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Independence is the freedom of self-determination – the freedom to exercise the rights given to us as a people and recognized internationally as fundamental rights without restriction or oppression. At this 56th anniversary of Guyana’s independence from Great Britain, we continue to ask: have Guyanese been truly independent?
The central tenet of independence is freedom to elect our own leaders by a fair and democratic process. There must also be freedom of expression and freedom of the media so that we can be objectively informed of events in order to develop fair opinions. There must be access to justice, with an independent judiciary and police force, enforcing laws which are fair and predictable.
Independence is impossible without the possibility of financial self-
determination on a level playing field of equal competition in business and adequate pay in the workplace. We endured rigged elections which have deprived us of the right to democratic self-determination.
Both large parties, while in Government, have maintained State media for propaganda purposes; using revenue to prop up the Chronicle and NCN media houses to spout the government line and using oppressive methods to scrutinize and punish the independent media withholding Government advertising and radio licences. For over two decades, the two large parties have failed to agree on the appointment of a substantive Chancellor or Chief Justice, undermining the independence of the judiciary and creating an atmosphere of intimidation and political interference in the judicial system. In the past two years the Government has failed to appoint a Judicial Service Commission or a Police Service Commission. Instead of creating a fair and transparent economic environment to encourage independent business enterprise, the Government has awarded contracts on a family and friends basis.
It has artificially propped up GuySuCo using State revenue, and has spent billions in cash handouts which cannot be accounted. Most recently the Government has created out of thin air two thousand public service jobs in Essequibo, just another form of cash handouts. These measures do not foster financial viability, but instead create dependence on the Government for handouts, so that the beneficiaries of the gravy are silenced by the hand which feeds them. They have been silenced. On this Independence Day, let us reflect on
what true independence means to us.
A New and United Guyana