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2020 is behind us. It was a year some prefer not to remember as others celebrate. The year recorded the deadliest pandemic seen in a century. The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has taken its toll and many Guyanese were either directly affected or knew someone who was or loss their lives as a result of. While the disease is still ravishing lives the production of more than one vaccine to combat the virus offers hopes for many. At the same time, it cannot be overemphasized there is no cure for the virus. Citizens still need to follow COVID-19 guidelines of social distancing (6-feet apart), washing hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer, and wearing a mask when in the public.
2020 was the year of one of Guyana’s most turbulent elections. An election that was held on March 2nd was not declared until August 2nd. The prolonged period was the result of allegations of irregularities in the count, court challenges, foreign interference, ballot boxes without statutory documents and marred by violence unleashed on fellow citizens, including children and the police, by supporters of the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
The A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change Coalition demitted office based on the results declared by the Chief Election Officer, who in his report stated he cannot vouch for its credibility.
The change of government saw hundreds terminated from employment in the public sector. These persons were primarily African Guyanese. The Alliance for Change referred to this cleansing as ethnopoliticisation by the PPP/C government. Ethnic tensions and divisions bubbled to the fore and many may say were not it for God Almighty these could have spilled over to open conflagration. Repeated calls by the Coalition leaders for supporters to remain calm in the face of provocation also played a role in de-escalating the tensions.
2020 was the year when Guyana was rocked to its core by hate crimes in September that resulted in the badly mutilated bodies of teenagers Isaiah Henry and Joel Henry on the West Coast Berbice. A few days later teenager Haresh Singh’s murdered body was found in the same area. The year ended with the case unresolved and seeming disinterest by the Government to collaborate with the Guyana Human Rights Association in having forensic experts from Argentina aid in solving the crimes.
At the beginning of 2020 Guyana became an oil and gas producing nation. This has since seen many rushing to our shores for economic opportunities as average Guyanese are still to ascertain how they can benefit. At the end of the year there was no Local Content Policy to facilitate such accommodations and interest even though the Government knew in advance Guyana will start producing oil from January.
The above were some major national events. But in each of our lives there are stories, some happy and some not so that made 2020 a year to remember or forget in whole or part. Old Year’s night for many did not see the customary ball or party and getting all dressed up for the event to usher in the new year given COVID-19 restrictions. The customary church services also changed with some going virtual. But none of these will stop the customary New Year resolutions from being made.
In spite of it all, 2020 proved that Guyanese are resilient and resourceful people. Undoubtedly 2021 will not quell but heighten this disposition. Every Guyanese has a role to play to make Guyana better, to realise inclusive governance, justice and equality for ourselves and fellow citizens. It is a role not to shirk but embrace with zeal and passion.
The Village Voice was launched in June 2020. We thank you readers for staying with us on this journey of changing the Guyana media landscape for the better by speaking truth to power, giving voice to the voiceless, holding the government and opposition accountable, and articulating the people’s reality, regardless of. It is our 2021 wish that you not only stay with us but spread the word and invite others to like our page and become part of The Village Voice family.
Prosperous and Happy New Year!