THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM
The continued attacks on this newspaper emanating from officialdom have now reached the point where it constitutes an assault on press freedom.
Strangely, those local organisations which are quick to defend the rights of the press, including the Guyana Human Rights Association and the Guyana Press Association, have been reticent and silent on the assaults which have taken place against this newspaper.
We are not amused at all by the veiled threat inherent in the assertion that businesses contribute to the negative image of the country by supporting a newspaper that portrays a bad image of Guyana.
This is a direct affront on press freedom and on this newspaper since it suggests to businesses that they should not be supportive of this newspaper. Since this suggestion is predicated on a view of the content of the newspaper, in effect this newspaper is facing a veiled threat because of its content, which is seen as giving a negative portrayal of the country.
Given the source from which the suggestion originated, what we have is a serious violation of this newspaper’s right to freedom, because even those businesses who may not share the misguided opinion that this newspaper is engaged in a negative portrayal of the country, may be intimidated by virtue of the suggestion coming from the source and may feel pressured to act in accordance with the suggestion.
Among the latest attacks on this newspaper is the claim that we are portraying the country in a negative light. The Kaieteur News rejects such a contention and insists that when it comes to portraying the country in a negative light, the government hardly needs help.
No other government in the English-speaking Caribbean has had more threats of visa sanctions hanging over its head than the PPP administration, which had procrastinated on the deportee issue; no minister of any other Caribbean country has had their visa to the United States temporarily suspended.
And now we are facing an allegation, which has been stoutly denied, that a minister of the government facilitated the purchase of sensitive electronic equipment on behalf of someone who is now facing sentencing for drug trafficking and witness tampering. So who is really besmirching the image of Guyana? Kaieteur News?
No other government of CARICOM has found itself in a situation where a small band of gunmen holed up in a small village could hold to ransom an entire country.
No English-speaking country in the Caribbean, not even in those places where crime is more rampant than in Guyana, had three massacres in the course of one year. No country in CARICOM has ever been as vulnerable as Guyana has been to criminal insurgency. And yet this newspaper is being accused of portraying a negative image of Guyana.
This newspaper does not need to do that. The government is doing a wonderful job of muddying the image of the country by moving from scandal to scandal, and by its consistent inability to provide adequate security of its citizens, one of the most fundamental duties of the State.
The Kaieteur News will not hush up or sweep matters of public interest under the carpet simply to satisfy the wishes of those who only wish to portray the niceties that are taking place within our country.
We cannot do this because it would be a dereliction of our duty as a member of the media to not report on what is happening in our country, simply because what is happening may not be to the liking of some.
What were we to do, for example, in respect to the shooting incident that occurred on Sunday morning and which was reported in yesterday’s edition? What should have been our headlines, “Miracle in Guyana? “ Or how should we have treated the kidnapping story? Should we, conscious about the effects our reporting would have on the image of the country, simply have avoided the story as if it did not happen?
Is this what it will take to improve the image of the country? Will it take a denial of reality? Does it involve this newspaper turning a blind eye to what is taking place? Kaieteur News has been reporting on all of these matters for years.
How come then we are only now being accused of besmirching the image of Guyana?
Is it because Kaieteur News has exposed what is happening in the Drainage and Irrigation sector? And is it also because this exposure has brought embarrassment to friends, cronies and relatives of the all-powerful?