The Square of the Revolution is a one-minute walk from the Cabinet Room. Some people travelled hours, spent their weekly allowance for food and then waited in sweltering heat to see the Ministers sitting at tables under air-conditioned tents, with all sorts of beverages and snacks. The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) called it “bringing Government to the people”. How many got house lots or leases they came for? How many had relief for their paddy bug problem? How many sugar workers from Canje or Wales will get their severance? How many people got the street light they asked for? How many people got a positive response for any of the problems they came with?
The buffoonery, the obvious charade of APNU/AFC pretending they care an iota for the Guyanese people at the reprehensibly deemed “bringing Government to the people” at the Square of the Revolution last week was utterly disgusting. The Leader of the Opposition called the charade an elitist binge by a Government desperate to show people after four years of unforgiveable neglect, it now cares. One daily columnist who writes with hate for Bharrat Jagdeo and the People’s Progressive Party and who voted for APNU/AFC called it the “biggest circus ever” in Guyana.
APNU/AFC’s elitist and authoritarian DNA is totally incapable of discerning what bringing Government to the people or making people come to them looks like. Stepping down from their castles into the castle’s lawn, demanding people leave their home and villages, spend scarce resources and waiting in sweltering deplorable conditions to see Ministers is not “bringing Government to people”. It was a disgusting reaffirmation of APNU/AFC’s elitism. From reports, people left even more disgusted than they were before. Worst, a sizable portion of people who gathered were party loyalists and activists who were there as a cosmetic fix, North Korean-style, to make it look like happy people embracing their Government.
It would have been comedic if it was not so repulsive watching Ministers like the Agriculture Minister and the Minister in the Ministry of Public Health sitting there in their own comfort, pretending they were there to help those who desperately needed help. The Agriculture Minister ignored the shameful truth he dodged sugar workers, rice farmers and other farmers for four years. While he sat there pretending to care, those who really depended on him could not see him in their communities and, worse, even when they came at considerable cost to his office. Even as he sat smugly at the Square of the Revolution, pretending he is eager to help, farmers in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and in the Essequibo Islands (Region Three – Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) are battling a paddy bug crisis. Not one day has the Minister expressed concern or visited them. Did he expect the farmers would have left their farms when they are fighting for survival to come to the Square of the Revolution to prostrate at his feet?
This Minister for more than two years have heard and seen in the daily news how families in the sugar estates which have been closed are struggling to put food on the table, making choices of either eating or sending their children to school, yet he never once showed one ounce of compassion. But he expects people to believe he was at the Square of the Revolution, less than two minutes walk from his office, to bring the Government to the people, many of whom may have spent hours to come and worst expended their weekly food money to get there.
The elitist charade equally applies to all of the Ministers that were there. The Minister in the Ministry of Public Health never visited the families who lost mothers and babies who died under questionable circumstances, while the GPHC was twiddling its thumb pretending it was investigating. She and her senior Minister are never available to see patients who cannot afford medicines that are unavailable at public health facilities, even though the Government has spent many billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. They have not been to the closed Port Mourant Ophthalmology Centre, the Skeldon Hospital which cannot operate certain equipment because of electricity problems, the New Amsterdam Hospital with a closed mortuary. But they were at the Square of the Revolution, exactly one minute from their offices, pretending they had brought Government to the people they had no time for in the last four years.
Bringing the Government to the people means you roll up your sleeves, walk the streets and fields, see people where they live and work. Bringing them to your doorsteps is not bringing Government to the people, but rather the condescending elite demanding people come and bow down to them. The Square of the Revolution circus that day was ugly.