Thursday, June 5, 2008

Where are the missing GDF heavy weapons? Freddie is wrapped up in himself

Freddie is wrapped up in himself
I've had the greatest respect for Freddie Kissoon's writing. But his latest letter (KN 01-06-08, "Freddie replies to his critics") sadly reflects how far this columnist has plummeted.

For example, Freddie stated on the onset that he would ignore Vishnu Bisram in that letter; yet, almost half of the letter was dedicated to counter Mr. Bisram's premises!

Also in that missive, Freddie bemuses that Ravi Dev should "keep writing, and by the time he finishes he will end up like his Diaspora colleague, Vishu Bisram – without credibility".

It is also noteworthy that the good professor did not take time to ensure that Mr. Bisram's first name was spelled correctly ("Vishu" instead of "Vishnu"). One wonders if the professor overlooks 'minute' mistakes such as this in his work at the university.

Freddie is so wrapped up in himself and in his views that he has failed to see the inversion of that statement. He used to be objective in his writing and one could sense his professionalism; but not anymore. The man has reverted to a cuss-down mode when the way is not clear for him. For Freddie, when the pressure gets too much, he comes out of no where with a punch, but he hits under the belt! He is the one who has lost credibility!

I've admired Freddie - his wanting not to take sides, speaking up for the other (African) race, exposing the nuances of trying to cope like the average Guyanese, and wanting to expose the 'bad' in Guyanese society. But Freddie would have you believe that he is the 'good' guy always, and the bad guy is he who disagrees with him! He is wrapped up in himself and his philosophy which has now clouded his propensity for dispassionateness.

Freddie has had a field day with his poison pen (computer keys); his mortality now needs to be more exposed.

Where are the missing GDF heavy weapons?
Distraction and distortion are the names of the game for PNCR.

The same way Corbin says he will not be distracted from high cost of living and torture, Government must not be distracted in finding those missing GDF army guns that were issued to PNC Ministry of National Development in 1976.

Under PNC illegal dictatorial rule, some 200 or more GDF guns were issued to the Ministry of National Development in 1976.

Under PNC illegal dictatorial rule those guns were never returned to the GDF ever since.

Those guns are now deemed missing.

Government must demand PNCR leadership to account for these missing guns.

We don't want to hear about torture and high cost of living.

Every criminal will cry torture once caught committing crimes to save him/her neck.

High cost of living is a world wide problem and with Government's help and intervention the public will deal with it.

If this Government has any spine and guts to be representative of its people then it must hold the PNCR’s feet to the fire until that party tells Government and the International Community where these missing GDF guns are.

These GDF missing heavy weapons are of very serious concerns to the Guyanese public.

Government must seek help from the International Community to compel the PNCR to account for what happened to these missing heavy weapons.

No more willy nilly diversions and distractions by Corbin about his so called torture campaign and high cost of living protest march.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Intense racial hatred for the Indian Guyanese Government by racist MUGABEsque PNCR and its misled followers; PNC terrorising innocent Guyanese

Is this all the PNCR leadership is capable of inspiring?

Dear Editor,
I watched with sorrow the antics of the PNCR and its misled followers. It seems they are unable or unwilling to accept the facts of life in Guyana.
There are more Indian Guyanese than African Guyanese residing in Guyana, and once voting at general elections proceeds along racial lines, there is no hope for an African Guyanese government ever to be elected. We could argue and debate this issue ad nauseam, but these are the facts. And facts are stubborn things! They do not vanish in the presence of specious “logic” and argumentation.
So, what should be done? So far, the African Guyanese camp has nurtured, and has been encouraged to nurture, intense racial hatred for the Indian Guyanese Government and anyone associated with it. Where has this “strategy” gotten the African Guyanese? And yet again there are marches and demonstrations in flagrant breach of the law and clearly aimed at instigating confrontation. Is this all the PNCR leadership is capable of inspiring? Or is the leadership allowing a grass-root hooligan element to dictate its agenda? I know the PNCR can do better than this.
It is time for the PNCR to rise to a level of non-partisan leadership; I know they are capable of this. It is necessary for the highest leadership of the PNCR to initiate meetings with their counterparts in the PPP. The agenda: “The Way Forward for a United, Peaceful, And Prosperous Guyana”. This development may be difficult for the rank-and-file racists in both parties to accept, but I expect leaders to lead! Leaders of both the PPP and the PNCR must let all their members and followers understand that our divisive racist nonsense, which prevented Guyana from realising its greatest potential, has come to an end. A new day has dawned across the land! Racism, at any level, will not be tolerated or encouraged.
These meetings must be held, of course, in good faith and with an abundance of tolerance and understanding: brothers and sisters of one family seeking to resolve and settle an old family quarrel.
Why must the PNCR be the party to initiate these meetings? There are two reasons. First, the perception of Guyanese and non -Guyanese in many foreign countries is that the PNCR is the problem in Guyana. The PNCR must, therefore, clearly demonstrate its willingness to play an active, positive, and constructive part in solving the political and other problems facing Guyana. Simultaneously, the PPP will be given the opportunity to show evidence of its willingness or unwillingness to engage the PNCR in substantive dialogue aimed at bringing to an end Guyana’s racial cleavage. Second, the PNCR is the only political party in Guyana that can guarantee racial harmony in the country. And it is time for the PNCR to sublimate this capacity, transforming it into a positive dynamism for the betterment of Guyana.
I am fully aware that I am asking the PNCR to rise to an unprecedented level of patriotism; to abandon hubris and place the interests of Guyana first; and to exhibit a quality of leadership unprecedented in Guyana’s history. But I would not have asked, I would not have appealed, had I not known that the potential for such sterling leadership resides in the hearts, heads, and hands of the current PNCR leadership.
Wilbert M. Stephenson

Who, really, is in charge in Guyana?

Dear Editor,
The Guyana Police Force (GPF) has, yet again, expressed its continued disappointment with the actions of the Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, and a number of his party members and supporters, who took part in an unlawful procession around the streets of Georgetown on Thursday, 15 May.
This was despite “no approval” being given for the march by the Police, and repeated warnings by Police officers that any such procession would be illegal.
Questions remain in the minds of most Guyanese.
Will Robert Corbin walk to work on a daily basis with a few hundred followers, who will say they are going to catch the bus?
How long will Robert Corbin be allowed to flaunt the laws of Guyana before serious action is taken against him and his followers?
Why is Robert Corbin allowed to disobey and defy the laws?
Is the Leader of the opposition PNCR, Robert Corbin, above the law of this land?
It certainly seems so, because Robert Corbin and his followers continue to do what they want, legal or illegal.
I continue to warn that there are more sinister things to come for the Guyanese nation in the near future from the opposition PNCR.
It leaves many to wonder who really is in charge.
T. King

Revisit history before you talk about marginalisation

Dear Editor,
There is much debate going on now about marginalisation in this country. One should revisit the history of Guyana first to see who was marginalised.
Guyana is a former British colony on the North-East coast of South America. The ethnic composition of its population can verify it.
Despite an electoral system of government and a party-political structure rooted in strong ethnic alignments, a predominantly black party had been in political power from 1964 to1992. Although winning outright victories in elections in 1968 and 1973, the party’s political strength and its drawbacks rested in the resources of its mainly black supporters, and especially those in the Government administrative sector.
It is the support of the latter which placed the black political elite in a strategically advantageous position to assume political power after independence. On the other hand, the East Indian-based political party, although numerically strong, had been unable to regain political office, which was lost in 1964 after three years of civil strife, during which it depended upon the British military to maintain order.
Such a political structure, where a minority holds political power, can only be explained in terms of the evolution of the institutional interests of the different groups.
Such interests are deeply embedded in the country’s history as a colonial plantation society. The policy of the colonial elite towards the East Indian was aimed at ensuring that he remained available for, and dependent upon, employment on the plantation. At the end of the East Indian immigration in 1917, over 230,000 indentured labourers had been brought into the colony.
The East Indian, like most other people, remained in the colony because he made a better living here than anywhere else. And with the facilities given him for rice cultivation by the sugar estate people -- facilities not given to any other race — he rapidly acquired a competence.
With his own labour and that of his family, his expenditure for rice cultivation was almost nil. These great facilities the East Indian do not fail to take advantage of, and thus the scheme succeeded. Today, East Indians have almost totally replaced the Portuguese as large businessmen, and over 80 percent of all doctors and lawyers in the country are East Indians.
On the other hand, East Indians continue to be under-represented in the Government sector. In 1964, East Indian employees were only 20 percent of the security forces, 33 percent of the Civil Service, and 27 percent of the labour force in Government agencies. These low percentages highlight the effect of institutionalised discrimination against the employment of the East Indians. After election in 1964, the PNC, with 40 percent of the vote, and the UF, with 12 percent, formed a coalition Government. Burnham’s control of the Civil Service and the security forces through the support of the black population made it highly improbable that another political figure could run the country. The key to political power was in his hands.
In 1968, he used his control of the administrative machinery to ensure his party of a majority in Parliament in an election which, by most evidence, was rigged.
The private business sector relied heavily upon Government business for its survival. This dependence made the individual businessman very vulnerable to political sanction, and many in the predominantly East Indian business community were forced to support the PNC for their survival.
Mohamed Khan

The world is watching with disgust and shame
In response to Denton Osbourne’s letter captioned "Guyanese are tired" dated May 17,08.

For you to call Jagdeo and the PPP/C Government an “evil dictator” you must first take a good, long look at Burnham and Hoyte.

Now Corbin is trying his hands at grabbing power with his so called illegal protest marches.

Corbin called the PPP/C dictator and now you are jumping on his band wagon.

Corbin and you must be reminded that neither of you would have had a media to write your poison had Jagdeo and the PPP/C been dictator.

Your voices would have been silenced and Corbin behind bars for frivolous protest marches.

