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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Those who voted to leave

The monthly magazine Guyana Review published by Mr David Granger continues to publish interesting and useful articles on a variety of topics. In the May issue there is an article on The Guyanese diaspora which comes up with the estimate, using census figures from those countries, that the total number of Guyanese (i.e. born in Guyana) now in the US, Canada and the UK is at least 315,600 and if illegal immigrants are added who may not be caught by the censuses the figure could be between 350,000 to 400,000. If one adds to that emigrants in Suriname, Venezuela, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados (the article reports that the authorities there cite a figure of 5,302 Guyanese legally resident and estimate a further 2,000 to 3,000 illegal immigrants) Guyanese emigrants may well exceed 500,000. As the article notes, these figures do not include people born abroad of one or more Guyanese parents who may consider themselves Guyanese. If those children are added, the popular saying that there are now as many Guyanese overseas as there are in Guyana may have some truth in it.

Starting with the report of our 2002 census which gave the population as 751,223 persons the article notes that this is only an increase of 3.8 per cent on the 1991 census, or .34 per cent a year and is less than the figure of 759,567 in 1980. Our population has fallen slightly over 20 years, which is of course due to the very high levels of emigration during that period. The census shows that from 1991 to 2002 the population in East Berbice/Corentyne (Region 6) fell by 15 per cent and in the city of Georgetown by 30 per cent, from 48,842 to 34,179. The first statistic confirms that a lot of Indians in Berbice have been leaving. The second, on Georgetown, is more complex and requires more detailed analysis. Why has the population of the city fallen so much, have people been leaving the city (because of crime) to live in other parts of the country, where the population is stable or has increased slightly?

Using the latest US census figures the article provides some more interesting information:

"Nearly 84 per cent (176,460) of the people born in Guyana declared themselves as belonging to "One race". Of this group, 90,580 or over 51 per cent identified themselves as 'Black American;' 46,755 or over 26 per cent as 'Asian' and 31,065 or 18 per cent as 'Some other race;' this suggests Indo-Guyanese migrants were unsure whether to identify themselves as `Asians' or 'Some other race.'

Another 4,305 (over 2 per cent) identified themselves as 'White' and 3,370 (nearly 2 per cent) identified themselves as 'American Indian and Alaska Native' - that is to say, Amerindians or Indigenous Peoples. The 2002 Census of Guyana gives the Amerindian population as 68,8l9; so this suggests that nearly 5 per cent of the Indigenous population of Guyana is living in the US."

There is some more interesting census information:

"The educational attainment of the Guyana-born population was slightly below that of the US population as a whole: of the 171,995 people over 25, 120,345 (70 per cent) were high school graduates and 28,505 (nearly 17 per cent) had a Bachelor's or higher degree. In the US, 80 per cent of the over-25s had graduated from high school and 24 per cent had a Bachelor's or higher degree.

In terms of employment, 135,615 (68 per cent) of the over 16s were in the labour force, of whom 125,495 (93 per cent) were employed, 1,085 (0.8 per cent) were in the armed forces and 9,040 (nearly 7 per cent) were un-employed. In terms of occupation, most of the Guyana-born people who were employed worked in "sales and office occupations" - 37,685 or 30 per cent, "management, professional and related occupations" - 33,545 or 27 per cent, and in "service occupations" - 26,650 or 21 per cent. The median household income was US $45,470. Of the 84,665 households headed by people born in Guyana, 12,390 (nearly 15 per cent) had annual incomes of less than US $15,000, while 38,360 (45 per cent) had an annual income of US $50,000 or more, 10,610 (13 per cent) of them having an annual income of US $100,000 or over (US Census Bureau 2005: Table FBP-l and FBP-2)."

The real 'overseas vote' has been the vote by hundreds of thousands of Guyanese in the last few decades to emigrate. Many left although they had jobs because they could no longer put up with the unstable politics or the crime or the falling educational standards which presented them with a problem for their children. As the US census figures show some have failed to get employment but the vast majority have and some have done well. Some of those in the diaspora have continued to help those at home either by remittances to families or by providing medical or other assistance and more recently by investing. Government should address the possibility of establishing a closer connection with this large diaspora which possesses a variety of skills and experiences, perhaps by means of a special website, which could seek to list some of the skills available in the diaspora through a process of voluntary registration, and could also list opportunities for investment.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

by Dawne Bennett
Caribbean Net News Barbados Correspondent
Email: dawne@caribbeannetnews.com

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: More details are emerging about the circumstances surrounding the death of 11 people whose bodies were found on a boat off the coast of Barbados last month.

It now appears they were part of an original group of 52 who set out from Senegal last December. Interpol believes the unmarked, 20-foot-long motorised yacht they were found on had set sail from Cape Verde, off Mauritania, for the Canary Islands - a gateway into mainland Europe.

Farewell notes found in the craft, have been released. "I'm from Senegal but have been living in Cape Verde for a year. Things are bad. I don't think I will come out of this alive" one note read. Another said, "I would like to send to my family a sum of money. Please excuse me and goodbye. This is the end of my life in this big Moroccan sea."

Reports in the international press have indicated the men began their trip after paying a Spaniard about US$1,600 each for the trip to the Canary Islands. However, the boat ran into trouble somewhere near the Mauritanian port of Nouadhibou.

A boat was sent to its aid, but at some stage, the line was severed and the refugees who had no food or water, eventually starved to death.

Up to 40 other asylum seekers - from Bissau, Senegal and Gambia - may have been lost overboard in the storm-tossed Atlantic. It is assumed they were tossed or washed overboard as they died.

Police are hunting an unknown Spaniard believed to have demanded the money from the desperate refugees. The tragedy has sparked concern over the plight of refugees who have taken to the high seas and are still unaccounted for.

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Roger Khan will not surrender under Felix

Attorney

Embattled businessman Roger Khan will not turn himself over to local police for questioning, nor will he present himself to American authorities to face conspiracy to import cocaine charges in that country.

This was communicated to this newspaper yesterday by attorney for Khan, Glenn Hanoman.

Hanoman told Kaieteur News that his client has indicated that he has no confidence in the local police force as it is presently constituted with Winston Felix as the Commissioner.

“He has no faith in him (Commissioner Felix), and he has no faith in the force,” Hanoman said.

The response comes in the wake of the release of a taped conversation in which a voice believed to be that of Police Commissioner Winston Felix alluded to the planting of drugs on a woman, who it was alleged had stolen money from the office of a political party in Guyana .

Khan is wanted by police for questioning in the ongoing investigations into missing weapons from the GDF Headquarters, Camp Ayanganna .

He has also been indicted by a United States of America grand jury for conspiracy to import cocaine into that country.

The businessman had earlier indicated through his lawyer that he is willing to go to court to prove his innocence.

According to a source, Khan believes that it is the Commissioner who helped to initiate and “trump up charges”. “He believes that Felix is the key player in the move to indict him,” the source said.

According to Attorney-at-Law Hanoman, his client has indicated that tapes of the conversations between the person believed to be the Commissioner and others were taken to a meeting Khan claimed he had with American officials in March this year.

“My client has informed me that he took the tapes, including the recent one, to the Americans. Why are the Americans unwilling to authenticate the tapes?” Hanoman asked.

Khan had claimed that he had met with deputy US Ambassador Michael Thomas among others at the Ocean View International Hotel.

He had also indicated that he was in constant contact with senior officers of the Guyana Defence Force, and had provided them with information on the missing weapons.

The United States Embassy in Georgetown has insisted that Khan did not meet with Deputy Ambassador Thomas. They said the persons at the meeting were in fact agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The local army had also confirmed that some of their officers were in contact with Khan, but this was part of their mandate to investigate the disappearance of the 33 AK-47 assault rifles and five handguns.

