…of the 1st PNC disaster
Your Eyewitness joins the rest of the Caribbean to mourn one of its most loyal sons – Sir Alister McIntyre. He was part of what is now a seemingly extinct species – the public servant who spent his youth becoming educated at the highest level, and then the rest of his life actually SERVING the Caribbean public. There are many reasons for us Guyanese to honour the memory of this great man.
Appointed as Caricom Secretary General in 1974, he became intimately knowledgeable of our local politics, being posted to its headquarters at the Bank of Guyana Building. This served him in good stead when in 1989 he was appointed the UN Secretary General Good Officer for the Venezuelan border controversy.
But in that same year, he was associated with an event that was to play a critical role in the return of free and fair elections in Guyana, and which saved us from a downward spiral that was just about to plunge our country into a black hole, from which there is no return or exit. He must be remembered for this over everything else! This was the October 1989 report of the Commonwealth Advisory Group – which became known as the McIntyre Report, because of the lead role he played in compiling it – on Guyana’s economic and social situation, after 25 years of PNC rule.
The PPP and the other Opposition parties had been documenting for years the disastrous results of the PNC’s political dictatorship and its economic adventurism into “co-operativism”, but it was as if they were yelling in the middle of the proverbially empty forest. But the eponymous McIntyre Report, conducted on behalf of the Commonwealth by a leading Caribbean intellectual and economist, was the shot heard across the world and which shattered local, regional and international silence over the Burnham dictatorship.
The Report concluded that Guyana had plunged from being the second most developed British colony in 1964 to being barely above Haiti by 1989!! And that this situation was “clearly unsustainable”. 10,000 Guyanese were fleeing annually and debt service payments and interest amounted to 140 per cent and 53 per cent respectively of export earnings. The foreign debt amounted to US$2.1 billion with debt service payments amounting to 105 per cent of current revenue.
Sugar, rice, bauxite and forestry had all been run into the ground as was the rest of the 80 per cent of the economy the PNC had nationalised. Rats were chewing babies’ toes at Georgetown Hospital and “white mouth” stalked the land. The US took notice and the rest is history.
RIP Sir McIntyre! The nation hopes the CCJ will follow in your illustrious footsteps!
…of pressures on judiciary
The US State Department issued a very timely reminder of the “influence” the Executive Government of the PNC exerts over the Judiciary. You may think it’s not as bad as during the Burnham dictatorship when the PNC flew their party flag over our Court of Appeal – then our apex court. But from what every Guyanese has seen since 2015, Granger is a president who doesn’t even genuflect to the law as did Burnham.
Now what your Eyewitness has to remind you, Dear Reader, about is that in our dear land of Guyana, the Judiciary doesn’t just mete out justice to criminals out there. In politics, we are taught that there are three parts of the government – the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary – and they’re supposed to “check and balance” each other. But in our Westminster System, the Legislature (the National Assembly) is controlled by the Executive!!
And that leaves only the Judiciary to hold off the creeping dictatorship! The last 2-1 majority decision on the “33 not-greater-than 32” by the Appellate Court left many scratching their heads.
Will it be “E tu, CCJ?”
As our case inches forward at the World Court on the Venezuelan controversy manufactured over our settled border, let’s not forget that they’re occupying our half of Ankoko Island.
Not a blade of grass!!