Oh, and don't forget that CARIFESTA is your beloved Forbes Burnham’s idea.

Back then CARIFESTA was entertainment and nice for you to celebrate.

Now you called it nonsense and you want it stopped so the PPP/C Government could feed you instead.

Guyana is fortunate to have prudent leaders in the Jagdeo Administration so people like you could vent your poison.

Guyanese are fortunate to have a land blessed with an abundance of foods so why not utilise it instead for wanting Government to feed you.

The world is watching with disgust and shame to see only a handful of PNCR protesters are starving to death in Guyana.

Why not ask Corbin to take care of things at his end and start putting the books in order for the Guyanese people's money?

Why not ask the PNC to stop terrorising innocent Guyanese with vile threats.

Why not ask Corbin to stop the frivolous protest marches and comply with the laws of the land?

Why not ask Corbin how Guyana became one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere from 1962 to 1992 when his PNC was in power illegally?

Why not ask Corbin if his PNC ever won free fair and transparent elections in Guyana?

Why not ask Corbin if ninety six (96) cents out of ever dollar collected went to service US $2 billion debts the PNC incurred?

Why not ask Corbin how Guyana became a failed state during PNC illegal dictatorial 28 years rule?

Why not ask Corbin how he intends to feed you with that kind of debt your PNCR incurred during their 28 years of illegal, brutal dictatorial rule?

Why not ask Corbin why, when, how and who devalued our dollar?

Why not ask Corbin who banned foods from Guyana?

You still want to call Jagdeo and PPP/C Government dictator?

The majority of Guyanese knows that your PNC was a "BRUTAL DICTATORSHIP".

Guyanese are clever enough to see what Corbin and his paid supporters are all about.

Come on Denton Osbourne, be brave, go and ask Corbin the above mentioned questions I posed to you.

Then come back and tell us all who is dictator and who was the real BRUTAL DICTATORS to Guyana and Guyanese.

A despicable act
The attack that happened on the Ministry of Culture is a despicable act. It seems that these persons have totally lost their moral groundings.

This can only be seen as a message being sent by these criminals.

What can be achieved by shooting at a building when no one is there, except to send a message? The sad part of the whole situation is that everyone understood the message clearly; that certain people are against Carifesta being held in Guyana.

To take such drastic acts show how utterly low these people will go to cause conflict and chaos in the country.

Carifesta is the ‘baby’ that came from Guyana and grew into a regional festival. It is coming back to Guyana after 36 years, how can any patriotic Guyanese oppose this festival?

It is indeed a sad day in our nation when people put their petty differences in front of their nation.

Guyana is in a position where it can benefit greatly from this event, the opportunities are endless. We cannot allow senseless criminals and their supporters to deter our country from benefitting from Carifesta.

Is there any link?
I distinctly remember that during a protest march organised by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) in April, the call was made for no Carifesta until the suspension of the CNS Channel 6 licence for four months is lifted.

During that protest march PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin, stated that protest actions would be taken in an effort to make Carifesta ‘unmanageable’ if Sharma’s suspension was not revoked.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, which to my knowledge has never been in the centre of any controversy, was attacked on the evening of May 16, by persons who fired indiscriminately and hurled a channa bomb.

What is also interesting is that the incident occurred just after gunmen discharged a number of rounds on the Water Chris hotel on Waterloo Street a few minutes before.

Why such callous attacks on these two buildings? Is it to send a strong message to the visitors coming for Carifesta X that they should be fearful of staying in hotels during the period, or is it an attempt to affect the Culture Ministry which is the main body spearheading activities for Carifesta?

I am left to wonder if there is a link between this recent development and PNCR’s intention to make Carifesta unmanageable.

Monday, May 12, 2008

President Jagdeo demands PNC/R must account for $100M provided for scrutineers

PNC/R must account for $100M provided for scrutineers
-- President Jagdeo
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo has made it clear that the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) will have to account for the $100M provided by government for the payment of scrutineers for that party.

The Head of State who expressed grave concern over the issue, told the media at State House on Saturday in an informal press brief that the government will not allow this matter to rest.

“Clearly the money has been misappropriated and misused. They have not accounted for a single cent as yet and from what I gathered there are some scrutineers that have fictitious names receiving payment, I have gathered also that some of the scrutineers are not receiving the full amount of money…We intend to get to the bottom of this, they will have to account for every cent of the resources transferred to them,” the President emphasized.

On May 8, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon indicated that information has been provided that the main Opposition Party received $100M from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to pay Opposition party scrutineers and has not accounted for the money over the past four months.

President Jagdeo said that the Ministry of Finance which is charged with the responsibility of such matters has since instructed GECOM not to make further payments until a detailed report from the party is provided on the period in question.

“From what I gather there is no report so far. The reports will be audited by the Auditor General. So if they put fictitious names there, we are going to find the fictitious people, we are going to ask them if they received money and how much they received and we are going to hold the people who signed that return responsible,” Mr. Jagdeo declared.

Since the statement by the government’s spokesman, PNCR Leader Robert Corbin has rejected the charges saying that the government’s intention is to divert attention from the real issues which relate to the rising cost of living. He said he knew nothing of the government’s claim adding that the matter might be one for GECOM and the Ministry of Finance.

President Jagdeo charged: “He (Corbin) should not try to shift the issue over to the Chief Scrutineer (Amna Ali) who just collected the cheque on behalf of the PNC. So when Corbin says that the PNC did not receive any money and that it is the Chief Scrutineer, she has collected the money on behalf of the PNC.”

The Head of State also lamented that government may have been in retrospect wrong by not allowing the other opposition parties to receive money for their scrutineers pointing to the Alliance for Change (AFC) who had been calling for such.

“We should have known better that anytime you put state money into the hands of the PNC they would misuse it, spend it other than for the intended purposes,” the President contended.

The government through Dr, Luncheon has been registering its concerns about the slow pace of the National Registration exercise and the various problems being encountered by citizens when they attempt to get registered. Registration has been ongoing in preparation for the country’s Local Government Elections.

The President pointed out that Guyana is one of the few countries that provides funds for opposition parties to pay their scrutineers but noted that this was done mainly because the government wanted a clean and clear registration process.

“Let me make it clear that we decided to give this large sum of money to the scrutineers because we wanted a clean voters’ list and we didn’t want the PNC to make the excuse that they did not have adequate personnel on the ground… without that money I doubt whether the PNC could have been able to organize a better protest because they are just bankrupt of ideas,” the President declared. (GINA)

Government’s relief flour programme underway
By Priya Nauth
RESIDENTS of Diamond and other neighbouring communities on the East Bank of Demerara were able to purchase flour at a reduced price from a mobile unit last Saturday, as a result of government’s decision to cushion the effect of global price increases for food.

The exercise was conducted at the entrance of the Diamond New Scheme, and according to Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud who dropped by to have a first hand look at the process, which mainly targets the vulnerable.

The move is seen as a temporary one because it has been predicted that the price of wheat is likely to decline over the next three or four months.

Recalling that the President had announced a $200M programme aimed at reducing the burden on the local consumers as much as possible, Persaud said:

This exercise has two aspects: There is an arrangement the President worked out with the bakers whereby they don’t have to pass on the cost of the wheat that they use and secondly this here is where the trucks are going across the country to vulnerable communities whereby flour is being reduced,” Persaud explained.

The programme is being executed by the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC).

The minister said that there is a similar initiative which started since January for rice and now the government has brought on flour temporarily, adding that the rice programme will continue.

This will be in all regions and I want persons to look out for that and to benefit from this… we hope to distribute at the end of the exercise close to 150,000 packets of the one kilogramme flour,” he encouraged.

It is temporarily and we hope by which time there will be some stabilization in the price globally so that the consumer can go back at getting the prices at a level that they can all afford,” he pointed out.

Persaud noted that this is just part of a number of initiatives that the government has undertaken.

I think it is significant…the issue of wheat and flour is very important because a lot of people use that for their staple,” he asserted.

The minister noted that the government cannot control the price, hence they are using their resources to work with the National Milling Company Guyana (NAMILCO) and bring these trucks out to the consuming public.

In fact, we give back the consumers everyday close to $1.8M using the trucks,” he revealed.

Alluding to the response to the intervention, he said nearly every truck has been sold out and in some cases, additional supplies were needed.

The minister pointed out that the trucks are in the communities at a specific time and this scheme intends to benefit the consuming public by bringing some savings by reducing the prices.

?ut regarding against persons buying and reselling, everyone will not be allowed to purchase more than four kg…that is the maximum because it is intended to get to the most vulnerable group,” Persaud pointed out.

…no one can come and buy wholesale and then go back and have the flour resold at a higher price,” he exhorted.

Meanwhile, the Guyana Chronicle spoke to some of the residents of the community who expressed their support and appreciation towards the initiative taken by the government to help alleviate the growing prices.

One consumer said that “this is helping out the poor people a lot and I am thankful to the government for this initiative”.

Another resident of the Diamond New Scheme said “this is wonderful…from what I know the way the economy is going, it is not just that everything is left to the government…it is just world prices that dictate how things go and there is a demand for food.

…it is not the government fault but it is nice to see they can do something to alleviate the suffering of the average working man and the government is taking the initiative to bring ease and that is wonderful,” the resident noted.

Another customer also noted that the people in the community regard the step taken by the government as a good idea which can help ease on the pocket.

This initiative is very good and it is helping out a lot of people and people are depending on it…up to this morning there was a big crowd here,” the resident observed.

Given escalating food prices, the government announced plans to absorb the increase in the price of flour and to stave off increases in the price of bread, biscuits, and pastries where the government will bear the price increase in flour sold to 22 bakeries which control about 95% of the market.

In addition, the government has also bought 200,000 one kilogramme packets of flour for sale (minus the price increase) to vulnerable groups which will be carried out by the New GMC.