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List verification
GECOM to seek legal opinion

The elections commission yesterday decided to obtain a legal opinion on whether it is obliged to carry out a full house-to-house verification of the 2001 voters' list and the two remaining opposition-nominated members refused to continue participation without a positive commitment on the issue.

Lloyd Joseph and Robert Williams walked out of a statutory commission meeting yesterday, saying that they were unwilling to participate in more meetings unless they were assured of a commitment that there would be a verification of the 2001 OLE.

The two commissioners took action after weeks of wrangling over the contentious issue which has split the commission between the opposition-nominated members and their counterparts nominated by the governing party. Opposition-nominated member Haslyn Parris withdrew his participation from the commission last week, dissociating himself from a process he felt was irretrievable. However, Joseph and Williams stayed on in hopes of reaching a compromise on verification, which has been demanded by the combined opposition parties.

A statement yesterday by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said that the commission decided to get an independent legal opinion on the question of its obligation to do verification based on a submission made by an opposition- nominated member. The statement referred to a proposal on verification submitted by Joseph at a statutory commission meeting last week, which argued that by virtue of Section 2 (f) of the Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 36 of 1991, GECOM is legally obliged to conduct a full house-to-house verification of the 2001 list.

The GECOM statement noted that the decision to get an independent opinion on the commission's obligations was suggested by a government-nominated member of the panel. The commissioner, the statement said, felt that it would be unwise for GECOM to decide on whether it would move towards conducting house-to-house verification based on a submission by the opposition-nominated member. Joseph and Williams indicated that Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally could avail them of the opinion on the issue and they would decide whether they would resume their participation. However, the statement made it clear that they wanted a positive assurance on the issue. It added that Dr Surujbally did entreat them to remain at yesterday's meeting since there were other important issues on the agenda to be discussed.

"They declined on the grounds that the matter of house-to-house verification was of primary concern," the statement said. The commission is scheduled to meet again tomorrow.

Joseph submitted a proposal last Thursday on verification based on a request by PPP-nominated members of the commission, Dr Keshav Mangal, Mohamood Shaw and Moen McDoom, who wanted a methodology for a verification exercise in order to decide whether or not the commission should revisit the issue. Previously, the commission, without the support of the opposition-nominated members, decided against verification. Parris had originally submitted the verification proposal before his withdrawal but it was never discussed. All three opposition-nominated members had withdrawn at the start of April, citing the handling of verification, among other issues. Their return to the commission was on the condition that the issue would have been swiftly resolved.

The verification proposal envisages an exercise being conducted in Regions 3,4,5,6 and 10, within a time frame to ensure general elections before the end of 2006. The proposal uses the discrepancies revealed by a comparison of the projected population 17 years and older (at the end of March) and the voting population on the 2001 voters list, broken down by region. Although the proposal does not carry a timeframe, it is expected that a field verification exercise could be conducted in less than 42 days, which is the period that the GECOM Secretariat had allocated for a verification of the entire country. The proposal would also see an extension of claims and objections to permit better scrutiny of the voters' list, while political parties would be free to conduct their own investigations in the regions not included in the limited exercise. The extended claims period is expected to allow GECOM to evaluate the results of the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) fingerprinting project, which is aimed at detecting possible multiple registrants listed on the preliminary list.

The EOJ project has so far seen the scanning of the fingerprints for over 500,000 registrants (from the 2001 list and new registrants from the 2005/2006 registration cycle) and these have been sent for analysis in Jamaica with results expected tomorrow.

Additionally, one of the contentious points in the impasse between the government and opposition on the verification issue has been what would be done with registrants who are not found during a field exercise. It has been argued that to remove such persons from the list could open up the commission to liability for disenfranchising legitimate voters. But the proposal is said to argue that there was no change in law or apparent conflict when the methodology was employed for dealing with persons who did not appear to be photographed in 2001. This was accomplished by an amendment, which is still law and it is suggested that this would enable GECOM to devise a method where no elector can be disenfranchised.

Last week, PPP General Secretary Donald Ramotar signalled that the ruling party was unwilling to countenance the latest verification proposal, since while it seeks an exercise limited to only half the country's regions, it would still cover more than 90% of the population

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Corbin wants private criminal charges against Roger Khan

Leader of the main opposition PNCR, Robert Corbin is calling on all those persons who lost loved ones at the hands of a death squad to come forward as they mount a legal team to file private criminal charges against businessman Roger Khan who has acknowledged that he helped fight crime during the escapee-led rampage in 2002-3

A source close to Khan, who has been indicted in the US for conspiring to import cocaine into that country, has disclosed that Khan employed members of the then Police Target Special Squad (TSS) and armed ex-convicts who worked as informants for him. It is believed that it was this gang of men which carried out murders of young men some of whom were suspected to be criminals.

Speaking at a public rally in Linden on Sunday, Corbin said when George Bacchus had disclosed that a death squad was responsible for the slaying of countless young men during 2003-4 President Bharrat Jagdeo was reluctant to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate it. Bacchus had alleged among other things that the death squad targeted persons perceived to be involved in criminal activities as well as ex-convicts. Bacchus himself admitted that he had worked for the squad as an informant but he later broke away. He started to make certain revelations when his brother, cattle farmer, Shafeek Bacchus was gunned down not too far from his Princes Street residence. George Bacchus himself was killed a few months later. A Presidential inquiry was later set up but it cleared Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj of any involvement in a death squad.

In his address to the gathering of around 800 people in Linden, Corbin said every day he opened the newspapers he is confronted with the image of the 'real' president of Guyana 'Roger Khan'. According to the opposition leader, Khan has since said that he was responsible for curbing crime during the crime wave in 2002-3 and that he worked closely with the TSS and other branches of the police force. "He said that and so I want all those mothers and wives of those people who have been killed to come forward, it is time we get the facts." "We have to file private criminal actions against him (Khan)," Corbin declared, adding that the embattled businessman has admitted that he was responsible for putting together the gang.

"It is time all of those mothers and wives who lost loved ones come together and we have to mount a proper legal team to prosecute him in the courts". Corbin said citizens should not wait until the US tries Khan, but added that he could be prosecuted right here.

Corbin said that for the businessman to think that while he is on a charge for drugs he can say he is the 'saviour' of the people of Guyana was a slap in the face of Guyanese.

Sources close to Khan told Stabroek News last week that a network of ex-convicts and members of the TSS was what the businessman used to combat crime and assist the police force during the escapee-led violence in 2002-3.

The source who had asked not to be named said that Khan never got involved in actual operations and does not have a private 'army' as some may think.

Rather, the source said, he has his own bodyguards and a network of armed informants (the phantom squad) made up of mainly ex-convicts and ex-policemen.

The source made these disclosures when asked by this newspaper to clarify Khan's claim that he had worked closely with the crime-fighting section of the Guyana Police Force during the crime spree in 2002 and provided them with assistance and information at his own expense.

Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon has denied that the security services ever engaged Khan to help it fight crime, although the embattled businessman has said that he is perceived by persons in the USA, the police force, the army and the PNCR as someone who has the will and capacity to fight crime and to protect the people of Guyana against a coup d'etat. Khan has been indicted by a US Grand Jury for conspiring to import cocaine into that country between January 2001 and March 2006. Since the indictment was unsealed he has been making several statements about meetings he said he had with US officials and other law enforcement officers locally.

His statements, according to observers, seem to be aimed at mobilising public support and avoiding being handed over to the US authorities.

