By Leonard Gildarie
The past three weeks have placed Guyana dangerously on the brink and exposed our deeply flawed capacity to think as one. Tomorrow would be three weeks since that historic March 2nd elections, described as the mother of all.
Today, our leaders should be deeply ashamed. We have regressed and our nation is deeply divided. As if that is not enough, the world is grappling with possibly its worst crisis for the last century in the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
I am not sure whether as a people we have grasped the magnitude of the threat we are facing at the moment…from elections and the virus.
Countries have shut down. Several parts of the US have been on lockdown, with California asking its people to stay home.
Italy, a country that I once dreamed of visiting, on Friday recorded 627 deaths in one day. People are being left to die.
We wasted three weeks. Our attention should have been on this crisis which has not only seen a mad rush to stock up by homeowners, but has seen authorities taking several actions in Guyana.
Our airports have been closed to commercial flights. Our merchant ships are being allowed in with no crew being allowed on land. Suriname and Brazil have closed their borders with Guyana. We have recorded one death – with a family quarantined after a number of them tested positive.
Prices have risen for basic items and workplaces have introduced shift systems, with citizens consciously encouraging social distancing to reduce the spread.
There will be job losses. Bars and restaurants are virtually empty and the city is complaining of more than 50 percent reduction in business.
Even the vendors at the iconic Stabroek and Bourda markets are complaining.
Analysts are predicting a crisis with the economy this year, compounded by the drop in oil prices which will severely dent this country’s revenues. We will definitely see a fallout from oil and gas investments, as ExxonMobil revisits its project in light of cheaper gas on the market.
However, we are not only being beaten with those measures. The elections of March 2nd have raised a number of deeply worrying questions about our politicians.
The racists have come out of the woodwork and taken off the gloves. It is us and them now. I have never seen this country as polarized as it is now. Maybe it is social media, maybe it is what I am seeing.
We have taken on our international partners including the ABC and EU bloc. The events surrounding the tabulation of the Region 4 results will not be repeated here. The world knows what transpired.
GECOM has torn asunder our faith in the law and systems that work. We will never look at another state body the same way again. The deep division of this country will be laid squarely at the feet of the six commissioners and its chair and the secretariat.
The players will go down in history not for their good works, but for their conscious decisions that have created deeper fissures in our people. We will remember them, and the thoughts will not be good.
Our politicians have failed us. I met a number of the younger ones in the past week. My heart soared. The passion, the intensity of wanting a better Guyana is there.
It is the older politicians who have failed to make the cry to our people. Social cohesion has gone through the window, having been kicked to the curb.
JFK’s wonderful urging would ring hollow, as there appears no concerted moves to end the standoff. How could one explain the inaction and the absence of a concerted call to find solutions?
While we may have our political differences, there is not one call by our leaders to meet halfway, for a moment, to take actions on Coronavirus. We only have to look at Italy, a country with resources, to understand the major threat we are facing and the ripple effects that will not go away anytime soon.
The criticisms for the elections have been coming fast and furious. From the US to EU, we now see a former minister, Dominic Gaskin, coming out swinging.
There were personal attacks on a foreign envoy and it appears that our foreign relations will take a nose dive.
We spent $6B for an elections that has delivered zilch in transparency.
Should there be an investigation or a Commission of Inquiry? It seems history has a way of repeating itself with GECOM. Every five years, Guyana is facing the hate and rhetoric with no attempts at reforms for more inclusivity.
Where is the country in all of this? It is not too late for our leaders to show that they have this country in their heart. This week will be critical. We have elections and Coronavirus. Would there be a continuation of silence or a joint stance on the shutdown?
History will be brutal for our leaders when the events of March 2020 are being written and reviewed. In the meantime, the people are watching and crying. We did not sign up for this.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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