Guyanese are experiencing a large and growing gap between economic haves and have-nots
The revelation by the Kaieteur News of photographs of the home of the former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s home was met with swift attempts at justification and condemnation of it as a security breach. It appeared to me to be a response to what must have been an embarrassment to a party in government founded by the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan, who was respected by all for his integrity and simplicity.
While the rest of the world is saddled with an image of Guyana as uniformly poor, second to Haiti, Guyanese themselves are experiencing a large and growing gap between economic haves and have-nots.
I have not seen such opulence in the home of any of the former Prime Ministers in Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica or Anguilla. Only the home of former Turks & Caicos Premier Michael Misick in Providenciales is comparable, though this home is part of an order of the Honourable Chief Justice Gordon Ward which freezed all of his assets.
I cannot dispute that former President Jagdeo was not hardworking. There are many hardworking Guyanese who unfortunately don’t earn a decent living, have to pay taxes and who struggle to meet their monthly commitments. It must be those persons, particularly those who support the PPP, the defenders must have panicked about when the photographs were revealed.
There has been no former Guyanese Head of State before who has been so insensitive to the reality of the Guyanese people that they have flaunted their hard-earned money in the faces of the struggling population. One only needs to drive on Princes Street, Lodge to see the squalor under which some have to raise their children while some prepare, in obvious anticipation of a bride and many children.
There is the Guyanese saying, “who got luck eat pork” and some are clearly raising pigs.
So life continues in this Republic. I am hopeful, as my brother’s second daughter T’Sehai, on passing the Office of the President, said she wanted to become the President of Guyana. Once she achieves this, then after just one term in office, I’m sure she too can own a similar palace close to the former President’s home with hard work
It was Dr. Cheddi Jagan who in 1992 said, “We (Caricom Heads of Governments) must set our face sternly against corruption and extravagance. We cannot have a Cadillac-style living with donkey-cart economies. Our leaders must set the example of democratic, accountable, clean and lean governance and efficient governance,” though the party that calls his name loudly at the time of every election has walked away from the very principles he so believed in.
Former President Jagdeo has shown he is his own man and if Dr. Jagan believed that some wanted power for money and swanky living; others for personal glory but he (Dr. Jagan) wanted power for the people, for the masses, that was not the stance he was prepared to take. So while one will go down in history for clean and lean governance, the other’s legacy may be a lot more personal.
As the late Godfrey Chin would say, “yuh tink it easy.”
Dawn A. Holder