According to the source close to Khan the businessman used his own intelligence and resources. "He worked directly with the Target Squad and provided its members with information on criminals and leads and they used that information and got to some of the criminals," the source said. "Khan never picked up a gun as far as I know and hunted down any criminal, his role was basically to show the way," the source said. Khan, Sean Belfield, who was then a serving member of the TSS and Haroon Yahya were intercepted at Good Hope by an army patrol in December 2002. The vehicle they were travelling in had a cache of high-powered weapons and electronic equipment capable of intercepting telephone calls. The trio was charged and went before the courts, but the case was later dismissed. Asked about the so-called "Phantom Squad", the source said, the ex-convict network, which Khan employed as his informants, could be viewed as that but other persons were carrying out most of the killings.

"So when we were hearing and seeing bodies being picked up around the country on a daily basis, some of those killings were actually done" by other persons.

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-- serious epidemics in urban areas


By Neil Marks
A NEW global report on HIV/AIDS has painted an even grimmer picture of the epidemic here, pointing to the need for a better response in fighting the disease which is already the leading cause of death among the crucial 25-44 age group.

“High HIV infection levels among men and women seeking treatment for other sexually transmitted diseases and the rising trend in officially reported HIV infections underscore the need to improve Guyana’s AIDS response,” the 2006 UNAIDS report on the global epidemic stated.

The report added that in Guyana “serious epidemics have been observed in urban areas.”

It stated that while expanded counselling and testing services, along with the provision of antiretroviral regimens have reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV in some countries, like the Bahamas, evidence of similar progress is not yet visible in Guyana.

AIDS has become the number one cause of death in Guyana among people aged 25–44 years, and national HIV prevalence stands at an estimated at 2.4 per cent, the report stated.

At the launching of the Public/Private Sector Partnership Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS yesterday, Secretary to the Presidential Commission on HIV/AIDS Dr Frank Anthony stated that some 18,000 persons live with HIV/AIDS in Guyana.

It is the second leading cause of death in the country, he added.

He said very few of those infected with the disease may not know, and estimates suggest that some 3,600-4,000 may need treatment but only 1,200 are on the recommended medication.

The 2006 UNAIDS report notes that only half of the men and women known to have HIV/AIDS are on the requisite Anti Retroviral (ARV) treatment.

Guyana ranks as the country with the second highest HIV/AIDS population in the Caribbean, second to Haiti.

The report noted that a total of 330,000 people are living with HIV in the Caribbean, 22,000 of them being children younger than 15 years.

It shows that an estimated 37,000 people became infected with HIV in 2005.

It points out that the Caribbean’s epidemics and countries’ AIDS responses vary considerably in extent and intensity.

Young Haitians are becoming sexually active at earlier ages and condom use among 15–24- year-olds has become less frequent.

In Barbados and the Bahamas, expanded access to antiretroviral treatment appears to be reducing AIDS deaths, the report stated.

However, such progress has not been enough to undo the Caribbean’s status as the second-most affected region in the world, the report stated.

An estimated 27,000 died of the disease last year, and of those living with the disease, less than one in four persons in need of antiretroviral therapy was receiving it in 2005.

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Stella Ramsaroop Column

Stella Says…

There is only one way to encourage
development in Guyana



There are so many factors that have contributed to Guyana 's ongoing development struggle. Inept governments, corrupt leaders, international economic crises, the severe lack of an effective national economic strategy – as well as so many other attributes, that were present from the first day of the nation's independence, until now.

If we wanted to point fingers and place blame, there would be fingers pointing in every possible direction. However there is one factor that supersedes all other factors that has not only contributed to Guyana 's ongoing development struggle, but also constantly feeds all other factors that prevent substantial progress.

That one omnipresent factor is the racial divide.

This issue was present before the British left and has incessantly plagued the nation in every single aspect of life. If an Indo-Guyanese wrote this article, it is possible that a large portion of the Afro-Guyanese would dismiss the content as biased and partial. Likewise, if I were Afro-Guyanese, it would be likely that a large portion of the Indo-Guyanese would mark this article off as being insincere.

In fact, there have been a healthy number of mavericks from both sides of the racial divide who have attempted to bridge the gap between the two major races in Guyana , but have made little or no advancement on the issue. However, I am neither of these races and hope my words will somehow persuade some Guyanese to understand how important it is to unify as a people.

Although an outside force created this problem long before Guyana received its independence, there is no point in beating a dead horse by cursing an influence that has long been absent from the country's social framework. Though the British are the ones who initially created the racial conflict, it is the Guyanese who keep the discord alive.

The ever-present undercurrent of this contempt for the other race, which often seems to be initiated within the political sphere, has so permeated society that it is highly probable that if one race-based governing party calls a piece of paper green, the other race's party will then insist that it is red and the two parties will subsequently waste enormous amounts of time, energy and money just to argue this point.

If this world were about nothing more than choosing one side of an argument and debating that stance until infinity, then perhaps Guyana 's ongoing racial division would not have such dire consequences. Instead, as the rest of world progresses at lightning speed, Guyana stands still in time while the people are consumed with bickering and arguing with each other.

However, in daily life, most Guyanese live harmoniously regardless of race. My husband told me he didn't even know there was a difference between the races until at seven years old he told his father he wanted a hair cut like an Afro-Guyanese. How is it that this same type of harmony is locked out of the political arena?

While the nation's infrastructure crumbles, the educational system fails, the economy continues to decline and crime overtakes the streets, Guyana 's politicians cannot agree on even simple matters that would enhance the nation and help the people. One party cannot let the other party have even a small victory because that would mean the other race might have just a little bit of intelligence.

This constant racial strife and bickering has been the ultimate downfall of Guyana . If as a Guyanese you want to know what happened to the beautiful streets you once had, they were lost to racism. If you want to know why Guyana cannot seem to ever find a way out of poverty, it is because of racism. If you want to know how the drug lords were able to take over the nation so easily, it is because of racism.

Every bad thing that has ever happened to Guyana is because of this racial divide. Likewise, every good thing that has been withheld from Guyana is because of this despicable situation.

If you do not believe what I am saying, all you need to do is examine the political and social incidents of just the last year and you will see the how the race issue has been the underlying factor every time development has been stymied.

If the World Cup does not come to Guyana next year, we can blame it on the crime and on the lack of resources, but the ultimate reason will be because the racially appointed political parties could not work together long enough or hold each other accountable enough to make the event a success.

In other words, Guyana will only continue its decline until the Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese find a way to join together as one force of good.

This predicament is not like a marriage where the two parties can choose to go their separate ways if they cannot find a means by which to resolve their problems. Therefore, there is one and only one solution; the opposing races must find a way to unite for their own good.

There is absolutely no way Guyana will ever see significant development until her two major races unite as one people. When the people of Guyana begin to cast their votes based on real issues such as economic development instead of race, that is when the political parties will start focusing on bettering the country.

The people will continue to establish the direction of this situation. If they continue to focus on race, their politicians will continue to follow their lead. Likewise, if they demand unity, their leaders will again follow suit – and those who do not will find themselves on the losing end of the polls.

In short, Guyana 's future – or the lack thereof - is in the hands of the people.

Email: StellaSays@gmail.com

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Hopefully no one was holding their breath waiting for the government to take decisive and judicious action on crime. A full month following the heinous murder of Minister Satyadeow Sawh and three others there is no sign that the government has a plan or is even marshalling one. As we expected there was a lot of palaver: the gunmen were from Buxton, we know who they are, there will be major changes in the security services if there are no results and we have written to the western governments for help.

