Nov 21, 2023 Letters
Listening to President Ali and the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharat, one would be convinced that Guyanese are now enjoying a paradise. Of course not to mention the US$214M scandal.
The President and the Minister avoided comments found in Stabroek News, Village Voice and the revelations by Glenn Lall on Kaieteur Radio. These were avoided like the plague. In an earlier piece, I reminded Guyanese that we are now in the season of ‘Believe it or Not’. But listening to the two gentlemen, one would assume that Guyanese, in the religious concept, are sharing in the glory of contentment and abundance. I said we are the paradise of the modern world.
I was brought to reality as a black-out occurred even as I was dictating this letter, but Editor the gravamen of this letter and its main purpose is to get the truth from the top-brass and in particular their purported Security Advisor, to whom I am copying this letter.
For the opening session of the Extraordinary Sitting of the National Assembly on Monday, November 6, 2023, to discuss the current issue of the Border, I had the honour to sit alongside Gerry Gouveia, Security Advisor to the President and Carl Greenidge who made a powerful presentation on the Guyana Venezuela Border issue at a later occasion.
Present at the Opening session at 10:00 a.m. was the former President, now Vice President, the oil czar but more importantly, General Secretary of the PPP Party in Office. This makes him the most important person on the Government’s benches and since he has talked publicly about giving Venezuela a corridor and then we heard an aggressive pronouncement supporting Venezuelans who have crossed the border into Guyana and telling us why it is proper that those persons can obtain Guyana passports and therefore earn the right to vote at National and Regional Elections.
Here it’s necessary to note that based on its tradition and notwithstanding changes in its Constitution from time to time, the General Secretary of the PPP, unlike other parties and political institutions, is not an ordinary man and not an ordinary member of this Government. The General Secretary of the PPP is regarded as the voice of that Party and over the years considered the “Primus inter pares,” first among equals, interpreted generally and understood as the boys say to be the “Boss Man.”.
As such, on Monday, November 6, 2023, I looked forward to hearing this honourable gentleman deliver in Parliament, the position of the Party and the Government on the Venezuela Border situation. We were all shocked and disappointed. The General Secretary, Dr. Bharat Jagdeo disappeared after about twenty minutes from Parliament and we understand he repaired his underground bunker at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. That operation of course is another matter and not the gravamen and purpose of this letter. Recently, eighty persons who were allegedly fleeing from the tribulations in Venezuela were rescued off Tuschen, on the East Bank of Essequibo, when the vessel in which they were traveling broke down. The eighty were allegedly processed in a matter of minutes and handed over to friends and relatives who were expecting them.
The VP talked about some of these persons being second generation Guyanese, no evidence provided and that they would be entitled to Guyana passports and therefore the right to vote at Regional and National Elections. Ms. Amanza Walton-Desir, Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, has tabled a question on this matter and I hope someone on the Government’s side will give us a truthful answer that is, assuming some folks know the difference between truth and falsehood, between reality and fiction. I have earlier made it clear that in circumstances where we are supposed to be the fastest growing economy, we should be willing to help those seeking a better life, calling them refugees or what have you, my problem is how to interpret the silence in Parliament of the man who should have been in the vanguard of the debate on Monday, November 6, 2023, but miraculously lost his way and his voice. Every Guyanese including PPP supporters deserve an explanation. I am reminded of my favourite quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when Caesar observed “mischief thou art afoot.”
As an ordinary citizen, I’m respectfully and humbly asking for an explanation. I’ve deliberately said nothing earlier in order to give the administration an opportunity to respond to concerns expressed since the Parliament met.
Only a few days ago, the distinguished Professor Emeritus of Ethics and Political Philosophy, Adela Cortina emphasized on Monday at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), that the migration problem is global and needs global response. This is important and Guyanese Officials on both sides of the political divide should not trivialize this matter.
Beyond these complexities any sane, sensible Government with even a spattering of patriotism must know that dealing with people from a neighboring country that for whatever reason is convinced that two thirds of our country belongs to them, we ought to sift with care and professional competence every single Venezuelan alien found in our territory. Every Guyanese even as we wish to be gracious hosts, must condemn any act or statement, which compromises our 83,000 square miles.
I would like to welcome them all and offer them the hospitality that Guyana is known for over many generations, but only an idiot would open his doors without checking each and every one before allowing him to enter his house. It is unnecessary for me to burden this letter with immigration problems in every corner of the globe but I give just two examples related to our biggest and best-known neighbour in the hemisphere, the United States of America.
