Jul 24, 2021 Letters
Something alarming registers about the paranoia that plagues and paralyses great numbers of Guyanese. It is a national secret that Guyanese are crippled by chronic fear, live in constant dread of leadership known, and unknowns. The source of their fears, believe it or not, is this current PPP government, and what all-powerful leaders can author, outsource.
Citizens have justified fears about government’s handling of this oil wealth, but they are fearful of saying anything that could put them on the wrong side of PPP strongmen and their henchmen. Whatever PPP leaders say it must be (on anything) then that is, and heaven help those daring to dissent. Guyanese are so fearful that proven PPP supporters have difficulty taking a different tack in public on issues they don’t agree with, or wrongdoing that disturbs. There exists the rational fear that party leaders would ‘get them’ and make them pay harsh prices, for their lapses, no matter how minute; most fear, even doctors, lawyers, accountants, others. It should be noticed that I didn’t say ‘irrational’ fear, because the fear that used to characterise PNC hegemony is now more widespread; the command-and-control mindset of PPP leaders is almost absolute in reach. Since PPP leaders watch everything, see and hear everything, and know everything, nobody is free to think anymore, and say what is on their minds, even when such is soaked through with incontestable truth. The only truths that Guyanese are comfortable of thinking about are those that they keep deep inside themselves, those for which they must be loyal soldiers and join the bandwagon, even when obviously devious. The media fears lawsuits politically weaponised. Citizens fear political leadership retaliation for frankness. Civil society fears (few excepted) fears blacklisting from honest disagreement.
Guyanese dread speaking openly on the phone, because of overpowering qualms about government agents listening and targeting later. This well-entrenched fear has been around under every government; but today, the PPP has carried to unprecedented heights. Citizens are uncomfortable speaking out against contractor, police officer, public servant, neighbour because he is a known PPP man; therefore, there could be hell to pay. Meaning untouchability and steep prices for personal folly, with the law effectively neutralised. Public service professionals have been reduced to flunkies, for if they mutter a fair objection, there is the anxiety that such is being noted, could be blown-up and misused with terrible consequences later. Hence, Guyanese have gone into self-protective modes when candor, courage, and conscience should be at a premium, since those are the pinnacles of any bona fide democracy.
One observable fallout from such a frightened state is that conscientious citizens are only at home speaking in representative groups on any issue that troubles, including benign ones. Only a few step up, the rest refuse to be made into examples due to overwhelming fears, all well-founded.
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