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It is said that even failure is never absolute as a negative, a complete failure. As long as you can learn from failure, that's a positive. Similarly, there are numerous consequences of, and lessons to be learnt from the criminal enterprise incorporated, 2002-2003. In my own simple layman's style and fashion, I outline a few of those lessons that should be learnt - perhaps held dear - from the unprecedented, post-February 2002 Crime Wave that has engulfed and submerged this big, beautiful, blighted country of mine. The Criminal Enterprise that ushered in Guyana's loss of innocence, whereby our criminals have virtually put us alongside the worst of Bogota, Kingston or New York.
The political underpinning
I was, just recently, directed to two pieces written by the Peeping Tom person in another newspaper. Precisely my views Sir, (or Madam), reflected in the column caption "Somebody Is Watching". There were - if not still extant - "political links" behind what is (still) happening in Buxton, for example. However indirect or oblique. (My editor might not allow me the repeated mention of alleged (?) meetings/briefings between senior political operatives and wanted men right in that now-blighted Buxton.) The President might be obliged to make politically-correct, conciliatory statements. Yes, it might be prudent for him to sacrifice the truth of what he knows but that approach cannot wash away what even his party's General Secretary says publicly.
Of course, as some of us had warned, the monster, created and utilized, has assumed a life of its own and pays only occasional heed to its political handlers these days.
The ethnic dimension
Similarly, I share Peeping Tom's bound-to-be disputed views on the racial/ethnic undertones of the new criminality. Humble Indo-Guyanese and small business-people located in wide, open, vulnerable villages have been and still are sitting ducks for the now well-armed bandits. "Dey got de money, so dey is de most obvious prime targets" is criminal conventional wisdom. Nothing to do with the subsidiary fact that the Indo-Guyanese victims might be PPP supporters. That is just pure accident. And President Jagdeo assures us that criminals have no political "loyalty". The PNCR, of course, is a non-racial political entity and would not condone any type of racial attacks to incite say, migration of "Indians". In any case, the PNCR die-hard would tell me at the drinking-spot: "whuh you suggestin? Mo black people get kill since dis ting start". I held back telling him that that fact couldn't fool or distract me. Or that there are more poor Indo-Guyanese than there are Afro-Guyanese. I know that there are closed-minded people who won't be convinced against their will.
The police-army operations
Well. The lessons are numerous here. Just before I nearly succumbed to repeating the well-worn, well-known cliché about the Joint Service's failure in arresting East Coast Crime, I thought of an East Coast Demerara without any soldiers - or police - at all! Without even those soldiers who might be conniving with their ex-squaddies to enjoy some of the takings afterwards. Yes critics, imagine none at all. Do you realise that things could have been worse!? Poor government. Poor Annandale. Poor us.
Believe me, I've had a few opportunities to hear of the compromises and "tied-hands" circumstances experienced by the joint civilian/military planners who genuinely wanted to sanitise Buxton of the resident bandits, but alas. It has to be said: there are a few (effective) crooked cops and military "planners" among the good joint-forces personnel who are professionally-inclined, but ... Poor Commander-In-Chief. Poor us.
To me the lessons to be learnt here, include lightning sudden changes or rotation at the top before secret strikes. Alternatively, as things remain desperate, set thieves to catch thieves. Phantom Squads? Mercenaries? We can't wait for them to implode. Much damage is still being done. And they might attempt to move to other politically-friendly locations. Learn the lessons now!
"Bad", Big Business
Since the new criminal enterprise, we innocents have been afforded fleeting insights into the element of the narcotics trade and alleged "bad-business" consequences, I mean the Albouystown "executions" and attempted murders of those real or fake businessmen who probably had not honoured earlier deals.
The operatives, informers and collectors know which businessmen operate which front-businesses for transition or laundering. One opposition spokesman swears it is that "economy" that bolsters the formal, official economic survival of our society. My Lord! Add to that the probable reality that police and army bad-eggs, customs or export-oriented persons and some "prominent citizens" might be involved. What chance for our youth if we are rotten to the core? Don't depend on the so-called church! Members, religious churchgoers, "pastors" are turning a blind-eye. They might be benefitting too. One knowledgeable who scares me suggested that, at least, one church building was erected with "cocaine money" Good Lord! I'm scared. Learn police, learn.
Many other lessons
My allocated space is running out. Perhaps I'll do my simplified part two some time. But for now, consider these other implications and consequences - the other lessons the crime spree teaches.
The deportee dimension: stretched thin, our overworked, under-paid police can't really monitor and put in place systems to assist deportees.
Some fellows have even made their way back to New York! Kidnappings/abductions: how quickly have our new criminals employed this enterprise! Fear is the key as few ransomed victims dare to assist the police. Legislation is welcome and I've implored "the authorities" to launch an awareness programme for the police. The role of the media: ha! There are two media here. Any need to reiterate the channels and programmes with their own agendas? Those producers have been repeatedly exposed. But to their (dubious) credit their political objectives are relentless. They have been allowed to be effective. How they mislead "their own."
Taxi and security services: Learn the lessons well here. Numerous, innocent, genuine taxi drivers have suffered. Others have collaborated. The implications are clear. Security and police sanctions for the larger services are desirable. Private security firms have also borne the brunt. Others have responded admirably. Consider the new roles. Our life-long security consciousness: as in post-September 11 USA, we Guyanese just have to be more security conscious from now onwards. From Community Policing to Neighbourhood Networks to the utilisation of electronic technology in homes and businesses, we have to come of age. The new guns and new criminal attitudes and inclinations won't just go away. Little monsters have been spawned. Be realistic. Even as you pray to your God!
My favourite Pan Africanist, Tom with the Scottish Blood, has returned. With another supportive ethnic specific angle. On the eve of Indian "Arrival" should I be commenting on Tom's newest discovery? Why not? For we are all descended from that one African Lady in the Congo - or Tanzania.
Tom has returned to the Guyana house his people built with a wonderful video documentary of how DNA sequencing helped some British Blacks to trace their African origins in the Niger and elsewhere. Though they were not unduly disturbed by their obvious European origins, they were furtively ecstatic (?) about returning to their African roots. But I'll return to all this next week.
1) Always hoping we survive, we'll explore Stabroek-police relationships - definitely next Friday.
2) The contributions of East Indians to what is now Guyana need not be pounded in this weekend. Ignore other ethnic-specific groups - or be gracious in co-operation and avoid heavy politicking as you celebrate my brothers and sisters.
Though personally, I am culturally, spiritually and attitudinally (?) black, I should be at Friends, East Bank, Berbice where my forebears landed (?)
3) Don't we have enough National Holidays - when we close down this country?
4) The problem, dear friend, is that Hammie, who has to know, is correct. Morally, the young - and old - do not now acknowledge right from wrong. There are few behaviours and things now deemed "wrong"
5) How did the symposium go? The one on Sunday at the Tower about minority rights, sexual orientation and on human rights for gay, lesbian and bi-sexual Guyanese?
'Til next week!