Sunday morning is newspaper morning for most people in the world. So last Sunday morning, my wife and I were having our customary breakfast on the front porch with our newspapers on the table. I began reading and my eyes caught this bold headline, “Guyanese man jailed for 27 months in NY over cocaine in rum.” As I read on, the evidence showed he was part of a sophisticated ring that exported cocaine from Guyana to the US. On this occasion the cocaine was 425 grams.
In Guyana, conviction for possession ten grams of ganja brings you four years in jail. As I write, there are more than a dozen people on remand for less than forty grams of marijuana which is the legal limit in Jamaica. No one in this entire country except Nigel Hughes and AFC Parliamentarian, Michael Carrington seem moved and aggrieved by this morbid, sickening backwardness of those who control political power in Guyana.
When you criticize politicians, they begin to dislike you, then, it grows into hate. But they never ask themselves if they hate their critics because these detractors are talking about, betrayal, double standards and power obsession, in other words, the truth. David Hinds told me, and he and I came in for some pugnacious denunciations in a television programme. But what were we accused of? Speaking about realistic failures?
I have never been a member of a political party. I was there when the WPA was founded and spent some good years with it. I campaigned in 2011 and 2015 for the Alliance for Change. My reason for non-membership has to do with my understanding of leadership and beliefs. If I am in a party that believes that free school lunches must be a policy then I will confront the leadership of my party if they fail to implement what the party believes in.
It was the Alliance for Change that decided it will table legislation to alter the sentencing structure of the marijuana laws. Conviction for small amount of grams carries a mandatory prison sentence. Bail is not an option for small amount either. If a person is found guilty of the mere possession of a smoking utensil, a jail term can be imposed. There is no reference to first offender in the law. The AFC has the amendment ready to be tabled through Michael Carrington but it has not done so or has been prevented from doing so.
This is where coalition politics gets into rough water. If I were a member of the AFC, I would demand a membership meeting to force the AFC Parliamentarians to table the amendment. If not, they have to explain if they are being prevented from submitting the legislation and name who among the AFC leadership or in APNU that do not want the legislation. Where in the world, you jail people for four years for five grams of ganja? The young people of this country should not accept this asininity in the 21st century and they must confront the Government of Guyana on it
But that is not going to happen. Our young people want money and they want the government to create the conditions for them to earn big bucks. Nothing else seems to be on their agenda. This country has a young population that is politically opportunistic and political immobilized. Go to any youth forum, and you will see the energy, adrenalin and demands. But missing from the repertoire is the political narrative.
There will be no mention of how the judicial system, especially the magistracy, treats the youths. Not a single voice at those fora will speak on the inexplicability of the absence of a Ministry of Youth. We have a Ministry of Citizenship whose volume of work has to be less than a third of what it would be like at a Ministry of Youth.
Not one youth organization has sought an explanation as to why there is a Department of Youth in the Ministry of Education and not a Ministry of Youth. The demand for such an explanation cannot withstand intellectual scrutiny.
The problem with this country is ego. Ego destroyed Guyana under Burnham and Jagdeo and if it is allowed to roam under the Coalition Government, the future is dead. Someone made a mistake in not having a Ministry of Labour (man, even in the US there is one– the Secretary of Labour). Someone made a mistake in not having a Ministry of Youth. But a gargantuan ego prevents the erring person or persons to say, yes that was a mistake, it will be corrected.
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