To date, nothing tangible has emerged from any of these statements. Buxton has been further demonized and the army has encamped there but not a single suspect in the Sawh case has been apprehended. The government now says that the intellectual authors of the murders are being searched for. When last has the police force been able to construct a case ensnaring the remote intellectual author of a crime let alone successfully prosecute it? This will be one to see. Thus far the army's presence in Buxton can only be described as showmanship and a dangerous one at that as there can be all types of clandestine activity playing out that it is in not in touch with. The longer it stays there without producing the gunmen from the backdam the closer its mission will verge on failure. So if this was a major pillar of the government's response to the Sawh killing then it has not worked.

In terms of police investigative action there is no progress. The police have been silent on this case since the first few days after the crime. Stunning. A minister of the government, two of his siblings and a security guard are gunned down mercilessly and it is all as if this horrible episode must be consigned to memory banks to be recited with a partisan twist in decades to come but never to be solved. Certainly by now since there are no results to show the government would have been expected to lift its effort to some other level.

This is where that other expectation raised should have kicked in quickly: external help. The government has written to Washington, London and Ottawa seeking assistance. Perhaps it is all hush-hush but surely the populace could at least be told what was asked for or envisaged. Is it police advisors, commander-level policemen, forensics help or detectives? Whatever it was it is already late and the trail that was to be followed has been covered over.

The lack of action and the elections mode that the country finds itself in would lead cynics to question whether this wasn't the type of situation that the government could milk for all its worth for electoral gain. Sadly, the reality of this situation is while the government and the security forces have no results to show for a whole series of horrendous crimes, citizens live in a state of fear, many continue to leave for good or plan to do so and a great uncertainty shrouds the country and its prospects from the interest of investors, tourists and others.

No one is expecting the government to direct a crime response on the scale of a Cecil B. DeMille epic. What they expect though is an urgent common sense response that is cognizant of the shortcomings of the police force and sets time bound tasks. When these fail then plans B and C must kick in whatever these are. And there are many other areas and interstices where a thinking, throbbing government can act: the ease of availability of guns of all sizes and calibre continues to fuel this bloody assault on law order. What about a limited amnesty or a buy-back? Nothing has been done on this front except for mumblings from the government on how difficult it is to patrol the country's borders. That is true but it doesn't mean that one must simply throw one's hands up in the air in resignation.

The thriving illegal licence plate business is another area as in many others where the government and the police have failed to act. The government is now without law making fiat since the dissolution of Parliament, hobbling any new effort to fight crime. All the more disconcerting as new and toothy anti-money laundering legislation was to have been presented for passage so that inroads could be made into this business and that of drug trafficking; another glaring failure of this government.

It is just not acceptable for the government to sit and sit and allow murders and other reprehensible crimes to go unsolved. Here is a sample of the more shocking ones that remain unsolved from recent months: Jack Rambarran, August 2005; Daniel Thompson, December 2005; Ronald Waddell, January 2006; the murder of eight persons at Agricola, February 26, 2006; the disappearance of the AK-47s, February 27, 2006; the murder of Minister Sawh and three others, March 22, 06. When will the government act?

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By Nigel Wallace

IN a country that is well known for its political disunity across racial lines, it was pleasing to see everyone come together on Friday, May 26, the day of Guyanas Independence, to celebrate this day as a people and not a party.

What fell through as an annual event and has now made a resurgence, the Guyanese Association of Barbados Incorporated (GABI) Independence Dinner and Show enjoyed a diverse audience on Friday night at the George Street Auditorium. According to president of GABI, Patrick Thompson the mixture of Afro and Indo Guyanese persons was a pleasing sight and one, which he believes, should be promoted to all Guyanese people.

With good Guyanese food and the presence of several well-known Guyanese personalities (musical and otherwise), which included internationally renowned artist, Stanley Greaves (who is preparing for an exhibition at Zemicon galleries in the near future), well-known jazz musician Aubrey Cummins, and the Guyanese High Commissioner to Barbados, Norman Faria, the evening was certainly not lacking for good music and intense discussion.

Indeed, Commissioner Faria who was pleased with the concept of a Guyanese Association that is independent of the consulate, did stress that he hoped that the consulate could be included in the future in events such as these, thus promoting an even more unified presentation, which could reach out to more Guyanese persons in Barbados and perhaps even the Barbadian community themselves.

Adding to what was a truly Guyanese night, patrons enjoyed indo-guyanese singing, and the highlight for the evening, which evoked much singing and peals of laughter, a folk music session with Monica Baptiste, whose rendition of, Onward, upward Mary had a goat& truly set a relaxed vibe for the rest of the evening.

Barbados Advocate

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Cameras show Essequibo concession home to globally endangered species
The giant armadillo once widespread in tropical forests is now scarce because of over-hunting and settlement expansion. It eats ants, termites and the occasional snake. (Photo courtesy of Conservation International Guyana)

Camera-trapping photos have shown that globally endangered species of animals live in a 313 square-mile conservation concession in the Upper Essequibo.

Conservation International Guyana (CIG) manages the site, which is a little larger than Barbados. CIG is a branch of Conservation International (CI) an international non-profit organisation.

Among the photos taken by the infrared sensitive cameras mounted on tree trunks are those of a giant armadillo, giant anteater, and a jaguar all endangered species.

Manager of the concession, Eustace Alexander, in an interview with Stabroek News on Wednesday, said there were "giant" animals (largest in their species). "So you have a giant cat, a giant lizard, a giant turtle." He said from his personal observation the giant river otter and giant river turtle, two more endangered species, lived in the concession too. There are other pictures, which are still to be developed.

The pictures indicated, Alexander said, that the eco-system of the site, the relationship between living things and their environment, was healthy, and they also highlighted the bio-diversity and conservation value of the site.

An inquisitive jaguar in the Upper Essequibo conservation concession was partially caught on this CIG camera. Jaguars have become endangered because of over hunting for their skin and also by farmers because of their threat to livestock. (Photo courtesy o

He noted that one of the goals of conservation concessions was to save a site from developmental and commercial pressures. It was no coincidence, Alexander said, that CIG's concession was located in Guyana's forestry zone.

Apart from never being able to replace a lost species, nothing existed in isolation, Alexander said, and there were both economic and eco-system negative spin-offs from losing a species forever.

In searching for an example of a spin-off, Alexander used the greenheart tree, which he noted was almost limited to Guyana except for some in Suriname. But were it to be logged without any conservation plan, Guyana would eventually be deprived of any economic benefit it would otherwise continue to get from the tree.

The greenheart's extensive use for the building of wharves and `palling off' work would also be gone.

The greenheart seed was also food for the agouti, Alexander said, while the agouti in turn was food for larger prey like the jaguar. Other pressures like commercial hunting and fishing greatly affected species and eco-system balance. "If, to use an example, you have an area with plenty jaguars and you go hunting, not for jaguars, but for labbas [a rodent] then the jaguar may have to move soon."

The value of paying attention to the environment has been highlighted on the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) website thus: "the dollar value for services provided by eco-systems throughout the world is estimated at US$33 trillion per year."

In contrast, the value of human produced goods and services, WWF said, was about US$18 trillion per year.

More than forty crops produced in the USA valued at US$30B per year, the site said, depended on insect pollination. Bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other creatures pollinated 75% of the world's staple crops and 90% of all flowering plants and the sale of prescription drugs with ingredients extracted from plants amounted to US$15B per year.

Carbon credits

While the goal of the conservation concession was to save the site from developmental and commercial pressures, the concept was to show that government and by extension a country's people, could benefit from it. CIG's Upper Essequibo concession was acquired under a Timber Sales Agreement and the company pays government all the required fees as if the concession were being logged though it is not, Alexander said.

"This shows a way where a country could market its resources without destroying them," CIG's Communication Manager, Ajay Baksh had told Stabroek News when the newspaper visited the site in December last year. "We hope this could generate interest for others to invest in conservation."

