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 . 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Events in Linden

So Linden exploded last Tuesday night after people were blocking an important bridge connecting to the Interior, in protest.  The Police who it seems were instructed to clear the Bridge met with resistance (they apparently did not use their new toy - the Water-Cannon - probably due to poor Water Pressure up there?? Just speculating).  Unlike the 2007 Tain Protest, the Lindeners got enraged to have Tear Gas released on them-- here the story gets a little unclear - whether rubber bullets mixed with Live Ammo (accident or design?)  were fired at the same time or if this was after the Police, buildings and waiting vehicles were attacked - a few of the latter two set alight.

 It turns out that the Lindeners were/are unhappy that the subsidy on the Electricity rates that they enjoyed from the days of the Burnham administration in the 1970's is earmarked to end now that the collapsed Bauxite Company has been given to the Chinese who have to make it economically viable -- as a small business owner I can say the one of the largest drains on the finances is the Payroll Expense and the Chinese have been doing just that-- implementing Cuts in the Staff. So with investors wary this could not happen at a worse time-- here is a Lindener's view of the situation-- also interesting are the comments after:

Sad that three people died on Tuesday night and as many as two dozen were injured. I understand that this is all over a 5% raise, as apparently the rates will be staggered until it reaches the 'highest in the Caribbean' - Guyana - 24cents per kWh as opposed to Barbados -8 cents per kWh. Almost immediately the whole Race issue was raised, apparently making the Chinese- the major employer in the area very nervous.
Also sad it the lack of listening to concerns from all sides due to a gut emotional response - one FB friend deleted someone's unsympathetic comments to the Protesters who countered that the Lindeners were wasteful - the average household burning 500 units as opposed to 125 in the Georgetown and that jobs were hard to get anywhere - I thought everyone's point of view is valid and the Problem with all its angles needed to be looked at if a viable solution is to be reached.

PS - Today's papers(27-Jul) report that the pathologist report says that the men were shot by a Handgun in the vicinity of their heart - very disturbing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why It's Exhausting To Live In Guyana....4/Designed to make you feel small....

Thankfully the number of people reading my rants on this Blog has dropped - I happen to click on a few earlier ones and wondered at the incoherency and illogical jumps. I regard this as therapy in the absence of any regular person to bore the pants off.
So the day dawned brightly and thought it was a good day to pay my bills; cracked open the new check book ordered at the beginning of the year and collected two months ago --- started frothing at the mouth.
Last year the Bank decided to change the numbering system and started back from 1-- I can't remember how I solved this problem on my computerised accounting program as the White People who designed the system did not cater for confused coloured 'Bankers' restarting back from 1 each time a new set of cheque-books are ordered-- come to think on it-- chequebooks are pretty much obsolete in most of the developed World. Anyway-- no surprises the new cheques restarted back from one (1)!!
I was so cross I rang  GBTI Bank to complain. The nice woman in charge of accounts explained that the new printers had restarted the numbering system last year -- I asked who was more important -- the customers or the printers, and what was the point of filling out a chequebook request and stating the number of the last cheque if they were going to ignore it??  By now I had built up to venting off--- I feel a bit ashamed as clearly the poor woman had nothing to do with it-- she managed to tell me that their new system was the year: 2012-- then six set of numbers, but I wasn't letting her off the hook as I had collected these new books a couple of months ago and it said 2011--- then six digits-- did they... could they ... have passed off some old stock on me?  And furthermore she said that the Bank was upgrading their system and would be reissuing new numbers starting back from one (1) when I finished this new set of 100- making this the third time I restart from 1.
You know you only realise how backwards we are when you have to deal with the outside World and its logical assumptions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Driving in Guyana -3

So cruising in late to work today, I slowed down to let the National library mini-van coming up Church St turn left into Carmichael in front of me. As I reach Bishops I looked across at the car slowing down on my right with an excited taxi-driver shouting across 'That's how you'se drive?' I shouted back 'What ya talking about?' He very authoritatively ordered me to pull up across the road, I said I was turning left and pulled up to hear what he had to say.
He leaned over to identify himself as a police officer and said that he was driving with his superior and that they thought I was driving carelessly by not coming to a complete stop at the crossing. I acknowledged that I had slowed down, and as the National library van had gone ahead I accelerated to cross Church Street before cars turned from Carmichael St in the other direction-- that I had not endangered anyone.  We had a little discussion about Road Use in Guyana where I pointed out that with everyone breaking the Rules of the Road it was difficult to do the right thing all the time and in fact, although I had not come to a complete halt I made sure that nothing was coming from either direction before I pulled out; in the midst of which he got a telephone call from someone and he said that it was not a man driving and he was talking to the woman - that he was under instruction to haul me into Eve Leary--- thought it would have been Brickdam.
The conversation ended with me being asked 'to leave a little something'. I said I did not believe in that sort of thing and in any case business was bad, whereupon I was asked to identify my workplace- in view just up the road. Wonder if it is a new sort of scam-- but he did seem very authoritative.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo

I enjoyed reading this book written with a strong, African woman's voice. It was refreshing to hear a woman's point of view and at the same time read about a totally different culture and the bridging between the old Customs and the New.
We get to hear a different 'take' on the West's obsession with contraceptives and obesity for the Third World-- particularly as Melinda Gates has been in the News recently, spearheading a campaign for the former - in essence I agree with Ms Gates but it was timely to hear another point of view and the whole politics of control.
I loved the point of view of marriage in Ch 14: 'why do you think they took so much trouble with a girl on her wedding day?'  'She was made much of, because that whole ceremony was a funeral of the self that could have been.' I thought that took away the patriarchal sting of transferring the woman as property from her father to her husband!
The writer notes the backlash to an independent- thinking woman by society and to be honest I myself couldn't figure out why she couldn't come to some agreement with her traditional husband as she feels the sting of Loneliness at the Holiday season when she can't hide behind her work - I was also a bit prejudiced against her as she gave up her child and seemed a rather cold sort of mother. The opposing character of her friend I didn't feel was so well developed and we never get to hear what's bothering her and she settles for a Traditional role. However, to the Bookclub's relief - it is a short book - 165 pages

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Here's a hair-raising statistic to scare the pants off any thinking person- http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/superbug-dangers-chicken-linked-8-million-risk-women-122809803--abc-news-health.html :

80% of all antibiotics in the US are fed to livestock, even chickens to prevent them from developing diseases in cramped living quarters-- nice way to say- in battery farming. Since the 1980's flags were raised when pre-adolescent girls in Puerto Rico experienced menarche at much earlier ages than the then norm of 12 to 14 yrs being now 8yrs; it was discovered that Puerto Ricans, like Guyanese, were very fond of chicken and were in the habit of chewing the bones and consuming the marrow in which were stored the excess antibiotics and other chemicals - these mimicked Estrogen.
A friend who got into large-scale Chicken Farming told me when she saw the unusual growth spurt that the baby chicks go through at 4 or 6 weeks, she KNEW that wasn't normal and stopped eating chicken as a result-- she switched to deer and is now vegetarian!
The large-scale Food industry has managed to keep this information out of the mainstream media but it looks as if the rise of the super-bug is the result: E.coli is pervasive - been around but has now been potentiated - made more potent. Women's anatomy means that they're prone to bladder infections but this is scary!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

That's How They Do It...2

Quite unexpectedly I happened to be on the Ituni-Linden road a few weeks ago and was a bit surprised to see six container trucks parked at the side of the road-- forestry consisted of going in, appraising the goods, chain-sawing + dragging the trunks to the side of the road and simply loading into the Container-- Bob's your uncle as they say-- no pesky Customs, Forestry agents etc-- just barrel your way in and rape the environment! Seeing as it was about 7.30pm there was a  surreptitious air about the activities.
So Guyana's sleepy ranchers whose cattle roam their land freely have now to contend with a new guy, rounding up and branding all cattle not branded-- it's a whole, rough world off the beaten track, with a spineless Government unable to protect its citizens. and for that matter standing by helplessly while the Moco Moco Generating station burnt and seemingly couldn't care a toss while Lethem grinds to a halt without a cheap, reliable supply of electricity.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Guyanese Tragi-comedy or Comi-tragedy

It was with mixed feelings that I read of a car-jacking last Saturday night - a 23yr old man from Canal drove his girlfriend to her house on the East Coast in the evening and here the papers have differing versions - SN discreetly reporting that he stopped for a piss on the Seawall and KN reporting that he stopped to relieve his bowels on the Ogle Airstrip Road.
So he got attacked by two men, beaten up and had his car stolen and parts removed.
My initial reaction was-- serve him right-- what is wrong with these people?? It's not like he couldn't ask to use the bathroom when he dropped the girl off? Granted the lack of Public Facilities is a problem in Guyana - relieving oneself in a Public place could pose a Public Health problem as the population increases! It was interesting that in reporting the story various Media didn't seem to think that THAT was a problem - maybe that's how standards start to slide - when you don't even see that something is a problem? Personally I would have thought it would have been a better Headline if the police went to lash a charge of Public Menace on him all bandaged up.
Then my second reaction was - how terrible that people have to be fearful of being in an unpopulated place, even a Public Place like the Seawall.