By GHK Lall
Kaieteur News – The world thinks the best of us. We think the worst of ourselves. We have one of the most in demand commodities in the world, but are content to not demand what is fair for ourselves. Something is wrong.
We are cautioned frequently. Don’t expect much. Don’t get carried away. Don’t get ideas. The warning is be satisfied, despite being in a country with so much wealth. Be happy, though little but the paltry and puny are coming the way of Guyanese citizens. Less than one million citizens, more than 11 billion barrels of oil, and the best statistical pictures drummed up for any country in the longest while. But Guyanese are reminded to expect the usual. Hard times, hard circumstances.
I make a simple inquiry: what good are all those delightful economic statistics? They mock us, we who have so much hope. I think that hopelessness is one of the worst evils. Increasing hopelessness is what we have here, now live with, as I interpret the Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance. According to Dr. Singh, we don’t have sufficient for development projects. I don’t know if the Hon. Minister cares, but aside from his PPP Government’s fixation (and follies) with development projects, there is a large host of hungry people. They are Guyanese trapped in a cost-of-living hell, many condemned to the tormenting purgatory of a wretched daily existence in the richest country globally. This just cannot be right, acceptable.
Thinking of Minister Singh’s and the PPP’s infrastructure addictions, Guyana risks the fate of Pompeii, that splendid Roman tribute to great constructions. Remember what circumstances did to it. We might be the next Dubai in looking like one, a modern metropolis with gleaming towers and lovely promenades on which to walk. Think roads. But Guyana, this oil rich province, would be like those folks who dress to the nines, and sparkle brightly, only to have no food in their fridges, or on their plates. Identically, Guyanese would be similar to those beautiful people who turn heads with their facial makeup and perfume, but can’t turn the necessary dollars from all this fabulous wealth to feed ourselves, take care of our children. Something is terribly sickening about that picture.
Forget about Dutch leprosy. Forget about resource cancer. Think about how much more of the negatives that this oil has dumped on us. For one, it gave Guyanese hopes, dreams, aspirations. Now, they are being told sorry, there isn’t enough to share. That’s more than cruel; it is criminal. If we don’t take care of our people, who will take care of the roads? To take this deeper, who will care, give a damn, about democracy?
This oil wealth has to represent something. It is not a product of the imagination. Here we are with the most gleaming GDP, an economy on the food that Superman eats, an oil discovery record that converts this country to the envy of the world, and we have people who can’t buy a Tylenol. Or a tennis roll. Maybe even a cheap Chinese toothbrush. I will say the sacrilegious: it might have been better if all those billions of barrels of oil had stayed undiscovered and locked away with the sharks, until a new crop of Guyanese leaders could have merged. Or, in a worst-case scenario, that it was on the Venezuelan side of the sea. Yes, I know; I have progressed from the heretical to the subversive. This is what the PPP Government is doing to Guyanese.
This oil has to mean something for poor, bottom of the barrel, scavenging citizens of this country. Guyanese have now degraded to that most harrowing of situations: a rat race in a crab barrel, with the cover sealed tight. Jesus Christ, we are going to devour one another. In fact, I would assert that we have already started doing so. This is on each occasion that the PPP Government and its leaders inject a few drops of blood into the barrel of Guyanese clawing, scarring, and back-stabbing each other for a better foothold. If this is what oil means, then I utilize a four-letter word to express my conclusions about it.
Keep telling people that they are the best in the world, and then string them along is a recipe for the repeat of a Rwandan tragedy here. Or that of an Iraq. The British did that to Ireland, with religion and caste playing pivotal roles. I detect some of that stirring right here. We have discord and no interest in accord, no movement to what gives some breathing space, some maneuvering room. Hungry people, punished people, disrespected and discarded people don’t forever take too kindly to their condition. Even the most passive and docile reach their endpoint. Guyanese fit that bill through and through.
(The views expressed in this articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
Exxon has to put up a sign board across the Demerara Harbour Bridge to tell Guyanese what % of revenue we are getting from the Stabroek Block!
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