Western Governments are meddling because of their concerns over governance
February 15, 2004
I am appalled when I read what some of the contributors to this column write. For example they are saying that the US, Canada and England are "meddling in Guyana's internal affairs" and are asking why "were the embassies silent during the PNC reign of terror." Unbelievable. This is depressing to me because I am personally involved in soliciting foreign investment in Guyana and I am overwhelmed by this backward thinking which reflects nothing but a dumbfounded allegiance to a party no matter what. Everyone, particularly these special contributors, should know that Guyana needs foreign investment if it must move forward. Guyana cannot work in isolation. Without the "meddling" of the super powers Guyana is doomed.
The US is the world's best and most lucrative market place and it is always growing. Entrepreneurs from all over the world look for the ultimate opportunity to market their products and goods in that market place. The US has the remaining land space and capacity to carry at least another 50% of its present population. There is no end in sight for possibilities here. The state of Texas is more than double the size of Guyana and has land space close to the size of Guyana still unoccupied. The population of Texas is rising by the minute. Mexicans are streaming into Texas and new housing areas are opening up creating an everlasting need for housing (wood from Guyana), food (fish and vegetables from Guyana), transportation and clothing. It is happening all around the US. Guyanese are pouring into the US also. The US is rescuing the deprived peoples of the world. While the issue of the US "meddling" may be worth discussing in other cases, Guyana stands to benefit from this. In other words there are tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs who have the opportunity of entering the American market place as Guyanese have.
For most of the PNC governance the US was not "meddling" in Guy-ana's affairs because of Guyana's political ideology. With the help of a US president, President Carter, Guy-ana was able to return to "democracy" and the "re-meddling" of the US government. Because of this "meddling", since 1992, Guyana has gained from being included in the Caribbean Basin Initiative and other programmes which allow duty-free entry of many of Guyana's products into the US market place. Right now the fish industry is benefiting the most. The timber industry can also benefit tremendously. Without the US "meddling" Guyana's products can face up to 33% duty for entry into the US which is the amount imposed on imports from socialist countries.
So that is why the "Phantom gang" issue is so important to the US and Canada. If Guyanese want to have the gains that came with the return to democracy the Government must act now and deal with the issue positively. The US and Canada have indicated with the pulling of two ministers' visas that they are serious about proper governance. The next item on their agenda may be the pulling of Guyana's duty- free access to US markets. If that day comes it will be the final nail in the coffin of the dying Guyanese prosperity.
Another thing that is bothering me are the comments the government and supporters are making about the press, particularly the Stabroek News. It is interesting to note that this government, when in the opposition was praising the fight SN was taking to the government in office then. I have been reading the SN from the inception and have come to the conclusion that the SN is not pro any political party. I think that if both the PPP and the PNC were paying attention to what the SN is really saying they will have realised when they are and were on the wrong track. It is my view that the SN represents the way forward. The PPP should pay heed to the views expressed in the paper. If remaining in power is the only thing the PPP/C is about they should be paying attention to the recommendations of the SN.
To Stabroek News I say keep up the fight to make Guyana prosperous. Explain to all the importance and usefulness of investigative reporting. It should be noted that effective reporting caused President Nixon to leave office. Reporters can do what police cannot do, that is get information easily. Persons will talk more freely to a reporter than to a policeman. So the normal thing is for the police to act and investigate information supplied by reporters.
Proper policing includes the following up of leads given to them by reporters. This is what the police in Guyana should be doing. Many cases in the US are solved, or stricter action taken by the police, based on the investigative reports and news items appearing in the press first. Because it is not in the interest of a newspaper to print something that cannot be proven, the work for the police is half done. The Police in Guyana surely do not need a specific person to first come forward and make a statement before they can begin investigations.
I am particularly pleased with the stance Mr Khemraj Ramjattan has taken in having this "Phantom gang" issue solved in the proper way thereby defying his party's return to socialistic methods of governance and sustaining the wrath of his party's "die hards." He at least realises that the success of his party depends on democratic governance.
Mr Ramjattan's defiance has indicated that there are still fair-minded and progressive Guyanese in our midst. Although Mr Corbin was the automatic choice for the leadership of the PNC after the demise of Mr Hoyte, it was my feeling that one of the newer members of the party should have been appointed leader so that there was not just a perception that the party was making a change but it was also doing it realistically. All this is history now but I still cannot forget my thoughts when I read that President Jagdeo sent congratulations to Mr Corbin. "Perfect. The PNC can never beat the PPP now" is what I thought the President must be saying to himself. I feel I am vindicated with the way things have developed since then.
Mr Ramjattan's stance has brought to life a thought that was roving around in my head. The PPP and the PNC are basically socialist type parties. Their ideologies were prompted by the theories of Lenin which were grasped by many third world students after the second world war. The US has since proved that that ideology is a waste of time, but the feeling I get is that the PPP and the PNC are still stuck with that ideology. Both parties have placed dressings to give the impression they are different or have changed. PPP/Civic, PNC Reform.
What has come to the fore in my head is that the "Civic" and the "Reform" should merge to take Guyana forward. I have gained from some positive moves made by the Civic section of the party. The Reform members had put forward an impressive manifesto before the last elections but seem to have disappeared after the PNC's failure at those elections. The Reformers are qualified and have the contacts and understand the workings of the big market place. There are also many other talented Guyanese waiting in the wings to contribute to Guyana's upliftment if the tug-o-war between the two main parties comes to an end.
If it is difficult to change the socialistic mentality of the old stalwarts in the two main political parties then the Civic-Reform group need to step forward in the name of national unity and Guyana's prosperity.