Dark Days!

These are the dark days, my love***. Business is at a standstill. Gold miners are not able to carry out their usual mad digging up and extraction of the precious metal (while protecting the rainforest btw. why don’t those white people understand that and give us the $$, damnit?!) Trucks of goods are blocked from going into the interior, and the Brazilians have hiked their prices. In some places, okra is selling for $400/lb.

Oh, and three innocent people were shot and killed by police for peacefully protesting with their community members. Shemroy Bouyea, Ron Somerset, and Allan Lewis. Shot in the heart, one from the back. Unarmed; only weapon their voice. Almost footnotes now, as the already dirty game of politricks gets even nastier.

Black man and Indian- niggers, coolies, and bucks- at each other’s throats again, by design, as usual. Of human rights and justice, nary a mention. Instead, trade fairs, emancipation song and dances, and the Olympics!

Gold, silver, and bronze; men and women celebrate. Even if you don’t win, just making it there is an achievement they say. It doesn’t work that way with everything though. The majority of the students who wrote the CSEC exams failed- 70% in mathematics and 63% in English. Still, “Guyana has a reason to celebrate,” Minister Manickchand

declared. A pilot study to improve scores apparently paid off. Or so they say. O lovely Guyana. The land of many waters and pilot projects. Stamp it Out, Pick it Up, Don’t Beat Up when you Heat Up. Gold medal strategies all. Uh huh.

We’re getting hydro next year, says Sam Blinds. And there is no trafficking of Amerindians, says the former chair of the National Tashaos Council (and a good friend of ex-President, he of the $3million/month pension, Bharrat Jagdeo). Sure, there may have been some cases of Amerindian girls being abused and prostituted in mining camps, in restaurants and clubs in Georgetown, in private homes of businessmen, and of Amerindian boys being kept captive in foreign embassies, etc, but “we have not had the complaints,” says Ms Pearson. Right, because the voices of the victims are always heard.

Where do you reach when for every step forward, there is one back? One laptop per family, but when families can’t afford electricity, what good is a computer? Decades ago, I did my homework by lamplight. Today, this is still the case in many many places. Guyanese pay more for less electricity than almost everybody else in the Caribbean (Jamaica takes the gold in this). We also pay more than Americans and Canadians. More for less.

Hypocrisy is king these days. Georgetown Public Hospital’s neo natal unit has been newly refurbished, they say. Triplets are born. Thankfully mother and all babies survive. Just the day before, 22yr old first time mother Omadara Anthony, healthy up to the day she went into Public, died of ‘cardiac arrest’ while giving birth. But “we refute the notion that unless you pay you do not receive quality health care,” says Minister Manickchand. Who did not go to Public Hospital to deliver her baby. But who likes to fat talk.

Long gone is the time when intelligence was a virtue. “The Private Sector Commission don’t run my office,” says the President. Forget critical thinking and fact checking as well. Now, big checks are paid for flimsy advice, the more rabid the better. Meanwhile the issues of poor people get glossed over.

Communities where unemployment is 70%. It’s not that we don’t want to pay- we aren’t able to. Where’s the money going to come from? We’re already struggling to put food in our children’s mouths. Life pon de dam- medicine or food? Food or light bill? School book or light bill?

Ron Somerset was only 17 when he was killed by the police. He had worked at an internet café and had a bit role in a movie that was being shot in his community. Shemroy Bouyea, 24, who was mentally disabled, would run errands for people in exchange for “a small piece”. His mother was coming home from her job as a security guard when she heard that he had been shot dead. Allan Lewis, 46, took ‘whatever jobs came his way’, to help support his mother. Her pension is nowhere near $3million/month. As she mourns her son, this elderly woman worries about her future. Life pon de dam. At age 79.

Teenage girls sell their bodies for some phone credit. Mothers struggling to find money leave their babies home alone to starve and choke to death. To be raped and murdered. But “those lazy people need to pay their fair share,” the PPPites scream. But the ultimate payment has already been made- the blood of innocents.

Police and thieves in the streets. Paid instigators and rogues in in blue and khaki uniforms.

The children finally get a mention when a school is torched. But when the hospital compound was teargassed, there was no comment. We are teaching them well indeed.

 

These are the dark days, my love.

***From the poem “This is the dark time, my love” by Guyanese poet, Martin Carter