Eyewitness: Getting closer…with Suriname


When you come to think of it – and we really never really think of it – the fact that we feel closer to Trinidad and the rest of the British West Indies than to Suriname is really something, ain’t it? After all, Suriname’s just across a river (Corentyne) much narrower than our Essequibo!! That Suriname owns the river up to its reach at low tide makes it even more puzzling since we’re in Suriname every time we take a splash!! Shows us the brainwashing power of colonial Britain and the Netherlands, eh? Whether we wanted to or not, our eyes were steered firmly towards them as “Mother Countries”! And closer to the West Indies for us and Aruba and Curaçao for the Surinamese. That’s just the way it was.
But slowly, that’s been changing – starting from when Burnham destroyed our economy.

Thousands of Berbicians fled to survive in Suriname (like mostly Essequibians to Venezuela). They also fled to the other West Indian islands, but they were shocked when folks they thought were “family” treated them like scum. So much for the vaunted West Indian family!! In Suriname, while there was also some scorn poured onto the Guyanese, they were much more accommodating. That they were supplying the Berbicians with goods to smuggle across to Guyana certainly helped! Soon many Surinamese were speaking with a Berbician accent!! Did you know that the Surinamese President’s wife is of Guyanese extraction?

Well, looks like we’ll be getting even closer to Suriname – driven by that thing that makes the world go round. Yes, money!! And this case, money from the oil struck off our common Atlantic shore. We’ve had several presidential exchanges signing all sorts of agreements on trade and cooperation. One of them being a bridge across the Corentyne River that’ll make visiting Suriname as easy as visiting Berbice!! But a just-as-critical step was just taken when Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Suriname Trade and Industry Association (VSB) launched a Guyana-Suriname Private Sector Business Council before Holi. Like your Eyewitness said, money makes the world go around and these are the folks who’ll be lubricating relations with money!!

So what we’re seeing – as was explicitly announced at the launch – is the consummation of the long-sought CSME that’s been a mirage for the last two decades. Well, we know that Guyana and Suriname are members of Caricom and so, maybe this move will catalyse that dream into reality? There are signs that Barbados under Mia Mottley doesn’t have the crippling ego problem of the other Caricom leaders and is willing to flex and compromise to create the synergy of a CSME.
In unity (of money!), there is strength!!

…in Parliament?

Your Eyewitness was intrigued to learn there’s a 10-person Parliamentary Delegation jetting to Nusa Dua, Indonesia, for some Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). What was intriguing was there are three Government Ministers, including AG Anil Nandlall and two members of the Opposition, including their Chief Whip Chris Jones. Now, for sure, these first-class tickets had to’ve set back our Treasury some US$8000 a pop. But your Eyewitness feels it’s money well spent.

The question that rushed immediately to his (curious) mind was on that long flight – with all those interconnections – to Nusa Dua, what did these Guyanese from different sides of the parliamentary divide, find to talk about. Was it about how they all enjoyed the revelry of Phagwah? (Did they all PLAY Phagwah?) Was it about how long the present Opposition members will be going on junkets once Norton gets into Parliament??
Or whether Jones asked Nandlall when he’ll be getting back his barber chairs, since he might need them soon??!

…to One Guyana?

For “UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”, the PNC vowed it’ll ensure there’s no racial discrimination.
Does this mean that Volda – who said jobs will be only for “PNC people” – won’t be back??