Carbon offsets was another way conservation concessions could be promoted. "Let's say a company like Ford may want to invest in intact land to off-set any carbon pollution it contributes into the atmosphere," Baksh said.

According to the BBC Science and Nature web site, about half of the earth's forests are now gone.

Because the area will not be logged except as traditionally done by Amerindians, "(to build) a canoe or so," which pressure, Alexander said, was negligible, this meant that the area contributed to the capture of greenhouse gases, responsible for global warming with potentially devastating natural consequences.

It also makes Guyana eligible for carbon credits under the Kyoto agreement, Alexander said.

Under this agreement, industrialised nations are to reward countries, particularly developing countries, for preserving their forests.

Conservation-based enterprises

Other benefits from having the concession in the Upper Essequibo include preservation of its watershed, tourism, carbon sequestration and scientific values, and conservation of the area for traditional Amerindian use. Amerindians depend on the natural environment for their overall livelihood, Alexander noted. "They don't have supermarkets."

Because it's in the Upper Essequibo it means it's important for the water flowing down to communities to be kept pristine.

The nearest Amerindian community to the concession, Apoteri, is 50 miles away. The furthest, Crash Water is 100 miles from it while Rewa is 70 miles away.

Under CIG's Social Impact Assessment for having the concession a Voluntary Community Investment Fund (VCIF) of US$10,000 per year is made available to these communities.

It helps enhance existing enterprises in the communities, Alexander said, and promote any new ones suggested by the residents. These projects are known as Conservation Based Enterprises (CBE).

Rewa seems to have had the most economic benefit from the CBEs so far. According to reports he received, Alexander said, the community pulled in a whopping $1M just recently while supporting an expedition group.

The community opted for the establishment of three eco lodges as its enterprise. These are benabs to house tourists or expedition groups.

In the case of Apoteri the community was a national breeding station for the black belly sheep, which was popular along with the balata business in the 60s, Alexander said. However, with the collapse of the balata business the rearing and breeding of sheep also went downhill.

While Alexander could not say offhand how many head of sheep there were now in Apoteri, he said when he did the baseline study in 2003 there were 66. He said the community has received requests for sheep from other communities to start their own stock. "However, I don't know if they could afford to lose stock now."

The CBE in Crash Water is soon to be inaugurated, Alexander said. That community has requested a sewing project. There were already persons in the area who could sew but they needed the capacity like machines and a building.

The North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) to which 16 Amerindian communities are affiliated is administering the fund. Executive Director, Rodney Davis, told Stabroek News in December last year that the help was something the communities always wanted.

He noted that with projects like eco tourism, balata craft, the rearing of bees for honey production, sustainable and aquarium fishing, among others, the communities aspired to become self-sufficient. "We don't want to always be looking forward to the donors," he said.

The ultimate goal of CIG's conservation concession is for it to be incorporated as a National Protected Area within a National Protected Areas System, Alexander said.

He noted that while there was an absence of national protected areas legislation in Guyana, Parliament had passed independent Acts for the Kaieteur National Park and the Iwokrama Forest. Government has also established a Protected Areas Secretariat and has earmarked three priority sites in addition to Kaieteur and Iwokrama.

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Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo
Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo (GINA Image)

Hardbeatnews, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tues. May 30, 2006: The Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission is proposing a further delay in the holding of general elections in this South American nation.

GECOM officials in a statement yesterday proposed that the election be held on September 12 instead of August 31 citing the recent extension of the Claims and Objections process aimed at further sanitizing the 2006 Preliminary List of Electors. GECOM Commissioners are set to make a final decision on this proposal when the commission holds its statutory meeting today.

The ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic is, however, pushing for an August 31 deadline to be maintained saying that it did not request an extension of the claims and objections process and noting that the elections can be held even before the August 31 target. –Hardbeatnews.com

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Monday, May 29, 2006
Dear Friends of Guyana,

I'm writing you on behalf of the Canada-Guyana Forum, which I am a member of, a non-partisan loose network of concerned Guyanese that has been in existence for over a decade. I am also a Guyanese professor at the University of Toronto.

In April this year we held a meeting to talk about crime, security and violence in Guyana, and had a wonderful turnout. It was a multi-racial, multi-generational audience, everyone wanting to express their concern for Guyana and to think about what we in the diaspora could contribute to the conversation. One of the things we realised was the divisions among Guyanese, which often prevents us from having conversations with each other, where we do not have to all agree, but where at least we can begin (again) to learn listening to and respecting each other.

With all the feedback, we are holding a follow up meeting, and are hoping to get the word out far and wide. We also want to encourage Guyanese organisations (there are so many!!) in Toronto to be represented at this meeting, where we can begin to explore what it means to talk about Guyana in ways that do not dissolve into accusation and counter-accusation, where we can disagree and retain respectful relations with each other.

Please pass the word out far and wide among your membership, and please turn up. If any of you has information for other Guyanese organisations, please send the name and e-mail contact for the executive to me, and please encourage your organisation to send some representatives. We want to continue the conversation we began last month, and to continue to find a way to speak across our differences respectfully. All best D. Alissa Trotz on behalf of the members of the Canada Guyana Forum

Give me a little freedom, different from this

Martin Carter, Poems of Affinity (1980)

THE CANADA-GUYANA FORUM

Invites Guyanese to an initial conversation on Guyana
Now in Crisis

DATE: SATURDAY JUNE 24, 2006

PLACE: Malvern Community Centre

30 Sewells Rd, Scarborough

Nielson & Sewells

416-396-4054

TIME: 4 P.M. 6 P.M.

For further information contact us at: canadaguyanaforum@yahoo.com

Or call

Sister Hazel Campayne (416-920-0132)

Jai Parasram (416-289-1346)

Ken Panaram (905-417-7825)

D. Alissa Trotz (416-978-8286

Oma Sewhdat (905-841-2575)

Driving Directions: 410 to Neilson, Go North on Neilson to Sewells Rd.

PLEASE PASS THE WORD ON!!!!!


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Bureaucracy a deterrent to investment – report

…but foreigners find climate more attractive

The World Bank's 2006 Index of Economic Freedom has reported that some sectors of the Guyana economy, such as utilities and other State-owned industries, are highly regulated, and the bureaucracy is extensive.

It referred to a US Department of Commerce report which stated: “Bureaucratic procedures are cumbersome and time-consuming.

“Decision-making is centralised and businesspersons, both Guyanese and foreigners, say it is often difficult to know who the decision-makers are on a given issue or what the rationale was for decisions made. One of the biggest obstacles in establishing a business is navigating land deeds and title registries. Getting clear title to land is one of the most frequent administrative difficulties for prospective businesses.”

In addition, businessmen complain that “Government officials have solicited bribes as a prerequisite for the granting of licenses and permits needed to operate their businesses.”

The report said Guyana 's fiscal burden of government score is 0.3 point worse in 2006 on a scale of one to five which, as a result, has made the country's overall score to be 0.03 point worse this year.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the ruling PPP/C and main opposition PNCR remain suspicious of each other and have been unable to reach compromise even on minor issues.

The country still depends heavily on foreign aid, the report said.

It was noted that the government has implemented some structural reforms in the fiscal and procurement process under an agreement with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and plans to use more aid funds on infrastructure and social spending aimed at alleviating poverty.

Severe flooding of coastal areas in 2005 led to extensive crop losses and major infrastructure damage and is also bound to have a profound impact on fiscal restraint, the report said.

Guyana 's trade policy score is rated at 4.0 by the Index of Economic Freedom.

The World Trade Organisation reports that “ Guyana applies import licensing requirements on a relatively large number of products [including] some important products of national industries, such as rice and cane sugar, and some of the most significant imports.”

