One of the most callous actions this PNC-led government has acquiesced in is the fee it allowed its much-coddled SPU to charge the fired sugar workers of Skeldon Estate for fishing in the canals of the “backdam”. Thrown into the streets two years ago, without the government facilitating any sort social net much less alternative employment, the hapless ex-workers have been forced to scrounge around for their families’ survival.
And what have they done to alleviate the pangs of hunger? Not robbed fellow citizens as so many have done and are excused because of their “poverty-stricken” background! But to fish where sugar cultivation has been abandoned since the closure, and the fields have reverted to bush! Do the mandarins of the SPU – who’re besotted with the refurbished club-with-swimming-pool at LBI – realise that the canals in the backdam have become so overgrown, these ex-workers in search of fish can walk across them? Ironically, that they have to clear the trenches to get at the fish is actually helping with drainage!!
But what kind of mindset is behind this kind of spite and vindictiveness? We know the PNC wanted to cripple the PPP’s support base in the sugar industry but do they want to cripple the people LITERALLY?? What’s amazing about all of this is the rest of Guyana can close their eyes to the governments’ economic genocide of the sugar workers, without any of the guardians of public morality uttering a word of condemnation. And it IS economic genocide – literally. Leaving 7000 heads of households without any means of bringing bread to their families is definitely dooming them to mass death. But think of the social pathologies that have been exacerbated in the always sugar belt before that slow and painful death!
And it’s not that the government, based in Georgetown as it is, has been oblivious to the travails of the rural poor. They admirably sought a $2Billion loan from the CDB to clear the lands and canals behind four villages – Ithaca, Buxton; BV and Mocha – and provided seed money and seeedlings to the villagers to make them sustainable cash crops farmers. Why couldn’t they have done the same on the four estates that were shuttered? Don’t these people deserve to live? Well…no!! The villages being assisted are all PNC strongholds and the villages strangled are all PPP strongholds!! Why should the latter survive.
Back in the seventies, when Cheddi Jagan suggested a “National Front Government” to Forbes Burnham, he complained about the PNC’s rampant racial discrimination against Indians. Burnham blithely advised Cheddi: “It’s political comrade; not racial!”
As if it matters to those who’re doomed to die because of the discrimination!
The PNC and AFC came out with pickets in front of the GECOM office demanding “no elections before house to house registration”!! Imagine that!! Oh how the world has changed!! It was the PNC, after all, which started the whole mess in 1967 when they fiddled with the list of electors by creating a National Register from which the former would be “extracted”. In the “extraction” they selectively brought forward names of supporters who hadn’t reached 18, which took them over the line in 1968 along with the horses and other overseas voters from England.
And since then, the Opposition’s been fighting for “clean” voters’ lists via “house to house” verification exercises. But between these exercises, with the explosion of technology, GECOM was mandated, funded and staffed to keep the voters’ list up to date through a process of “continuous registration” and to so certify up to specified dates. That date at present is April 2019.
With Elections constitutionally scheduled for March 19, what’s the problem?
Just that the PNC and AFC don’t want to let go of the “sweet”!!
Hopefully, latest US sanctions against the Venezuelan oil company by sequestering revenues to Opposition controlled accounts, combined with EU calls for dialogue and “free and fair elections” might just allow the Venezuelan people to determine their future.