EYEWITNESS: Looking out…


…for neighbours

Back in the day, after Burnham and his PNC experiments had brought the country to its knees, Guyanese fled to every country in the vicinity, and then some. Today there’s probably not a country in the world where you wouldn’t bounce up with a mudlander. But amongst our neighbouring countries, none provided more of a welcoming hand than Venezuela.
Trinidad, Barbados and the rest of the islands in the Caribbean are supposed to be our “brothers and sisters”. We share a common culture, which we just supposedly commemorated at Carifesta XVIII.

But can we really turn a blind eye to the fact that Trinidad routinely rounded up “illegal” Guyanese and shipped them back home? Can we really forget the “Guyanese Bench” at Grantley Adams Airport in Barbados? We’d been brought low by one of the staunchest “Caribbean Unity Man” – Burnham – but that didn’t cut us any slack, did it?

But Venezuela, which was our “enemy,” to whom we denied even a “blade of grass and a spring cuirass”, gave succour, sustenance, and a home to over 50,000 of our countrymen and women. There were no mass deportations…no apartheid bench…and no sneering looks of scorn. Guyanese established communities in Venezuela; they’d periodically visit their homeland with goodies for their starving families. During the days of banned essentials, a healthy trade with Venezuela kept western Guyana afloat.

Well, today the shoe’s on the other foot. A government with some startling similarities to the Burnhamite regime has brought down their country to its knees. We can argue they’re also being destabilised as we were in the sixties – but the bottom line for their ordinary citizens is that Venezuela’s now a living hell. Some Venezuelans have begun to come over here to survive – most recently to get treatment in Region 2 for malaria.

To its credit, the Government, via its Foreign Minister Greenidge, had signalled they will try to soften our stance from treating these Venezuelans as “illegal immigrants” and deporting them. Greenidge said, “At the policy level, the Government may want to see what can be done. We are looking, for example, at our legislation as it applies to refugees — although in the case of Venezuela, these are not declared refugees — but let me see what can be done.”

What we’d like to see done is to quickly work out a humane policy – taking into cognisance the state of our economy. For sure, we cannot afford to have our social services overloaded, but surely we can stop the automatic deportation policy still in effect.
Let us work out a credible and humane “good neighbour policy”. They’re not heavy…

…for the kids

The little darlings are returning to school today, and as usual, the past weekend was a blur of mothers (and a few fathers!) getting their “back to school” specials. But what about all that angst expressed a few weeks back at the CSEC results?? Likewise after the NGSA results? And that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Every year we wring our hands, weep and wail at the miserable results of ninety per cent of our kids, listen to our Education Ministry officials announce “interventions”, and then blithely wait for the next turn of the same wheel. So how come we don’t start somewhere in that turn of the wheel this year?

NGSA results are as good as any. There was a big “to do” about moving from a “test” to an “assessment” that’ll be used to identify areas of weakness (and strength) when the graduated enter secondary school, Grade 7.

This year, can’t the Ministry insist the scores of every kid in Grade 7 be made available to the teachers, and that they intervene appropriately?

…for procurement?

Now that the Procurement Commission has pronounced the $632 million pharma contract to ANSA “broke the law”, is the Government going to ALLOW (much less ensure!) the law to take its course?

Orange jumpsuits and silver bracelets, anyone?



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