Letter: Saints Go Arching In

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It has become increasingly frustrating and difficult to deny the fruitlessness of the over-politicization of every visible development in our nation. The $20M arch, in my opinion, is arguably one such development.

I venture to guess that the most objective among Guyanese have grown progressively tired of the partisan discourse that seems to surround marginally impactful events. On the spectrum of addressable issues for concerned Guyanese, I humbly submit my opinion, that the construction of this arch is hardly worth top prioritization in civic engagement.

The response to such things has usually been driven by deeply divisive and partisan rhetoric, and undeniably by the disruptive politics of yesteryear; not to say that these factors are not at all relevant in today’s political climate, but the prosperous future of the nation is dependent on their increasing irrelevance. This criticism can be leveled equally at both sides of the Guyanese political debate.

On the one hand, the construction of the arch has been described by the current administration as everything from a depiction of Caribbean engineering talent, a reflection of the vibrancy of the Caribbean economy, a visible illustration of the relationship between Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, the symbolism of our destiny as a people, a reflection of Guyana’s “green” agenda, a metaphoric representation of the uniqueness of Guyana, a signpost to define the boundaries of Georgetown, and of course also as a gesture of goodwill from AnsaMcal.

Although symbols mean many things to many different people, it is hardly likely that the inspiration came before the gesture; the disparate and opportunistic symbolism being promoted for association with this arch aspires to clever optics, although the argument can be made that it has had the opposite impact.

On the other hand, the strong criticism against the temporary inconveniences created by the arch’s construction are extremely transparently one-sided, and waste valuable time and effort. More importantly, the supposition of a connection between the gifted arch and preferential treatment towards AnsaMcal is simply an ineffective misuse of political voice; objectively, there are arguably much more effective ways to buy favor, including sole sourcing, than an arch.

Taken from this vantage point, the optics are indeed admittedly terrible. Focusing on connecting these dots in this instance, however, does nothing for the good of Guyanese people.

At the end of it all, the debate serves as a fervent, but pointless distraction from the consequential issues to Guyanese people. In fact, the arch does little more than remind the poorer people of the nation that even in times of dire need, scarce resources are seldom effectively utilized in consequential ways. It would be hard to imagine an argument that distorts the simple truths: the political discourse needs to be better, the Guyanese people deserve better.

Rene Azeez,
Senior Healthcare Strategist,
Toronto, Canada

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