Worrying signals in the region
Guyana Chronicle
January 4, 2002

TRINIDAD and Tobago is going through a crisis that Guyana and many others in the region are closely watching and we share the hopes of so many that the differences among the leaders there can be resolved peacefully.

There are troubles of a worse kind in Jamaica, another of the larger member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), where acts of terrorism seem to be growing.

As Guyanese can testify from bitter experience, political instability can have horrendous and long-term consequences for societies wracked by prolonged tensions.

Jamaica has suffered tremendously in the past from violence associated with politics and people there have come to dread elections time.

In its editorial yesterday, the Jamaica Observer noted that most Jamaicans know that in the past, political differences between communities have encouraged atrocities by the one on the other.

"Even now there is a lingering relationship between violence and party politics in Jamaica.

"We believe that this nexus is receding, but not nearly fast enough", it said.

The newspaper raised concern about "blatant acts of terrorism" and promised that it would be "particularly vigilant this year over the actions, attitude and pronouncements of our political parties."

Its point that the elections season too often in the past has "sown irrationality and produced a vintage of violence and instability" applies in some measure to Guyana and some other member states of the community.

Guyana, thankfully, has not experienced the excesses spawned at elections time in some Caribbean countries but people here have gone through enough to appreciate the dire need for continued and persistent efforts to preserve political stability and the rule of law.

We share the conclusion of the Jamaica Observer that the degeneration into ugly behaviour by people is "often spurred by the untempered and intemperate statements of political leaders."

"No society can advance to its full potential if any set of its members are to be the target of violence or excluded from full participation because of their political views or who they choose to support", it noted yesterday and this applies equally to Guyana.

The Observer has placed politicians in Jamaica on warning, promising, in the coming election season, to identify those who by their actions and speech incite violence and instability, or are generally injurious to the society.

"In other words, we will call a spade a spade", it said.

It is a call that should be heeded across the region and political leaders should be put on notice - those who preach violence and instability would not be tolerated.

Those who by their actions and speech incite violence and instability are often encouraged by the silence of the majority and civic and other groups that can by the weight of their combined voices and stand make a real difference.

While citizens of goodwill here watch and pray with their brothers and sisters in Trinidad and Tobago and in Jamaica for an early and peaceful end to the current season of uncertainty and fear, they should also vow to ensure that they would not by their silence encourage any who preach violence and instability.