Guyana and the aftermath

I have only been to Guyana once in my life and that was to cover the last elections for ieTV along with my cameraman and close friend Steve.  We hit the ground running and even in our short stint there I felt there was something different about the place. I am saying this because of the recent horrific massacre and because to me it reveals that Guyana’s great beauty and limitless potential is undermined by a troubled past that has left permanent scars. It seems clear that the demented gang leader and his cohorts who committed this shameless act of barbarism are the actual cause but they are, to me, symptomatic of a deeper crisis in Guyanese society.

Guyana is a land that is riven along racial lines. I remember telling Steve in Georgetown that race seemed to permeate the society in a much more disturbing way than it does in Trinidad. Especially in the election period I felt there was a ticking bomb of racial division that could go off at any minute. In Trinidad we talk race but ultimately, despite the fact that the populace votes along racial lines, there is a bonhomie that descends the minute politics is out of the way. Play some music, serve some food and Trinis don’t care what colour the next person is. In Guyana there is a divide that seems a normal part of regular life. It is partly understandable as years of Forbes Burnham’s regime left the Indian community isolated and distrustful of the African population and the African population sees the Indians as the gouging merchant class. It is an age old story. Given the fact the victim’s of the weekend massacre were all of Indian origin and the gang in question was, even by the account of the BBC and AFP, of African origin I can only imagine this will prove a setback for any move towards a détente between the races in Guyana.

The Jagdeo government is fighting an uphill battle right now to placate people living in rural communities..especially those of Indian origin who comprise his power base…that he can protect them. With more protests and road barricades today he has to convince his supporters that he will be able to protect them from those who would seek to harm them. Ultimately, he probably does not have much to worry about as it is highly unlikely his people will defect to the dreaded PNC.

The saddest thing about the whole situation is that had Guyana not been dragged into the mire by Burnham and his ilk Guyana might have been not only the richest country in the region but a virtual social paradise as well. It is sad how one bad leader, whatever his race, can destroy the hopes and dreams of an entire people and leave them drifting for years trying to rebuild their shattered society. It is a cautionary tale for us all.

I noticed an interesting phenomenon today when i glanced at my blog stats..there was a huge spike of about 300% in readership almost entirely attributable to people wanting to read about what happened in Guyana. I was even more surprised when I noticed that typing in “Horror in Guyana: in Google had my blog entry as the top choice. It seems that the Guyanese Diaspora  is hungry for information about their homeland. Like relationships, where there is interest, concern and love there is the possibility for a brighter day ahead. The concern that Guyanese have for their homeland as seen only from hits to by little blog tells me there is hope for great things ahead for Guyana.

Other than that Carnival week is making any movement in Port of Spain a headache-inducing ordeal. The fact that T&TEC the power company decided that rush hour was the time to block lanes of traffic so their trucks could engage in the essential business of hanging Carnival banners over the roadway still leaves me speechless. The normal 5 minute drive from Cascade to ieTv took 55 minutes. Merry Monarch my backside.

I am hoping that Alvin and Binky make my place their home base for Carnival as I just love their company. Last Carnival was wonderful because, despite the fact i was working, I had them both here putting on costumes and I even dropped them on Tragarete Rd to join their band. I am also waiting for Astrid to call because I told her she can stay here as well because it is convenient for with her various party attendances. Grommit indicated that he will remain based at UWI…so I am comforted to know Kensington Court will not be a flop house but a great Carnival lime. Off to bed now…T&T Fodor’s should be done tomorrow. img_4058.jpg


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