First, the US boasted that they are a country of immigrants; yet in normal circumstances to visit the US or even pass through a US Port requires you to satisfy certain established conditions. But recall that when for obvious political purposes, they waived this requirement to let in Cubans. We are aware of the anxiety of the US administration to score political points to waive the usual requirements and restrictions to let Cubans into the US. What some of us found amusing was the ship load movement from Mariel to Miami. Castro administration, sensing this anxiety to let in all Cubans to the US, organized a batch from the prisons, undesirables and those with psychiatric problems and facilitated their movements from Mariel to Florida.
Why do we think that Maduro has not been organizing a similar operation recognizing the PPP’s anxiety to accommodate and to settle these Venezuelans? Listen to Jagdeo’s Press Conference.
I have referred to the recent incident where two Venezuelans were arrested by the police in the vicinity of the Demerara Harbour Bridge with illegal drugs and this week a report about the taxi driver, Shon Smith who was chopped, slashed and robbed by five Venezuelans and had to play dead to tell the tale.
I spoke with a man who has a small room which he rented to a Venezuelan. The Venezuelan refused to pay the agreed rent, told the Guyanese Landlord that he has friends in high places, and later secured a job with a senior Government functionary. The Guyanese man is reluctant to go public because he says he fears for his life and with the perceived belief that certain members of the government hierarchy are supporting these new immigrants.
On a lighter note, on Wednesday, I spoke with two ladies who make their living as nocturnal horizontal acrobats complaining that the Venezuelan senoritas are putting them out of business. Recall, when the first wave of Spanish-speaking settlers came, a Guyanese male customer died in the embrace of a senorita in Robb Street. Taken into custody, she explained what happened and was released. Her language was not indecent and if the editor or anyone is interested in what she told the police, call me at Tel No. 227-3194 and I will tell you what she said which earned her immediate release from the lock-ups.
This question with the Venezuelan Referendum on December 3, 2023 should be the concern of every Guyanese irrespective of race, colour or political persuasion. Let me make it clear that speaking for myself and others, while we consider the behaviour of some folks at home and abroad, as opponents, we must avoid labeling them as enemies. In this regard, in spite of the fine words and unanimous passage of the motion in Parliament on Monday November 6, 2023, the Government had already shown its lack of faith and belief that they are the font of all wisdom, the Alpha and Omega of everything about Guyana and so Thursday with great pomp the Government announced that they will be presenting to Parliament a Bill to establish a new Security Entity, a Border Patrol.
There are two worrisome things about this announcement, one, there is no need for a special border patrol, all that is necessary is the deepening of cooperation with the Police, the Army and the Intelligence Agencies and increased cooperation with the Guyanese residents and miners who operate in these areas.
Second, if for whatever reason, such a new unit is deemed necessary there ought to have been some discussion with the Leader of the Opposition and other concerned institutions. Dear Editor, instead of the Government creating conditions of harmony, they are doing the opposite by treating others outside of the Party in an offhand and disrespectful manner. That’s a recipe for discord and disaster. The PPP Administration seems unable or unwilling to learn from events in the last seven generations.
1773, the Korean war, President Johnson’s embarrassing withdrawal from Vietnam, the role of the United States in the Russian-Ukraine situation, the role of the United States and the super powers in the Middle East What are the conditions that are driving the genocide in the Gaza strip? The security breaches that led to Pearl Harbor attack. Jagdeo’s silence in Parliament may very well mean that there was or is some deal arrangement or understanding related to our oil and therefore who should be the beneficiaries of these huge natural resources.
I am satisfied that our present Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Natural Resources lack the intelligence gathering capability and to understand the rapid and significant changes that are taking place in the world today. The new submarines, for example, could be lying at a point north of the Pomeroon River and north-west of the Corentyne River and even developed countries lack the technology to detect their presence and both defensive and offensive capabilities.
We live in a world encumbered, encircled and dominated by greed, arrogance and as far as this government is concerned propaganda will lead them from darkness to light. They are wrong, very wrong. Our present crop of leaders, even within the ruling Party cannot understand that they must listen and learn from the voices of experience and therefore wisdom. The trouble, Dear Editor, is that when we hit the iceberg as we see in Africa, Europe and parts of the Middle East, the innocent children and women are the first casualties. Mr. Jagdeo, President and his Security Advisor must prepare this nation for post December 3, 2023 if we are to inherit God’s gift to us and that our oil, gas, gold, diamonds, gold, coals, etc. are not a curse but a blessing.
I end this letter with this universal wisdom ‘self-preservation is the first law of nature.”
PNC demanding answers for smuggled chicken early Sunday morning after church!
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