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.