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Our leaders have failed since independence, Guyana is functioning well below its potential

Dear Editor,

Independence, Democracy and Development: Political Independence in 1966 was supposed to be a major breakthrough for Guyana, with vast untapped resources, arable virgin land and less than a million people. Our local political leaders were supposed to prove to Guyanese, perhaps even the former colonialists, that they were indeed up to the task to do better than their predecessors at governing the nation.

The unfortunate reality is, our political leaders proved and are proving they are not up to the task of governing effectively, even though they claim to rely on using the democratic system that allows for elections, and even though they claim to have some sort of blue print for socioeconomic development. No one needs to rehash all the sad episodes that have led to our country being the laughing stock of the Caribbean, but it helps if we can simply highlight the fact that, despite various slight improvements under the PNC and the PPP since 1966, Guyana is still functioning way below its maximum potential.

As we observe, rather than celebrate, our 40th Indepen-dence Anniversary, I must ask: Are we really independent, politically and economically? Are we really a democracy despite having elections? Are we really developing despite all the plans and projects in place? These are sobering questions each sane minded Guyanese should quietly ask himself or herself.

Shared Governance: That Guyana is a failed state has been argued and disputed for some time now, but is it not safe to say that we have failed politically to bring about racial harmony and unity? I think so. And because of this political failure, our move to self-governance in 1966 has not paid off, thereby giving rise among some to a call for a move towards shared governance. But is shared governance the best solution?

If the two major political parties 'running and ruining' the country can stake their very existence on pandering to ethnic insecurity and engage in sub-human behaviour to get their own way, why should Guyanese believe they can suddenly work together? Such a political marriage of convenience is bound to end in a divorce if only because the two can't get along as friends right now. But given their failure and the despondency in the land, maybe the people should vote on this issue.

Generation Next: If there is one group, outside the two major ethnic groups, that needs to be seriously addressed at this juncture of Guyana's history, it is our youths. I want to refer to them as 'Generation Next'. They were not there when we gained independence, so they had no clue what life was like back then. However, while what they are seeing is all they know about life in Guyana, they know in their hearts that better can be done.

That is why they need to use this year's independence observance in conjunction with the pending elections to start making changes in the way Guyana is being governed. We still do not know what percentage of eligible voters are youths (18-25), but it won't be surprising if they represent a significant number who can and should make a difference.

I leave them with six helpful steps in their bid for a better life in Guyana: 1) Recognize your present state, 2) Refuse to continue living in your present state, 3) Reason that you can do better than in your present state, 4) Reach out to a source that can really help you do better than in your present state, 5) Remain with your source of help until your present state is past, and 6) Remember those still less fortunate than you and resolve to become a source to help them build a better life for all in Guyana.

'Generation Next', this year's 40th anniversary observance is being commemorated with you in mind.

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin

Stabroek News