Sep 08, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Guyanese have lived with this before, and it has reared its ugly head again, while growing more monstrous than before. What we live with today, as sensed by those clearheaded Guyanese on the alert, is ballooning leadership absolutism, in one shape and form after another. It has taken deeper root, and flourishes more and more than ever before. Yet the majority of Guyanese are content to be quiet, since it is the safest way to not get on the wrong side of such leadership wrongdoings.
We think that the best way to flesh this out in the starkest terms is to present what is happening today in comparison to what occurred before under the reign of another leader, that was bent on the barbarities that accompanied his absolutisms, who was none other than Forbes Burnham.
First, there is leadership effort to restrict public spaces, so as to put a clamp on citizens gathering and protesting. The Guyana Police Force was misused before in blatant and subtle forms to pressure citizens into watching their step, or stepping back out of the public space altogether. The blatant policing forms at control were in the shape of police denial of permission or actual confrontation at the barricades, while the subtler means were employed through the activities of undercover units, such as the Special Branch. Under Burnham, it became a notorious and feared squad. Fast forward to more recent times, and efforts by those having dissents to express and messages require prior police approval for marches or protests are either delayed, or suffocatingly managed, or blocked outright. As in Burnham times, the police have been used to restrain Guyanese, who disagree. One of the latest developments, which would have made Burnham proud, is something going under the name of Joint Regional Security Team that was almost literally sneaked under the cover of dark into the parliamentary sphere. When leaders take aim at closely controlling the security apparatus for purposes, some stated and others unknown, with the latter being the worst anticipated (given their histories and profiles), then a first major plank is laid to squeeze the population, and especially as such pertains to those possessing stubbornness and unpleasantness.
Second, leadership absolutisms are neither haphazard nor overnight in the making, but well thought out and then deployed for maximum results. When Burnham weaved his way into power, a major target of his machinations was to stifle free speech. The only speech that could be free and allowed to be transmitted to the population was that filtered by his agencies, which were manned by his people. They all spoke the party line, which was the leader’s line. This was rammed down the throat of the population, which the determination that such be swallowed, whether liked or not. So, all the independent media organs were put out of operation. Guyanese were largely limited to the Guyana Information Service, Guyana Broadcasting Company, and Guyana Chronicle. Having narrowed the open spaces and denied the opportunity for Guyanese to disagree peacefully, the PNC leader and strongman then proceeded to move on controlling the mind of Guyanese. That is, control what they read and what they heard, so that there was some control over how they think, how they react. Thinking and reacting, for good or bad, are significantly slower when crucial information is lacking, or distorted, through continuing, calculating leadership spins. In its purest form, the primary objective is to get everyone to think alike, or give the closest impressions of doing so.
Today, this is taking place here more slickly, stealthily. Earlier, the weapon was advertising revenues withheld. It failed. Nowadays, it is media licensing fees and limitations; plus, the imminent threat of lawsuits for speaking to facts frankly. And the operation of parallel media platforms, which are favoured for spreading the kinds of messages that leaders want to place before the public.
When inroads are made to reconfigure the public service, the entire security apparatus, and the economy a certain crooked way, and with likeminded people, then those are ongoing visible expressions of creeping leadership absolutisms that are old to Guyana, did not die altogether. For today, they are back, and they are just as ominous, if not worse.
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