On Friday evening, Dr. David Hinds of the WPA, Michael Carrington and Dennis Atwell of the AFC and I had a grounding session with the sizeable folks that inhabit the long passage from the Stabroek Market Square to Vendors’ Arcade.
The recurring theme of all those who we grounded with is that the politicians have failed Guyana; there needs to be new leadership in the PNC and PPP; more trustworthy leaders should come on the scene. All around we went the talk was about lack of trust in and admiration for the two Leviathans in Guyanese political history – PNC and PPP
This continuous disappointment with political parties raises the chicken and egg question in politics. Who galvanizes a nation to resist tyranny – the political parties or civil society activism? If the political parties are always in a fighting mood, does that give rise to civil society groups that become energized and ready to participate?
Or is it the other way around? When civil society organizations are very active in denouncing violations and are relentless watchdogs that political parties feel the need to be bold, brave and aggressive? The historical record is mix. In the West Indies, trade unions were in the forefront of the struggle and that gave encouragement to the politicians. The PNC’s work was facilitated by the vigilance of the Guyana Labour Union. The PPP’s spirits were kept alive by the sugar union.
In the Arab Spring, it was not the political parties that started the downward slide of the Arab dictatorships. Whichever way you look at it, the struggle against a tyrannical government needs the ebullience of both the political parties and civil society entities. Sadly in Guyana, only one of these partners is alive – the politicians. You can criticize the parties as much as you like, the civil society groups have failed their country and Guyanese must be honest to acknowledge this.
Where is the thirty five year old group, the Guyana Human Rights Association? Go to any corner of this country and mention the name Red Thread and people will tell you they know about it. Mention the name Mark Benschop or David Hinds or Chris Ram. People would automatically say they know them because they are always in a picket line. Mention the name Mike McCormack and no one knows.
Mr. Mc Cormack heads a human rights entity that has a huge office on Hadfield Street. I pass there every day; that place is always closed. Once a violation occurs, the victims will never go to Hadfield Street because they don’t know about the Guyana Human Rights Association. The UG academics may be the most disgraceful and shameless set of certificate holders anywhere in the world.
You examine any autocratic system anywhere in the Third World, and the university people are always writing and talking about changes. Not one voice, however faint or inaudible, can be heard from UG. My recommendation is if a new government comes in, it should fumigate UG, remove these certificate-holders and invite real academics to work at UG.
As disgraceful as the UG academics is the Bar Association. The difference between the two is that the sheepish UG certificate-holders are more honest than the Bar Association people. UG academics don’t say anything so you can’t accuse them of dishonesty. The Bar Association chooses which fight to pick, carefully examining which turf they operate on.
So they would chastise the Attorney-General because they know they are on safe ground because the world will disagree with what Nandlall did. But that same Bar Association would dare not touch judicial madness on the bench. Oh yes, they would! Sorry about that. The Magistrate would have to be off the bench. Or the Judge would have to be in retirement. Guyana is overflowing with mediocre lawyers who sit in the Magistrate’s chair and who have gone way passed the line they should not cross. The Bar Association avoids the subjects of race discrimination and power abuse like Ebola.
As disgraceful as the UG academics and the Bar Association is the Guyana Medical Association (GMA). Note that the GMA and the Medical Council are totally different bodies. The latter is a state institution. The former is a civil society body whose members practice private medicine.
The GMA has failed so far to even mention, much less investigate alleged gross incompetence of some Cuban trained Guyanese doctors. Brazil and Jamaica have frowned on Cuban doctors working in their health care system. The deaths keep mounting at the Georgetown Hospital but the GMA, like the rest of the sheep, carry on as if Guyana is already dead. Isn’t it?
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