The life cycle of a political argument
Stabroek News
November 5, 2003

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Real letter in Monday’s newspaper:

“Council ignoring African bees near my house”

PNCR condemns neglect of bees...
(Stabroek News Thursday Nov 6)

The PNCR says it is deeply concerned over a letter in Monday’s Stabroek News relating the efforts of an Essequibo resident to get the Region 2 authorities to address a nest of African bees near to his home.
In a press release the party says the lack of action is just another example in a long list representing the discriminatory nature of the PPP’s 11-year despotic regime. If they had been another species of bee, the PNCR suggests, one can be sure that the council would have acted immediately sending round counsellors and assigning low-income hive lots.

The PNCR takes a dim view of “this continued marginalisation of the African bee which has contributed so much to the honey industry in Guyana for several decades.”

It is calling on the relevant minister to take care of this problem and by this “we don’t mean sending in the SWAT team to continue the mass genocide of the species but to find jobs for them by offering low interest financing so they can build their own hives and become productive members of society. To blame the African bees for running wild and stinging people completely misses the point.”

PPP/C hails honey industry; exports soar...
(headlines in Guyana Chronic Friday Nov 7)

The PPP/C says for the PNCR to suggest that the government has deliberately neglected the honey industry because of the preponderance of Africanised bees is an absurd misrepresentation of the facts. “However, it is worth remembering that before the rigged 1960 elections bees of all races worked along side by side but in the despotic 28 years of the brutal PNCR regime, other species were squeezed out of the hives sometimes by ‘bite and sting’ gangs.

Since 1992 The PPP administration has given ample support to the industry and honey is now being exported to the United States as part of a USAID, CBTA, initiative funded in part by an IDB/WTO/IMF $2.5M low interest loan. Exports are expected to reach $1.2M for this year alone, an increase of 752% over 2002.

We are committed to all bees regardless of their ethnicity but the government cannot tolerate the merciless killings of farmers who have been attacked over the years. We distinctly remember the case of a Canal No 1 farmer and father of five who went to inspect his sugar cane crop and was chased by a gang of bees armed with mini cutlasses. He was pursued over two cane fields before being brought down and succumbing to their vicious stings. That kind of anarchy on rice farmers cannot be condoned and we call on the PNCR to condemn such attacks as proof of its commitment to non-violent honey making.”

And then the letters begin

Bees have right to self-defence
(Stabroek Monday Nov 10)

Dear Editor,
African bees have a right to defend themselves from any rogue fumigator who might wish to attack them. ACDA has noticed in recent months that carloads of men heavily armed with spray cans have been driving around at night, pulling African bees from their honey combs, terrorising Queen bees and baby bees and then brutally killing the young males.

These gangs say they are from the Ministry of Agriculture but we know that this is state-sponsored fumigation and that resistance is the only solution. Bees of Guyana rise up! All you have to lose is your hives! (This last sentence was deleted by the editor as being potentially seditious)

Yours sincerely
Tacu Ogunsey

Bees are menace to farmers
(Tuesday Nov 11)
We are calling on the government to crack down on these swarms of bees which have taken over the country and are terrorising innocent hardworking farmers whose only crime is wanting to make an honest living.
We at GEEHA have for long said the PPP was afraid to combat bees thus demonstrating that they are not willing support the voters who put them in office.
We are in the process of compiling a report on the number and manner of the many deaths at that hands of these killers which will be sent to the human rights bodies worldwide. The effect the bees have had on the gentler bee species has been devastating with many forced to hover in front of the US embassy hoping to get a visa.
Yours sincerely
Ryaan Sha

Bees being stereotyped
(Thursday Nov 13)

The majority of honey bees are hardworking and law abiding members of society who leave their hives early in the morning in search of pollen and return directly home to their extended families. I take exception to GEEHA’s characterisation of African bees as brutal stingers who loiter in trees in search of what they say - but we know better - are ‘innocent’ farmers.

Llod Cameron

Globalisation devastating honey industry
(Thursday Nov 13)

Dear Editor,
In this era of globalisation the African bee is in serious danger of becoming extinct on account of the intensively farmed and heavily subsidised species in developed countries. Just visit Fogarty’s and see how many varieties of honey are imported compared to local varieties. One can only hope that in negotiations for the FTAA, the Doha Round of the WTO and the EU/ACP EBA negotiations, the Caribbean Negotiating Machinery sees it fit to incorporate a special and different treatment (STD.. sorry I mean SDT) for the regional honey industry or else we risk being wiped out by imports. The ensuing dislocation in the bee population would be complete with the delicate socio-economic structure of the hive, brought on by alienation and non-productivity, causing total disintegration, anarchy and the rise of the narco-state.

Yours sincerely,
Professor Clyde Thomas

Bees are one species
(Friday Nov 14)

Dear Editor,
Why all the letters about African, Africanised and other types of bees? Surely all the bees live in Guyana and are therefore first and foremost Guyanese bees. They all have one thorax, abdomen and head and all make honey which on its label says ‘Made in Guyana’. This kind of discrimination between species is demoralising to the bee community. Can’t the bees just all get along?

Yours Emile Merv
Editor’s note: This correspondence is considered closed

Question of the week
Isn’t it reassuring to know that Minister Gajraj is cracking down on children with squibs?