perspective of the mill is downright frightening. Is the Guyanese society now narco-politicised?

Regardless of which perspective really represents the truth, the current situation in Guyana demands urgent and rational action.

Mr. Hoyte's ultimatum for disbanding the "black clothes" police was poor strategy on his part. This has sent a clear signal to his supporters that he and his party are weak since the deadline has passed and there will be no disbanding of the "black clothes" police. No wonder the mass confusion with last Friday's protest which saw a faction do its own thing. I warned in a recent letter that, just as Arafat had neither to plan nor launch the Intifada, so too the absence of dialogue could push certain people to take things into their own hands.

Similarly, the inability of the police to capture the escaped bandits after almost two months coupled with an apparent "cover up" of the real circumstances of Fraser's death and the killing by police of Shaka Blair in Buxton suggests that the government is either not in control of things or in some way culpable, and this too could lead certain segments of the population to act unilaterally.

In order to avoid such a situation erupting I want to suggest that the government immediately appoints an independent minister of home affairs. This person should hold cabinet rank but should only attend cabinet meetings for discussions on crime and national security issues. My nominee for this post is internationally renowned lawyer Bryn Pollard.

The new minister (or crime czar) should immediately seek the assistance of the international community for a 200-member United Nations police mission in Guyana for a period of no less than one year. This mission should be charged with the responsibility of leading the investigations into organised crime including drug trafficking, joint policing of the streets of the country with local police and training of local law enforcement personnel.

Some might view my recommendation as recolonisation by invitation. I don't see it that way. I'm suggesting a UN police force. But if we fail to act now a situation could develop whereby we might have recolonisation imposed on us, and not by an international police force, but by the force of a single power.

Yours faithfully,

Wesley Kirton