What kind of mind would think of holding a celebratory event on tourism while half of Demerara was under flood waters? What kind of mind would willingly participate in such an ugly act of desecration of a country?
But it happened. While Georgetown was under flood waters, the Guyana Government held its annual tourism awards last Friday at the Convention Centre. One would have thought that empathy would have deterred the Government and its participants from involvement in such a process after the unbearable pain poor people had to endure after the flood on November 20.
Last week Thursday’s flood was not the unpredictable presence of human disaster that has accompanied human civilization since it began. The inundation that occurred two Thursdays ago was not a natural calamity. It was a catastrophe that every one of those participants knew was going to devastate this country sooner rather than later. It was a disaster waiting to happen, because the Government of Guyana doesn’t care.
The prevention of floods in this country is not a scientific process but a commonsensical one. If your parent gave you twenty dollars, the admission fee, to enter the school sports ground and you spent ten, there is nothing scientific about why you cannot enter. Commonsense will instruct you that you should not have spent ten because it is twenty to get in.
If a country cannot clean its waterways of the jungles that overran them, then commonsense should tell its citizens that constant rains will bring water that has nowhere else to go but into your yards and homes. Several times in writing about the cruelty of the Government in neglecting Georgetown, I mentioned the graphic image of Shanta’s Puri Shop at the Camp and New Market Streets junction.
Once you step on the bridge in front of the shop you see a gutter that is literally overflowing with mud. Just a few hours of rain will carry water into the shop. I saw the identical situation with Medicare on New Market Street and Miranda Avon Store on the same street. Once it rains continually, thousands (not hundreds) of places like Shanta’s, Medicare, Avon will be overrun.
Those people who went up and shook Ramotar’s hand and collected their trophies and heard their names called as being appointed tourism ambassadors cannot be that naïve to say that Guyana has any tourism capital coming its way. Guyana has disaster coming its way. It did two Thursdays ago and more will come.
There are no tourism prospects here but filth and miasma, which the young population sees everyday and which daily drives them away from Guyana.
There was a funny streak that passed through me when I saw the awardees and tourism ambassadors having a photo-op with Ramotar. One of those persons just a day after he collected his imprint from Ramotar wrote the following in the newspapers; “…a few months back, I drove onto what I thought was grass on a parapet but was actually grass growing over a drain; I ended up with my front wheel jammed in a Camp Street gutter.” The person who wrote this has been appointed a tourism ambassador. I wonder what Sigmund Freud would say of this gentleman.
So why do people do this? There is a valid sociological explanation. The bulk of the wealthy folks that eulogize the PPP Government have swollen foreign accounts, citizenship for other countries, and their families do not suffer the hardship ordinary Guyanese have to endure.
Take the people in that tourism photograph with their country’s president, Mr. Donald Ramotar. A majority of them this columnist has done a background check on. One is the part owner of an airline company that buys Cessna aircraft.
Another is from one of the richest families in Guyana. She engages in a certain type of sports and trains year round outside of Guyana. Where are the facilities in Guyana for her to train? Like the owner of the airline, she probably has foreign residency. Another is a wealthy hotel owner. In fact, a majority of those smiling faces have residency abroad and their families are outside, and of course seek their medical services outside.
So do they care about Guyana? Well the man who drove into the gutter is the best answer. The gutter incident didn’t deter him. He went and secured his award from President Ramotar, and he will be promoting tourism in Guyana. When I saw that photograph it reminded me of how the German people smiled with Hitler and praised Hitler while Hitler was destroying Germany. But do these guests know who Hitler was?
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