By Leonard Gildarie
Four months have passed since the March 2 General and Regional Elections in Guyana.
It has dominated the news in Guyana and in the region.
A few months ago, it was all about little Guyana, a little unknown country at the tip of South America that has found itself one of the biggest oil basins in this part of the world.
The eyes of the world, including carpetbaggers and speculators, watch with many in the industry gleefully rubbing their hands. There was money to be made.
Nobody catered for COVID-19 or Wuhan. It crept upon us like a thief in the night.
Today, oil has been relegated to the back burner and there is battle waging over its control.
More than 120 days since the elections, and as the US yesterday celebrated its independence, our little country which has bravely chugged on and made it through the years despite the gruelling hardships of the 70s and 80s, has come to a standstill.
The people are now sitting in the open stadium, with a boiling sun and gates locked and guarded by representatives working for Coronavirus.
In the centre of the stadium, are the contestants, including the political parties, diplomats and civil societies.
The courts have been acting as referees.
We have spoken about this. It is the mother of all elections for this country.
Someone has sarcastically said it is more like a nine-month pregnancy with a premature birth ruled out.
As we talk about this, Suriname has held its general elections with a recognized result already announced.
Suriname’s strongman president, Desi Bouterse, who ruled that neighbouring country with an iron fist, has grudgingly accepted defeat and conceded. He is facing jail overseas from a drug conviction and cannot leave Suriname. His son is in a US jail for weapons charges.
Over the weekend, it has been announced that Trinidad and Tobago, oil rich and powerful at one time, will be holding elections next month.
Do we dare hope that we can have a results and swearing in of a president before that Twin-Island Republic does?
This is total madness and high irresponsibility from our leaders.
We have stalled the country and when the dust settles, hundreds of businesses will be unable to restart.
This comes as aviation authorities announced it has delayed the reopening of our airports after a marked, worrying increase in the number of cases in Regions 1 and 9.
I will admit that despite our political and other troubles, included borders that are hard to monitor, we have managed to keep things largely under control when it comes to the pandemic.
The Ocean View infectious diseases hospital will have to continue. Too much money has been spent for it to be shelved and according to projections by experts, the pandemic will not be leaving us anytime soon.
We are fast running out of beds for patients and if the truth be told and a good journalist do some footwork, it will be found that we are fast running out of healthcare workers.
Doctors and nurses and others are being isolated as cases are discovered.
Right now, we are facing a crisis when it comes to workers.
That is why we have to take a dim view of the current political situation.
Every day, every week, we are waiting with bated breath for some good news.
We want this to be over with.
None of the politicians are blinking or making any concessions.
Week in, week out, we talk about the players whose legacies Guyana will be paying attention to.
Imagine you are a key decision maker, like Keith Lowenfield and Clairmont Mingo, or the political leaders, and you come back five years from now asking for votes.
The truth is we have a largely polarized country now, thanks to a few racists on both sides of the divide who are capitalizing on the political situation.
When this is all over, and it will be, there will be a time for an evaluation.
There will have to be promise to ourselves, as people of this country, to never allow these characters to ever again do this to us.
The situation with COVID-19 has opened opportunities for entrepreneurs in Guyana.
The US is a drastic change.
Having a large mall or shopping centre at this time makes no sense.
One of the biggest successes has been delivery.
Businesses like Amazon, which specializes in online orders and deliveries, have made billions.
In Guyana, there has been a marked increase in online shopping and a number of local supermarkets and restaurants are capitalizing.
There is a big area which will become important in years to come…yes…you got it right.
Food security will be a big issue.
We have fertile lands. Many countries will be going back to basics.
Oil will recover. It is not going anywhere.
However, our traditional industries, and agriculture will have to emerge and become a dominant force.
We will have to look beyond sugar and start looking at other possibilities for sugar cane…juice, molasses and ethanol.
The lands can be converted to other crops like soya bean.
We have to be strong and ready.
In the meantime, Rome is burning while our Neros fiddled with their thumbs.
(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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