Gunpoint robberies are a seeming everyday occurrence. Despite a more concerted and sustained effort by a heavily undermanned Guyana Police Force, guns and robberies have become embedded in the national fabric.
They are so frequent as to indelibly imprint themselves into the terrified psyche of a beleaguered society.
The simple routine function of moving in this country rises to the gravity of an occupational hazard. Leaving the house may or may not be the point of maximum danger, but a sequence of events is set in motion. There is now the vulnerability of being fair game and subject to any method of ambush.
Head to a bank and be prepared for the tensions of combat. One does not have to withdraw cash; just do not be carrying anything that resembles a moneybag. That could be curtains for the unwary.
Leaving the home is bad enough; leaving a bank is almost like entering a war zone. One overloaded with loaded guns, ready triggers, waiting men, trailing cars. Nobody and nowhere is exempt. A long-resident foreign priest is robbed at gunpoint right in the front of a known religious house in Queenstown, a once reserved neighbourhood of pristine ambience now as unsafe and targeted as any old place in downtown, commercial Georgetown.
Returning to the house could be one long exercise in evasive and protective precautions. This is the unrelenting state of alert in which Guyanese now exist.
How did matters deteriorate to these barbaric depths? As dark and terrible as things were in the latter quarter of the last century, they were never this ugly, this deplorable. In spite of all the so-called modernity of new cars, new skyscrapers, new tycoons, and new money, by any sober and balanced estimation matters have never been as perilous as in the last couple of decades.
For with the new tycoons and new money came new hustles and new strategies. Those are best remembered and embodied in the sophisticated games of narcotics smuggling and money laundering.
For all the newness and the new businesses, and those two in particular, there came the compromises, the smugglings, and the runnings which called for men of a certain ruthless caliber and weapons of all kinds of deadly caliber, some of which are believed to be unknown even to the army and the police. Those guns and men are out there; some are out in the streets wreaking havoc on a hapless civilian populace.
What came about because of underground business demands has now seeped into larger society and spiraled out of control. Conniving and colluding political masters should be praised for blessing citizens with the gift of this mortal societal endangerment.
Of course, in the beginning, it was well-received as conspicuous consumption and prosperity of a rare kind. As of late, Guyanese in the gunsights are not so sure. Yes, the old way created jobs of a kind; the new way exposed them: accounting and reporting.
For its part, the GPF struggles to come to grips with what is now a settled and dangerous phenomenon. It is uphill but not unconquerable; just unmanageable currently. And for this, the guilt belongs to those political luminaries who made a deal with devil in selling out this country and its now targeted peoples. The many guns and schemes (and the wise guys behind them) have come under increasingly sharp scrutiny.
A lot of it is too late and too little; but a start has been made and that is part of the problem. The once occupied hardcases are now free to roam the streets and put hardware to work to the detriment of an honest hardworking class.
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