Also, other measures to fight the rising food prices is a programme under the "Grow More" food campaign, which promotes increased production by commercial and subsistence farmers, chemicals and fertilizers, along with some 600,000 packages of vegetable seeds, will be distributed across all ten regions of Guyana at a cost of approximately $20 million.

A $4,000 cost of living ‘adjustment’ and a 5% pay hike to public sector workers will be implemented and the $4,000 tax-free cost of living adjustment will go towards government workers, teachers, soldiers, policemen, firemen and prison officers whose basic salaries are below $50, 000. The 5% salary increase will be retroactive to January this year.

The cost of living adjustment will be added to the salaries of government workers until the end of the year, following which there will be a review

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

170th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Guyana

Make celebrations more representative of all who came...
exhorts Acting President Samuel Hinds
By Priya Nauth

THOUSANDS of Guyanese, many in their traditional Indian wear, gathered yesterday at the Joe Vieira Park, West Bank Demerara, for a grand cultural programme and fun day to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Guyana.

The programme, organised by the Indian Religious Cultural and Social Organisation (IRSCO) offered classical and filmi dances from various troupes, singing and poetry reading, as well as, tassa drumming competition.

You may note that although May 5 is the day that the two ships arrived in Guyana bringing the first immigrant from India, the government has consciously named this Arrival Day, to reflect and encourage the participation of all of our people who had arrived here in this new land of Guyana,” Acting President and Prime Minister Mr. Samuel Hinds said in his feature address.

He encouraged all stakeholders to make sure the celebrations become more representative of all who came, encouraging all Guyanese to participate.

Another aspect of the Joe Vieira Park to-do included the 21st float parade depicting the various cultural and religious festivals brought by the Indians, aspects of their experiences and their journey over the years.

Lots of Indian delicacies were on sale; various booths featured relevant displays and there were ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds for the children.

The crowds were also regaled with performances by the Indian Cultural Centre and other dance troupes; singing and chanting by the Iskon Hare Krishna Group and inspirational messages by the Raj Yoga Centre.

Prime Minister Hinds observed that the first immigrants had to be very daring and adventurous people to risk crossing the oceans to come to this new land.

When the immigrants came to this country, they found the conditions were harsh and the work was dehumanizing, he noted.

Hinds pointed out that the various cultures, religious practices and beliefs the immigrants brought somewhat comforted them in the new land.

…despite all the harshness and difficulties, they could still make merry,” he noted.

He said over these years the immigrants from India and also all the others who came to Guyana have now made this land their own.

It is our challenge to keep on working to develop this country so we can have a steadily more prosperous and enjoyable life here,” Hinds exhorted.

Just as our foreparents have brought about the developments we have today… there is a challenge for us to be like them and make our own savings and sacrifices for a better tomorrow for all of us,” he posited.

He said some of the difficulties facing us in Guyana today and the rest of the world include the rising cost of fuel as a result of all sorts of things in world.

Let us take faith from our celebrations today and our recalling of our first ancestors who came here that, as they survived and endured and succeeded, we too can survive, we can endure and we can succeed and take Guyana to even greater heights,” Hinds declared.

Indian High Commissioner to Guyana Mr. Subit Kumar Madal, in brief remarks, said that it is a privilege to see the striving culture exhibited by participants at the fair.

I could see the pride you have in the achievements of your ancestry and cultural inheritance…,” he observed.

The High Commissioner noted that India also shares in this pride.

But the journey is not yet over and the rest of the world is watching with admiration and expectations, he said.

Rampersaud Tiwari, Auntie Comesee among Guyana Awards (Canada) winners
THE Guyana Awards Council (Canada) has announced the ten winners of the prestigious Guyana Awards (Canada) to be presented at the upcoming Guyana Awards Gala on Saturday May 24 at the Delta Toronto East. Scarborough.

The winners are:
* Lifetime Achievement – Rampersaud Tiwari

* Culture - Pauline Thomas (Auntie Comesee)

* Academic Excellence - Dr. Jamal Dean

* Community Service (Individual) – Desmond and Joan DeBarros

* Leadership - Harry Harakh

* Special Achievement – Dr. Vernon Singhroy

* Business Excellence - Dwarka Persaud

* Community Service (Organization) – St. Stanislaus College Alumni Association of Toronto

* Youth – Vanessa Rambihar

* Exemplary Service Award – Dr. Roy Ropwsell.

A release coming out of the Office of the Consulate General of the Republic of Guyana in Canada, stated that the winners were selected by an independent panel of eminent judges, comprised of Judge Vibert Lamkin - former Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice; Gale Lee – Programme Manager for Asia and the Caribbean; CESO and former Acting Ambassador to Brussels; Ken Singh; President Air Cargo and Member of the Advisory Council, New York University.

The Guyana Awards (Canada) wishes to acknowledge the outstanding achievements of distinguished individuals and organisations in the Guyanese community, and their sterling contributions towards the promotion and development of Guyana, Guyanese heritage and culture. It noted that the high calibre of this year’s awardees will, no doubt, instill a greater sense of pride in the Guyanese-Canadian community, and provide positive role models for our youth

The premier event in the Guyanese community in Toronto, this year’s Guyana Awards Gala commences at 18:00 h on Saturday, May 24, with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and presentation of the Awards, culminating with dancing to the inimitable sounds of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.

Culture Ministry opens exhibition to commemorate 170 years of Indentureship

Minister Frank Anthony addresses the gathering at the exhibition on Saturday.

AN exhibition was opened last week by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport to mark 170 years of the various ethnic groups’ arrival to Guyana.

At the exhibition at the Guyana National Museum, under the theme: ‘Different Shores; Common Destiny - Indentureship 170 years later’, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony said it draws upon the rich history of peoples who were indentured to British Guiana, including the Europeans, Portuguese, East Indians and Chinese, whose stories and struggles have helped to shape Guyana.

Minister Anthony said that knowing about this period is not only learning about Guyana’s history, but also about the groups’ ancestry.

“When we celebrate Indian Arrival, it is not just about East Indians, but all indentured peoples that were brought to Guyana.” Dr. Anthony said

The exhibition, therefore, is an important attempt to help Guyanese to understand the nuances of history and to stimulate them to read and learn more, the Minister said.

“As the theme pointed out, we were brought here from different shores, from different continents and different circumstances of our history. Nevertheless, the adversities and tribulations did not break our spirits but instead forged a resilience that made us all a proud people.”

Dr. Anthony urged that the experiences and the diversity of the various cultures must not be used to wall Guyanese into ethnic enclaves, but to be the bridges to cross for new knowledge and experiences.

“This is the beauty of plural societies; these are the lessons and learning opportunities that must be grasped by our people,” Minister Anthony noted.

He expressed the hope that the exhibition would help persons to better understand themselves, and forge a stronger identity as Guyanese.

Present at the exhibition were former Minister of Education Dr. Dale Bisnauth and Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. James Rose.

Among the items at the exhibition were clothing worn by the ethnic groups, cooking utensils, jewellery, photographs and records of ancestral groups who arrived in Guyana.

Be inspired by Arrival Day - Jagdeo
May 6, 2008
President Bharrat Jagdeo in recognising the contributions of “our forebears from Africa, Asia and Europe” to Guyana pointed to the past and continued efforts of various groups that are working together to develop the country.

In his message to mark Arrival Day, Jagdeo said, the day must never be allowed to lapse solely into historical reviews but must serve to inspire people to take their destiny and responsibility for the future into their hands as our forebears did when they arrived here.

“Today Guyana celebrates the triumph of the spirit of the Guyanese people over difficulties and obstacles of a pervasive and massive magnitude on their march to build a modern democratic nation, free, strong and tolerant,” he said.

Jagdeo said Guyanese must build on the achievements of their forebears and with togetherness, creativity and resoluteness implement the vision of a new Guyana.

When will Guyanese become outraged?
May 6, 2008
Dear Editor,

The brutal killings in Lusignan and Bartica, and now the murder of Farouk Kalamadeen are an exemplification of the lawlessness that has pervaded Guyana for the last decade under PPP leadership. It is now evident that the PPP government cannot and will not provide protection or solve crimes in Guyana. While I do not speculate on the reasons for Farouk’s murder, it is nonetheless a nasty and horrible way to die.

The last time I saw this kind of killing was what has been shown on TV about Iraq. Guyana has long passed the stage of crime-solving and even good governance.

May I remind the Guyanese public that this too will fall under the DPP files of ‘Unsolved Mysteries?’ We must never forget that Minister Sawh’s murder is not solved, Neville Sarjoo’s killer is still on the loose and Monica Reece who was thrown from a speeding vehicle was killed too. Perhaps, we can go down memory lane; Walter Rodney’s murder is still a mystery.

I have said before and I will say again, a crime is a crime, and so is murder. How much longer can we as a nation perpetuate this kind of lawlessness?

What is even worse is that the religious bodies in Guyana do not come out again with the basic principle of “Thou shalt not kill.” Whether you are a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian, your religion teaches about the sanctity of life. But it seems that the relevance of religion in society is no longer applicable since it does not react harshly to the taking of lives. It does not matter the reason for the crime; no one deserves to die at the hands of another human being. God is the only giver and taker of life.

I am appalled and troubled by the level of murders in Guyana. Perhaps many of the answers do not lie with the government.

Fellow Guyanese, is it not time to repudiate the level of crime in Guyana? When will you become outraged? As Martin Luther King, Jr said it: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Yours faithfully,
Steve Hemraj

Sunday, May 4, 2008

In tribute to our ancestors: 170th Anniversary of Indian Arrival in Guyana

In tribute to our ancestors
By Sarada Singh
TOMORROW commemorates the 170th Anniversary since the arrival of East Indian indentured immigrants in Guyana, the former British Guiana, a colony of Great Britain.

HERE for sada roti: These two men knew exactly what they wanted – hot “sada” roti and Baigan choka. They were at the National Stadium for the start of Indian immigration day celebrations.

