A few nights ago, at a PPP/C rally in Buxton, Ms. Gail Teixeira expressed regrets at what happened in that poor village in 2002. It was a sad admission of government’s failure to secure the wellbeing of the people of that village. Everyone can remember the killings and profiling of particularly young people, which were carried out by the police and other nefarious forces. These are the things that bother Guyanese. A single statement of regret would fall very short of the legitimate expectations of the people in Buxton. It could never quell the fears and anxieties of those who were so terribly affected.
In testimony, in his trial before Justice Dora L. Irizarry, Roger Khan said that he had “lent his covert assistance and resources” to local police, including developing confidential sources within the army, and that he “assisted” the government’s efforts to “neutralize the Buxton faction and its supporters.”
It is now common knowledge that Mr. Khan, a criminal himself, was knowingly permitted to commit terrible atrocities against the people of Buxton. By doing that, the government broke the very laws it swore to uphold, to protect the rights of citizens. It was concerting with criminals- Roger Khan, Axel Williams and many others of the phantom squad- to neutralize people in Buxton. All Guyanese know what that means. And even while the trial was in progress, Mr. Khan and his lawyer were busy trying to neutralize witnesses in Guyana. Mr. Robert Simels, Khan’s lawyer is now serving 14 years in a US jail for attempting to obstruct justice.
Many long and dreary years after that shocking period in Guyana’s history, Ms. Gail Teixeira, in an effort to win hearts and minds, told the people at a PPP/C rally that the government regretted what happened in Buxton in the past. What happened?
People were killed, farms were bulldozed, people’s livelihoods were destroyed, villagers were harassed by the police, their homes were searched for weapons and criminals, young people were profiled by the police, and the village was stigmatized as a base for criminals.
I am not sure what she had hope to achieve by that statement of regret but if she had hope to receive the support of the people there, to keep the PPP/C in office for another term, then, judging from the reaction of the few people who turned up at the meeting, she was disappointed.
A reality check would have informed her that her government has done and is doing nothing to turn around the fortunes of that village. Never mind the restoration of the Tipperary Hall. It was restored with the people’s money-taxes-paid into the national purse. They cannot be fooled and easily bought with so-called gifts to the community.
Empty statements of regrets can hardly compensate for the brutal treatment meted out to the people by the government. The police and military operations, the profiling and all remain in the awareness of that very sensitive community. It affects the way they see themselves and the world around them. It affects the way people treat them when they go for jobs and to do other business in other parts of Guyana. It is a shame that a village so rich in history, culture and economy could suffer such an ill-fate under the hand of this government. It is a big shame. The people are hurting from the deliberate systematic destruction of their proud heritage and from the fact that in the absence of political change, their children will be condemned to a similar fate as their parents, some of whom cannot find decent jobs in the land of their birth because they are from Buxton.
Ms. Gail Teixeira would never understand the plight of those people because she is from a different reality. Ms.Teixeira and the people of Buxton are living in the same country but in two different worlds. Therefore, her regrets mean nothing to people who have nothing, while her colleagues and ministers live in sprawling mansions and drive the best vehicles and shop at the best stores, local and overseas, and take their children on vacations in faraway lands. The people did not hear her statement of regret because they are more focused on survival. Her statement of regret sounded hollow because the people are preoccupied with hunger and poverty. Ms. Teixeira needs to check in with herself.
But no one can deny that she has always been true to her convictions. It was the same Ms. Teixeira, who in 2006, in her capacity as Minister of Home Affairs, called for a boycott of businesses owned by drug lords and other criminals as a means of reversing the out-of-control crime situation. During an interview with one of our dailies, the Minister said she could not understand the double standards of some persons, who on one hand criticised people involved in illegal activities, yet socialised with them and supported their businesses. She told the newspaper that she had told some people at a function that some of them knew some of the guys who were involved in illegal activities, but yet they attended their social functions and were welcomed.
Her words, “I am of the old school … if you are involved in illegal activities, I will boycott your business and would not go to places with you.” She urged, “Don’t go and buy from them. Don’t go and mix with them.”
However, when she was asked by the reporter how she could reconcile her call for such action when government has granted concessions to known drug dealers for certain projects including for the Cricket World Cup, Teixeira said, “These are the things that bother me.” She added that they are controversial issues. Those controversial issues are still with us in 2011.
Those issues are subjecting every Guyanese to international embarrassment and ridicule. Drug lords are allowed to continue their bloody business, shipping cocaine in every conceivable product from Guyana. Now even the authorities of Barbados and other small islands are forced to check vessels arriving at their ports from Guyana. They are finding large quantities of illegal drugs.
The sad thing is that, Gail being true to her convictions means nothing if she is seen as part of the very government that allowed the drug lords to commit crimes on Guyana soil and hurt communities. As Minister of Home affairs, this lady did nothing to give weight to her convictions and protect Guyanese other than say that she was bothered by certain things. Guyanese were and still are bothered by the very same things.
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