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On this 51st anniversary, GTUC urges all Guyanese to engage in serious thought and introspection. For whereas the thrust behind Republican status marks another milestone in the fight for self-determination, that came with severing all ties of colonial and external control, Guyanese must today stop and ask if the Government (Executive and Legislature) is working consistent with the principle of self-determination as protected in Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution.
Where Government continues to violate said Article with impunity, and half of society feels alienated from involvement in the management and decision-making processes of the State that impact their well-being, republican status, though a national achievement, is devoid of personal gratification. Where President Irfaan Ali speaks about “One Guyana” but treats with contempt the people’s aspiration for One People, One Nation, One Destiny, the nation is under siege by a few political elites and the dreams underpinning our Republic elusive.
Where Government becomes uncaring and unresponsive to constitutional mandates, our Republic is under threat. Where external principalities could dictate what we must have, even if this means violating Guyana laws, transgressing citizens’ rights and freedoms, trampling our time-honoured foreign policy of non-interference into the internal affairs of another sovereign nation, and pursuing policies that do not put Guyanese and Guyana first, the achievements of our forebears face clear and present danger.
Where Government abandons its responsibility to protect the environment and justify excuses by oil giants who violate our space through hazardous practices, putting our lives and health at risk, the Republic and its citizens are facing threats.
Citizens’ rights and freedoms continue to be under attack by foreign capital and the very government responsible for protecting and defending us are acting contrary. No wonder there is widespread despair and hopelessness which must be laid squarely at the feet of President Ali. His administration has studiously put in place policies and programmes to deny and deprive citizens meaningful participation in the nation’s business and the right to work, as employees or self-employed. Celebration must come after hard work and in the absence of purpose, commitment and resilience a people are reduced to mere pawns in the cauldron of self-seekers.
In spite of the aforesaid scorecard, Guyanese will be treated to the customary Mashramani-scaled down due to COVID-19- which is an Amerindian word that means celebration after hard work. It remains ironic many are without work and some due to the Government refusal to enact the Labour Law as in the case of workers employed at the Bauxite Company Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), others lay off due to political retaliation, and many know not where work will come from. Where this universal right, enshrined in the Constitution, is deliberately being transgressed by Government, many will ask what is there to celebrate.
GTUC therefore calls on workers- past, present and potential-to break the mental shackles of deprivation, marginalisation and infighting by redoubling efforts to hold any and every government to account to govern in the interest of all, protect the environment for present and future generations, and that every Guyanese, regardless of race, political association, class or geography is treated with respect and dignity. Until we can all participate in national self-determination our Republican status is endangered.