The US Department of Commerce reports delays and accusations of corruption in customs. Based on the revised trade factor methodology, Guyana 's trade policy score is unchanged.

Guyana 's foreign investment policy garnered a score of 3.0 on the scale of one to five.

The report said that although Guyana 's investment regime can be bureaucratic, non-transparent, and slow, it is becoming more attractive to foreign investors.

According to the US Department of Commerce, although Guyana has been moving toward a more welcoming environment for foreign investors, the government remains cautious about approving new foreign investment and encourages joint ventures with the government.

The IMF reports that both residents involved in exporting activities and non-residents may hold foreign exchange accounts. Payments and transfers are not restricted.

The IMF reports that, while most capital transactions are unrestricted, all credit operations are controlled.

Guyana 's Constitution guarantees the right of foreigners to own property or land.

Banking and finance received a score of 2.0.

The report said Guyana 's banking system is becoming more competitive but remains underdeveloped and hindered by few sound lending opportunities.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, non-performing loans have fallen sharply as a percent of total lending, from 37 per cent in 2002 to 18 percent in 2004.

However, the improvement is largely due to debt write-offs and some banks remain burdened by bad debt.

The IMF reports that banks must obtain approval from the Ministry of Finance before lending to non-resident enterprises.

The report stated that Guyana 's judicial system is often slow, inefficient, and subject to corruption.

Quoting from the US Department of State, it stated: “The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but law enforcement officials and prominent lawyers questioned the independence of the judiciary and accused the government of intervening in certain cases.”

In addition: “Delays in judicial proceedings are caused by shortages of trained court personnel and magistrates, inadequate resources…occasional alleged acts of bribery, poor tracking of cases, and slowness of police preparing cases for trial.”

The Index of Economic Freedom stated that Guyana has a large informal market.

It was noted that the US Department of State's International Narcotics Control Strategy report indicated that the informal economy, driven largely by drug proceeds, could be equivalent to from 50 per cent to 60 per cent of formal sector economic activity.

Kaieteur News

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My stepfather used me as his wife

The harrowing tale of a nine-year-old

“Up in the air and over the wall till I can see so bright. Rivers and trees and castles and all over the countryside”

“Till I look down on the garden green, down on the roof so brown, up in the air I go flying again up in the air and down”.

Nine-year-old Sean had retreated to his safe place; a place where no one could hurt him, where pain did not exist, only lush green grass, on which stood tall swings and trees bearing hosts of ripe red and yellow fruits, where children who were loved came to play.

As Sean pushed the swings to the maximum he felt the swish of the cool breeze against his face. As wave after wave of pain soared through his body, he pretended that he was one with the birds free, happy and carefree.

The sound of his stepfather's voice tore through the silence like sharp knife.

‘Go and bathe yuh skin and then get in yuh bed,” he said pulling up his pants as he left the room

Wincing in pain, Sean slowly adjusted his own pants and, as he watched his stepfather leave the room, he felt a sense of small triumph. No longer could his stepfather force him to concentrate on the ordeal he was putting him through, Sean had crafted a solution that took some of his power from him.

The child dragged himself from the bed and walked slowly to the mirror that hung on the wall of his bedroom.

“Only a little time more, Sean. It would soon end,” he consoled the tear-streaked face that stared back at him.

Yes, he had a plan. For the longest while he had been saving any extra money that he was given. It was never much but unbeknownst to his mother, he had been walking to school quite a lot lately to save the bus fare. At the last count, he had enough for him to make the getaway trip he had been dreaming about for months, but he knew that he needed to take his younger brother with him.

He knew it was just a matter of time, before his stepfather would begin to do the same thing to little Brian and he could not even bear the thought of that. He was confident that his aunt in Essequibo would rescue them. After all, she was his father's sister and once she learnt what had been happening, she would be sympathetic.

Once before, he had asked his mother to go and live there and she had replied that his aunt, Shirley, would not want to be bothered with him, but he did not believe her. His aunt would take them in. She had to, she was their only hope.

So he had to wait a little longer and save a little more money. “Just a few days more,” Sean repeated staring into the mirror.

As he was crossing the passage way to the bathroom, he heard his mother's voice from the kitchen raised in shrill laughter. Without even peering downstairs, he knew what was happening. This was his stepfather's normal routine. After he'd had his way with him, he would go down stairs and poke fun with Sean's mother and make her laugh.

Sean had witnessed this a couple of times and it made him sick to his stomach.

He was amazed that Ray felt confident enough to perform these acts while his mother was right downstairs.

But his mother, Debra, seemed happy with life. And there wasn't a day that she failed to remind Sean of how happy and comfortable her new partner was making her.

It was as if he could hear her now. “Sean, have you cleaned the yard like Ray asked you to? Don't let him have to come home from work and find it not cleaned. He's done so much for us and we need to be grateful to him. Do you remember what it was like before he came into our lives?”

Sean would never answer her, and he sometimes felt like that made her angry .After repeating the question a few more times without any response, she would continue, “Well anyhow, go and clean the yard,” and that would be that until the next day when the same routine would be repeated about a different chore.

Sean knew he could not answer his mother since the answer would not be what she was looking for. He knew that she wanted to hear that Ray had delivered them from their uncomfortable past, but the truth was that not a day passed that he did not wish that his mother had never met Ray or that they had remained where they lived before.

Sean remembered the first time he saw his stepfather. At the time, they were living on the East Coast of Demerara. The place was small and cramped and housed a large number of his extended family but he was happy and, unlike his mother, was not looking for a means of escape.

Things had been financially rough for his mother since he and his brother's father had walked out on her and on numerous occasions she explained that the boys would have to forego something or the other because ‘money simply wasn't there.'

The crochet that she did mostly only paid off at Christmas time when people wanted chair covers made and so most of the time his grandmother would sponsor the meals in the home for his family.

Ray was first introduced to Sean by his mother almost two years ago as a ‘godsend.' At the time, he did not know the meaning of the word, but because of the context in which it was used he interrupted it to mean that he had been sent by God.

“He was an important official in the joint forces and made a lot of money,” Sean was told. “He had enough to rescue them out of their impoverished situation.” And sure enough, he did. Within a few months, they had moved to live with him in the city.

It was a nice house, and for the first time in his life Sean had a bedroom all to himself. Food, other necessities and even a few luxuries were no longer a problem. And most importantly, his mother seemed like she was finally happy. Ray made her laugh and he seemed genuinely nice at first.

Ray was an easygoing man with a sunny personality and didn't impose too many rules on the boys, much to Sean's delight. His mother was not really strict and one of Sean's greatest fears was that his stepfather would be staunch disciplinarian. But this was not the case.

They played games together as a family and went for drives and Sean was actually beginning to like his new life. Sometimes he even showed Sean his gun and let him touch it .Sean was bit awed by it but pretended otherwise.

Occasionally, Sean got a glimpse of another side of his stepfather's personality when he drank. It wasn't often, but whenever he did, it was like he turned into a completely different person. He would say mean things to the boy's mother and shout and swear a lot, and Sean would hastily retreat to his bed at such times.

It was on one such occasion that the first incident occurred. It was a Friday night, just a few months after they had moved into their new home. Ray had come home late in a drunken state. His swearing was especially loud that night, as he accused his mother of not cooking what he wanted, the house not being clean enough and other trifling matters.
From his bed, Sean tried to keep his ears attuned to what was going on downstairs, because he was always fearful that Ray would hit his mother during one of his outbursts.

However, he must have fallen asleep. At first, it was part of a nightmare; the hands that tore at his clothing, turning him over. But when the unbearable pain began to surge through his body, he woke up screaming. However, the sound was stifled by the large hand that was clamped over his mouth.

