Jan 10, 2020 Editorial
The story came complete with accompanying photograph (KN January 4). It is of a motorcycle being stolen in broad daylight with the owner present, as in right there and involved. That in and of itself was dangerous, as there were three of the bandits and nobody knows what armaments they had, and how far they may have been prepared to go in their crime act.
Thankfully, matters did not deteriorate to the point where it called for the execution of the motorcycle owner reckoning his loss. He should count his good fortune for, as shown frequently, the criminals operating in Guyana can be ruthless, violent, and bloodthirsty. They will not be evaded, they will not be denied, they will take what they want and get what they come for, on just about every occasion.
As KN pointed out in the related story, the criminals do not need nor care for the cover of darkness. It is an indication of their, call it whatever works: brazenness, arrogance, total disregard for the reach of the law. This is a bad place for this country to be under any circumstances.
It is now infinitely worse because of two converging sets of situations. The first is that it is the season and rollout of national elections. The second is that there is a development from overseas that figures well for this country and its image but, if capitalized upon, could end up being a horror show of extraordinary (read grotesque) proportions.
With elections season now in full swing and less than two short months to peak time, there is this convergence of ample room and opportunity, the usual defaced social environment, and the sharp passions for what could be termed the traditional electoral mischief and vehemence. This furnishes the perfect storm and umbrella from which criminals should be able to operate, even flourish at will, given the emotional and psychological preoccupations of citizens.
In addition to that, what would be out-and-out banditry could somehow be fused or fixed to fall into one of the easy and available campaigning and electioneering excesses that have come to characterise the activities of political parties and their supporters over the years.
Nobody should have any difficulty recalling the disturbing incidents involving personal safety nor that of vandalism directed at property. The problem would be to sort what is part of the political culture versus what is not anything of the sort (as deplorable as that is by itself), but of criminal conduct, pure and simple. The issue would be how to sort that out, and to do so objectively and credibly in the pressure cooker of election fevers, where nobody is listening, emotions are running high, and the worst suspicions are right there, too.
For its part, a senior officer of the Guyana Police Force urged that “persons use extreme caution…while carrying out daily activities.” This certainly cannot be found fault with and makes for wise counsel. The problem is that most Guyanese are unable to use more “extreme caution” than they have been exercising daily. Put differently, they do not have anything in the “extreme caution” department left to summon even in their own defence. This is how far things have gone.
The second development pointed out earlier is one that originates in a foreign habitat. It is from the former mother country, with one of the leading media powers, The Telegraph, identifying dear old Guyana as a highly favoured tourist destination. In conjunction with that positive for this country came a follow-up exposure and advertisement for this country, compliments of television heavyweight NBC Today show, with Conde Nast Traveler Magazine doing the honours.
Those are widely read and watched media engines in the heart of the advanced world. This country could not have asked for better commercials and got them without paying one dime. The people will come if only out of curiosity, but what will they come to is the question that should concern all Guyanese, not just leaders and police brass. The feel good sentiments could be quickly erased with one criminal incident. The visitors would be obvious, they should have valuables, they may be seen as vulnerable. Remember: one criminal incident. Can we manage?
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