This day also celebrates the contributions of the Indian immigrants and their descendants’ efforts which spanned many facets of Guyana’s development, despite their numerous struggles.

For over three quarters of a century (1838-1917), Indian indentured labourers were imported from the sub-continent of India to the West Indian colonies, ostensibly to fill the void created as a result of the mass exodus of ex-slaves from plantation labour following the abolition of the despicable system of slavery, and moreso, the premature termination of the apprenticeship scheme in 1838.

Their descendants today comprise over 50 per cent of Guyana’s population of over 750,000. Overall, where the English speaking Caribbean is concerned, substantial numbers of indentured Indians were imported. Based on statistical evidence, Guyana was the recipient of 239,909 East Indian immigrants until the termination of the system in 1917; Trinidad 143,939; Jamaica 36,412; Grenada 3,033; St. Vincent 2,472; St. Lucia 4,354; and St. Kitts 337.

INSIDE a typical mandir of long ago. Several of these have been set-up at the National Stadium for Indian immigration celebrations which continue today.

In addition, the non-English speaking Caribbean imported Indian indentured labourers during this period. Of the French colonies (now French Overseas Departments) Martinique received 25,509; Guadelope 45,844 and French Guiana 19,276. Neighbouring Suriname, while under Dutch rule, imported a total of 35,501 immigrants.

Following the abolition of slavery in 1834 and the termination of the apprenticeship system in 1838, a state of fear, uncertainty and gloom was uppermost in the minds of the then British Guianese planters. They were very conscious that a grave labour shortage on the estates would certainly mean economic disaster to themselves and the sugar industry in general.

The mass exodus of ex-slaves from the plantations during this crucial period of ‘crisis and change’ merely served to confirm planters’ fear and uneasiness. This movement was not entirely surprising as several decades of slavery had resulted in the plantation being seen as the symbol of dehumanisation, degradation and demoralisation, and the victims, quite naturally wanted to rid themselves of white planter class, social, cultural and political domination, and to assert their economic independence. With great enthusiasm and in the face of tremendous odds, they started the village movement and peasantry.

A panchayat (village court) in session at the National Stadium. Have a case to plead?

The importation of indentured labourers from the Indian sub-continent was part of the continuing search for a reliable labour force to meet the needs of the powerful plantocracy. In the case of Guyana, East Indian immigration had its origin in the ‘Gladstone Experiment’. John Gladstone, father of British statesman William Gladstone, was the owner of the West Demerara plantations, Vreed-en-Hoop and Vreed-en-Stein, at this juncture of the country’s history.

East Indian indentured labourers and their descendants toiled, and continue to toil, unceasingly to ensure the survival of the sugar industry in the 19th , 20th and 21st Centuries. The vast majority of the workforce in the sugar industry are Indo-Guyanese, and sugar remains one of the most important foreign exchange earners in the country in the face of grave global challenges.

These folks mused at the cow tied in the “cow pen” at the National Stadium. The fun continues today.

Guyanese of Indian origin are largely responsible for the prominence of Guyana’s rice industry. The Indian indentured labourers in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries began to cultivate rice on a large scale and this was linked to the almost exclusive Indian village settlements which emerged at the time. They are integrally involved in cattle rearing, the selling of milk, and cash crop farming.

Ever since the 1880s, Indian immigrants have displayed a high occupational profile in a number of off-plantation economic activities including cab-drivers, barbers, tailors, carpenters, boat-builders, charcoal makers, sieve-makers, goldsmiths, porters, small scale manufacturers and fishermen.

Today, Guyanese of Indian origin are found in every sphere of activity including business, the professional class, politics, religion and trade unions.

East Indian immigrants and their descendants have ensured there is a rich cultural heritage in this multi-cultural and pluralistic society of ours. Indian customs, values and traditions have survived over the years. They brought with them their main religions, Hinduism and Islam.

Approximately 83 per cent of the immigrants were Hindus, while another 14 per cent were Muslims. The remaining three per cent were Christians. Mosques and temples began to dot our coastal landscape from the late 19th Century. Related to this were the introduction of languages -- Hindi and Arabic and several other Indian dialects.

A woman makes “sada” roti at the National Stadium. She will be there today too, and can serve it up with Baigan choka!

The Ramayan, the Bhagwat Gita and the Holy Quran are prized holy books in many households today.

A significant contribution is in the area of dress. Traditional Indian wear such as the shalwar, sari, kurta and dhoti are popular today. Some of these have taken on nationalistic flavour. The Indian ritual marriage form and the extended family system have continued over time with very few changes.

Indian music, songs, films dance and other art forms have taken root in Guyanese society.

Indian foods like roti, puri, curry, dhal, pholouri, bara, keer and vegetable dishes are regularly consumed by every ethnic group in society.

Indian festivals are widely celebrated too. These include the colourful Phagwah, Deepavali (festival of lights), Ramnoumi, Shiv-Ratri, Youman Nabi, Eid-ul-Fitr. Four of these are today celebrated as truly Guyanese national holidays, a testimony to their significance.

Hindus and Muslims regularly perform their religious or thanksgiving ceremonies. Evidence of this development among Hindus is reflected in the numerous Jhandi and other flags and Murtis which are proudly displayed in devotees’ yards and homes respectively.

East Indian immigrants and their descendants were able to survive largely due to their resilience, perseverance, custom, tradition and commitment to family which invariably promotes thrift, industry and self-esteem. They continue to make valuable contributions to the overall progress and development of Guyana. Their strong cultural ties are undoubtedly a motivating factor, as they march forward into this new millennium of ours with a great sense of purpose and maturity.

After all, Guyana relentlessly seeks to have greater economic benefits, socio-political stability and national cohesiveness at this juncture of its history. All its people are faced with this ongoing struggle in the face of harsh global realities.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Few Afro-Guyanese feel self-loathing as Ms Gibson

Few Afro-Guyanese feel self-loathing as Ms Gibson suggests

April 30, 2008

Dear Editor,

I wish to state categorically and without fear of successful contradiction that no African Guyanese will accept or share the very low opinions which Kean Gibson has of them and which she expresses in her letter captioned “A case can be made for marginalization without the use of statistics,” (08.04.24).

A very few may accept her views and arguments because they share a similar agenda with her, part of which is to denigrate Africans and blame East Indians for problems they have, but which are common to others as well.
Very few Afro-Guyanese will feel or accept that they have any reasons for self-loathing, or for feeling that they are inferior to any other citizen, as Gibson states, and very few of their fellow-citizens of other races, whether East Indians or others hold such warped opinions of Afro-Guyanese, as Gibson does.

What she accuses the Chronicle and some other media of is without foundation and blatantly untrue and mischievous, calculated to circulate racial disharmony and hatred.

She also takes quotations from the President out of context and attaches them to her spurious allegations of the motives and actions of the state, which is easily recognized by any who read her letter.

Buxton was criminalized by the criminals and some others, to fulfil their agendas, and not by any actions or policies of the state or their agencies, or the Joint Services.

Kean Gibson is definitely out of touch with reality and the truth. Perhaps, she will want to include in her next letter how many African policemen, soldiers and citizens were murdered.

Yours faithfully,
John Da Silva

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I lived through the kick-down-the-door banditry, which caused havoc to Indians; Dr Misir’s statistics disprove claims of marginalisation

I lived through the kick-down-the-door banditry, which caused havoc to Indians

April 29, 2008

Dear Editor,

I couldn’t agree more with the statement by Rakesh Rampertab in his letter captioned “The kick-down-the-door banditry in the eighties was brutal and debilitating” (08/04/27) that with respect to East Indians, “the devastation caused and the extent of the psychological dominance resulting from years of criminal attacks have unfortunately been ignored or taken for granted at times”.

One can argue and debate whether the crime spree of the past few years has an ethnic overtone but those who experienced (personally and vicariously) the kick-down-the-door banditry of the eighties, know that that was a Black on Indian phenomenon with tremendous political underpinnings. However, because of the state of the media under the PNC, reportage on this phenomenon was sketchy and minimal at best. Besides most victims were so fearful that they preferred not to make public their ordeal lest they be vicitmised again. For invariably, the parting words of the perpetrators would be “we coming back”.
Worse yet was the fact that that there were overwhelming evidence of the involvement of both police and army in kick-down-the-door banditry. I personally know of a number of instances where police badges were found at homes that were invaded and when family members turned up with the badges at the police station, they were harassed and threatened, often even locked up for days. I also personally know of instances where both policemen and army personnel were identified (far too often the bandits were not masked) and this knowledge was enough for victims to be fearful of reporting the matter to the law. And I know of many then current members of the army and police as well as then ex-army and police personnel (often unemployed) who lived lives of big spending leisure.

Mr Editor, I can speak with authority about kick-down-the-door banditry not only because I lived through it on the Corentyne and the East Coast Demerara but also because there was a grapevine that informed those of us who wanted to understand the scope and extent of this phenomenon.

And again Rakesh Rampertab is right; this phenomenon was not simply robbery with violence. Were an actual count ever to be possible, Freddie Kissoon and others who were cocooned from this phenomenon because of their suburban existence many well be surprised to learn that the body count was much greater than that of the current crime wave. The difference is that those who were murdered were not businesspersons but ordinary folks, mostly working class, and thus, even if the scope existed, they never made the news. Rape was another aspect. Not only were womenfolk raped in their homes, in front of other family members, but often they were kidnapped, raped elsewhere and then either murdered or brutalised.

Yet another aspect was brutal violence. Every home invaded invariably ended with both murdered family members, and others, including children who were severely beaten and often crippled for life.