As he tried to comprehend what was happening, he made an effort to turn his face around to see who could be unleashing such an atrocity on his body. The unbearable stench of alcohol greeted his nostrils and in the darkness of his room, he made out the silhouette of his stepfather.

So terribly painful was the ordeal, that Sean remembers praying to die.

“Every time he pushed himself into me, the pain was so much I thought I would die, and when I realized that I wasn't, I prayed to be,” Sean related.

When it was over, his stepfather reminded him that he owned a gun and threatened that if he told anyone, he would kill them all. He also let Sean know that no one would believe him, if he tried to complain on him because of his status at his job.

“I believed that he would kill us because I had seen him in a rage, and I know he could do it'

So Sean kept what he had endured to himself and went so far as to even clean the blood off the sheets, so that his mother would be none the wiser.

Unable to walk properly for the next few days, Sean stayed in bed with the excuse that he had the flu. Checking in on him, Sean's mother believed his story since he was running a high fever; however it was not from the flu.

He also became constipated since he could not have regular bowel movements because of the pain.

“My tummy hurt so much I think I blacked out a few times during those days I was in bed. I just cried, slept, woke up and cried again”.

He eventually got better and went back to school, but he lived in constant fear that the ordeal would be repeated. Sure enough it was a few weeks later, and then a few weeks after that.

Soon the awful nightly visits became the routine whenever Ray drank and even sometimes when he didn't.

In order to better endure the crippling pain of each encounter, Sean soon established a make believe place in his mind to where he would retreat.

The discovery

Sean's mother found out about her son's ordeal one night after she bounded into his room, following many unanswered calls to him.

She explained that she was awestruck, angry and really disappointed about her partner's cruel actions towards her son.

This was communicated to him in a fit of rage and according to the boy's mother, the man was genuinely apologetic about his actions, and promised not to do it again.

She told Kaieteur News that she has decided to send Sean to live with his aunt, since she refused to continue to place him at risk of more abuse.

The woman insisted that that she is not an uncaring mother. She also requested anonymity as a prerequisite for the interview. “People just wouldn't understand.”

She explained that the main reason for her decision was the fact that she felt incapable of financially maintaining herself and children without Ray.

“It's easy for people to judge me, but if I am to leave Ray where would I go? I cannot go back to where I came from and, besides, I have moved my son out the house. It's not as if I have him continuing to live in the same house. This way everybody is happy. Sean can no longer be hurt and my family is still together.”

When it was put to her about the possibility that her younger son may now be at risk, the woman responded, “Everyone makes mistakes and she is giving Ray the benefit of the doubt that he will not repeat the offence.”

Asked why she was not intent on seeing Ray pay for such a serious criminal offence committed on her son, which has the capacity to permanently scar him emotionally and physically, she responded that she does not think that she would be able to face the publicity that would stem from such case.

“It's better this way,” she added, “better for everyone.”

Commenting on his mother's decision, Sean, with tears streaming down his face, related to this newspaper that while he would have liked to remain with his family. He is just happy to be getting away from the ordeal.

According to a senior official of the Welfare section of the Human Services Ministry, the position that Sean's mother has taken is not unique. She related that many women opt to stay with the abusers of their children for economic reasons.

A recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security and UNICEF estimates that between eight and ten per cent of girls and two and five per cent boys in Guyana have been sexually abused. However since sexual abuse is highly under-reported, the survey noted that these figures do not present an accurate picture of the magnitude of the problem.

The surveys found that the most common perpetrators of sexual violence are fathers and stepfathers. In some areas, teenaged girls are being trafficked to work under exploitative conditions, often as prostitutes.

Girls are sometimes pushed by social or economic pressures into sexually exploitative relationships or prostitution.

The most common perpetrators of physical violence against children in the home are mothers. Of the children who reported being physically hurt, 16 per cent had been hurt by their mothers, seven per cent by their fathers, two per cent by both parents, five per cent by related caregivers ( aunts, uncles, grandparents) and three per cent by step parents.

The study also found that as a result of domestic violence, children are exposed to emotional, sexual and physical violence in the home. The primary causes of domestic violence were reported to be alcohol abuse, financial pressures and infidelity.

Last year, a special Child Protection Monitoring Database (CPMD) Unit was established in the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security with the aim of monitoring all cases of child abuse.

This unit arose from an agreement, which was signed in September, 2004, between the government and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for the establishment of the database.

Officials from the unit explained that since its establishment, it has been progressing smoothly in monitoring all cases of abuse and other problems which affect vulnerable children.

The CPMD is aimed at protecting children and adolescents from violence through monitoring and surveillance, and since its establishment has benefited from technical support from the Bureau of Statistics.

The CPMD is the first to be set-up in Guyana and the Caribbean , and will serve as a model for other countries.

It will serve as a basis for monitoring children's issues, and help to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Noting that most cases of child abuse are not reported, the official called on members of the public to report all incidents of child molestation, so these may be followed up in a child-friendly and timely manner.

The government and other child protection agencies have also recognized the need to review and strengthen the child protection services in Guyana .

Each year Child Protection Awareness Week is observed in September and serves to bring awareness to the many problems affecting children, as well as educate on issues related to the protection of children.

“The Ministry has been working assiduously on implementing additional programmes to protect the welfare of children,” the official noted. “We are very concerned about the apparent child abuse and we seriously want to tackle it.”

The Human Services Ministry has also embarked on a massive public awareness campaign, to sensitize the Guyanese people on child abuse.

“We want to get the public at large to make them aware that they have a responsibility to protect children,” the official said.

With support from UNICEF, the Ministry has also established a five-year implementation plan with a two-year start-up and pilot phase. The project costs more than $9m, and will run between two to five years.

The project will address government's concern about the increasing reports of children being victims; and the perpetrators of the violence.


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By Peter R. Ramsaroop, MBA



Last week, we once against witnessed the lack of leadership by the President when he said he would restructure the Army and Police Force upon a PPP/C victory in the upcoming elections. Many in the Government have publicly said there is no need for an Army. Some have even gone as far as bringing the race element into play.

These statements along with the many hours of racial insensitivities being broadcast daily on NCN should become a national warning of what is in store for our nation, if this party gets back into power. We have seen recent attempts to discredit the chiefs of both of the forces, as the first indication of what the definition of the President's promised restructuring would mean.

Most likely, wholesale firing of those who are not aligned to the party politics will occur.

There have been so many free societies throughout history that have succumbed, oft times willingly, to the dictatorship of one man. We have all studied such historical events because it never makes sense as to why an entire country of intelligent and capable people would voluntarily lay their down their rights as citizens, and put themselves at the mercy of a single individual.

This is a phenomenon that should be thoroughly explored by all Guyanese, since we are at a crucial juncture of exactly this type of occasion in our own country.

The situation in our nation is that there is still no peace, justice or prosperity. We have no reason to feel indebted to this would-be-king, who has brought no reprieve from crime, poverty or racial division.

In fact, our country is presently in a state of confusion and on the brink of chaos.
Removing those who do not wholly support a particular party from positions of influence and instilling fear into the people are commonly used methods to sneak a dictatorship into a free country. Saddam Hussein is a modern day example of this method, where fear is used to goad the people into submission to the dictatorial rule. This is a ruthless technique that silences opposition in any fashion deemed necessary and governs with a strong hand. This type of dictator also tends to be more concerned with selfish ambitions like attaining power and money than with the citizens of the country.

One wonders if the President feels that crime will be solved by restructuring the forces. Why then wait until after elections? Is the current crime situation a benefit to the PPP/C so that the President and NCN can continue to blame the entire town of Buxton? Why is the Ethnic Relations Commission allowing the President to make racially charged insensitive remarks, especially to his constituents? Is that commission under the dictatorial control too?

