It is not only ignorance but sad intellectual paucity when a post-colonial citizen cannot understand who controls trade, power, the global media and the world’s resources. One hopes that the only two advocates –Barrington Brtaithwaite and Abiola Inniss – who keep lamenting the lack of copyright law in Guyana, would have at least seen glimpses of some of the questions asked of Google’s CEO at the Senate hearing in the US last week. And would have read some of the insightful analyses of the global control companies like Facebook and other Silicone Valley powerhouses have over Planet Earth.
I am somewhat optimistic about Guyana. It seems that people must have reflected on who stands to benefit from copyright legislation in Guyana and what disadvantages Guyanese face in having copyright law, because only these two Guyanese are obsessed with having a copyright law here. Maybe Guyanese are coming around to understand that we came here as slaves and indentured servants and none of the countries that brutalized us have shown any compassion.
Those who argue for copyright law must be compelled by the people of this country to read about the Windrush scandal. It is one of the most heinous acts committed in the past two hundred years against post-colonial people of the Caribbean by the UK, the country that brought slavery to Guyana. Most of the victims were descendants of slavery right here in the Caribbean. Sadly some of them died before their illegal deportation from the UK could have been reversed. I remind Braithwaite and Inniss, the Windrush scandal occurred just one year ago.
Slavery, no one will dispute, is the worst uncivilized digression that ever occurred in human history. Second to that in my opinion is the Holocaust. But there have been different forms of compensation for holocaust survivors. None for the descendants of slavery.
Certain countries enslaved us. Those countries still dominate us through trade and resource exploitation. But some Guyanese want Guyana to have copyright law that would stop a descendant of slavery from selling a bogus Adidas pair of joggers on Regent Street pavement, because it is wrong to do that to Adidas. As if the world’s billion-dollar brand name companies observe copyright laws in human labour when they exploit poor Bangladeshi and Guatemalan workers.
So Guyanese found out last week, through the revelation of the Minister of Agriculture, that the Aurora gold mining company imports its own beef because it wants certain types of sliced cuts that are up to international standards. But is it the international standard or it is exploitation? The UK stopped our greenheart wood, because they say its production is in violation of good forestry policy. And remember our gilbakka export was stopped too by the US, citing international standards. The countries that exploited us for centuries still keep us down and some misguided souls cannot contextualize copyright legislation in Guyana and how it would affect the economy of a poor country that billion-dollar companies in Europe, the US and China couldn’t be bothered about.
Braithwaite wants copyright law to protect what he referred to in his letter as the “innovative soul” of Guyanese. I know Barry a very long time, so I will abstain from further criticism, but I ask the question; Barry, where has Guyana’s innovative soul been the past eighty years? I hope Barry isn’t confusing two adjectives that sound similar – “innovative” and “innocuous.”
Dr. Inniss certainly has made all those who read her response raise their eyes in total disbelief. She answered my claim of people having a colonial mentality with these words; “I was born some time after Guyana became a republic.” Do you get her drift? She is not a colonial brainwashing victim because she was born after colonialism left Guyana. I am so stunned at that ignorance about how colonial penetration works, that I think I don’t know how to reply.
Dr. Inniss said she is schooled in international property law of which I don’t know anything about. She is right. But I was schooled in an area of knowledge that makes me understand how international property law operates in the context of global domination of former slave-owning countries over their former colonial subjects more than Dr. Inniss could ever conceive. That area is called international political economy.
When you understand cultural, political and financial domination of the world by huge powerful economies then you will understand that copyright law is not in the interest of a small country like Guyana. One question – do Braithwaite and Inniss think our beef is too bad for the managers of the Aurora company to eat?
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