Looks can be deceiving: Christmas 2012

December 25, 2012 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 

I have been doing Christmas Day commentaries since 1988 when I first became a media analyst. What more is there to say? Well, a lot. When I started as a columnist, my country in CARICOM was above only Haiti. It has remained like that since then.
Since 1988 when I began as a columnist we are still above Haiti and no other county in the CARICOM family.
Obviously then there is so much to say. In the CARICOM family, our area is more than all our CARICOM partners put together.
Guyanese know we have gold, diamond, sugar, rice, bauxite, fish, agricultural products, land space, cattle, pigs etc. Some of those CARICOM States just have tourism. We never had a natural disaster. Was the Great Flood in 2005 one? I doubt it. No one will ever convince me that the rains in that year brought the floods. No! The conservancy overtopped.
I remember when Grenada was totally devastated by a hurricane; we invited sixth formers to come here to finish their schooling. None came. The only country in CARICOM that loses over eighty percent of its tertiary graduates is Guyana. Prime Minister Thompson of Barbados created a stir when stories began to circulate that immigration officials were rounding up illegal Guyanese in the uncivilized hours of the morning.
Sadly since 1988, our ruling elites cannot see that something is inherently wrong with this nation.
And it is getting worse. Try telling the ruling class that Christmas 2012 has seen the continuation of poverty in this country as never before and they will laugh at you. They will point to massive ubiquitous construction of six level buildings. They will point to flashy stores that dot the landscape of this territory.
Looks are deceiving. Money laundering and drug money cannot erase poverty in Guyana.
My wife and I went shopping for our daughter’s Christmas present. I went into a store that must have cost millions of American dollars to construct and what I saw was horribly shocking.
The entire ground floor consisted of cheap Brazilian footwear. There was no perfume counter. The underwear section had less stock than a Bourda Market stand. I counted the number of boxes of toothpaste in the pharmacy – six.
Life is strange. The next day I went into Nigel’s Supermarket and one of the managers was talking about this empty fancy shopping complex. I told him I was there yesterday and what I saw. The smile on his face was wider than the mighty Atlantic.
I did a column weeks ago titled, “The US Embassy in Guyana is not doing its work.” Indeed it is not.
This is Guyana for you where the ruling clique will point to that edifice and many like it as large indicators of wealth and development. Indeed looks are deceiving. You can look at your income and understand the levels of poverty in Guyana.
When my UG contract was terminated in January, I was taking home $168,000 monthly after twenty six years of service with training at some of the best universities in the world. Convert that into American currency and it will be eight hundred American dollars after twenty six years.
None of the offspring of the elites take home less than $168,000 after their first month on the job. I wasted my life. But I have no regrets. I would do it all over again. This is my analysis of poverty in Guyana at Christmas 2012. You know it from your own income.
I went shopping for gifts for the children of people I know that are less fortunate. I could not believe how much I had to spend buying cheap Chinese toys. I simply could not afford it. I went home and asked my wife if we could afford it. She said that there are those who need it.
This article is being typed on Sunday afternoon. In the morning I went to Bourda market. Do you know it is $180 a pound for plantains? Pork is out of the reach of the poor man/woman. This is one year the working class will have to do without garlic pork.
I have seen horrible levels of poverty in this country in 2012. I don’t believe in my heart that Burnham and Jagan would ever have allowed Guyana to become like this.
What is sickening is that those in charge of the economy extol the virtue of their working class government. Maybe Christmas 2013 would see a new Guyana.

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