The is no doubt that all Guyanese, regardless of political affiliation or social standing, want Guyana to fully realize its vast and enviable potential. In doing so, the country and its people would benefit tremendously for the redounding economic prosperity with standard of living holistically improved.
Comparison continues to be made to what Singapore, with far fewer natural resources than Guyana, visibly is today. It has a highly developed market economy and is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, most dynamic and most business-friendly.
Guyana, unfortunately, is nowhere close to such categorization and after the 2015 elections, the economic took a downturn following years of unprecedented and sustained growth and development.
As more Guyanese travel and assess for themselves how other countries have moved ahead and how the residents benefit from such advancement, they cannot help but wonder, what if with regard to their own.
What if Guyana had achieved even just half of what Singapore has? The staggering results would have been unimaginable by local standards. It would have surpassed others in the region and become a buzzing hub for trade and tourism. It would have inflated pride in all Guyanese thereby imbuing enthusiasm to inundate social media for a furtherance of positive messaging.
This is not taking away from Guyanese, who, despite the obvious challenges, search for positives to share. Of course, there are those who will always find negatives in a sea of positives. That said, damning reality cannot be ignored.
Some, in their push for positive imaging, advocate for a suppression of the negatives. With unfettered access to social media, there is a difficulty for people to resist sharing real stories despite them being considered as potentially damaging to the country’s image.
A few weeks ago, the Business Minister reportedly stated that Guyanese should be careful of what they post on Facebook. His obvious concern is the potential to harm tourism and by extension, the image of the country. He was referring to highlighting of crime.
The portfolio he holds would demand he make such appeals especially since Guyana is still building its international tourism profile. However, as a government Minister, he cannot be oblivious of the crime situation and the toll it continues to take on Guyanese.
There were many incidents of tourists and overseas-based Guyanese being robbed on visiting here with some killed. In such cases, whether Guyanese here make such posts on social media or not, the tourists and overseas relatives would. More so, there was no isolated case, but quite a number of robberies on the way from the airport, on reaching their destination or sometime after.
The media has every right to report on matters affecting the citizenry, including crime. Just two weeks ago a father and daughter were killed by bandits on the East Coast. East Berbice was literally under sieged, even in mindsets, by armed bandits. Weeks ago, the Police launched an operation after mounting public pressure resulting in three bandits being killed.
From that incident, an alleged collusion between the dead bandits and a senior officer was revealed. A senior cop has since been sent on leave as investigations continue. In May this year, three bandits, who invaded a Norton Street home, were also killed by police.
Crime however has not ceased and every day they are reports of robberies across the country. That is the frightening reality in which lives were lost precipitating fear into those who reside here and those who want to visit. The situation worsened over the past few years. Just a few months ago the United States of America issued a travel warning to its citizens desirous of coming here.
That in itself underscored the magnitude of the local crime situation and it may have gotten the attention of the government which in its response said that the country is safe. In saying so, many felt that the government was either tone-deaf to crime or ignored it. That may explain why it took a seeming eternity for a response to the Berbice situation.
That aside, what the government failed to understand, having ignored the pains and cries of locals, is that if the country was safe, why would the USA issue such a statement? That statement could not have resulted from Guyanese postings on social media, but from the USA’s own assessment to safeguard the welfare of its citizens.
In trying to safeguard families, Guyanese posted in desperation to bring awareness with the expectation of effective intervention from the government. In the context of the heinous crimes committed and its continued rampage, is the Minister of Business suggesting that such incidents be ignored while in the process of building a tourism profile?
What he should be made aware of, is, if he wants a tourism profile not sullied by crime, then he should demand that the government he represents take effective and sustained action to safeguard the welfare of Guyanese and those who visit.
It would be one of many important steps to achieve success like Singapore. What is not surprising, is the Minister not asking the USA for it to stop issuing travel advisory like it did. Maybe Guyanese are easy pickings.