More decisive action needed
Guyana Chronicle
May 17, 2002

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SINCE the escape of the five dangerous prisoners on February 23 last, Guyanese have been under a virtual state of siege from criminal elements, particularly in and around the city and on parts of the East Coast Demerara.

Bandits yesterday killed a security guard while robbing a store in Georgetown, the latest horror coming less than a week after the brutal slaying by an armed gang of a businessman and his wife at Annandale, East Coast Demerara.

It seems that as the days go by, these ruthless bandits are becoming increasingly emboldened and daring as if they are in a brutality competition.

As a result, the fear and insecurity among citizens is growing.

This situation does not harbour well for the future of this country because it is having a severe negative impact on economic development and tremendous psychological and emotional stress on the populace.

The crime wave is also a disincentive to investment and tourism, which is now finding its way in Guyana.

And all this is happening just when the economy was showing signs of recovery.

The frightening crime situation will do nothing to ease migration, which is already high, thus further depriving this country of vitally needed human resources, while those who remain become increasingly demoralised.

In the context of globalisation, which necessitates efficiency, greater production and productivity, aggressive and strategic marketing skills, this is the last thing that Guyana would want happening.

And of course local reactionaries are using the situation to foster their narrow and selfish goals, thus further aggravating an already charged atmosphere.

Perhaps, it would be timely to recall the patriotic stance initiated by the late President Cheddi Jagan when he was Leader of the Opposition during the period when there were threats to Guyana's territorial integrity and sovereignty by a neighbouring country.

Instead of casting blame and creating tension, he instituted a policy of critical support, which enunciated that the government of the day would be criticised for shortcomings but would be supported on progressive moves.

One would have expected that such a mature, sensible and patriotic stance would have been adopted by all in the face of a threat to this country, the only difference being that the threat in this case is internal and not external.

There is also need for more decisive and convincing action by the authorities to stem the continuous loss of life and to help restore a sense of security among the populace.

Guyanese for too long have been under severe pressure from terroristic elements in the society and this situation has to be brought under control.

The state of affairs calls for more urgent and decisive action to end this virtual state of siege criminals and their accomplices have placed sections of the population under.

If the situation requires it, the Army should be brought out more to help the Police quickly round up the killer gang.