If you take the amount of money the West paid to Third World oil-producing territories since the oil Arab embargo in 1973, those countries should have become developed states on par with the US or any European nation. The amount is in the trillions of dollars. Yet those Arab lands are not as sound in their economic structures as the West which bankrolled them and continue to do so. V.S. Naipaul would have the answer – the Third World is a natural-born disaster.
Take Libya and Cuba. Gaddafi was caught and executed after his escape convoy was bombed by French jets. After forty years in power, with trillions of dollars going Libya’s way under Gaddafi, it was the French who were responsible for his eventual death. In Cuba, after almost half a century of Fidel Castro in power, Cuba without imperialist exploitation of its resources (this very exploitation which motivated his revolution), is not even a third rate Third World economy. Castro has the answer – Cuba could never have taken off because of the American blockade. Not even a schoolboy studying economics in high school would believe that.
There is a whole school of thought in political psychology (forget Naipaul’s ranting) about the permanent (eternal) psychological violence, colonialism has inflicted on Third World generations. The Guyana case is quite sad. It reminds us that there may be conceptual validity in the theory of permanent damage. Just look at Trinidad under Manning and Guyana under the Jagdeo/Ramotar combination. Why would any Third World country like Trinidad spend almost US$250 million to host the Summit of the Americas? Very few Third World countries can do that, much less Trinidad.
Guyana is the most tragic example. The Guyana Government decides to buy pirated textbooks that cost a few hundred million dollars, because the cost of buying the original is prohibitive. Yet this is the very government that spent almost twenty times what the original textbooks would entail in the following areas; summit of Mercasur Heads; summit of Commonwealth Finance Ministers; hosting of Carifesta (rich Bahamas declined to have it); construction of an Olympic-size swimming pool that serves less than one percent of the population; huge expenditure of the yearly Jamzone bacchanal which sees the sponsoring of America’s top singers (Neyo was paid US$250,000 for a one-hour performance) and West Indian cricket stars.
After forty-five years of Independence, the Government of Guyana cannot afford to import schoolbooks, but have to resort to stealing writers’ copyright stamps. This is the Caribbean that Naipaul so derogates. This is the Third World that the West continues to treat as mendicants.
The British Ambassador to Kenya referring to this beggar mentality said; “They vomit on our shoes.” Then Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding described Guyana as embarrassing CARICOM with its international begging. There must be some serious psychic affliction in the Third World that their leaders could spend dozens of billions of local currency on international conferences and concerts, but cannot find a few hundred million dollars to buy textbooks, and for whom – the nation’s school children.
In the pirated textbook scandal, the focus is on the illegal purchase and the depravity of a UN member-state openly and unapologetically saying that it has no moral objection to copyright stealing. This emphasis has shifted the discussion away from the nature of post-colonial failure in the Third World. Few Guyanese would accept that the State hasn’t got the few hundred million dollars to buy the original texts. That should never be debated.
The Guyana Government has the money. It will spend it tomorrow on another project. What is under analysis here is the post-colonial mentality. The argument is that the colonial effects have so scandalized the psyche of Third World cultures that its leaders are naturally strangulated in breaking out of their psychological prison. Spending money on education is not a priority for the PPP Government.
In any future NCN debate, the Government side will run away, because resources to public schools of all types are scandalous, and have been like this since the PPP took power over twenty years ago.
Any citizen who says that he/she loves this country must cry over what UG has become. This columnist has a daughter at UG and if my income could have allowed me to send her to any other university elsewhere in the world, I would. The less said of UG, the better for the mental stability of this nation.
My deep, personal feeling is that Guyana’s tragedy may be stemmed if we try a national government. It is the only game left.
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