If R. Chickerie, writer of the letter, “Why all the anti-Iran hysteria?” (Kaieteur News, February 6), is the same reporter who covered the President’s Iran visit for the Guyana Chronicle, then it explains why s/he would spend an enormous amount of time inundating letter readers with selective snap shots of Iran’s ancient and contemporary history: He’s a hired servant. But why does he feel the need to go the extra mile and become Iran’s defender and public relations projectionist?
I am going to take all of what Chickerie wrote about the assumed benefits of the President’s trip to Iran, Iran’s history and relationship with the United States and other countries and sum it up in this indictment: President Jagdeo’s visit to Iran, much like his numerous non-beneficial overseas visits in search of economic aid 17 years after the PPP returned to power, are an admission that:-
1) The PPP did not come back into power with an economic plan, and
2) to make up for his own failure to deliver the goods to the people in the last 10 years, the President decided to spend as much time away from home trying to look as though he is busy getting help for Guyana. The man is such an absolute failure when and where it really matters – the people’s basic necessities for decent living – so not even he can stay at home for long and stare the effects of his failure etched in the faces of society, so he uses these trips as his escape valve.
Chickerie must have his reasons why he chose to spend so much time thinking he is educating/informing Guyanese about Iran, but to intelligent Guyanese, it would have made more sense if he could have used his inside access to government information and let Guyanese know the names of the countries the President visited since his 2006 re-election in search of economic help, and the exact amount of money he received from each country to-date.
If Chickerie can obtain and share that information with us, maybe he can also find out and tell us whether, in the last 10 years, the bulk of Guyana’s foreign economic and financial help came from Western nations and institutions, as opposed to nations in the Middle East.
If the bulk of Guyana’s foreign help did come from the West, then the President is carelessly gambling with our nation’s existing economic pipeline, because he could easily have gotten any Western nation to commit US$1.5M towards our health programme and commit to help map our interior for natural resources.
By the way, since Chikerie is so hip to Iran’s facts and figures, what is Iran’s track record mapping forested lands for natural resources in Third World countries? And even if we want to be optimistic, do we have any idea how long we have to wait for the President’s Middle East jaunts to start paying off?
Unlike those who directly criticised Iran because of her apparent desire for nuclear weapons or testy relations with the United States, I simply chose to ask why Guyana’s President would choose Iranian soil on which to open his mouth and make political pronouncements against America even though he knows America is a primary support pillar of the Guyana economy.
When the informal economy makes up 60 per cent of the formal economy and we see how much money and how many Western items are in Guyana, we have every reason to question the President’s judgment in being critical of the United States. Not that America is flawless, but who is this President to talk about American foreign policy when he doesn’t have one of his own? What is Guyana’s foreign policy? Is it not the same like its economic policy: anything goes wherever the wind blows? Reminds me of the guy who goes for a walk but doesn’t know where he is going or how he will get there, so any road he takes will get him there and when he is tired, that’s his destination.
And to those government apologists who said Guyana could benefit from Iran’s oil, let me say Guyana also has oil. What Guyana did not have since the era of fighting to end colonialism was the right kind of visionary leader to strike deals with the right governments, institutions and corporations and tap into our oil reserves. Forty years after political independence, we have grown so painfully economically dependent that it pulls at my heart strings to read or hear our own people write or talk about benefiting from Iran’s oil when other nations should have been writing or talking like that about us. Is this the pride that political independence instills in us?
Look, nothing is wrong with learning about other cultures, especially ones so far away in the Middle East, but Guyana, with its myriad ethnicities and their inherited cultures should also be a textbook for Middle Eastern nations on how to blend and mend the cultures to reflect the unity in our diversity. Instead, we have a country with two major races that continue to be exploited by the two major political parties, thus perpetuating a politically-inspired ethnic divide that is doing more harm than good to the people of Guyana.
And being a former British colony, Guyana could have been an example to Iran and other Middle East nations of how to go from former colony to a successful democracy based on a political system that truly catered to the core needs of the people, as opposed to the core needs of the political parties.
But Guyana is so desperately in need of parliamentary reforms, there isn’t anything Iran – a despotic nation – can teach Guyana at this time about parliamentary democracy.
Meanwhile, the AFC charged that the cost of the President’s many overseas visits in the last two 2 1/2 years is close to US$5M or GY$1B, and if this figure is accurate then it bears asking where exactly the returns in dollars and cents from these visits are. And if Chickerie or anyone sets about a response that says we can’t always put a dollar value on establishing new relations with other countries in far-flung regions, then let me put paid to that right now by saying that investments, not friendship, was what the President’s visit was all about.
However, if the government puts greater weight on friendship over investments, then it should get out of the business of governing, because overseas visits that do not improve the livelihood of Guyanese are a waste of time to the people.
Since 1992, despite claiming to reduce foreign debt (only to keep on borrowing more) this government has proven it lacks the ability to work with basic business principles to seek sound investments and return a profit on investments, and so when it fails at attempts at basic business undertakings, it resorts to putting a political spin on its failure. Everything is seen through the lenses of politics and so there is no sound basis for anything.
Before I close, I want to challenge Guyanese not to be misled, misguided or misinformed by this government when it gets into the spin game, the same way it likes to get involved in the blame game. It likes to take credit for what it perceives as successful undertakings, but scoots and spins when problems arise.
Guyanese must evaluate the performance of this government to determine pass or fail, not by what its says, but by candidly saying whether they feel better off today than they were 10 years ago. It is true that some overseas Guyanese visit Guyana and come away with a feeling that things are looking up, but do the images they see reflect the reality that they do not see in the dark shadows of those images?
Don’t look at the number of new houses and businesses going up around you, or the number of consumer goods available to you in the marketplace to determine your own feeling of being better off. That’s a fake sense of self-betterment because they have nothing to do with your actual state of living.
Do you live in a new house furnished with basic necessities? Are you gainfully employed with benefits?
Do you earn enough to purchase the consumers goods you see and need? If at least half the nation (of 700,000) answers yes to achieving all three in the last 10 years, thanks to the critical role of government and not the critical role of foreign remittances, then you have a basis for saying the government has succeeded in making a difference in your life.
If 17 years later the PPP Government still does not have a working economic blueprint for Guyana (the LCDS having been placed on life support), but is still looking for economic handouts via foreign trips, then the PPP and its President are way behind the curve in their journey to deliver the goods. They have simply failed, and no amount of criticism of the United States and cozying up to Iran will compensate for this failure.
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