Here is a long extract from an article in the March 8, 2018 issue of The New York Review of Books captioned “Hell of a Fiesta” by Enrique Krauze
“In the spring of 2017, and all through the year, social media feeds in Venezuela were filled with images of deprivation and despair: long lines of people hoping to purchase food; women fighting over a stick of butter; mothers who could not find milk to buy; children picking through garbage in search of something to eat; empty shelves in pharmacies and stores; hospitals without stretchers, drugs, or minimum levels of hygiene; doctors operating on a patient by the light of a cell phone; women giving birth outside of hospitals.
Venezuela’s economy, the economist Ricardo Hausmann wrote in a recent study, is suffering a collapse that is “unprecedented” in the Western world. Between 2013 and 2017 the country’s national and per capita GDPs contracted more severely than those of the US did during the Great Depression and more than those of Russia, Cuba, and Albania did after the fall of communism.
This is a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions. By May 2017, Venezuela’s minimum monthly wage wasn’t enough to meet even 12 percent of a single person’s basic food needs. A survey of 6,500 households by three prestigious universities showed that 74 percent of the population had lost on average nineteen pounds in 2016. Infant mortality in hospitals has risen by 100 percent. Diseases nearly eradicated in many countries, like malaria and diphtheria, have flourished; illnesses largely new to the area, like Chikungunya, Zika, and dengue, have spread. Caracas is now the most dangerous city on the planet. All this is happening in a country that has one of the largest oil reserves in the world.”
I honestly believe the description in that extract above will not penetrate, even momentarily, the conscience of any leader in government here. History is going to judge this country harshly. We may end up in a more diseased state than Venezuela. We came close to it several times in the past sixty years. We live right next door to the country that is described above, and we add to the misery of these fleeing people by jailing them when they come over here for food not only for themselves, but for their babies.
Karma is a cruel thing. It not only comes back to haunt you but to destroy you. This country is unfit to call itself a part of the civilized world. There was an outburst from several quarters when the Kaieteur News and the Stabroek News published two advertisements advising against investment in Guyana. I want people to come and invest here but I also want us, Guyanese, to create a civilized society. If this is a country that is not human and humane, then why should people come here to invest?
What is taking place in Venezuela is not one of, but perhaps the greatest tragedy in this hemisphere – something that may be worse than anything gone by in the past in Haiti. People are starving, yet we jail those who run across the border to look for food.
Look who is turning them back; the leadership of a country where almost every leader, maybe every businessman, almost every senior police officer and almost every senior army officer have a close relative who went to greener pastures in search of a better life.
In New York, one of the most visible nationalities is from Guyana. In Toronto, the Guyanese presence is pronounced. In Suriname, Trinidad, Antigua and Barbados, the presence of permanently settled Guyanese is as graphic as the perennial grass. Our leaders go to other countries to remain alive when they fall sick. We were told last year that Ministers went to Ireland (Ireland of all places, that the international music icon, Quincy Jones said last week is a poisonously racist country). At the time of writing, the Prime Minister is in the US recuperating from heart surgery.
A country with that demographic reality is arresting and jailing Venezuelan refugees who come in search of food. But what is semi-fascist is that after they appear in court and are convicted, we carry them to the new holding centre at Diamond where they languish in the remand until they pay their own passage. Now if any government is guilty of stink ignorance it is the present Guyana Government. If they cannot buy food, where are they going to get money to pay for airline tickets?
Guyanese are nice, good people, but fear has destroyed them. I went to the Camp Street seawall late Saturday night last week to walk my pet. Several persons went crazy for my dog. These are the nice Guyanese that are afraid to tell their leaders that they are failed politicians.
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