|Thanks to James for this wonderful article !! |
By Felicia Persaud
Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Fri. Apr. 28, 2006: “I grieve … Your land is vast, full of plenty and your people hope. What tragic fate has betook you and left you barren. Of love, of the beauty and the freedom of existence.”
Those words from renown Guyanese poet James C. Richmond came back to me on Saturday April 22 as I woke like many to the horrific news that four more nationals – including a government minister – were senselessly slaughtered in the South American nation. The news came on the heels of the many other killings in recent weeks, that has put the spotlight on this country of less than a million people.
Murders like the Ronald Waddell execution, the Gazz Shermohamed killing and the bloodbath of February that took eight lives in one night in a tiny village on the outskirts of Georgetown, the country’s capital, have all stunned the nation.
But the Satyadeow Sawh, Rajpat Rai, Phulmattie Persaud and Curtis Robinson murders left many especially bewildered, since for the ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic, it hit so close to home.
I never knew Sawh, Waddell or Shermohamed, or the many more whose lives have all been taken coldly and callously by bullets. But for me, the reports of the horrific killings took my mind back to a dark period in my life in Guyana, prior to the Desmond Hoyte rule, where many lived in fear of ‘kick-down the door’ bandits, that robbed, raped and killed often.
I especially remember the infamous leader of the bandits, ‘Eyelash,’ who brought terror to the East Coast of Demerara and of the many vigilante groups that were formed in many communities by residents to help protect their families. I can still see the many steel doors that popped up all around houses to prevent such attacks and I can still hear my father detailing to me in military-like precision, the plan of assault and my role should our home be attacked by the terror squad.
Luckily we never were, but I know countless others who were; many of whom left Guyana almost immediately after, vowing never to return.
So contrary to the many comments and emails I’ve seen flashing around this past week, terror in Guyana is nothing new. What is new, however, is the sophisticated weaponry and tactics of the criminals, boosted no doubt by the lucrative drug trade that’s spilling over from neighboring South American countries.
And the economic plight of many in the country is providing the fuel for to rapidly make its way across the country. With many in the civil service and tactical services units so vastly underpaid, fast, easy money is no doubt tempting and it’s causing many to dismiss a human life as coldly as they would a chicken that they rear for a meal.
So what should be done? First off, the government and the opposition must desist from using these killings as a political ploy. There is no time for selfish politicking. This is a national crisis of enormous proportions that can only be solved by bringing in international help, especially to neighboring Brazil and Venezuela, while working together to devise a national strategy.
And targeting one specific area of the country while the government and the police throw around wild theories of a political terror plot is not a solution. The rising crime rate in Guyana is a social scourge of enormous proportion not some air brain scheme to steal the government. If that were the case, the entire cabinet would have been taken out already.
When Hoyte took over the government in 1985, he reinstated the death penalty and took a significant bite out of crime. Similar radical steps must be taken to send a strong message to those who take innocent lives without care but it must be substantially boosted by international firepower and aid.
Once these criminals are found, the death penalty that’s on the books in Guyana must be implemented to send a clear message that such cold-blooded assassinations will not be tolerated. Let’s get real please, identify the problem and not continue to be blinded by race and politics.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is publisher of The Caribbean World News Network (caribworldnews.com), the only daily Caribbean Diaspora newswire.