By GHK Lall
As I pause occasionally to ponder the announcement of that presidential candidate, the first struggle is to overcome the sweeping distaste. Nevertheless, I encourage thoughtful, rational citizens to look beyond their disbelief, beyond the candidate, and beyond cult leader control and ask: what if? What if the improbability of ascendancy to the presidency?
What if the actual presidency? Broadly and selectively speaking, hard-earned gains of this government would be lost; the limited ethical and reputational strides will be deliberately and systemically reversed; and boiling racial animosities will intensify in degree and quantity. Specifically, the Guyana Police Force would lose ground through a resurgence of corrupt elements. They are still there; only less blatant, less populous, and less blessed, either politically or administratively; the criminalization of old within the force and on the outside Guyanese world would take root and flourish. Again.
Next, the still resisted, ignored, and evaded anti-money laundering standards and measures implemented under arduous conditions of nuanced noncooperation, sophisticated strategies, and flagrant evasions on the part of businesses and citizens are sure to enjoy a second lease on life. And as if this is not bad enough, the twin sister, Countering of the Financing of Terrorism, is of enormous importance to foreign governments. Reports are that some of that financing can be sourced here. Blacklisting is a real possibility; it did happen in 2017 when gold shipments (then 61% of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings) were banned due to AML/CFT concerns. Thwarting or undermining newly introduced oversight standards would enjoy a return to form, as was the case under the old government; it was where the hog of the funny money was made. It promises to be no different, with more cash pilots and jets and secret hangars. The beneficiaries (as before) would be the friends, financiers, and followers of the last government; they salivate over restoration under the umbrella of progress and development Phase II. This is part of what holds true if that “what if” situation occurs.
Then, notwithstanding the vigorous efforts of the Commissioner General, it is predicted that tax fraud in his domain; and land fraud, contractor fraud, and that skillfully ugly world of countless other frauds in other places would be exhumed and infused with lifegiving oxygen by such an incoming presidential administration. To complement all of this, the rotten and rat (ish) bureaucracy will make a comeback with renewed daring to exploit as in the free-for-all days of the previous government; the rural, the unattached, and the unlearned will have to pay prices. This is merely a fraction of the kind of presidency promised, the plethora of perversities that lurk to ambush. Those, who expressed so much psychic conflict over that candidate selection, will have the opportunity soon enough to choose if this is the kind of governance mechanism desired.
These are among the aspects of what I urge the brood of media scorners, quiet party discontented, loud disparaging swath of the PPP base, and society at large to appreciate that will surely follow. Currently, the leading men form a duet; there is waiting for the unveiling of the third stooge to complete with what is sure to embody political, chemical, and pathological imbalances further enfeebling this struggling society. The circus would be complete. In the midst of these bizarre developments, one has to wonder, if matters would distil once more to the long practice in this country of public critiquing and cursing, followed by the private casting of the ballot for any strawman presented. And then, there would be that multi-billion-dollar nightmarish scenario: what follows? Given the greed and history of the leading players, it cannot be any way other than as I predict this day.
To be clear, I am beyond concerns about this puppet or that master. I understand the risk of and specter of a socialist (communist) regime here; another over there in Venezuela; and the supreme socialist Putin ruling the roost of likeminded from his growing Russian Empire. Thus, a huge Putin in Russia, and a little putty Putin controlled by a scheming Rasputin right here in Guyana. Today, that is a secondary concern. Instead, the focus is on the character, strain, and quality of governmental administration that is expected, and as was delivered before; as was exposed and denounced by many domestic and foreign agencies before; and as was evidenced by the kingpins, queen bees, and alpha predators of a monstrous criminal class that stitched itself into the sinew and bone of this society. If this is what the wailing, now querulous Guyanese voters (especially the protesters within the opposition party) wish for, then it is theirs by the deciding and the voting. This time the ravages promises to be at double and triple strength, as there is much stored energy (and currency) straining to be let loose. Phantoms, too. Rather ironically, and savagely so, the main pillars in this country are also among its leading plunderers and betrayers, be they political or commercial.
As is now incontestable, that no-confidence motion in December crash-landed this nation in the middle of a dangerous unmanaged crossroad. Now this opposition’s presidential selection in January piles on the still smoldering wreckage, compounding the chaotic. Therefore, every citizen is compelled to examine his or her conscience and soul to ask: what is of supreme importance: party and power? People and progress? And last, country and the character and standards it could project, and what such could mean or an enhanced quality of living? The soul-searching and deciding are theirs. But already the permeating odor is of arrangements and expectations that this thing is wrong. And that things will not be right or bright.