Taking away our lives Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
October 25, 2002

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One of the daily reports of the murderous banditry earlier this week, perhaps based on informed speculation, was that the gunmen were in search of a policeman when they barged into a Brazilian eatery shooting and wounding innocent persons. A simple, significant, chilling manifestation of life in Demerara these wretched days.

Gypsy's Calypso laments that "somebody stealing the soul of the Nation." Slowly, but surely, that seems to be happening here - as in Trinidad, ethnic relations was the subject of that song - and it has begun with the murderous minority, seemingly, taking away the routine - forget the "pleasures" of everyday life as we know it. From the more innocent, peace-loving and law-abiding. Especially the faint-hearted and timid, unaccustomed to guns and knives and professional, emboldened criminals.

The more gutsy, the more righteous, determined and brave amongst us, reluctant, petulant enough to want to show the bandits opposition; to assert our rights to normal lives, boldly resist this takeover. So we insist on going out, socialising, still opening our homes and business, attending church and other meetings. But the fear lingers...

Yes people, today's offering is merely to enumerate one major consequence of our unprecedented crime wave: the criminals, either by design or by accident, are taking away our rights, our lives. (And does this suit those who would make this society ungovernable? In the end, will the professional destabilisers really prevail to "enjoy" what their enabling environment has now produced?)

Take this week's raid on the Brazilian restaurant. Diplomats and CARICOM officials are among customers from all walks of life who frequent the place. So these days, whether it's a high-priced joint or lowly cook-shop, you have to eat, drink and look over your shoulder. Bullets might now mix with the buffet, before hitting innocent you. The bandits have influenced the Head of the Presidential Secretariat to advise that fellows avoid their favourite "watering-holes" with their usual frequency and spend more time at home. Normally, that would be reasonable advice but these days it is tantamount to an admission that killers are infringing our civil rights to assemble, to recreation.

No one is exempt from having their rights, their peace of mind or their mere survival threatened or taken away. This week a poor security guard had his gold tooth-caps taken! Schoolchildren were affected by rumours of banditry in Buxton-Friendship and Annandale some months ago. Businessplaces are naturally prime targets, thus commercial life is disrupted. Even churches might not be sanctuaries of peace and divine protection any longer. Bandits raided a church in Lodge recently.

Church gatherings and other meetings are being re-scheduled for modified times; pensioners are traumatised at home or at post-offices; a simple necessary mini-bus ride can be now fatally hazardous and one has to be on guard even buying at a Chinese Fast Food outlet. All these have witnessed violent vicious attacks in recent weeks. So too have doctors' offices, recreational sports clubs, internet cafes and police stations!

Prisoners were even shot in the Georgetown Jail! Nowhere, no one escapes the spiral of the avalanche, it seems.

In times past, our rights were already compromised by a criminal minority. As in other societies a band of bandits determined where peaceful citizens could safely go after hours and what they should wear. A murderous minority, with little or nothing to lose can always do that. If even for a limited period. One sniper with a well thought out plan can hold a community hostage. Now, a growing band has been holding the Demerara-Mahaica Region Four of Guyana under siege. Whether as part of their mafia-type Vendetta Killings or the "simpler" robberies with violence, the Bandits are making our streets, offices, businessplaces, recreational facilities and our homes - unsafe.

As always, my contribution is for the man-in-the-street. The foregoing was and is known, I suppose. My simple summary, with opinion, merely outlines a current social tragedy. Today I leave others to venture, into the realm of remedies to arrest this decay and decline.

The sages are many.

Except to say...

Except that it is now my mission to remind the fair-minded and the reasonable of the political genesis of this half-decade phenomenon. In December of 1997 one group refused to accept the election results - and the Female President of Caucasian American ancestry. All hell broke loose. They broke all hell loose. I submit that it hasn't stopped since.

Whether the post-'97-thru-2001 rationalisations included history, interpretations of previous "glorious struggles", current discrimination and marginalisation by this government, there can be no justification for the sub-culture encouraged, the environment created and provided for law-breaking and criminality.

Now the spokespersons - some academically and intellectually-gifted, lament the spiral and blame a government encumbered by some of its own timidity and substantial odds and circumstances hard to control. The result? A nation running scared.

Hoyte in the Stabroek

Just why is it that I experiences strange delight whenever Desmond Hoyte chooses to 'buse out the Stabroek News Editor?

Dessie was upset over the handling of his recent Buxton aid for peace proposal. I quote just a few excerpts of his barbs against my editor: "I do not like to waste time... For you to truncate my statement, wrench it from context and distort it, is palpably dishonest". (Never mind the editor proved the accuracy of the quote from Dessie's verbatim report.) Still, vintage Desmond.

"The responsibility of preventing crime and apprehending criminals is that of the government" (only!?) Then there was this usual, more scary warning from HDH; "What makes Mr Jagdeo and company feel that they will survive any holocaust, and the people of Buxton and the people of all other depressed villages will perish?" (Now those latter remarks bring out the coward in me. Those kinds of words make me not stop young people from wanting to leave...)

Then Desmond had these kinder, gentler parting shots: "you control the press. You control the newsprint..." (See how powerful you are Editor. Mr Hoyte probably now longs for the days when--).


1) I actually ploughed through Abu Bakr's record-breaking letter of this last Monday (in SN). Folks bring history, culture, interpretation, opinion - intellect generally, on debate or discourse on the "ethnic problem" in this land. Hopefully those written about are moved to understand. If not accept.

2) Did you catch President Bharrat in Berbice? The pathos, the glue, the Bonding in Berbice? Beat that!

3) Need I state anything about Braithwaite and Harris? Next time.

'Til next week!