The wholesale trauma of kick-down-the-door banditry on Indian communities would perhaps never be fully known. The simple reality, however, is that this phenomenon on reshaped entire villages, forced those living on the outlying outskirts to either move closer to the rest of the population or move elsewhere with the hope that they would be safer. In the process, many homes were abandoned. For those who didn’t or couldn’t move, homes were given up during the nights with families either bunking with others in the vain hope that there would be safety in numbers or choosing to sleep in surrounding bushes.

Also in many, many instances, mobilised by informal community policing groups, (there was no support for these groups from the police), entire villages would come out when homes were invaded but primitive weapons were no match for guns and bullets and often the bandits would shoot their way to escape as villagers tried to scamper to safety. In other instances, the bandits would discharge a few rounds at the first sight of anyone (even heads peeping out of next door homes) and this would be enough to deter frightened villages from venturing outside. Invariably too many families ran - to Suriname, or backtrack to North America or other parts of the Caribbean.
Yours faithfully,
Annan Boodram

Dr Misir’s statistics disprove claims of marginalisation

April 29, 2008

Dear Editor,

According to Abu Bakr “The discourse on marginalisation needs to elevate itself from statistics” (08.04.70).

I am not surprised that Bakr and others will now want to say so, since Dr Prem Misir in his letters and articles has statistically and successfully challenged the allegations that Africans are marginalised under the PPP/Civic administration.
The claim of African marginalisation in Guyana since 1992 surfaced as another ploy by the PNC opposition and others to keep stirring racial feelings among the people.

Their claims of African marginalisation have been debunked by Dr Misir and I am not surprised that in Abu Bakr’s letter he says, among other things “Dr Prem Misir’s use of statistics also leaves one uncomfortable.” It must leave those claiming African marginalization “uncomfortable” because the statistics published by Dr Misir show quite clearly that such claims cannot be justified.

Dr Misir, I recall, in his latest viewpoints, has actually been calling on those who claim
“marginalisation” to come forward and bring the evidence. They have not done so and I daresay will not be able to do, because, in my view, it doesn’t exist.

Yours faithfully,
John Da Silva

Sunday, April 27, 2008

PNC's kick-down-the-door banditry

The kick-down-the-door banditry in the eighties was brutal and debilitating

The kick-down-the-door banditry in the eighties was brutal and debilitating
April 27, 2008
Dear Editor,

During the 80s, kick-down-the-door crime (under Mr Burnham’s tenure) affected the East Indian way of life, even more than an irrelevant PPP under the Jagans. The devastation caused and the extent of the psychological dominance resulting from years of criminal attacks have unfortunately been ignored or taken for granted at times.

I write this after reading what Mr Frederick Kissoon said recently (see article, “Types of Dictatorship,” April 21, 2008), responding to Mr Ravi Dev who argued that kick-down-the-door banditry was a method by which Burnham held control over East Indians:
“Dev informed us…as part of the totalitarian terror under Burnham, there were “kick-down-the door bandits…Mr Dev is pushing questionable “facts” into his case-study. There is a reign of criminal terror in Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica that makes “kick-down-the-door bandits’ look like amateur robbers. I lived in Guyana under the rampage of “kick-down-the-door bandits,” and I can tell Mr Dev that, though it was a horrible experience, the level of sadistic violence and deaths that accompany robberies in Guyana today was absent during those terrible days under Burnham.”

Mr Dev and Mr Kissoon may debate what constitutes democracy and what dictatorship is, but there is no room to speak glibly or lightly of kick-down-the-door crimes.

First, it was not always in existence. Someone invented, sustained, and profited from it and it was not the East Indians. Contrary to what Mr Kissoon said, it was much more than merely a “sociological negativity.” There is not enough room in the letter columns for me to explain the extent of social setbacks and alterations to East Indian life, especially in the country, resulting from these crimes.

Secondly, Mr Burnham as leader knew precisely what transpired but failed to confront or correct the issue. Why? State-owed guns and bullets were used in these crimes; state agents (police and soldiers) participated, thus implicating the state. Further, House of Israel members participated, also, as did members of the earliest form of death squads initially created, I believe, to attack Dr Rodney and the WPA.

It is difficult, given these facts, to say that kick-down-the-doors robbers are “amateur robbers” compared to today’s AK-47 gunmen. On one hand, we are 20 years apart-weapons, crime techniques, and local politics have evolved with sophistication. On the other, so too is our tendency for violence and decadence.

The violence and criminal sadism of the 80s was of its time. I lived during this era and experienced it first-hand. It was brutal and debilitating, much more than just a “horrible experience.” Many of us never had normal sleep for years, a basic right. There was no avenue to complain about health issues such as loss of sleep, poor performance on exams or work. Each of us can measure sadism is our own way.

Sadly, the trouble is that no one bothered to document this violence as it happened. It was sadistic to fling babies against walls or have a woman walk naked for three street blocks with bandits, to hold off villagers as the bandits tried to escape. These are not “jumbie” stories.

The aging mother of a friend of mine was severely beaten and stomped upon by bandits. He was also beaten to a pulp and thrown into a trench to drown. He survived.

She didn’t. The old woman suffered a stroke and died three months after the attacks.

I know of men who could not “mind their own business.” They “peeped” outside and tried to raise an alarm as neighbours were attacked. These good villagers are now dead.

Each time these tragedies occur, it has a rippling effect on villagers. Given the extent of these crimes, one may imagine the spread of fear that pervades East Indian communities. As supporters of the opponent of Mr Burnham, we were under total lockdown.

A leader does not have to execute people in political pogroms in order to be a tyrant. Mr Burnham may not have marched East Indians off to gulags where the women were raped and men beaten or killed. He did not need to. These things were done inside people’s homes by men whose jobs included working for the state; men loyal to the PNC.

This experience is unique to the East Indians of Guyana. Yet, it was public knowledge against which Burnham had no interest. Ironically, every East Indian killed or who fled was one less person to oppose his rule or whose vote Mr Burnham had to rig.

Much of the raw documentation was never done officially and so much of the blood stains have been wiped away, bodies buried, and broken doors rebuilt. The hundreds of millions stolen and/or incurred in expenses to repair (or replace) property, and pay for medical bills, is something that scholars of economics ignored. Why? Why, for example, didn’t Dr Clive Thomas write articles about it as he did about a “phantom economy”?

Why were there not essays about the nexus between the state and crime as there are today? Why then was such a period of excruciating relevance and pain simply not addressed (substantially) in academia and elsewhere? Why has there not been a series of articles about the crimes of the 80s commissioned yet by a newspaper?

Having said these things, it is the historians-writers of the East Indian community who should also bear responsibility for the lack of documentation. It was their job since the PPP was a non-factor during the eighties.

Instead, many of them (mostly “indenture” writers) residing overseas (even in the 90s) such as Clem Seecharran and David Dabydeen worked on topics that are relevant indeed, but safer and too remote in time to improve the situation for contemporary folks.

They ignored contemporary history; a history that was more disturbing and sitting amongst those paling staves, broken door hinges, buried bodies, and shredded garments. Others should not make this mistake and ignore it.

Yours faithfully,
Rakesh Rampertab

Saturday, April 26, 2008

As long as there is an Indian President, you will hear African Marginalization

Cries of marginalization will continue regardless
“A ploy to stir up racial feelings.”

“Produce evidence, not arbitrary examples of marginalization.”

“A case can be made for marginalization without the use of statistics.”

Those are just some of the headlines written by some letter writers on the subject of African Guyanese Marginalization.

Everyone, including African Guyanese and their leaders know there is no such thing in Guyana as "African Guyanese Marginalization"

Like I said before and will say it again. We will always hear the cries of African Guyanese Marginalization in Guyana. It will never stop as long as the President of Guyana is not an African Guyanese.

His name is Bharrat Jagdeo and is of East Indian descent and he is the current elected President of Guyana for all Guyanese. It does not matter even if every other African Guyanese are employed. It does not matter even if every other African Guyanese owned their own homes. It does not matter even if every other African Guyanese are better off today than they were prior to 1992. As long as an African Guyanese is not the ruler of Guyana the drum beat will roll and we will never stop hearing the cries of African Marginalization.

Under Burnham and Hoyte's illegal rule, African Guyanese and the majority of Guyanese were worse off than they are today.

Yet we never heard their cries of African Marginalization and or Guyanese Marginalization. I bet you, let an African Guyanese especially from the PNC side rule Guyana again. There will be no more cries of African Guyanese Marginalization. So to all those who are crying African Marginalization. To those who are saying bring the proof and those who are saying there is no African Guyanese Marginalization, You now know why the cries of African Guyanese will continue.

Save your time and breath.

Most Guyanese are too clever and too smart to figure this out and not let them rape Guyana ever again.

They will cry and protest the suspension of Sharma TV station, VAT, food prices, gas, housing, water and electricity, pot holes in roads, rainfall in the guise of fighting for the people.

