By Leonard Gildarie
I did have intentions to write, in my old age, about my experiences. From jail time to phone calls to newspaper columnist to radio guy. My battle with depression, and suicide in the family, to peace a few weeks ago, I do believe it is a story worth telling. I had it all figured out.
But today, tonight, as a write, I am deeply conflicted. We are being pummeled relentlessly from Elections 2020 and COVID-19. I realise that the spirit of this country, my country, is being broken slowly, bit by bit.
I can’t figure which is worse and if Guyana will ever be the same. It will take months if not years for the world to find its bearings. For Guyana, it will take longer, much longer.
There is too much anger, and it is clear that our Constitution and its people, need fixing.
In the last four weeks alone, I lost my normal reserved mode, and I am not afraid anymore of saying what is on the mind.
There is distrust among the people and we have lost faith in the courts and in our institutions. In less than 24 hours, it will be four weeks since the 2nd March General and Regional Elections.
I lost count of the court cases, which included a marathon session where a political leader dared to enter the High Court in his traditional garb. There have been several injunctions granted, and there is an existing case for contempt against GECOM officials, including the Chair, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh.
Yet, we appear no closer to having a president sworn in so that the work can continue.
This past week, Guyana continued to feel the bite of the closure of the borders.
The international airports – Timehri and Ogle – are both closed to commercial flights as part of the measures to reduce our exposure to COVID-19. The virus has ravaged Europe, and the US has overtaken other countries in terms of the number of persons infected. It appears nobody is spared. Britain’s leader, Boris Johnson, has Coronavirus.
Why should we be worried? Well, it is simple. In my jaundiced eye, we closed the front gates and left the back door and side windows open.
On Friday, caretaker Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, made some startling disclosures. There are Guyanese in Suriname who have been making it across the patrolled Corentyne River.
Authorities keeping watch at that close borders are unable to properly monitor. We simply do not know how many infected there are in Guyana. We have over 160 in quarantine, one dead and five infected.
At the Lethem border with Brazil, in Region 9, there have been one or two openings with persons crossing the border. In the hinterland, it is simply not known who is there and how long. The area is that rough to traverse and monitor.
Despite persons being told not to congregate, the back door has been opened with public transportation system still working. Passengers are sitting in the minibuses, next to each other. They are using taxis. In fact, there is traffic congestion. People are going about their business. Apparently, nothing much has changed.
We have closed the borders, but our people are moving around.
It is asinine for commercial banks to restrict persons in the banks’ premises, but have them standing in the sun, breathing down each other’s neck in front.
I understand the administration’s dilemma. We don’t have lots of resources.
The decision of shutting the country down for two weeks will never be easy.
We have persons living day-to-day, hoping to grab a job here or there to feed their loved ones.
Will the private sector workers be given some kind of relief? Where is it coming from? What about employers? Should they be given the relief to give to workers? Should private businesses be given relief?
We have never faced this challenge before. The modern world never had a Coronavirus which has not only ravaged citizens, but played havoc with the stock market and trade.
We demand that our leaders, in this hour of need, put political differences aside. We are not asking. Your legacy will be judged. We are calling for bipartisan decisions that include all stakeholders.
We want all Guyanese, all citizens from every nook and cranny, to hop on board.
It is time to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. If there was ever a time that we can prove our love for country and fellow citizens, it is now.
It is 3am on Saturday now. I am tired. My body is aching. I grieve for the deep hurt that my country feels, and it is not so much from fear of the Coronavirus.
(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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