Did you see clips of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and now in Syria? If you did, then strange sensations would have permeated your mind as you walked into Linden last Saturday. Right in front of your eyes were pictures, vivid photographs of the Arab Spring in a town in Guyana named Linden.
At the time of writing, Linden is virtually cut off from Region Ten and the rest of Guyana. Entrances in and exits out of Linden are blocked by an unimaginable mountain of items that will tax your vocabulary to describe.
Once it is a heavy and large object, it is used to envelope the town and to prevent incursions into Linden. The objects are placed there by protestors who man every roadblock in every part of Linden.
To get into Linden and leave Linden, you have to be escorted by the protestors. They are an extremely disciplined bunch of people, dedicated to their cause and you will get them angry if you feel that you are in Guyana and therefore they can’t stop you. In their eyes are the burning flames of hurt and pain. They have put the electricity hike cancellation a peg down on their agenda list and have elevated the demand for murder charges against officials they feel have killed innocent protestors.
We arrived around 17.25 hours on Saturday. Dr. David Hinds, Lincoln Lewis and I along with two members of the bauxite union received a warm welcome that touched my soul and heart.
In all sincerity and in all honesty, these are lovely people who felt that their fellow protestors should not have been gunned down so savagely by orders from high above.
We had to park miles away. The roads are blocked. And we were escorted by the barricade protectors.
There is no police presence. Maybe police and army can remove the oceans of obstacles but that will take days. It will be a Sisyphean task. There are not sufficient security personnel to do such a task.
If they take the periphery, the protestors will wait until the security forces move into the bowels of the city to clear debris and will return to the periphery with their obstacles.
When the security forces return to the periphery, the blockades will go up again inside the city. One thing is certain, if the police show arrogance and disperse those peaceful crowds at the barricades and on the streets, it will be a terrible day for this country. My advice to the Government of Guyana is to back off.
I just came from Linden. Those people are overfilled with the pain for their dead.
Both APNU the AFC are accepted as genuine stakeholders.
And Lindeners want their help. But these very Lindeners are going to be mad if the AFC and APNU do anything on the crisis at Linden without consulting them. I was there on Saturday night. I spoke at the meeting at Amelia’s Ward.
I saw the determination shining brightly in the souls of these people and my advice to APNU and AFC is not to speak with the Government for even a second without consulting the people of Linden. If you do that, they will get angry with you.
From what I saw on Saturday, it can be called the Republic of Linden. The people of Linden led by its dynamic (this guy is fiery and charismatic and can speak the language of protest) Regional Chairman, Sharma Solomon and the Regional MP, Vanessa Kissoon are in an inflexible mood on a number of conditions. If I were to be asked for my analysis on what will happen, I would say peace and reconciliation is nowhere on the horizon if some demands are not immediately met.
One is that there will not be even a minute of dialogue with President Ramotar if the electricity increase is not cancelled. Second, there will not be the acceptance of a simple transfer of officer Clifton Hicken. Third, there has to be some sanction on Clement Rohee. This is my evaluation of the situation.
It is anyone’s guess as to how it will play out because humans cannot predict the shape of the next day. I left Linden with complete love in my heart for the people there, given the love they showed and showered on all of us. I will leave you with a light moment.
At Amelia’s Ward, I wanted to pee badly. I was escorted into the bush and when we were returning to the site of the meeting, someone shouted, “Y’all mek sure nothing happens to Freddie.” These were indeed our great Guyanese folks. Why did three of them have to die so senselessly?
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