Guyanese are too smart to see what they are really crying and fighting for.
They are fighting to rule Guyana and Guyanese once again the way they did from 1964 to 1992.
It is that simple.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ECD is traumatised, not just BUXTON! PNC's narrow political gains

The whole of E.C.D. is traumatised, not only Buxton

Dear Editor,
Mr. Eric Phillips, in a letter to the Kaieteur News (April 21, 2008), expresses his grave concern over the treatment that has been meted out to the people of Buxton.
He should be commended for providing support for his Afro-Guyanese brothers. Please permit me to ask Mr. Phillips some questions, if I may:
1. Didn’t the Guyana Government provide financial reimbursement to the Buxton farmers for the hardship that they and their children endured as a result of the operation of the Joint Services?
2. Were the operations of the Joint Services in Buxton necessary and long overdue? All law-abiding Guyanese will think so.
3. There are lots of wealthy and successful Afro-Guyanese. Was financial and food assistance requested from them, in addition to soliciting assistance from the various embassies?
4. Does Mr. Phillips agree that Buxton is a haven for notorious criminals?
5. Did ACDA request the Guyana Government for food assistance?
6. Is Mr. Phillips aware that Indians were also brutally and mercilessly gunned down in Bartica, and a fund is yet to be set up?
7. Our country has been under siege for several years by merciless murderers. Does Mr. Phillips agree that most of the criminal elements responsible for the crime surge are from Buxton (and Agricola)?
8. Does Mr. Phillips recognise the psychological impact on the families whose loved ones were senselessly and brutally gunned down by the criminal elements in Buxton? In most cases, sole bread-winners were massacred. Life for the surviving spouses and children will never be the same.
9. Is Mr. Phillips suggesting that only the people in Buxton have feelings and undergo trauma?
10. Mr. Phillips indicated that “Buxton is a severely traumatised community”. What about the entire East Coast Demerara? Many of my relatives who reside on the East Coast Demerara cannot sleep at nights, have nightmares, suffer from anxiety, depression, hypertension, etc. Aren’t they innocently traumatized?
11. Mr. Phillips stated that Minister Rodrigues “is representing a very unjust regime and the world knows this”. This is an irresponsible and dangerous statement to be made by someone who is representing the Afro-Guyanese community. It is not only erroneous, but is also a blatant lie. The entire global community (government and financial) has praised Guyana for its thrust towards democracy, and they unanimously agreed that Guyana is on a progressive track. Why the inaccuracy, Mr. Phillips?
12. No one in Guyana is envious if any village receives money. What makes Mr. Phillips think so, since we are all struggling to make ends meet and to face the global rise in food prices?
13. Indian communities do not receive the “most money per capita”, as he suggested. Where are the numbers, Mr. Phillips?
14. Why doesn’t Mr. Phillips use his influence in USA and Africa to solicit additional assistance? The Government is limited financially.
15. Everyone knows that the majority of Buxtonians are decent human beings. When will Mr. Phillips provide help to the authorities to seek out the very small percentage of criminals who are giving Buxton a bad name? Remember the saying, “One bad apple spoils the whole barrel”.
16. Mr. Phillips’s recent write-up on marginalisation lacks substance. When will Mr. Phillips provide credible back-up data?
I, and all law-abiding Guyanese who want a progressive Guyana look forward to Mr. Phillips’s reply.
Anand Persaud

Blame the Government
Abusing a situation for no reason

The labour scene has taken a different direction, and this new direction has nothing to do with conditions at the place of work. There was a time when strikes were related to the job, and if something happened at the workplace that caused the workers to become dissatisfied, then they were allowed to mount a protest. Not so today.
Sugar workers in Berbice have found that things are expensive in the marketplace. What they used to buy a few months ago with a certain sum of money cannot now be bought with the same amount of money.
It would have been understood if the sugar industry had actually cut back on paying the workers and they, the workers, had decided to strike. However, what the sugar workers are experiencing is a global phenomenon that has sent the cost of food items skyrocketing. These sellers know that, if they hold out long enough, they can get even more money for what they sell, so the situation is becoming worse.
Every section of the community has been affected, and there are fears that the situation would get worse, because already the local importers are finding that the people from whom they buy goods are holding back. The entire world, even our relatives in the U.S., are facing the crunch.
At the same time, oil prices have risen to record levels. A few months ago, when the world was waiting to see if the price would reach US$100 per barrel and economists were speculating on the outcome of such a move, the world could only sit back and imagine.
That price has reached and passed the US$100 per barrel of crude oil level, so there is no longer a need to try to understand what would happen. The oil we import, which is refined, is over US$150 per barrel.
The effects are already being felt, and with severe consequences, to the extent that people all over the world have raised their voices in complaint and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries—OPEC—will be meeting once more to see if anything could be done about the rising oil prices.
Commonsense would tell the world that the higher the price for oil, the happier would the seller be. Indeed, he would, like the rest of the world, be caught up in the situation where he would have to spend more on food, but he would have the advantage of having more money so that he could pay more.
Guyana is not an oil producer, so it is caught between a rock and a hard place. It has to pay more for food, and it has to pay more for oil. Can we blame the Government for this? One should not be surprised that this seems to be the case, since Robert Corbin and his supporters are actually making this situation a cause for protest against the Government.
Corbin was in the seat of government when a situation like this happened. Oil prices rose astronomically shortly after his Government felt that it had things under control and scrapped the railway. It happened again in the 1980s, to the extent that there was scarcely enough fuel in the marketplace.
Motorists slept in lines outside service stations, and housewives stood in lines to buy just about everything — from basic rice grown right here, to milk for their children, and soap for the domestic cleansing chores.
Corbin and his Government tolerated no protest, and in any case the people were under the yoke, so they toed the line but waited for the day when they could be free to express their true feelings.
This freedom has been achieved, to the extent that people are abusing it. In the case of the sugar workers, they decided to protest and to strike over something that was not even remotely industrial, or in any way linked to the Guyana Sugar Corporation. The situation that they face is being faced by every category of Guyanese and every worker. The sugar workers, by their own admission, say that they earn $20,000 per week. A newly trained teacher earns about $7,500 a week; qualified nurses earn about the same thing; policemen, soldiers, and public servants do not earn much more.
The sugar workers say that their pay is inadequate, so they struck. The other categories of workers, on the other hand, know that the situation cannot be helped, and they continue to work knowing that the Government is doing everything to make the situation less pressing and stressful.
And Corbin and his friends in the opposition are relishing the fact that strikes hurt the country, and he would want to see nothing better than the country being hurt for his narrow political gains—power at all cost.
He is the primary source of the chant ‘blame the government’ and there are those who, without understanding the reason for the chant, repeat it. The Berbice sugar workers appear to be the latest of the lot.

Bajans discrimination against Guyana Indians

Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said they have received no official complaints from two Guyanese who reported unfair treatment at the hands of Barbadian Immigration authorities.
Speaking with this newspaper last Monday, an official of the Foreign Affairs Ministry said that the Ministry noticed an article in this newspaper about the men’s plights.
“They have to lodge an official complaint before we can take up the matter officially,” a source at the Protocol office at the Ministry told this newspaper.
The two men, 36-year-old Deonarine Persaud, a Canadian citizen, and Bartica businessman Nizam Kassim, 49, were detained at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados two weeks ago, after they were accused of travelling with false documents.
The men were on their way to Canada to attend a funeral when they were intercepted by the Bajan authorities.
Jaipersaud was travelling on his Canadian passport while Kassim, who was on his third visit to Canada, was in possession of a valid 10-year Canadian visa.

Nazim kassim (left) and Deonarine Jaipersaud shortly after they returned to Guyana.
The men told this newspaper that, upon arrival in Barbados, they checked in and their passports were examined and found to be okay.
They were given a boarding pass and told to check back later with a view to boarding an Air Canada flight to their destination.
“We showed up at the gate to board the flight and the airline representative called us out of the line and took our passports and told us that we cannot go on the flight,” Jaipersaud told this newspaper.
The two men were then handed over to the Barbados Immigration officials at the Grantley Adams International Airport, who accused them of travelling on falsified travel documents.
“I told them that I am a Canadian citizen, and even produced my health card, social security card, and my driver’s licence, but they paid no mind,” the Canadian citizen said.
According to Jaipersaud, the Immigration officer enquired from him where he had bought his Canadian passport, since they believed that it was forged.
“They said that the jail term is 20 years, and if I tell them where I bought the passport from, they will only give me 10 years. I challenged them to jail me for 20 years, since I knew my passport was legal,” Jaipersaud declared.
He was, nevertheless, ordered to sit on a bench, while the Barbadian Immigration officials interviewed his colleague, Kassim.
He, too, was asked where he had bought his passport, and when he replied that it was a legitimate document, the Immigration officer told him, “Talk to me properly”.
After that, the two men claimed, additional harassment was meted out to them, after they were placed in a cell at the airport.
They were denied telephone calls, and the Barbadian officials even refused to secure meals and water for them, although they were willing to purchase things themselves.
“They didn’t even want us to bathe or brush or teeth. We told them about the kidnappings in Guyana and about the need to inform our families of our whereabouts and they refused to pay any attention to us,” Kassim told Kaieteur News.
When the men demanded to know what they were being held for, the Immigration officials did not bother to explain, despite the intervention of a Barbadian attorney.
“They treated us like real pigs. They really hate us (Guyanese),” Kassim said.
The men related that, to make matters worse, the Barbadian Immigration Authorities adopted a different approach to their nationals who were also in custody at the same location.
“One man who is a Barbadian told us that he had sold his passport in Guyana for $250,000 and he was afforded all the courtesies that a detained person should have. But they kept telling us that they did not want to hear anything. We were little dogs,” Kassim lamented.
Jaipersaud, who is scheduled to return to Canada soon, said he will lodge a formal complaint with the Canadian High Commission in Guyana.
They claimed that, apart from Guyanese, several other Caribbean nationals were harassed during the time they were in custody.
Kassim showed this newspaper signs of a rash on his abdomen, which he claimed came as a result of the deplorable conditions in which they were held.
The fact that the men were not charged indicates that their documents were eventually found to be legitimate.
An initial call was made by this newspaper to the Barbados Immigration Office, but no one could provide any information on the incident.
The person who answered the phone advised that this newspaper call back later in the day at a time when the office would have been closed.
A second call was made to the Chief Immigration Officer, Gilbert Greaves, but after waiting for close to 15 minutes, a person purporting to be his secretary related that he was busy and advised another effort be made today.
Barbadian Immigration has, over the years, been very harsh on especially Guyanese, most of whom travel to the island to escape economic hardship in their homeland.
And despite meetings between the Governments of the two CARICOM countries, the situation has reportedly worsened.

We must not forget the sufferings under the PNC

We must not forget the sufferings under the PNC
I am a strong believer in putting the past behind us and move ahead as we say life goes on. But we must not forget the sufferings we endured in this country under successive PNC governments.

