Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Found this on a friend's FB page -- apart from the emotive use of the word Massacre, I pretty much agree with most of what this writer has to say. Today's SN has a piece from TI about the insidious undermining of institutions also: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2012/features/07/31/pay-the-ticket-not-the-towel/  and this is what I took from the article : 'Because the Law is the glue that binds our society. Rather, abiding by those laws is the glue. Corruption, small and large, helps to break that glue.'

So here's Sammy Braff''s piece: He changed the country from Singapore to Botswanna at the end - as too many rules, even under a benevolent dictatorship was deemed a bad thing!

Over the past week or so, many Guyanese have raised their collective voices in condemning the murder of three protestors at Linden.   What started out as a protest against the poor socio-economic conditions of the town, turned deadly and morphed into a tense confrontation, at Linden and in the hallowed halls of Parliament.  As the chaos continues, Guyana’s institutions are being further undermined. 

To be fair, Linden is not the only community that is struggling, and its electricity subsidy is unsustainable.  Simply put, it is bad economics and disincentives must be introduced to cut down on wastage, to say the least.  However, the method of introducing tariff increases could have been applied with more thought. For example, the increases could have been phased in over a period of time.  The question is, why the rush to end this subsidy?  One cannot help but note the patience with which the Government seeks to engage in dialogue on many an issue, but then quickly seeks to reverse a subsidy to a community without consulting residents and independent analysts (local, regional or international) given the broader economic condition of the town. The shouts of victimization, given that Linden is an opposition stronghold, were certain to ring loud and clear; and there is evidence to suggest that such views are meritorious.    Electricity tariffs aside, the bauxite industry is but a shadow of its former self, and nothing has filled the void left in the wake of its demise.

So yes, the people of Linden had every right to raise their voices, and yes, what was shaping up to be a prolonged protest could have been short lived.  Indeed, the government, especially the President, missed a golden opportunity to intervene and start the much needed dialogue before the situation got out of hand.  Indeed, in the aftermath of the idiocy surrounding the condemnation of the WICB hosting cricket matches in Florida, one cannot help but question the advice the President recieves and the super salaries paid for said advice.  It should be noted, that four days before the November 28 polls, the sugar workers in Berbice protested in front of the PPP’s New Amsterdam office, and were “rewarded” with a visit by no less than the President, who flew into the ancient county.  Maybe President Ramotar should take this page, if none other, from the former president’s book.  To the President’s credit he has put the increased tariffs on hold, but at the time of writing he has ignored the elephant in the room. 

On another note, some will argue that there are many communities around the country that are arguably worse-off than Linden; however, such an argument misses the point.  Every Guyanese has the right to protest without fear of being killed, or victimized, by those who promised to rule without favor, all of Guyana.  Moreover, if some choose to not exercise said right, then so be it, but they should not vilify those who choose to agitate for a better Guyana.   I recommend Martin Niemoller’s poem for those who choose to vilify.   

Notwithstanding the martyrdom of the Linden three, Guyana’s already weakened institutions have incurred additional damage from a regime that perceives every morsel of criticism as an act of treason, an act of anti-development sentiment towards the state. The new status quo is one in which agents of the state, who are sworn to protect and serve, break the very laws that they are required to uphold. Guyana is at a point where a nasty precedent has been already set, and reinforced time and time again, so much so that trigger happy “men of the law” walk away feeling even more empowered, emboldened to repeat their unlawful acts, while mothers grieve their load of nine months past, and children dream of what life would be without dad.  Yes, from the tossing of a court paper over one’s shoulder, to the killing of the Linden three, and everything in between, our institutions are continually undermined.  So while those in the corridors of power arguably want to see Guyana develop, they should not operate in a manner which compromises our institutions, and locks out effective input from the “opposition”. To do so is dictatorial, counterproductive and anti-development.  If you are unconvinced as to the importance of institutions read the story of Botswanna . 

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