Public commentary in Guyana does come with personal attacks, especially when you upturn the traditional narrative on its head with new facts.
I refer to an attempt to buttress the narrative offered by Dr David Hinds by two individuals. I thank them for their letter in the Stabroek News of Match 7, 2019. But rather than deal with the core issue at hand, they offer an academic illusion of ethnic harmony and political order, without understanding that such a situation can only be achieved when there are heavy doses of truth and integrity in public policy development and implementation.
The traditional narrative that drives the ethnic disharmony and political disorder in Guyana is grounded in a fallacy that Indo-Guyanese are wealthy and thus a need for equity in how the Treasury is distributed. My previous letter has now put that to rest, and the only presumed oversight on my part was the source of my conclusion.
Any letter writer to any media house will tell you that space is always an issue, and thus I deliberately left it out.
My source was a World Bank document called “Guyana – Strategies for Reducing Poverty”. A proper interrogation of that document would lead anyone with the required training to conclude that some 22,000 Indo-Guyanese families do live in poverty, compared to 15,000 Afro-Guyanese families and 9,000 Amerindian families. All it takes is a bit of reading and mathematics to figure that out.
Secondly, anyone with an iota of social inquisitiveness can conclude that, after some 7000 sugar workers were severed by Team Granger between 2016 and 2017, there would have been major poverty consequences. You have to be clearly foreign to the happenings in the sugar industry not to comprehend the gravity of the social-economic dilution that took place since 2016.
Based on a statistical analysis of the population of severed workers done over October 2018, I have enough evidence to make that declaration public that some 3,000 Indo-Guyanese families were pushed into the army of the poor. This process was accelerated by the severance pay being withheld in some cases by almost a year by this heartless Granger Team. Were it not for the barrels and remittances coming from their loved ones in the diaspora, the impact on those families would have been worse.
Unfortunately, the connected class aligned to Team Granger would want us to log on to the narrative that it is okay for Team Granger to spend G$1.3 billion to build the Durban Park Parade Ground, but delay the payment of the Wales Sugar Estate workers for almost a year. They totally ignore the fact that such an action drove hundreds of men who used to live in dignity into a life of indignity.
As an example from my research, there were cases wherein many former sugar workers found themselves becoming petty thieves, who stole their neighbours’ “soap” from the outdoor showers.
These truths do not find their place in the traditional academic narrative, because the purveyors of the traditional message do not want to feed this truth, but an alternative truth. Their alternative truth is one that provides excuses as to why it is okay for Team Granger and the PNC to progress their ethnic supremacist policies and attitudes, since it was supposed to bring ethnic economic equity to the society. Well, it clearly has not!
Driving a programme that cultivates 200 Afro-Guyanese millionaires to match the 200 Indo-Guyanese millionaires is not equality, when very little is done to address the inequality for the over 50,000 families from all races living in abject poverty at the bottom of the economic ladder. So while the Granger Team may have brought economic equity at the top, by making many of the PNC boys and girls into millionaires and in a couple of cases billionaires, Guyana has regressed at the bottom, where too many of our people are living below the poverty line.
But the fact remains that the largest ethnic group in this army of the poor remains the rural Indo-Guyanese, away from the lights of Georgetown. While the ethnic group with the highest percentage of the poor remains the Amerindians, in this case, percentages are useless, since a poor man is a real human being and must be counted as an individual, not a statistic.
There we go, my source. Let us now progress the conversation on how we will fix the system to empower, enrich and enhance the lives of all of our people, especially those 50,000 families living at the bottom of the economic ladder.