A people-friendly version of the Constitution
Wednesday Ramblings..
Stabroek News
May 21, 2003

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Efforts are now being made to create a people friendly version of the Constitution which the average person can relate to.

Comments are welcome on excerpts of this version based on the old 1980 Constitution which might be considered a rather daring translation:

Article 1: Guyana is an indivisible, secular, democratic sovereign state in the course of transition from capitalism to socialism and shall be known as the Co-operative Republic of Guyana

Translation: Guyana has many religions especially very many marginal Christian sects many of which exist only to broadcast on Channels 9 and 13. Democracy exists in the form of elections every four years usually resulting in bloodshed. Guyana was in the course of transition from capitalism to socialism but then after a disastrous period when it was a crime to eat imported food, did a hasty U Turn and is now a free-for-all capitalist country although many political leaders still call each other 'comrade' which is kind of quaint. As for the 'Co-operative' bit, this is going to have to stay because there is no way anybody is going to be able to organise a referendum on this one.

Article 2: The territory of the State comprises the areas immediately before the commencement of this constitution...

Translation: Comrade Hugo: two messages - drop the beret and don't even say the word Essequibo, comprende? You have enough problems: at least Guyana sent a contestant to the Miss Universe.

As for Ronald, the only triangle you ever going to see is in your grandson's maths book.

Article 3: The capital of the state is the city of Georgetown

Explanatory note: This is true, but don't tell the tourists that

Article 6: The national anthem of the State is the anthem known as 'Green land of Guyana'

Translation: It is NOT "How many more Jah?" or "Scorpion sting me (I feel like I go dead)"

Article 9: Sovereignty belongs to the people who exercise it through their representatives and the democratic organs ...

Explanatory note: This is the kind of thing politicians put in all constitutions because it sounds really cool but means absolutely zilch.

Article 10: The right to form political parties and their freedom of action are guaranteed

Translation: You can form a political party but please don't. There are far too many.

Article 11: Co-operatives, trade unions and all socio-economic organisations ...are entitled to participate in the various ...decision making processes in the country..

Explanatory note: They can talk all they want but the PNCR and PPP aren't listening. Take the case of the Social Partners. The moment the two parties agreed on the communique, civil society was shown the door.

Article 12: Local government by freely elected representatives of the people is an integral part of the democratic organisation of the State.

Explanatory note: Two things here. 1) The representatives are handpicked by the party leaders and tend to be a bunch of sycophants one of whom painted a derelict railway bridge in the colours of the PPP. And 2) There have been no local elections since 1994 which is why the city is in such a mess.

Article 14: The supreme goal of the economic system ...is the fullest possible satisfaction of the people's growing material, cultural and intellectual requirements. As well as the development of their personality.

Translation: The result of the economic system has been the enrichment of a few and the overwhelming impoverishment of the many, the destruction of the middle class, a break down in social order and a mass migration akin to the biblical exodus from Egypt.

Article 16: Co-operativism in practice shall be the dynamic principle of socialist transformation and shall pervade and inform all interrelationships.

Explanatory note: Better forget this one was ever included.

Article 19: Every citizen has the right to own personal property.

Explanatory note: But if you want a transport don't hold your breath.

Article 21: The source of the growth of social wealth and of the well being of the people and of each individual, is the labour of the people.

Explanatory note: Also from money laundering, drug trafficking, kidnapping, illegal arms sales and `backtracking'.

Article 24: Every citizen has the right to free medical attention and also to social care in case of old age and disability.

Explanatory note: You get what you don't pay for, including nurses who feel like they are doing you a favour. And social care means $1820 a month for pensioners and dying in a place called the Palms.

Article 27: Every citizen has the right to free education from nursery to university.

Explanatory note: But you have to buy all the text books, pay bus fares, lunch, give the headmistress a raise and buy 3,000 barbeque tickets if you want little Johnny to do well.

Article 34: It is the joint duty of the State, the society and every citizen to combat and prevent crime and other violations of the law and to take care of and protect public property.

Translation: It is the joint duty of the State, the society and every citizen to combat and prevent crime and other violations of the law and to take care of and protect public property.

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