These are methods of dictatorship that are tiptoeing their way into Guyana. Fear is rampant and the people crave peace, justice and prosperity. Our country is weak, beaten down from years of lack and lawlessness, and seeking a saviour from our incessant despair. I beg you, fellow countrymen, do not turn to dictatorship for help.

This is not the answer for our woes; it will just bring even more anguish into our already pathetic existence.

Some may say the political watchdogs of our country are just being oversensitive, but that is the same approach taken by the naïve citizens of Rome before they lost their freedoms forever. In fact, let us examine this subject, based on recent events, to see if one can actually draw a correlation with past dictatorships and what is now occurring in Guyana.

What are some steps taken by a latent dictator? One of the very first measures taken is to squelch the citizens' freedom of speech. But a good dictator will go much farther than that. The outlets for this freedom, such as television stations and newspapers, will be targeted. These outlets will be shut down or intimidated into submission to the controlling despot.

Have we seen this sort of behaviour in Guyana recently? Overwhelmingly, yes! A television station was shut down for speaking out against the government and a newspaper suffered the same fate. Citizens themselves are being sued for voicing their opinions about the administration. We have even seen persons seemingly killed for being anti-government on television stations. I think we can safely say this step has been marked off the list for impending dictatorship.
Another step on the road to domination is to control the educational institutions. It is vital to attain the loyalty of the minds you want to dominate – especially if these minds are independent thinkers who buck the notions of tyranny. If these freethinking minds cannot be acquired, then they must be eliminated.

Another pungent modern example of this step to domination was in 1989, when the government of China , in an attempt to silence about 100,000 protesting students in Tiananmen Square , sent in the military to take care of the situation. What were the students protesting? Inequality and government corruption. They simply wanted a return to the socialist values of equality and the communist government just wanted them to shut up. The result was a death toll numbering in the thousands.


Can we see the controlling hand of a tyrant in Guyana? As a matter of a fact, last year we say where the government chose to step in and impose a Vice-Chancellor of its own liking on UG against the protests of the University of Guyana's wishes.

Certainly, there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that the current administration is attempting to control the minds of the academics of Guyana with the end goal of national domination. Anyone who comes to any other conclusion is just as naïve as the Romans who forfeited their freedoms out of gratefulness – not fear.
However, there may be a portion of the population who can actually see this creeping dictatorship and view it as an opportunity to advance monetarily or to further gain political/social power. These people need to realise that a dictatorship is loyal to no one, as is evident in tyrants like Saddam Hussein, who killed even those who were closest to him if he had the slightest inclination of disloyalty.

These are strong correlations that can be drawn from the last few months to prove that Guyana, unless she fights tooth and nail against the looming storm, is in fact on its way to another era of dictatorship under the current administration.

What can be done to save her? We must speak out. Students, speak out! Mothers, speak out! Fellow countrymen, speak out! Do not allow Guyana to fall prey to the hungry eyes of tyranny. Guyana, free and liberated Guyana, awaits our reply. BEWARE !

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by Peter R. Ramsaroop, MBA,

(Kaieteur News, 21 May 2006)


At the beginning of the year, I wrote a column for this paper entitled “2006, The Year of the People’s Revolution” and one last September entitled “Taking Back Our Country.” Both of these columns described the pulse of our nation at that time. However, the pressure over the last few months has increased the rate of our pulse and now we are more ready to stand firm for justice and equality. As Lincoln Lewis, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress said, “there will be no peace until we have justice.” We all agree!

We have reached the time where the most critical decision our nation has ever faced was supposed to have already been decided. Instead, we have seen the incompetence of GECOM and the dictatorship of the PPP/C in Parliament stifling democracy for which they supposedly fought. One must wonder if it was not all a sham back in 1992 when there was a call for fair and free elections and a clean voter list. Now we are once again faced with the same issue and the very party that fought for it, is now fighting against it. Just like other dictatorships around the world, once in power, the PPP/C now do not want to allow the nation have a fair chance of putting them out of office.

It is time we take our bodies and voices to the places where they can be heard. The Government is turning their back on the options for peace by failing to pursue a clean voter list through verification and by their dictatorial approach in Parliament.

We know regardless of race politics, Guyanese want a free and prosperous society. However, we see indications of this creeping dictatorship all over our land. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on contracts with little or no results and the President continues to put up a front with the private sector in an attempt to buy votes.

I truly hope we do not allow these same politicians to govern us for the next five years.

We the people must now step out; whether by peaceful protests or by the bellows of our voices, we need to let ourselves be heard. History has proven that unless the people want change, it will never happen. If we are satisfied with the current collective quality of life and enjoy things just the way they are, then nothing needs to change. However, if we are unsatisfied with our current state after allowing the PPP ample time to improve the nation, then it is time for us to make our stand.

We have three choices, we can do nothing; we can attempt to do the same thing with more intensity; or we can do things differently. If we do nothing, then we can expect nothing. If we continue to do the same thing, then we can expect the same results. Our clear choice is to seek out a different strategy that will rely on qualified leaders who have the gumption to push our nation into the next phase of progress.

The term “revolution” may send a chill up the backs of some politicians, but we the people want a better Guyana and we are simply tired of the proroguing excuses. We are tired of being used by the government. We are ready to stand up for what is right for our country.

We are also ready to demand a high standard of decency from our leaders. For those who remember the police going into Buxton and arresting 130 males, do you also remember what NCN broadcasted on television? They did not show a single arrest, but angry women wanting their kinfolk back. I wonder what message they were trying to send. Even more recently on the GINA FACT, they were seemingly inciting racial tensions by making statements against the opposition without any supporting evidence.

The people force is necessary now because we cannot allow the continued monopoly of radio and state media and we cannot allow our tax dollars to be wasted by corrupt politicians. In short, we simply cannot continue to have an incompetent government. They have forgotten what it is like to live without food and the necessities of life. They have forgotten how difficult it is to grow a business in a country that has little money to spend. They have forgotten the people who put them in office. They have forgotten Guyana.

Let’s stand up for our rights as a people; it is our democratic privilege and our responsibility as citizens. This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever we grow weary of the existing government, it is our Constitutional right to replace it.

Though we grow weary of our government, we cannot become wearisome in our faith that Guyana does indeed have a future. If we lose heart and falter, then surely our dejected nation will once again plummet into the troughs of tyranny. We cannot lose our will to fight for a better tomorrow. For if we do, we will have sentenced our children to a lifetime of misery and sorrow.

We must protect our republic from every ruse that would subjugate us to one person or one party. We should not give the government a reason to order army troops into our streets, and even more so - Venezuelan Army Troops. Let’s first show we can change our nation by a people’s revolution now, a people force all over our nation then by our votes, when all of the processes are in place for a fair, free and transparent elections. Our hearts are strong and our cause is noble; we can take Guyana back and set it on a course for which we all will be proud.

As I have said many times in various forums, “Down with the lords! Down with corruption! Let the people unite with hope as their beacon. Let us march as One People - to the beat of unity, a One Guyana - peacefully into the streets and proclaim a new era of progress and prosperity for Guyana. Long live Democracy! Long live the People in happiness and peace”

It is time for the removal of the stagnate and impotent government of our failed past. We will no long allow any Guyanese to feel marginalised or inferior. We are all brothers and sisters of Guyana regardless of race or religion.

With the mighty thunder of our voices, the resolve of our determination, the strength of our will as Guyanese, and the fervour of our young generation, we will take back our country and we will overcome. We must and we will. Guyana, our precious Guyana, awaits our triumph.


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