Today many letter writers including myself make our own assumptions and opinions regarding issues that need addressing or maybe just a commentary.

Many letter writers seem extremely angry at the current administration and are fanning hatred amongst the populace.

When will this all end? When will people move this country ahead and stop the undemocratic bashing?

Yes, I may sound like a broken record but it needs repeating until the message gets across loud and clear.

Why are there so much hatred and disagreement with the PPP/Civic government that was democratically elected by a landslide? Many will either disagree or agree with this comment but if every election were held free and fair in Guyana during the twenty-six odd years of PNC dictatorship, the PPP would have won every one.

Why, when there were international observers in 1992, the PPP/C won those elections and all others that followed?

The PPP never rigged an election as their predecessors did during their time in power.

The PNC brought this country down to the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, unemployment was at a record high, they opened up the KSI shopping complex where party faithfuls and their friends were fully supplied with food items, while other Guyanese were forced to line up for hours just to obtain a few basic food items.

Banning of basic necessities was the order of the day in those times when the “Kabaka” was ruling supreme.

Potable water shortages, extended periods of black outs, broken roadways, no public transportation, were only some of the woes the Guyanese people faced in those days.

I am certain the Guyanese people would not like to see a return of those days.

How many demonstrations were allowed during the PNC regime? Freedom of expression was nonexistent during the days of the PNC and no one was allowed to vent his or her frustration.

These are important points the people need to know before making foolish statements.
Toronto Canada

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Where were they when dictator BURNHAM was brutalizing Guyanese?

Where were all these voices when the PNC was
committing excesses?

Dear Editor,
In 1968, the PNC ‘won’ 55 per cent of the votes cast through extensive fraud by a padded voters’ list. In the 1973 elections, the PNC told the world that it made a “breakthrough” for over two-thirds of the Guyanese electorate.
In 1973, fraud was expanded and a new dimension was added: army intervention, the seizure and tampering with ballot boxes.
Similarly, in those days, the PNC regime resorted not only to attacking those who criticise it, but also putting pressure on those who were courageous enough to expose and demonstrate the electoral fraud.
It had re-enacted the fascist National Security Act, which permits detention without trial and violations of the rule of law.
Without rigging, the PNC could not have won an election. By placing restrictions on the importation of newsprint and printing equipment, the PNC regime had severely curtailed the freedom of the press.
During the period May 1972 to May 1973, the Mirror newspaper was forced to close down three times for a total of two months because of the Government’s refusal and delay in granting licences for the importation of newsprint. Where were these voices then?
Even worse took place after the announcement of the date of elections. In early June, 1973, the Customs Department seized a consignment of newsprint for the Mirror.
It was not until strong pressure and condemnation from many quarters both inside and outside Guyana took place that the Government finally released the newsprint.
The PNC Government was trying to close down the Mirror newspaper, a paper closely associated with the People’s Progressive Party, which has for years been a severe critic of the PNC Government, yet no one protested outside the Office of the President in solidarity with the PPP.
Criticism of the Government for this move came from the Commonwealth Press Association which condemned the control of newsprint as a form of press control.
Seventeen-year-old Jagan Ramessar and 43-year-old Jack Bhola Nauth (Parmanand), the father of five, were shot dead at No.64 Village, Corentyne on election day by the Police. Where were CN Sharma and his friends then?
The rebroadcast three times of someone calling for the killing of the President cannot be condoned in any civilised country, and Mr. CN Sharma is responsible for any programme aired on his channel; the bottom line, he is the owner.
Mr. Robert Corbin is trying to exploit the situation because he is unpopular among his party comrades, and he should let good sense and judgment prevail and do the honourable thing.
Mohamed Khan

Discipline must be enforced on the airwaves

Dear Editor
The verdict is out and CNS-Channel Six is off the air.
I must say that discipline is lacking on the airwaves in Guyana and thus I fully agree with the decision of the Government. No media house must be allowed to publish or broadcast irresponsible statements that cannot be validated and are of a threatening nature.
Guyana has enough violence to now be faced with verbal TV violence.
I would like to empathise with Mr. Sharma, since he has done a service to Guyana by offering the “Man In The Street” an outlet in expressing themselves on the programme “The Voice of the People”. However, freedom of the press comes with a cost – the cost of ensuring that the published or broadcasted material is free of slander, free of libel and free of threats. I would like to encourage Mr. Sharma to invest urgently in a delaying mechanism to edit out the audio of irresponsible statements so that he can continue to serve the Guyanese people in a lawful manner.
Sasenarine Singh

President Jagdeo should not reconsider the action
taken against CNS Channel 6

Dear Editor,
I agree with Ramjattan that freedom of the press/expression is the lifeblood of any liberal constitutional democracy; but that notwithstanding, I am not aware that such freedom gives one the right to libel, slander, threaten, denigrate, malign, or ridicule people.
Similarly, freedom of movement does not give one the right to trespass, riot or loot.
Sharma is noted for his cynicism against public officials, for whom he has shown an abundance of disrespect, and this is reflected in his continuous re-broadcast of distasteful comments against members of the public, especially Government ministers.
Maybe people do not take him seriously in professional journalism, but continuously and knowingly re-broadcasting a threat to kill the President shows the contempt this man has for authority.
Of course, it is expected that the usual cabal of dissenters will support him, since this same cabal would even accuse the Government of farting if there is a bad smell in Georgetown.
With respect to the employees, they should be paid a severance pay, since the period of four months will create some hardship, and they should not be made to suffer because of Sharma’s ignorance.
The President should not reconsider his decision.
D. Sookdeo

Where is marginalization?

PART 3 - Housing
In 1992 when the PPP/C formed the Government, there was no national policy on housing. The 1976 PNC Administration’s slogan ‘Feed, Clothe and House the Nation’ had minimum impact on national housing needs. And the PNC regime in 1983 pulled out the housing portfolio of the Ministry of Works and Housing and placed it in the overloaded Ministry of Health and Public Welfare.

A National Housing Plan was drafted in 1986, but it was not operationalized. And the Ministry of Housing was disbanded in 1990, and its functions transferred over to the Central Housing & Planning Authority (CH&PA). In short, no national policy on housing existed in 1992, suggesting minimum political commitment to the housing sector.

The PPP/C Administration formulated a national housing policy in 1998, and created the Ministry of Housing and Water. This Ministry’s mandate is to “formulate policies in the Human Settlements and Water Sectors and to monitor the Implementation of Plans, Programmes and Projects designed to satisfy the Housing and Water needs of the population.”

Land distribution for shelter and settlement and house lot allocation are the responsibility of CH&PA which is statutorily mandated “to make provision with respect to the housing of persons of the Working Class and purposes connected therewith” (Housing Act Ch 30:20). The CH&PA has representatives from the six municipalities, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Central Board of Health, the Private Sector, and the main Opposition Party.

The PPP/C Government implemented several land reforms that produced significant benefits. One, the GLSC, with a diversified governing Board of Directors, is an autonomous Commission and is no longer a department of the Ministry of Agriculture. It has responsibility for public land distribution, an important component of nation building. Two, tenure of state land leases rises from 25 to 50 years, enabling lessees to access bank loans and to convert to freeholds of up to 15 acres of land that had a land use for 25 years. Three, there is a national tenure regularization programme for providing titles for occupants of state lands. Four, a public lands register is now in place.

Equity and transparency in the land distribution process, enabling all Guyanese to become beneficiaries, are important principles of good governance. We now examine the data on house lot allocations to determine the implementation status of these principles.

Indians and Others received 53% and Africans 47% of house lots in the ten (10) Regions between 1993 and 2002. Indians and Others were the beneficiaries of the largest proportion of house lots in Regions 2, 5 and 6 while Africans found their largest allocations in Regions 3, 4, and 10. In fact in Region 10, Africans received almost all the house lots allocated. The Amerindian areas have benefitted from a small but growing number of house lots.

Over 70,000 house lots were distributed between 1992 and 2002. The major ethnic groups are recipients of fair proportions on the basis of their respective demographics, as evidenced by the Housing statistics. 91 housing schemes and 65 of the 120 squatter settlements received regularization status at the end of 2001. Also, there is a strategic plan to issue about 7,000 land titles per year. In March 2002, the Minister presented a White Paper in Parliament, addressing national land distribution policy for all Guyanese.

Again, the budgetary allocations in all these years from 1992 for housing embrace all ethnic groups, as attested through the neighbourhoods mentioned.


Violations focus on Jamaica and Guyana
By Rickey Singh
THE RIGHT TO press freedom and the wider freedom of expression is best protected by an obligation on the part of journalists and media enterprises to appreciate how indivisible are freedom and responsibility.

Over the long years of my involvement in Caribbean journalism and working relations with regional media enterprises, I have been increasingly sensitised to the twin pillars of freedom and responsibility and how well the concept serves the interest of the media profession, media enterprises and the public we seek to serve. I am grateful for the education.

I have also been exposed to the irresponsible behaviour of some media practitioners and media houses that often betray a penchant for irresponsible journalism that shows contempt for the concept of 'freedom with responsibility'. :|

They are among those quick to passionately shout "denial of press freedom", or "danger to freedom of expression", when their individual/collective abuses are challenged and threats of sanctions are raised, or enforced.

Why am I engaging in such observations at this time? It relates, primarily, to two separate media developments of current interest and debates--one in Jamaica, the other in Guyana.

Both are examples of what can happen when owners/operators violate the letter and spirit of a broadcast licence to the serious hurt of private/public individuals in facilitating reckless abuse of freedom of expression by failure to ensure application of relevant regulatory mechanisms.

Jamaica examples
The first case involved the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) and Universal Media Company (UMC), operator of "NewsTalk 93FM" jointly owned by the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus) as majority shareholder, and Breakfast Club Limited. Managing Director of the radio station is Anthony Abrahams.

