Anti-government leaders and activists Thursday morning jostled with police to protest outside the Marriott Georgetown Guyana where the ribbon-cutting exercise was about to begin to mark the opening of the almost US$60 million hotel.
Holding placards, the small group rushed past police barriers to find their way in front of the hotel moments before President Donald Ramotar arrived. Already inside were diplomats, foreign journalists, top government and private sector officials and other VIPs.
Police officers and other ranks scurried to keep the protesters at bay but with no success. The group of activists included senior politicians such as Ronald Bulkan, Desmond Trotman, David Patterson, Freddie Kissoon and City Mayor Hamilton Green.
Activist Shirlena Nageer was seen evading a policewoman who attempted to prevent her from protesting outside the Marriott’s main entrance.
Green told reporters that he was walking towards the Demerara River to assess the impact of high tides on the drainage of the area. When Green was asked why he was holding a placard, Bulkan interjected and pointedly conceded that they were protesting the construction of the Marriott Hotel with funds from the treasury although there are other priorities. “This is taxpayers’ money that is being used to build this structure…We are here protesting this unlawful structure that is being built. That’s what we are doing here,” said Bulkan.
Green and a number of other persons accused police of obstructing and assaulting him while he was walking on streets for which he has a responsibility.
While President Donald Ramotar was arriving, the group of persons erupted into a frenzy, shouting “three more weeks, three more weeks”- in clear reference to general elections scheduled for May 11, 2015.
Inside, President Ramotar unveiled the plaque and joined Senior Vice President and Regional General Counsel for Marriott International Inc; Brenda Durham. in cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening of the 185-room hotel. “This is, indeed, a very historic occasion for us to have a world-class hotel here in Guyana,” he said, adding his best wishes to the management and staff to ensure that the hotel is a “resounding success.”
Government has touted the hotel as an accommodation facility that is greatly needed for business and other tourists and the holding of major conferences.
However, the opposition has rejected the hotel, saying that its construction by a Chinese company has deprived hundreds of Guyanese employment. The opposition has also argued that there is no feasibility study showing that the investment will be fruitful compared to other needs such as adequate financing of the University of Guyana.