The strength of a country, whether liked or despised, lies in the uncompromising spirit of its citizens to defend and protect it at all cost, because such is considered intrinsic to their survival and development. If a people cannot stand up and fight in defence of the freedoms achieved, it would bring into question what manner of persons they are.
I return to the issue of our migration (immigration) challenges, because I feel strongly about it even as the question is being posed, who amongst us are the Cuffy, Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham. Men who delivered leadership, started, developed and shaped our struggle for self-determination. We need their thinking, their conviction, their tenacity to propel us forward as an independent nation.
This country cannot afford to embrace the policy of open border. It did not serve us well in the past and is not likely to now. Open border, an element of globalisation, has been pushed by the more developed countries and multinational institutions desiring unfettered access to trade and the exploiting of the indigenous resources of others. Openness was never a two-way street.
Lesser developed countries were courted to liberalise their investments, immigration policies and laws. Such saw lucrative packages, tax holidays, concessions and privatising of state entities at peppercorn rates. In return, those foreign companies never lost sight of who they are working for and to whom they have to deliver dividends to, i.e. their foreign shareholders.
When foreign investors come to our shores, they enjoy tax concessions, unlike the local investors who are born and bred here. The exploiting of our resources sees the majority of the revenue created being repatriated to another country. Should this be pointed out, the response is that they are creating jobs for Guyanese. Settling for jobs is not an act of self-determination but dependency.
The tsunami taking place, where Guyanese are not discomfited colluding with foreign forces in a form of recolonising us, economically and politically, must be challenged. An important element that must not be lost sight of in the examination of economic and political strangulation, is that of who reaps the hog. When Guyana receives significant loans and grants from countries or institutions, in the developed West or East, the major consultants are drawn from within their fold.
Even when it requires buying equipment, conditionalities are set for the purchase. In the end, a significant portion of the money, from the loans and grants, return to the country or institution of origin. In fact, the rules that govern the relationship between those countries/institutions and Guyana are guided by them. Tied to this is an immigration position.
Immigration is an aspect of national planning and buttressed by laws. And where small countries like us were and are being courted to free up our immigration system, the more developed countries retain a system of managed migration and ownership of businesses. Those who reside illegally know if caught, they will face the brunt of the law, including imprisonment and deportation. A country has a right to enforce its laws, for such serve as the bulwark of the nation state.
Instructively, as law and order are being enforced by the developed countries, some of these same governments are facilitating the process of their citizens acquiring visas to entire Guyana to set up business and work. This is a structured way of exporting labour, carrying implications for the receiving country, because it is not based on bilateral relationship but cunning, to displace local labour and business in furtherance of self-interest.
For instance, for some years now there has been thriving trade borne out of such deceit taking place among political operatives, an embassy in Georgetown and members of the business class. This trade sees the importing of large volumes of products in containers, which are then distributed among a specific group who has succeeded in miniaturising the Guyanese merchant class. The group demonstrates no corporate responsibility, unlike our merchants who will give back to the communities within which they operate. This is a worrying situation.
Having come this far, we must not become a ship without a rudder, drifting to an unknown destination. Guyana needs a political and economic policy dictated not by the multinationals and foreign interest. For their interest is theirs not ours. We have to pursue our interest.
It becomes overly important to revisit the intent that led to the establishment of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM), which is to harness the economic, cultural and political resources of the Region for the benefit of its peoples. As we speak of an oil and gas sector, it becomes necessary that consistent and structured engagements take place among Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname and Barbados, with a view of maximising these resources. We are of shared common history, values and goals, and we stand to benefit more.
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