As broadcast licensee, UMC was accused by the BCJ of having committed "an extremely grave breach" of Jamaica's 'Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulations as well as the "Children's Code for Programming" in the transmission of its "NewsTalk" broadcast on January 2 last.

The highly reputable BCJ, currently headed by Dr Hopetun Dunn, a media and communication specialist, conducted an investigation into the offensive "NewsTalk" programme. The probe revealed that the programme hosted by Dr Kingsley Stewart, had indulged in an "uninterrupted monologue" lasting in excess of half an hour, laced with "highly derogatory, shameful, shocking and improper language" against a female administration staff member of the UWI.

While in the process of considering recommended sanction, the UMC's "NewsTalk" call-in programme, again with Stewart as host, further complicated the problem of violations of its broadcast license, by permitting the transmission of "racial slurs and derogatory remarks about persons of Indian descent (in Jamaica)..."

The regulations prohibit transmission of "any statement or comment upon race, colour, creed, religion or sex of any person which is abusive or derogatory. It also violated the 'Children's Code for Programming' with the use of prohibited language..."

Significantly, as noted by Chairman Dunn, it was only after the Commission had made recommendations for suspension of the UMC's licence, unless appropriate disciplinary action and remedial measures, including internal relevant internal controls, were pursued, that some efforts were made for compliance. There are provisions for suspension of a licence for up to three months, if necessary.

However, following the intervention by Minister of Information, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, the path to recommended suspension of licence was avoided, based on an understanding that disciplinary action, remedial measures and effective management oversight will be undertaken. For a start, Dr Stewart was not hosting the "NewsTalk" call-in programme-- at the time of writing.

Guyana scenario
While Jamaicans were focused on the BCJ's case against UMC's violations of its broadcast licence, controversies were spreading over the decision last week by Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo (who holds responsibility for information and communication), to suspend for four months the operational licence of the privately-owned television station, "CNS Channel 6".

The core of the dispute was that the station, owned and operated by Chandra Narine Sharma, a businessman, opposition politician and host of a regular "Voice of the People" call-in programme, had transmitted a broadcast on February 21 that contained criminal incitement, specifically against President Jagdeo. Worse, it was thrice repeated without any editing of the offensive remarks, in particular a threat to "kill Jagdeo".

The offensive broadcast by CNS Channel 6---one of some dozen television stations operating in an unregulated, wild-west atmosphere in Guyana--in direct contrast to what obtains in Jamaica--had touched a very raw nerve with one female caller making the threat: "I am going to kill (President) Jagdeo if anything is going to happen to my family..."

That programme was first broadcast at a time of widespread tension and fear against the backdrop of the massacres at Lusignan and Bartica that sent President Jagdeo engaging in public meetings with appeals for peace and assurances of firm actions against armed criminals.

Having offered an apology for the offensive threat to "kill", following an intervention by the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB)--which has neither the stature nor power of a regulated body like the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica--Sharma's station was to repeat, unedited, the controversial programme--THRICE, only to offer some clumsy excuses, including blaming staffers for errors made.

In the circumstances, and given the gravity of the threat to "kill" the President, Sharma was invited, first by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, to show cause why his broadcast licence should not be suspended.

When he failed to show up for the meeting with Luncheon, another was arranged with President Jagdeo. By then Sharma had moved with his lawyers to the court to prevent the contemplated suspension sanction.

As Head of Government and holding responsibility for information and communication, Jagdeo felt there was really no remorse by CNS 6 for the transgression that had taken place with the threat to commit a criminal act. Therefore, he suspended the station's licence for four months.

There is no doubt about the recklessness on the part of CNS 6 and the politics being played out in a country that stands in great need for appreciation of the concept of media freedom with responsibility.

Yet, the four-month suspension seems very harsh--even for a licensee like Sharma, noted for unpredictable behaviour. It deserves to be revisited. The suspension case has reached the High Court and the Attorney General, Doodnauth Singh, is scheduled to make a written submission to the presiding judge by Wednesday.

Whatever the outcome of the CNS 6 suspension issue, it is evident that, as in the case involving "NewsTalk 93FM" in Jamaica, there are lessons to be learnt by the broadcast media and all advocates of freedom of expression to have a regulated environment that respects the necessity to blend freedom with responsibility.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Agriculture key to regional food crisis
- Agri Forum set for early June
By Wendella Davidson
Against the backdrop of a looming food crisis and a general threat to food security facing the region and the world at large, along with a bludgeoning food import bill, agriculture is being seen as the key in the CARICOM region.
President Bharrat Jagdeo along with, from left, CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington and Chairman of the RAIF Task Force, Mr. James Moss-Solomon, next to him, admires the poster promoting the June 6-7 Regional Agriculture Investment Forum, which they unveiled at the CARICOM Secretariat yesterday.

To this end, the CARICOM Region is signalling its intention that it is ready to do business with its renewed focus on the agriculture sector, as is emphasised in the Jagdeo Initiative which has been embraced by political leaders of the Caribbean Community.

A further heightening of this focus will be on June 6 and 7 next, when Guyana hosts a Regional Agriculture Investment Forum (RAIF), which aims at promoting agriculture business as an area for good investment and facilitating match-making between potential investors and agriculture entrepreneurs and promoters.

And, at a press conference and launching ceremony yesterday at the CARICOM Secretariat, Liliendaal, President Jagdeo, who has lead responsibility for Agriculture in CARICOM; Mr. Edwin Carrington, Secretary General, CARICOM; and Mr. James Moss-Solomon, Chairman of the Task Force on RAIF, unfurled a banner to officially launch and promote the forum.

President Jagdeo speaking at the press conference yesterday, with CARICOM Secretary General next to him

The forum seeks to attract private investors in the region and beyond who are seeking new and profitable ventures; fund managers and venture capitalists seeking to diversify their portfolios; bankers who have clients operating in the sector; and companies that are seeking strategic alliances with other businesses.

And, in remarks to a gathering of representatives of diplomatic missions in Guyana, CARICOM Secretariat staffers and media operatives, prior to the unveiling ceremony, President Jagdeo underscored the importance of agriculture in the Region, and hailed the input of the CARICOM Secretariat, the Private Sector and other organisations in helping to realise yesterday’s activity.

And speaking directly to the representatives of diplomatic missions present, he urged that they not only be involved in the up-coming forum, but also spread the message of great involvement, opportunities in the region, and the need for private sector investment in agriculture in the region.

In addition, with the early recognition that agriculture is important for the region, the question being asked is what is responsible for the soaring import bill of the region and the growing food insecurity, and why hasn’t the agriculture sector become a more competitive export industry.

The President suggested that maybe too much emphasis has been placed on other sectors such as petroleum, tourism and other services, resulting in neglect for agriculture.

It was pointed out though, that even though the sector’s contribution to the GDP region’s has shrunk, the employment ratings for agriculture remain quite high.

Reiterating the need for greater involvement from the private sector with Governments playing the role of facilitator, President Jagdeo said the time has come for the region to take advantage of existing framework to develop the sector.

And while Guyana has major possibilities for agriculture, President Jagdeo said the focus will not be on Guyana but on the entire region.

To this end, he urged that the media and missions play their part in spreading the word that the region is “ready to do business”.

Chairman of the RAIF forum, in lauding the Jagdeo Initiative, identified predictability, pre-preparation and being proactive as three key areas in the blueprint for which he publicly commended President Jagdeo for being forthright in selling the concept.

Noting that the elements which now plague the region, for example World War 1 and 2, as well as recurring cycles of man-made disasters and food shortages, all of which had happened before, Mr. Moss- Solomon said the region has nevertheless spent very little time dealing with these issues in the past.

Additionally, the region has not sought to find out how to cope, what strategies need to be developed to be forewarned.

Reminding his audience that throughout the week the regional media has been focusing on food shortages, the RAIF Task Force Chairman said President Jagdeo had been addressing the issue well over two years ago, adding that the ‘Jagdeo Initiative’ addresses the art of communication and a strategic plan.

He warned though that the region must be pro-active in implementing a plan about its own survival highlight.

Noting that the issue of food crisis is a serious matter, Secretary General Carrington urged that the region “Stand Up, Face Up and Consume.”

And alluding to the huge food import bill of the region, he said there needs to be a change in consumption habits.

He said, too, the time had come when everyone must get on board.

Government to expand lands for cultivation of feedstock crops
By Tajeram Mohabir
GOVERNMENT will allocate lands in the Mahaica /Mahaicony /Abary (MMA) scheme, and the Intermediate and Rupununi savannahs to cultivate feedstock products, particularly rice, soybean and corn, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud disclosed yesterday.

The venture is part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s newly launched “Grow More” campaign which is aimed at satisfying local food demands and to cushion the impact of the steep hike in global food prices.

The campaign is also geared to reposition Guyana as the bread basket of the Caribbean, helping to alleviate their current food crises.

Persaud made the announcement at a livestock feed seminar called to assess the current state of the industry and factors affecting availability. The seminar was convened at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

The seminar sought to focus on the importance and the role of livestock feed production locally to meet present and future needs.

Against this backdrop, the awareness of the challenges facing the industry, the promotion of livestock feed alternatives and the way forward for the sector was discussed.

It was attended by farmers, top ministry officials as well as representatives from the private sector including Bounty Farms Limited, Guyana Stock Feeds Limited, the National Milling Company (NAMILCO), Maharaja Oil Mill and the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).

According to Persaud government is awaiting proposals from investors willing to cultivate the available lands strictly for feed stock purposes.

He said a group of farmers plan to extend the cultivation of corn which they started on a small scale along the Berbice River. The minister disclosed that these farmers will be linked with manufacturers and the same will be done with for those who will undertake the soybean project.

Meanwhile, the administration is still awaiting the seed materials promised by Brazil to kick start a soybeans project here and according minister Persaud, he intends to “touch base” with that country to ascertain the status of the undertake.