Freedom… of the press??

Another day…another DAY!! Yesterday – May 3 – was World Press Freedom Day, with the theme – “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights.” Quite a mouthful, innit? In Guyana, with all the talk of “press freedom”, folks seem to forget that our politicians sue the press at the drop of a hat – and  get away with it!! Nobody worries that freedom of the press should facilitate people’s opinions!! Imagine that coming out of the rigging attempt of March 2020, several folks who wrote to the press about their opinions on what went down were sued for libel – and millions and millions were won!!
Your Eyewitness remembers that the Sanctimonious Gangster sued some newspapers for a BILLION DOLLARS, just because they carried a letter from a nationally known public commentator on what he thought of him for doing the dirty!! But nobody called this out for what it is – intimidation of free expression by a public figure!! There’s an exception to libel, called “fair comment” – but in Guyana, following British precedents, it’s quite restrictive, unlike in the American judicial system. In the latter, the laws are in the spirit of this year’s theme – and tend to cut the press quite a lot of slack because of the greater good in the right to know what’s going on to secure one’s freedoms.
Your Eyewitness feels that if human rights are to be furthered through freedom of expression – via the ministrations the press – the local Courts oughta follow the US precedents, rather than the stiff Brits’. The latter’s focus isn’t on freedom writ large in terms of human rights – but on the sanctity of the reputation of the individual!! The Yanks’ position reflects the protection of the ordinary folks, who are more concerned about the systemic attacks by the state on their freedoms – which constitutes the substance of democracy. The Brits’ position is a residue of their feudal system, where the hoi polloi have to be reined in so that – God forbid!! – the lord of the manor’s reputation is not impugned!!
The freedom of the press protections come out of its facilitation of the democratic drive – in 18th century Europe – and earned them the name “Fourth Estate” – after the nobility, the bourgeoisie and the commoners – who were duking it out for ascendancy. In the US, it was a straight fight by the ordinary folks to prevent a return to the Royal loyalists. We’re more like the US – save ours is a struggle to prevent Burnham’s notion of a press from returning. He – insisting that “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” – banned newsprint to newspapers other than his Chronic!!
Nowadays, the PNC controls the now dominant social media!

…with one-party democracy
The Barbados Labour Party – under the leadership of the dynamic Mia Mottley – went to the polls in 2022 and won all 30 of the seats in their Parliament. This followed the 2018 elections where her party – with her at the helm – had also swept all thirty seats!! So, by the time she finishes her present term in 2027, she would’ve been ruling for a decade!! During which she broke away from the British Crown and declared Barbados a Republic!! Quite a move for a country that once swelled with pride at being called “Little England”!!
Compare them with Guyana, where the PNC and AFC had checkmated the PPP in 2011, ousted them in 2015, and the PPP reciprocating in 2020 to illustrate the democratic “politics of in and out”. Here, the PNC – and the TUC that parrots its line – are insisting that we have a “dictatorship”!!

Why can’t we follow Barbados, where Trade Unions, Business and the Govt just signed a five-point plan to develop their country??

…and the GPA
Your Eyewitness just read a hysterical release from the Guyana Press Association about the Government ganging up on them to oust their executive and control the press. All because some members want elections – due since 2020 – held!!