Eye on the Issues by GHK Lall
Politics, crime, and violence in Guyana: is there a nexus? Is there a history? Is this the reality? These are sure to be provocative, even unwanted, questions. They still must be asked and explored.
It has been said that choke-and-rob banditry had its origins in the stormy strife-political, racial, social-of the pre-Independence period, and became entrenched immediately after Independence. The victims were mainly of a particular hue, and the perpetrators mainly that of another. The GPF came in for its share of condemnation: disinterest, sloth, bias, and no relief. Experience and commonsense alone provided sound basis for the thinking of the victims, as to the origins of their plight with immovable emphasis on political targeting.
Rightly or poorly, the decades of fear, brutality, and psychic as well as physicaldevastation, are encapsulated in the aforementioned solitary fast-moving paragraph.
Not long after, the choke-an-rob of the streets was eclipsed by the rampages of kick-down-the-door of homes onslaughts. The beliefs and claims of political source, political ugliness, and political orchestration strengthened considerably. Delusional or damning? The latter has had widespread currency and irrefutable traction, especially in the minds and communities of one segment of the populace.
And then came the 21st century.
There was this new fantastical phenomenon labeled the phantom squad. It multiplied. Ownership and sponsorship are still debated publicly; but known privately in relation to fingerprints and blood group. Once again, there is unyielding sentiment-this time from a different segment of the citizenry-as to political partnership, political arrangements, and political schemes. Such sentiments have near zero contestability. It is where suspicion has mutated into perception and perception into settled unyielding truth.
Soon enough, the progression went from phantom squad(s) to a one-man killing machine nicknamed ‘Fineman.’ There were others. Everything under the sun, including the Lusignan Massacre (13 butchered, including babies) was pinned and the now departed Fineman. Silence and solutions are sometimes mutually reinforcing. I seek leave to differ. From all appearances, some old killing machines are still on the loose and new ones poised.
The guilt of dead stone killers might be in doubt; but there is absolutely no doubt as to the presence of an immeasurable quantity of sophisticated weaponry in the wrong hands; and that criminals have benefited from a once largely absentee police force, a collaborating justice apparatus, and a porous prison system.
Meanwhile, the defensive political proclamations ranged from the nebulousness of ‘isolated gangs’ to the sturdiness of ‘a few rogue cops.’ Clearly, the reality has proven to be everything to the contrary. It is what has spawned, through official neglect or involvement, and the law of unintended consequences, the mayhem prevalent today. Many may argue that it is not so unintended. This is given further societal traction when the 2002 breakout and the just recent developments at the Georgetown prisons are considered; the related violence is certainly characteristic and gives serious pause. Already the whispers of political presence slither into public consciousness.
So where are we?
The entire nation is under assault, thanks to the machinations of different political powers at different times, which have brought all to this dangerous pass. The techniques, tools, and participants on the ground might be new, but the political generalship is as old as the republic, with precedents and superseding developments bringing weakness and vulnerability.
Directly or indirectly, deliberately or derivatively, this is the bloody evolution of the lethal whirlwind harnessed, sowed, and channeled in political era after political era. And now it is harvest time. Once again! The violence is killing confidence and initiative, and with those citizens, too; there are no innocents, only victims. Last, there is little by way of discrimination, only the stalking selectivity of bull’s eyes on the haves and the have-nots.