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Revelation by the United States (U.S) based think-tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), that 30,000 plus Guyanese migrate from Guyana every year should serve as a wake-up call. The alarming statistic tells a sad story about the human capital Guyana is losing. No society can develop without its people (human resources). Guyana is not a nation without vast land, arable soil and rich natural resources; it is a nation floundering around for a vision and sense of self.
Guyana’s development is being hamstrung because there seems to be no clear vision for the country and its diverse peoples. Instead, tremendous energies are expended on divisions, vendettas and greed not the good of the people. Where there is no national vision the future is uncertain. Apart from the friendly immigration policy of other countries and family sponsorship, it often feels as though Guyana’s migration is forced and those who want to leave will exit.
The role political leaders play in fostering the sense of hopelessness cannot be overlooked because they are the ones responsible for shaping an overarching vision, providing and withholding opportunities. They are the ones making the laws and involved in the daily management of the state. It is the political leaders who play a major role in citizens’ quality of life through taxation, allocation of money for education, health, salary, security, infrastructural development, etc. They determine how investment will take place and who will be allowed to benefit or be deprived. They foster the environment for cohesion or division.
No wonder the CSIS found immigrants blame “difficult economic conditions, a tense social and political environment, a weak educational system, high levels of insecurity, and an inefficient healthcare system” as push factors. Guyana’s politics is stupid. The stupidity often dominates, wreaking havoc on the masses, sustaining ethnic tensions and divisions as politicians are allowed to escape accountability. They get off the hook from preventing the problems in the first place and fixing what they have created.
Guyanese are not devoid of intellect and continue to demonstrate the capacity to stand out on the international scene. But when these born Guyanese, having benefitted from a foundational education here, seek to return and share their knowledge they are slighted by the politicians.
Guyanese feel pride when our own scientist Dr. Vincent Adams, a petroleum expert with an impressive résumé, served at a senior level in the U.S Department of Energy. However, when he chose to return and offer that First World knowledge to safeguard our environment, in the new oil and gas industry, he was removed by the Irfaan Ali administration. The disregard for Dr. Adams’ knowledge is not unique. Others, but not limited to, who faced similar responses from the Government of Guyana are, Dr. Jan Mangal, Carl Greenidge, Dr. Richard Van West Charles, Trevor Benn.
It was learnt the COVID-19 cocktail treatment that saved President Donald Trump’s life, the clinical trial was spearheaded by a born Guyanese, Dr. Moti Ramgopal. In academia, they are the likes of Professor Lynden A. Archer, who is Dean of College of Engineering at the prestigious Cornell University, making waves in his field.
There are Guyanese all over the world, imparting their skills and labour in almost every field of endeavour. They are expending energies improving the quality of life in other societies and making those countries better, not ours. These are skills if Guyana could only tap a portion, life will be better at home. Instead, the diaspora is often valued as a source of revenue but not equally deserving to help develop their birthplace beyond remittance to loved ones and contributions to political parties. Many can share their stories of rejection and insult in response to advice and critique if they offend the political elites.
At the same time, it cannot be ignored that within the migrant population are some who enable the very things they fled from once their party is in office or their race harms or deprives another. These migrants are equally culpable for the caustic political environment and under-development here. And though the diaspora’s input is always welcomed and should be valued, it helps should they never forget the rights and freedoms they enjoy in their adopted countries are what Guyanese at home seek.
Where the think-tank has not only sought to understand the problems but is equally invested in solutions such signify well for Guyana. The initiative to create a local and diaspora alliance is badly needed. Therefore, it is welcoming news the CSIS has promoted such an initiative with a vision that “should be based on a comprehensive digital strategy to harness the human capital within the Guyanese diaspora as a resource to be tapped in Guyana’s development.”