Encouraging signals In anti-crime fight Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
June 9, 2002

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FINALLY, and to its credit, the Guyana Government appears to be moving more methodically and with better foresight in the battle to curb the criminals who have been on the rampage for far too long and have succeeded in driving deep fears among the populace.

Rather than some government spokesmen engaging in trivial criticisms about a few "headlines" or "viewpoints", as reported in the Chronicle newspapers, the administration's initiatives over the past week, and that of President Bharrat Jagdeo in particular, should offer some comfort in what remains a very tough and challenging problem ahead for the nation as a whole.

The disciplined forces, with experienced leaders of the Guyana Police Force and Guyana Defence Force, who have clearly been inspired to work more closely and with greater tenacity to stem the criminal wave, deserve the deepest gratitude of the people of this country.

This gratitude can perhaps best be expressed by the fearless, courageous cooperation they are prepared to offer to bring the criminals to justice.

At the same time, the main parliamentary opposition, the People's National Congress/Reform, must understand that its continuing attacks on the police and specifically demands to disband the special anti-crime unit, or so-called `black clothes police', are only providing encouragement to the dangerous criminals who they would rightly hate to number among their "supporters". Or, worse, "activists".

There must be a willingness on the part of both President Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Mr. Desmond Hoyte to sink their differences and meet in a much-needed show of bi-partisan cooperation, in the national interest, to combat the rising tide of criminality plaguing this nation.

If they need a reminder of why and how this could be done, then they must follow what is happening in Jamaica, the Caribbean Community state that has the unenviable record of having the highest murder rate in the world, on a per capita basis. There, the drug barons, known to have been associated with both parties, and their gun-running collaborators, have done such tremendous harm, nationally and internationally, to the reputation of that fellow member of CARICOM.

Jamaica Example
Having recently separately presented to the Jamaican people their "national crime plan", both Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and Opposition Leader Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party are now ready to jointly sign an agreement on Tuesday, June 11, during a meeting of Parliament in a demonstration of a united anti-crime approach.

Sharp political and philosophical differences remain between Patterson and Seaga and their respective parties. As, we suspect, to also be the case here in Guyana between the PPP/Civic and the PNC/Reform.

But the Jamaican leaders are at least sensible enough to realise that so long as the criminals are led to believe that such differences could work to their (the criminals') advantage, then it is the nation state that will be the ultimate loser.

As in Jamaica, there have also been meetings between the political directorates, the business sector and civil society representatives in Guyana. The recent strategy meetings involving the President and his key advisers with the top brass of the GDF and GPF can only inspire confidence and cooperation.

Greater the profile of togetherness in action by the security forces, greater will be that confidence among the populace, especially in villages and communities that have fallen victims to the well-armed, dangerous and, apparently, well-connected criminals.

This newspaper stands ready to give every support possible in the battle against crime, and will not be disturbed by ill-informed criticisms - from whatever quarter - when they have to be made.