Last Updated on Monday, 9 May 2022, 11:39 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
On this the eve of the one-week anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, attention is drawn again to that joint release by the ABCEU people on the ground here. It was not just what was said, but how it was said, and placed before every Guyanese. As I weighed the words of the diplomatic release, there is appreciation and admiration at how these lovely folks get their messages across. In sum, the release was graced with the subtly elegant, an indirect bluntness, and nuanced impatience. I zero in on one part of a single paragraph only of the statement, and then five tiny, ordinary words that are familiar to Guyanese, and which are all loaded with meaning. The extract from the paragraph comes first.
“Press attention to accountability has never been more important in Guyana with a historically large revenue stream entering government coffers and a regularly stated intent to use those resources for a development agenda that cuts across all regions and races.” Though officious sounding, for some reason, I am reminded of the intonations and echoes of one Margaret Thatcher, in the crooning rhythms of its delivery, that peculiar way in which the Iron Lady articulated. That aside, the five words that I highlight are: “accountability”, “revenue”, “agenda” “regions” and “races.” Regarding the latter two, the joint statement prefaced them with “all.” Now for my thoughts on the guidance offered by the ABCEU, the directions in which they propel our goodly journalists.
First, it is instructive that the highly influential (and knowledgeable) Western diplomatic community could see it fit and proper to urge our press professionals to scrutinize closely the areas encircled by those five words. This tells me, insists to me, that there are hard and heavy concerns over either their significant absence or the shambolic contexts in which they exist. As I interpret it, the ABCEU are saying that accountability is not as the PPP Government says it is, but a lost cause that Guyana’s press pros must peer into, pore over, and push for more. In short, accountability is just not there, and the ABCEU just gave our lazy and biased journalists a nudge, more of a hard shove. Get after it is the order. Peel back the accountability onion layer by layer, no matter the President’s waffles, or the Vice President’s rage, and lay bare for all the world to see what is there, and what is not. And the price to this country of lack of accountability. Guyanese who go by the name, and operate under the flag, of journalism must do the job demanded by the times, or seek another profession; instead of journalists, I suggest juking it out on social media, which may more befit the talents and prejudices of most of them.
Second, accountability is irreversibly tied to the second and third words I purposely selected. They are “revenue” and “agenda.” Indeed, we are poised for great and greater streams of oil revenue, but the key is what the PPP Government does with those mammoth money streams. This is where journalists worthy of the name must make their mark, record an unflinching presence. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) have the sickness of PPP and PNC prejudices; only stalwart professionalism, the sturdiest of Fourth Estate principles. These have no friends, entertain no disastrous leanings. What I heard the ABCEU proconsuls advising is that Guyana’s journalists make it their unswerving duty to get to the heart of money (revenue) and the PPP Government’s agenda. By now, all should note that I persist in identifying the government as PPP only, for it is no other. Cut out this nonsense about ‘C.’ It is that there must be a steel thread that knots accountability, revenue, and agenda into one unyielding mass. In all of this, the charge to journalists is that they must work their tails and toenails off to ensure that those three little words must be about Guyana. In other words, the PPP Government must be held responsible, regardless of pushback, fallout, or its leaders’ usual resort to scurrilousness.
Third, as if to confirm my take on what the ABCEU did counsel, the Excellencies felt it necessary to incorporate all “regions” and “races” in their joint statement. Their key emphasis is on all. It must not be one Region primarily (Berbice), but that of Linden too. It must not be in regions long known to be PPP strongholds, but across the board, such as the sprawling, objectionable Region Four. It must be about generous doles to hinterland regions alone (as overdue as such is), but throughout the nation. As far as I can recall, Venezuela has not claimed any of the other neglected areas, or seized those regions. All is not what has been, and the ABCEU heads are alarmed.
Fourth, I gather that the inclusivity alarm that was sounded before by the “A” people (USAID) meant something, and here is that monstrosity again. Well, according to the PPP, anyway. The PPP head may not like this, but he did fall in love with “free and fair” from the same people in his time of need. Now subliminal messages are being sent. To local journalists first. It is pick up thy bed and walk. Walk the talk, or get out of the kitchen, if the heat can’t be taken. The second message is to His Excellency and the VP. I read it this way: get a hold of selves. The wrong road is being taken in every aspect of these five words. Diplomatic speak doesn’t have to be over the heads of Guyanese. If it did before, it should be no more. I just cracked the code with my own Rosetta translation stone. Properly copyrighted, of course.