What Guyanese want
Dear Editor, Amidst the deluge of contentions, expert opinions, government positions, and opposition objections, I must ask whether anyone has paused to consider what matters to John and Mary Public? What really matters to them and hurts their heads? What are their vital priorities, what makes hearts race or heavy? Here is what I think.
The ordinary citizen - young or old, educated or not, working or not, loaded or not - could care less about concepts and calculations and projections; the swarm of postures and disagreements means nothing other than echoes of sound and fury best ignored. Abstractions all, they are to these folks. Despite all they heard of oil, it is still in the future and nothing in the pocket right now. Recall that portions of the populace were thoroughly disgusted with the way of life pre-2015. Too sickly, too nasty, too ugly. Citizens still voted as usual came May 2015, and for some indefinable reason there was hope in the air. Things will be different, and on the up and up. In a few isolated respects, they have. A leader to regard well; albeit unusual and unfathomable; some interest in cleanliness in governance; and a limited drive to effect change. This was welcomed without full appreciation for the personal implications. Be careful what is asked for; it can upturn the cash register and compass. For at the tangled murky crossroads of the physical and financial alleyways of Guyanese life, things could not have been more apart from what was anticipated, and what were hard realities on the way.
In the golden era of pre-2015, adventurous people (small and large) had money in hand, both hands; yet another rewarding hustle around the corner; and the bare-chested machismo of coarse arrogant arrivistes. There was action. It was endless legends of the swaggering nouveau riche prospering at every rung, from every walk, and every dark hole. That was then.
Now there is the piercing comeuppance of AML and SoW, and CFATF, but who is listening? Who cares? Which Guyanese, high or low (especially the struggling low) care about the grueling efforts against the tide by Attorney General Williams? Or of the specter and significance of blacklisting? Those are foreign languages from foreign cultures and should be resisted and denied. Totally. Those are as welcome as “ole higues” in a children’s ward. Just let me have the money and be done with the nonsense! Just like before! Here is the priority of priorities: from the gut, in the heart, and knees made weak from wanting. Clean government is nice and anticorruption is better, but not when that means tightening in the trenches and next to nothing on the side, then forget about it. Money talks.
Sure, sure, it matters that the children are vulnerable, that quality of life decays, and that “big fishes” use and abuse, criminalise and endanger the whole society. What matters more is the money, way more. Oh yeah! In essence, Guyanese of every shade fervently prioritise the rich, rollicking, resonance (financial) of a dirty unofficial economy. This is what matters and counts in the bars, restaurants, jewelers, clothiers, and the endless entrails of conspicuous consumption. All the evils engendered by that kind of economy amount to the resigned acceptance of collateral risks. Anticorruption rings; cash rings louder, is more intoxicating, more empowering. It is god, family, and social mobility. It is power, prestige also. The more of that kind of easy honeyed cash the better. Thus, cash pilots grew under the national camouflage of business, and one dirty underhand deal after another. Let us have this money now; oil is still unknown and out of reach; like the proverbial bird in the bush (underwater and in other people’s pockets).
Traffic is terrible; and government is strewn all over roads to somewhere, but another car is wanted; the girlfriend (and greedy well-placed facilitators) want one, too. Vendors, civil servants, commercial and construction people dream of living like Saudis. They do. No tax, no accountability, no recording or reporting. Hell, no oversight! With this kind of jam who gives a hoot about traffic jams. For a long time, Guyanese at every strata and persuasion have tasted and relished the forbidden fruits of underground economic wisdom. And the returns as well. They want more; all that can be had, and damn the consequences, the dealing with the devil, and the pipers owed. They want it now. Gone are the fig leaves of shame and contrition; of the pride and dignity that the poor and pious once had. Dirty money is still money. It buys the same things, and more of them, including many things once unreachable for many. This is the Guyanese dream. This is easier and sweeter than paying fair share or turning one’s back on the unthinkable, the once undoable.
Self-sacrifice, ideals, ethics, values, and country first, all possess stirring transcendence. They couldn’t buy a used, leftover bone for a lowdown dog. Life on easy street and the express cash lane (from any source) is what is warmly desired by locals. Listen, Comrade Leader and start over. Listen Mr AG and take your blacklist and zip it. Listen all the pundits out there in Guyana la la land: Hear the people. This is what Guyanese want. They want it now. Priority No. 1: show me the money. Let me get at it. Priorities Nos. 2 to 10: Let me get at some more. These lavish mouthwatering real-life fantasies have somewhat disappeared. Thank the government. Therein is government’s biggest headache. This is priority Guyana.
Yours faithfully, GHK Lall Dear Editor, I have just read your newspaper, page 5 where it states that “Trinidad flooded after Met office forecasts sun.” When can we ever get it right? I hope that Kirk has strayed and can’t find us. Yours faithfully, (Name and address supplied) Dear Editor, I was deeply honoured on Friday, September 28, 2018 to be at the funeral of Sarah Insanally, the deceased wife of Guyana’s ambassador to the USA, Dr Riyad Insanally.
Held in her native garden of England – Kent – it was an idyllic setting for a very sad event. Sarah was a wonderful woman, wife and mother, who bravely fought her brain cancer for two decades. It is good that she has come ‘home’ to peaceful rest. Yours faithfully, John ‘Bill Cotton/Reform’ Mair
Sun Mon Tues 30/09/18 01/10/18 02/10/18 08:30hrs 09:30hrs 10:30hrs
Sun Sept 30, 2018 07:35 - 09:05hrs Mon Oct 01, 2018 08:25 - 09:55hrs The opening lasts for 1 1/2 hours