by Zena Henry
Last year Guyana was identified as having the highest suicide rate in the world and the south-western region of Berbice claimed lead role. However, the inhabitants of Region six want this changed. Supporting A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition, as they hosted another widely attended campaign rally, this time in New Amsterdam, the town wants the opposition party to aggressively attack not only suicide but the scourges of domestic violence, joblessness and economic hardships in the region.
The region’s very own Nicolette Henry-a Pharmacist, explained that women and girls are disproportionately affected by domestic violence. She said at the current rate, there is no telling who would be next. She emphasized that Berbicians need “a government that will make women and girls a priority,” and, “develop a comprehensive multi-sectoral response to address violence against women and girls.”
The pharmacist spoke to those who have lost hope due poverty and joblessness. “We have to reduce poverty, eliminate violence and exterminate suicide. Our youths need to be empowered, educated and employed.”
“As we speak to the young people, poverty and joblessness have beaten many of them down and this has been associated with a constellation of consequences such as overcrowded houses, physiological disorders, family disillusion, teenage pregnancy, school drop outs, violence, crime and drug abuse among others.”
Those factors, Henry said, perpetuate the disadvantage of generations and are the direct consequences of structural disadvantage, “created by a government that has disconnected itself from the masses.”
A former member of the town’s regional council, Shawn Smith said that New Amsterdam has been stifled. “The PPP/C –government has marginalized our township. They have treated as though we are an outcast; there are no jobs, there’s no future for our young people.” He urged for better schools and opportunities.
Attorney- at-law Charrandass Persaud also claimed that Region Six, under the current government, has been neglected. Before mentioning the ‘slap and strip’ incident that caused Health Minister Bheri Ramsaran his job, Persaud said that the people must get the PPP out of their lives because, “these people are desperate…” He said the Coalition’s unity is something the PPP/C never wanted; “that which can put Guyana on a road to success.”
When the Coalition’s point man on Finance, Carl Greenidge took the podium on Saturday 2, he whipped the government on the destruction of the country’s human and natural resources.
Greendige who has been accused by the ruling party of destroying Guyana’s economic viability under the PNC-government was adamant that the populace is “tired of the ‘tiefing’, abuse of our resources and our people… corruption, secrecy, lies and misrepresentation.”
He said that the PPP/C has saturated Berbice with untruths such as no housing programs being available in Guyana before 1992. Greenidge said that without even looking to Georgetown, housing schemes pre-dated Jagdeo and the PPP in 1992.
Relating to education, Greenidge said they claim that only 32 percent of the people had access to education, “but in 1860 Guyana and Barbados passed legislation for universal education, and our education-until the PPP made a mess of it- were amongst the highest in the whole region,” creating some of the best scholars, doctors and economists, he said.
Greenidge said when PPP took office the country had many Guyanese pilots, but a recent trip into the interior saw him travelling with an American pilot. “They inherited an airline that was made up entirely of Guyanese, and today thanks to their policies we have chased our Guyanese away and now have to import Americans to fly us around.”
At the New Amsterdam Stelling where the meeting was held, Greenidge said Guyanese made the ships that docked there. Today Guyana is importing boats from China. Greenidge turned his attention to the Berbice Bridge saying that “the government is discussing with the toll company to raise the toll. That is why Ashni Singh has given approval for the company not to present its audited accounts to Parliament.” He said the company’s 2012 accounts have not been laid, “because they want to give the company the opportunity to hide their figures and after election… they will then raise the toll.”
Greenidge then spoke of numerous projects which the government has embarked on such as the Hope Canal, the Specialty Hospital, the Marriot Hotel, CJIA expansion among others where the government continues to squander resources.
He pointed to money from the Petro-Caribe rice deal and the NIS being pumped into “illegal” projects; preventing citizens from reaping the returns from these agencies.