Sep 16, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The world observed the International Day of Democracy on September 15. Guyana did, and we thank the Greeks for their wonderful, fateful, construction: rule by the people. It has a clean, clear bugle note to it, lingering echoes. It compels thinking – this democracy that we have here, what is it? What has been lived with, long endured? Is it really democracy, what men and women hasten to say that it is? Or something clearly different?
We start with the positive, what we can speak to with conviction. Free and fair election, which there was, and the evidence of the numbers justify. Some may dismiss it as ‘statistical democracy,’ but it is embraced by those who emerge victorious, including those who attach such a belated label to democracy, when they come up short. Free and fair is a good start, which leads us to the more qualitative aspects of democracy, the sometimes-visible ones, other times the intangibles.
Freedom of association is a tricky one, because being a part of the wrong associations usually result in the status of a leper, regardless of whether one is professional or partisan, or citizen or culprit targeted for coming out on the sharp, short, dirty end of the democratic stick. Numerous citizens fear being associated with what could be categorised as the ‘wrong’ people (not necessarily criminals), and fear the victimisation that are part of that toxic mix. It has happened here before; it is happening today. Call it the price of losing, or taking the wrong stand for the wrong issues that anger the wrong people – powerful people, and to that we can offer small hills of testimony. It is why so many Guyanese hesitate, will have nothing to do, with speaking openly. These are what Guyanese, on both sides of our seething political and social stew, have lived with for 60 years plus.
We wish that we could say good things of Guyana’s “pluralistic system of political parties,” but given the dummies created here, or reduced to here, this is one of the dark sides of a nation’s weak, struggling, selective democracy. We have arrangements for a pluralistic system, but currently, it is a paper provision, not an inspiring reality. The judiciary is given the benefit of the doubt for independence, definitely the highest levels, but it is a harder swallow for too many citizens governed by deep-seated perceptions of the entire system.
In those areas, those are what we can muster about some of the essentials of what not we at this publication say are the hallmarks of a democratic society, but what is enshrined in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. On some other crucial elements, though, the sharply negative takes hold, and we challenge anyone anywhere to disagree with us, since this is our own hard experience at this media establishment.
We point to “freedom of expression and opinion” and “free, independent, and pluralistic media” which we lump together. It is our position that the two are closely related. It is known all over that this paper does not make a living, refuses to exist, to write of, or speak to, what leaders and their followers desire to read and hear. When the facts support, and truths are embedded, then we gladly do so. But not when the opposite is what is present. Outspokenness has been costly for us on several fronts ranging from finances to human resources to technology systems. The malicious and retaliatory attacks represent the continuing sinister handiworks of political authors, who are the loudest about democracy, its return and strengths. It is not democracy at its best, but worst. For if we can’t speak freely and fearlessly, what sort of democratic environment is that?
The fact is political-intellectual authors use paid attendants to dilute the freedom of the independent media, even attack it. Meanwhile, our wealth is plundered by crooked political leaders, and that they want endorsed. We say no, we can’t when we insist on leadership transparency; we experience the dirty and vile. Thus, the underpinnings of this so-called democracy crumble. All Guyanese are invited to examine closely and soberly what we presented, they are our democratic realities.
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