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Commendations are in order for Village Voice News. This newspaper- which started an online edition last June and today has become a hard publication is emerging at a time when there is disquiet that some mainstream media have grown intolerant to dissenting and alternative views.
Given that ours is a fledgling democracy, comprising diverse peoples and history, but with a single aspiration of One People, One Nation, One Destiny, the views and well-being of all are of equal import if we are to peacefully coexist. Village Voice News is my third residence as a columnist within the last six years. I was first with the state-owned Guyana Chronicle, which I joined in 2015 shortly after the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change coalition was elected to office. The column was terminated in March 2018 by the political elites, using the false pretext that the newspaper was “rebranding [and] would like to focus on new areas which require specialist interventions at [that] time.” In fact, they became uncomfortable with my views as I sought to hold them accountable, in the people’s newspaper, to good governance, upholding the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all citizens.
I subsequently joined Kaieteur News at the invitation of its publisher, Glenn Lall. That relationship was terminated by me in July 2020 because I no longer felt comfortable, as a columnist, in an environment where such public acrimony was being encouraged. Making that decision was not easy because it came at a time when I felt my voice was most important to Guyana, when all were required putting their shoulders to the wheel, and every son and daughter of this beautiful country were required to give of their talent, their services, for the heart and soul of Guyana. I found it difficult to satisfy that obligation with the censorship imposed that contradicted the principles that I have fought for all my adult life. Principles that dictate the fundamentals of right and wrong, good and bad, evil and righteous.
Throes of electoral impasse
In July Guyana was in the throes of the electoral impasse. The Guyana Trades Union Congress and yours truly were among the voices calling for the protection of the integrity of the vote as outlined in the Constitution of Guyana and electoral laws. This nation was witnessing these being trampled on by forces, local and international, with specific agenda. The judiciary was caught in the crossfire, and in my opinion, were forced to make rulings that compromised the integrity of the vote. Whereas my views on the court’s decisions are public knowledge, including the decision by Justice Claudette Singh, Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission, who declared results she stated had “grave irregularities” which were unearthed during the recount exercise, the 2020 declarations are recognised unless overturned by the court.
We are living in crucial times. We are witnessing situations where right is wrong and wrong is right depending on who does or says what to whom, when, where and how. In the corridors of power, decisions could be made that trample the tenets of good governance, independence of the judiciary and other constitutional offices. The environment has become toxic, strained and too polarised. Laws and human rights are being selectively upheld.
I have repeatedly said, as a trade unionist, I have permanent interest not permanent friends. Said interest is nurtured on the universally acceptable principles of creating a just society. These principles remain sacred in the fight to enforce the constitutional political system of “inclusionary democracy,” i.e., involvement of individuals and groups in the management and decision-making processes of the state that impact their well-being, equitable access to the nation’s patrimony and respecting the rights of all.
My column has found a new home in Village Voice News and I invite you to join me in the fight, first waged by our forebears that we are now duty bound to pick up.
A better society
We the people deserve a better society. We deserve better from the Government and better representation from the Opposition. We deserve trade unions and leaders who appreciate that our primary role is to serve the members who elected us. We deserve trade unionists who put aside personal differences and join hands in solidarity to make sure workers- past, present and potential- are justly treated and rewarded. We the people deserve a civil society that advocates based on conscience and recognition that justice and rights are integral to national unity, the development and well-being of all.
Finally, we need media that would allow for the elevation of national discourse, respect universal truths, diversity and recognition that they too could play a constructive role in nation building. Society needs the help of the media, now more than ever, and the voices of those unafraid to call a spade a spade, in order to protect, strengthen and advance our democracy. Congratulations to Village Voice for wanting to carve such a niche. As for me, I shall continue to keep an Eye on Guyana, hold all accountable, including Village Voice News and myself and let the chips fall where they may. (The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily that of this newspaper