Damage control…

…on press suppression
Caretaker Granger has gone on a full-court press in damage-control mode over his revelation that he’s fundamentally anti-free press. Pressed for his reaction to his DPI’s curtailment of ads to the SN (and this newspaper also), he opined that there was the question of “fairness” in that paper’s coverage of his government’s activities! He also alluded to the DPI’s excuse that the newspaper had threatened to not publish any new submitted ads until their humungous past due bills were paid. “Commercial dispute” he scoffed!!
But the damaging truth had already spilt: “mout’ open and story jump out!” And in any case, the DPI had been dissembling as usual: this paper also had a proportionally large past-due account from the DPI but had not made any threats – yet their ads were also slashed. The only common denominator in the two papers affected was their trenchant criticisms of the Government for their actions following the NCM! So we come to Granger’s outburst that the issue at hand was “fairness”.
But this stance by Granger – in his role as representing the Government – is exactly what had created the need for a free press historically. It became known as the “fourth estate” from the birth of democratic government following the French Revolution – roiling the traditional three estates of the clergy, nobility, and commoners. The press would protect the interests of the commoners against whoever was ruling – whether the king or the president.
So here we have Granger/Government/leviathan being judge, jury and executioner to tell the free press its coverage in “unfair” and it’s justified in applying sanctions by cutting Government ads. This is a form of censorship by using a carrot and stick approach – especially in a small ad market as Guyana’s. Let’s not even mention the Declaration of Chapultepec! If the Government has a problem with press coverage, there’s always recourse to the courts for libel or defamation – as this Government knows the Courts more than most!!
Announcing that he’s “an advocate for professional, free press”, Granger’s Chronic and MotP mouthpieces have regurgitated scads of his utterances on the role of the free press – as well as he might since he benefitted from that Hubert Humphrey Fellowship while almost in his dotage. They took his doo-doo on “press fairness” and rubbed it on the SN’s bamsie: “President rubbishes Stabroek News’ claims of unfairness”!! But the problem is, as with most of the homilies and verities he spouts, Granger never walks the talk. He has studiously avoided press conferences – 3 in 4 ½ years! – in favour of stage-managed affairs.
Granger should examine the “fairness” of his State media!

 …needed for GECOM Chair
The GECOM Chair continues with her inexplicable behaviour. Your Eyewitness thinks she still believes she’s still on the bench and not on a chair!! Let’s take her latest decision – and we all know with an evenly-balanced political commission, she makes GECOM decisions with her casting vote. She says after informing the 25,000 persons who haven’t collected their IDs via letters and newspaper ads, she’ll take their names off the OLE but retain them on the NRR.
But by law, only folks on the OLE can vote: there’s no allowance for a “supplementary” list!! Claudette Singh isn’t on the bench where she can offer categorical interpretations of the law. The same with her suggestion that folks on this list must produce “other forms of IDs such as passports”. This requirement places an additional burden on the fundamental right to vote.
Or, so it’ll be argued in the Courts by some PNC proxy after they lose to the PPP in the March 2 elections.
Just like they did with the requirement for IDs with Esther Pereira!!

…needed for Caricom
Caricom has pronounced that it’s concerned about the “Haitian crisis”. But on the constitutional crisis that transfixed Guyana for almost a year – it stayed studiously mum.
Is Caricom signalling that only after violence – like in Haiti or in Guyana under Desmond Hoyte – they’ll speak??