Triumphant Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to stir the pot. He did so during the recently concluded monster of an elections season in the largest democracy in the world, India. During his campaign, the Khan Market Gang came in for much mention, and all of them scornful and dismissive. It is a cap that fits many a mustached, billiard-headed powerbroker in India, the disparaged elites, who partake of the finest fare in the finest places.
That disparaged Khan Market Gang has its own equivalent right here in Guyana. Political cabals, which are not of one kind only. Commercial gangs, that live for monopoly of trade, a certain variety of trade. Phantom partnerships, which are well-positioned to call the shots in Guyana. They do. Whichever way one deigns to describe them, they belong: Freaks and frauds. Hollywood reincarnations. Pigs at the trough. All fit. All are well-earned.
At the higher ends, the local gang dines by poolside and Atlantic Ocean; the same hustlers congregate in climate controlled high-rise exercise palaces to sweat off the toxins accumulated from picking the peoples’ pockets and treasury. There they gather to swap war stories, and plot how to engage in more self-help and opulent deals.
Real estate, joint ventures, and other downstream opportunities made possible by the wide-open oil frontier, where the only rules are the ones that the gangs and cabals agree amongst themselves are worth observing, for the appearance of things. It is the Wild West of yore, all the way down south to Guyana.
They are present at every oil and gas confab, since this is where the sharks and shakers and shavers flock to ply their clever tricks. Got to be in it, to win it. And they do win: these sometimes educated, mostly connected, all related and overlapping layers of flesh-eaters and domestic predators looking to cash in on the action; there are the commercial hotshots with their hot money to spice up the action and make things richly worthwhile for the circle of brethren, who will do any dirty job to latch on to their share of the petroleum pie.
That is the nectar: oil action. Of necessity, that means political action, too. The English were renowned for their recognition of chums, through the old establishment lineages, school ties, and regimental ones. The ties that bind here in Guyana today centre around a different kind of colour scheme and tribal stripe. The accents are familiar to one another: they speak the same coded language, share the same oily, fishy embraces.
One of the intriguing subsets in local society is the never remarked upon, not-so-secret (as much as before) societies. It is one protective and vigilant brotherhood, where the entrenched financial stalkers, tainted politicos, and professional artists contribute a heavy presence to those assemblies.
These are neither ragged men nor menacing looking thugs, but the smooth, suited movers that have eye and nose for where the money and power are, and how to position themselves properly to be on the receiving end. The mutual backscratching can be sourced to those halls.
The local network capitalises on many choices: choice of jobs; choice of influential friendships; choice of top billing. Choice of political recognition and access. They align accordingly, sometimes catering to both sides for their own nefarious purposes. Throughout, Guyanese elites and heavyweights wax loud and long about principles and ethics and corruption in government, while numbering among their comrades and clients the very scoundrels, who plunder and pierce the land.
A beautiful place, this Guyana, for the resourceful and loaded. Many load up on Johnnie Walker Black (and the costlier blends), while thirsty peasants must satisfy themselves with black tea and bush tea. As always, the poor multitudes are left to fend for themselves, stranded with their continuing traumas. It is about existence. Which of the local ‘bigshots’ have their welfare paramount?
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