May 15, 2020 Editorial
The eyes and attention of most of the nation are firmly locked on the electoral battles raging inside the Guyana Elections Commission. Those have taken on an increasingly sharper texture and ominous ring. There is the sense that subterfuges and other machinations have less and less ground on which to dodge and weave, that road is running out, and that patience has been just about starved out of existence.
But as the heated confrontations and battles of GECOM grow in magnitude and spill into the social arena, there are other battles slowly developing in everyday Guyana, and for which there are no currently available antidotes. There is none to offer the respite of either safe harbour or safety net for stricken and increasingly distressed citizens of all stripes, nothing on which to place trust and look forward to as the screws tighten ruthlessly. These battles are largely unreported and unknown; hence they remain unrecognized as they are overcome by the wash of bigger events and higher preoccupations fixed on the grand national stage.
The battles that have to be faced by citizens daily have an ominous ring to them. In some ways, they offer a potential glimpse, an undesired one, into what may just lie ahead. Citizens are sharing encounters where they are being purposefully ‘bumped’ for purposes of robbery, but one with a different twist. These encounters are occurring in the marketplaces, while shoppers are engaged in the commerce of fruits and greens and vegetables. And those are the products, the items purchased from dwindling finances, which are being targeted, with buyers being relieved of them in broad daylight, but within the camouflage of the congestions and noise and other distractions.
To be clear, this is happening at a low level and is small scale thus far. It is haphazard and sporadic, but there is the distinct impression of premeditation in the crimes involving small domestic food supplies bought. In view of fears across the board, there is little reason not to believe that these situations will not increase in frequency, with the inevitable result of violence turning up in the mix sooner at some time or the other.
The perpetrators are reported to be bands of, lone operating, young men on pedal cycles, who weave in and out of the pedestrian traffic, while they watch for a suitable opportunity to pounce. At the risk of understatement, this is bound to multiply in numbers and intensify the passions and stresses under which this society labour. The cyclists turned opportunistic robbers most likely are also without sustenance and are forced to hustle to put something into the pot. There is no excuse being made here, simply a restatement of what is where things stand for many in this society of supposedly plenty.
The longer the hard circumstances and realities emanating from the coronavirus stretch and sicken, the longer and harder will things be in the home, in the street, and in this country. Many businesses are working at half strength, or not at all, which means that employment needs are narrowed. Many workers have been sent home as a consequence of the unfinished reach of the virus. They face a lengthy and unknown interval in front of them relative to that nonworking condition. Nonworking means at best less pay; or, at worse, no pay at all.
For the many citizens who work for close to or at the minimum wage, who exist on the pittance of crumbs, this is living hell. They have no one and nowhere to turn to, no safety net (savings or unemployment insurance) to cushion this savaging and abrupt fall. They are on their own, and right at the beginning. There is some hope, but the odds are against any early resumption of the things of regular life, chief among which is going to work and earning a living.
And now with the little that there is in hand, what was reached for, faces the high risk of being snatched right out of the hand. Law enforcement is stretched at too many points and too thin to provide any semblance of deterrence, security, or comfort. As elections battles rage, there are these other daily battles.
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