On July 19, 2022, the local media reported that AFC Leader Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, in speaking on the sugar industry, among other things, once again sought to justify, shamelessly, the former Coalition Government’s downsizing of the sugar industry. This narrative from Mr Ramjattan is not new, and is largely a regurgitation of what he and others of his ilk have said in the past.
Though it was drawn to his attention on several occasions, the erstwhile gentleman continues to see sugar from a narrow perspective. As we and others have pointed out on several occasions, sugar has opportunities far beyond the bulk market. We note GuySuCo’s efforts on this front, which it says is bearing fruit, though we may not see eye-to-eye with the Corporation on other issues.
In advancing his rhetoric, Mr Ramjattan seems to advance a very dim view of sugar workers and their families. He charges that continuation of sugar seems to condemn the workers and their families to a poor life. This is unfortunate, given the immense contribution of sugar workers and their families. Of course, while the AFC leader may be correct to say that sugar workers and their families have dreams of betterment and improvement, didn’t he and his colleagues of the Coalition, when in office, rob them of those aspirations?
Mr Ramjattan charged that workers were being conditioned to use cutlasses as it appeared he took a derisive tone. But then it was the same person who, in collaboration with others, robbed thousands of workers of even being able to use a cutlass.
The AFC leader spoke about giving young men and women in the sugar belt opportunities to stem intergenerational poverty. This, on the surface, sounds pleasing to the ears. But alas, Mr Ramjattan should advise what actions were taken in that regard. The ILO-sponsored socio-economic study that examined the lives of workers and their families after the callous closure of estates demonstrated the hardship and destitution that faced thousands of Guyanese.
We sincerely hope that Mr Ramjattan, in his quiet moments, would reflect on what closure really brought, and what it did to many persons. At this time, we are aware that some among us still advance that the industry should be forgotten. Such intentions are not altruistic, but are grounded in their innate desire to engage in all manner of speculation with the industry’s prized land holdings. It is saddening that, in these times, there are men and women among us who are prepared to trample on thousands to satisfy their lustful greed.