In several Easter columns stretching back to 2003, I reflected on the kites going up and likened them to people leaving Guyana. I did that in 2003, 2004; in 2007, my Easter piece carried the title, “…up, up and away…” Those commentaries were about the constant exodus of people on a day when kites take to the skies and fly away.
In my Easter 2017 column, again I ruminated on the analogy of the flying kites and the winged impulse of Guyanese. I now return to the subject in my Easter 2019 column. I have a splendid view of the kite flyers. My home on the Railway Embankment looks over the ocean at Turkeyen. I see the thousands of kite flyers. This afternoon will be no exception.
Easter 2019 comes at an interesting time. Last year, there was a record number of rejections for visitor’s visas from the US Embassy (see my column of Wednesday, April 17, 2019, captioned, “Visa refusal and American intelligence on Guyana.”) Seventy percent of the applications were turned down. From just over 25,000 permits in 2017, it was downsized to just under 5,000 in 2018. Then you have to factor in the Canadian angle. They are even less generous with their visitor’s visa offer.
The large 2017 visas plus the 4,000 families that got immigrant status means that out of a population of just around 700,600 citizens with a huge number being children, then a significant number of persons in our small population do apply to go abroad.
When you take the numbers in the population and consider the 4,000 that leave with immigrant status, then we are a nation of people wanting to leave. When I wrote my Easter columns of 2003 and 2004, there were not 4,000 families migrating each year.
Will 2019 accelerate the speed of the exodus? I have always been in two minds when I began writing in the newspapers 31 years ago. Moreover, there isn’t a year since then that I have not faced that contradiction in conversation with people.
Should I not be careful how I write because people can be scared, see things pessimistically and want to leave? The truth is I believe there have been souls that read my stuff and it made them want to leave Guyana.
The alternative perspective is to desist from those kinds of commentaries. But is that what I was put here to do – to hide the truth, to fool my fellow citizens, to deny bad things happen in my country, to paint a false reality? Is that what analysts do? Is that what we do with our learning? Is that how we treated our education that we spent a long time getting?
The answer is no. We serve history and we serve history because we want those that come after us, long after we are dead and gone to know the facts of history. There isn’t a vein in my body, there isn’t a philosophical thread in my mind that would lead me to write about things just to please people and make my country happy. I am not like that. I will never be like that.
After this long, rambling, personal digression, let’s return to the kites and the wing impulses of 2019. My honest, deeply felt opinion is that more people will leave permanently than over the years gone by. You may hate me for my opinion but it is mine to express and I have a right to express it.
I see 2019 as a turbulent year because I don’t think our national election will be a fair one. I don’t think the results will reflect the actual reality of voting and that will create uncertainty in the society, generate pessimism, and instill the urge for people to leave.
That is how I see it. You may disagree then we will agree to disagree. But quite sincerely, this is how I see things in 2019. Even with oil, Guyanese will look for the exit door. This columnist is one citizen of this land that believes oil money will not generate optimism given the way it will be spent.
I stood alone three years ago when I informed Guyanese that vast sums of money were being used on form and not on substance at UG. Look at the statistics on that spending in this newspaper yesterday.
It will be the same with oil money. If the PPP is in power, it will be a horror show as when they ruled with huge sums going to waste. Remember the Marriott! If it is the PNC and the AFC, the same theme will become a stuck record.
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