On September 23, 2013 I did a column on the gold industry captioned, “The golden gold industry.” It was about the billions the treasury was losing on illegal export of gold or fictional gold declarations. I penned that column after confidential information was leaked to me. Because of the total neglect of the PPP Government in stemming the illegal trade, I republished that column on June 17, 2014. Now there is a big cry by the new government with Minister Trotman saying the illegal export is about sixty percent of declarations.
Here is an extract from that column; “This gentleman told me that the past President, Mr. Jagdeo, the current President and the entire leadership of the PPP and Government have the statistics on gold declaration and they all know that more than seventy percent of gold taken from the earth of Guyana is not declared and Guyana loses tremendously. He intoned; “Freddie I am telling you what I know, the figure is seventy percent.” He went on to say that the average Guyanese would find it unbelievable the yearly amount Guyana loses in conspiratorial gold smuggling out of the country. He puts it at dozens of billions every year.”
It is a caricature of life that today the very people that refused to collect hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue when they were in Government are in the opposition fuming about lack of good governance and criticizing a new administration that is merely seven months old . The Jagdeo/Ramotar regime was in power for fifteen years and those two Presidents discussed the gold haemorrhage and were absolutely unmoved. This is what I mean by an unchanging Guyana. Things, people and instincts are paralyzed in this country. This is my biggest disgust with this society. It doesn’t change for the better.
People would come up to me and say that I am too critical. They would say, “It is your country too, Freddie.” But my country doesn’t change. I wrote that column in 2013, repeated it in 2014 now in 2016, illegal gold declaration has become a problem. What did Jagdeo and Ramotar do for fifteen years? I would cease highlighting the nihilism of Guyana if only Guyana would change. I worked at UG for twenty six consecutive years and within each year I saw the daily degradation. My contract was terminated in 2012 yet in 2015 there were strikes and confrontations over the decline of UG. It meant that after my twenty six years, things got worse.
It is not that you don’t love your country but as you tick off each year that has gone by and add that year to your personal life, you know you are getting older and you know you are entitled to a better future. But it comes as a mirage. I heard as a little boy growing up that Guyana was a place where it takes years for a case to be tried. Today, that fear is part of the national psychology. Few persons think of suing their work place or their fellow citizen for damages caused in an accident or a property stolen because they wonder if in their lifetime they will ever get judgement.
I came home in 1984 after studies abroad and a brief stint with the Grenada Government. In 1985, I became a member of the Colgrain Swimming Pool. My politics got me into trouble with the Administration of Guystac 2, which controlled the pool. I was banned. I sued the man who banned me, Mr. Herbie Harper. That was in 1985. The case was called in 2009, twenty four years after. My lawyer had long migrated, Herbie Harper had long died, and my mind had long migrated to other philosophical shores. This is life in Guyana.
I did two columns on Chris Gayle’s crass, sexist, vulgar attitude towards a female reporter in Antigua before the start of a game in the CPL. I chastised women groups in Guyana for their complete silence. What Chris Gayle said to the Australian reporter was chocolate cream compared to the miasma he dished out to that woman in Antigua. Guyana and the Caribbean were silent. Was it possible that if Guyana and the Caribbean had fulminated against Gayle, he might have changed his ways; he might have remembered the gale storm he encountered in the Caribbean? But the Caribbean said not a word. In a horrifying turn of events, the CPL directorate came to his rescue. So many things are wrong in this country, so many millions of words are written about them but they go on and they will forever, I guess.
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