Opposition parliamentarian disagrees with boycott calls against Brooklyn businesses

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 April 2024, 19:22 by Writer

Mr Jermaine Figueira

Opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) parliamentarian, Jermaine Figueira at the weekend disagreed with calls by New York-based Guyanese political activists for a boycott of certain businesses in Brooklyn that welcomed President Irfaan Ali.

“Boycotting Guyanese businesses “we own” people in a foreign land is just plain stupid. How is that going to achieve anything good?,” said Mr Figueira, an outspoken executive member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR). He argued that there was no need for “self-hate” at a time when there are hundreds of foreign-owned supermarkets popping up across Guyana.
He warned that boycotting Guyanese-owned businesses serves as a detriment to entrepreneurship, employment opportunities, and economic growth within the diaspora and in Guyana. He cautioned that a boycott could back-fire on the ability of overseas-based Guyanese to send back money for their loved ones in Guyana. “Many of our countrymen, women, and our economy benefit from remittances received from our diaspora,” he said.
According to Mr Figueira, those businesses are often the backbone of local economies, providing employment opportunities, goods, and services to the community especially our fellow Guyanese, giving them a piece of home. “By supporting these businesses, we contribute to the economic prosperity of our fellow Guyanese and foster a sense of collective empowerment,” he added.

Neither the PNCR-controlled APNU nor the AFC has added its voice to calls for certain businesses in New York to be boycotted, but Mr Figueira said President Ali’s recent visit to Brooklyn underscores the importance of engaging with Diaspora communities and recognising their contributions to national development.

He advised Guyanese in the Diaspora to “reject such a boycott”, amid suggestions that refusing to support businesses is a way of holding the Guyanese leader accountable for alleged injustices, discrimination and abuses. Instead of a boycott call, Mr Figueira recommended that there be advocacy for dialogue, and constructive engagement as the path toward addressing all grievances, and matters of interest to respective communities, and our country, and fostering an agenda for prosperity for all.
The opposition legislator said rather than fostering division through “myopic and irrational foolishness” Guyanese must strive to “build bridges that connect us and promote understanding and collaboration.”

“Guyanese boycotting Guyanese businesses is not by any stretch of the imagination, a rational or constructive approach to one’s fellow countrymen on account of their actions that may have provoked real or contrived offence. Instead, we must promote dialogue, engagement, and peaceful activism as means of effecting positive change. By engaging in open and respectful discourse, we create opportunities for understanding, reconciliation, and progress,” he said.

He said holding President Ali’s administration accountable for alleged injustices requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond boycotting their businesses. He said it necessitates engaging with policymakers, advocating for policy reforms, and supporting grassroots initiatives that address systemic issues such as discrimination, injustice, inequitable distribution of state contracts, and human rights abuses.
Instead of perpetuating division through boycotts, we must channel our collective energies and resources toward initiatives that uplift marginalized communities, promote economic development, and create pathways for social mobility,” he added.