I am absolutely sure that though the Barbadian Prime Minister, David Thompson, is new to the power establishment in the CARICOM region, he has more than a superficial knowledge of the nature of politics in Guyana over the past years in which he would have been a politician in Barbados.
One only has to look at Mr. Thompson’s counter-part in Jamaica. There you see a CARICOM Prime Minister that knows what the politics of Guyana is like. During the controversy stirred up by President Jagdeo over the signing of the EPA, Prime Minister Bruce Golding castigated a certain CARICOM country for consistently begging the international community.
Mr. Golding was devastating in his description. He told his audience that this sister CARICOM state goes around the world portraying itself as dirt poor and pressing countries to be generous. He referred to this country as a panhandler. He went on to assert that such behaviour was an embarrassment to CARICOM. He ended his perception by saying that he, Golding, is fed up with the particular CARICOM nation’s international begging.
In case the CARICOM Heads do not know, this columnist on this page wrote that it was Guyana that Mr. Golding had in mind although he didn’t name the country. President Jagdeo at a press conference called me a fool when it was pointed out to him that I had fingered Guyana as the territory that Mr. Golding had in his thoughts
If Mr. Golding is embarrassed by Guyana’s international mendicancy then the Jamaican Prime Minister should ask himself how he thinks we, Guyanese feel. Every road, school, hospital, bridge, water equipment, sewage pipe, every national programme, be it alcohol awareness, tobacco awareness, HIV campaign, has some kind of international money going into it as a result of a request from the Guyana Government.
A majority of people in this country would like to see the nation’s government fund our own development.
Back to Mr. Thompson. So surely, Prime Minister Thompson must have a working knowledge of Guyanese politics. Is there an idea inside the head of Mr. Thompson that makes him reflect on why there is a not so small group of illegal immigrants from Guyana in his island, a number which no doubt is larger than other undocumented communities from the rest of CARICOM. There must be.
As I write, there is no published evidence as to the numbers of unregistered entries of nationalities from Guyana and the West Indian island in Barbados. My thinking is that the Guyanese constitute the largest group from what I have been told by people whose analyses I have confidence in.
Mr. Thompson, as the Prime Minister of Barbados, must have asked himself during the recent days as his stand on the return of these undocumented residents gets expanding coverage in the media in his country and Guyana, why after seventeen years of the return of electoral democracy to large, resource-rich Guyana, are its people fleeing in large numbers to the small, overpopulated island of Barbados.
I believe Mr. Thompson ought to know that it has to do with leadership failure in Guyana.
I come now to a direct appeal to Mr. Thompson. In 1997, CARICOM brokered a peace concord with the Guyana Government and the Opposition. It is named the Herdmanston Accord. Guyana was drowning in violence in the aftermath of the 1997 elections when this vital covenant was signed that saved the country. The Herdmanston Accord sees constitutional arrangement as a pathway for an enduring solution to Guyana’s troubled politics.
Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, one of our finest minds, said eleven days ago that the architects of the Herdmanston Accord arrived at the judgement that Guyana’s intemperate ethnic divisions constitute the core problem of the country and the overhauling of the 1980 authoritarian Constitution could provide the basis for a sustained peace.
Dr. Roopnarine has faulted CARICOM for not doing an audit of the Herdmanston Accord.
I am appealing to you, Prime Minister Thompson, to have a discussion with your CARICOM colleagues, including the Guyanese President to examine the status of the Herdmanston Accord. The lack of implementation of the principal requirements of this peace deal is directly related to the overflow of undocumented Guyanese in your country. I don’t know how much you know of the history of Guyana the past 30 years but in that timeframe, right up to this moment, nothing has changed.
You must know Dr. Yesu Persaud, one of the Caribbean greats. He said last week that Guyana’s politics has prevented Guyanese from returning home. It is time CARICOM insist on the acceptance and inclusion of the Herdmanston Accord in the body politic of Guyana. It can save this country from impending disaster.
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