EYEWITNESS: What’s going down…

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…with the Lombard squatters?

Your Eyewitness is quite puzzled with what’s going down with the Lombard Street squatters. Looks like they’re being kicked (as the old folks say) “from pillar to post” by the authorities. Tsk! Tsk! Poor squatters. Here it was, they followed tradition when they moved into unoccupied buildings at the street that earned quite some notoriety back in the day as our “red light district”.

And in case you’ve lived a very sheltered life, dear readers a “red light district”, Wiki informs us is: “part of an urban area where a concentration of prostitution and sex-oriented businesses, such as sex shops, strip clubs, and adult theatres are found.” Now this might very well be the reason why the building was abandoned in the first place – since we’re not as broadminded as say, Amsterdam in Holland!

Anyhow, back to our squatters. They occupied the quarters for decades but of course, making no repairs or paint jobs, lo and behold, the place soon descended into a real dump. Some folks call it a ‘slum”…but from your Eyewitness’ info, in slums the dwellings are rented to the poor by “slumlords” who exploit the poor slobs forced to live there. Here, the squatters (40 adults and 80 children) paid no rent but allowed the real estate to literally go to the dogs. They then constructed shacks from the material scavenged!

Fast forwards to late 2016 when the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) visits Guyana to examine the interrelated issues of poverty and human rights and are taken to the Lombard St shacks by Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence, who’d campaigned there. Of course they’re shocked and ask that something be done.

The Government jumps into action and the CH&PA announces the Lombarders not only be relocated to lands at Mocha, EBD, but 72 homes be constructed for them at the cost of $1.2M each. Your Eyewitness never figured out why 40 families needed 72 homes…but maybe some of these families fissioned? Sadly, the people of Mocha protested about the “social implications” of the Lombard Streeters moving into their neighbourhood!!! Imagine that!! Your Eyewitness couldn’t figure why? Was it the old stigma about “Lombard St working girls”??

Anyhow, after a seeming retreat following pressure from the authorities, the Mocha folks seem to have had the last say. The Lombarders are now to get their free houses at Cummings Lodge. Hope THEY don’t make a fuss!

With the Govt taking such an interest in poverty, your Eyewitness hopes they’ll take the IAHCR to the rural communities where 5700 sugar workers were fired.
After all, even before the firings, the deepest poverty was always rural, wasn’t it?

…at the Oil Summit?

Another head scratcher for your peripatetic Eyewitness, was the flap over restricting reporters covering the Petroleum Business Summit. Somebody blew this one. At every Summit your Eyewitness attended – and he’s attended so many, he’s quite summited out!! – the organisers always BOASTED about how many reporters would be in attendance!! In fact, with the one ExxonMobil organised last year at La Jolla in California, they even PAID airfare and hotel for Guyanese journalists!!

After all, apart from the networking etc, what do most businesses opening up new markets want? Publicity! That’s what! When you restrict reporters, you restrict publicity…which, is worth a lot of money! So again your Eyewitness asks the question that immediately pops into mind with such restrictions…what’s going down?

Your Eyewitness KNOWS that no business marketing team made the decision – short-lived as it was – to curb reporters’ access. He’s convinced it’s the Natural Resources Minister who’s been so pilloried by the press over his ‘renegotiation” of the ExxonMobil contract.
He just can’t take the heat…but won’t get out of the kitchen!! So he blinked!!

…with PSC hiring fired sugar workers?

The Chronic trumpeted the Administration’s claim that the PSC hired 800 fired workers from Wales at their job fair.

With 1700 workers affected; 357 not going to Uitvlugt, the PSC hired 800 of the remaining 1343?
Something stinks!!

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