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By GHK Lall
I found myself thinking of the troubles of Princess Meghan Markle with the British royal family. The American-born Princess Meghan, herself from the darker side of the demographic tracks, and more than several rungs lower on the class bar, has had her hands full with how she speaks, how she times her appearance, even with what to wear. The African American Princess, probably in itself a contradiction, ‘stumbles’ included her choice of tiara. It had to be quickly relayed to the young, brash newcomer that that would not do where the Crown Jewels are concerned. The problem was that it would clash with royal protocol and how things like these are done, certainly not Princess Meghan’s way.
I use that example about British royal protocol, to draw attention to what goes on in dear old Guyana. The settled protocol here today is that when leaders in the PPP Government speak, no one else should dare open their mouths, and no citizen of this democracy should have the audacity to utter a word that goes against. This is regardless how distant from reality the President may be in his pronouncements to maintain his unending propaganda lines.
The President says that Guyanese are benefiting from this oil wealth, but he neglects to mention those who are making out like Bill Gates and Mukesh Ambani, and those left choking on the dust and the noise of all this oil related activity. While the President hits high notes on the building of hotels (almost all over), he overlooks that some money laundering is part of the mix, and dangerous for this country. As the President propagandizes, he conveniently forgets to mention that the jobs he speaks of from those sectors, and others, are of the bottom feeding level, and represent the new servant class in Guyana. Moreover, the building craze in the hospitality sector is nothing but the beginnings of separating the hordes of incoming foreigners from the dirty, smelly, sickly mass of natives. The only Guyanese to be seen around outsiders would be those shining their shoes and polishing their car doors, among similar menial offerings. Our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have foreigners waiting on them hand and foot because of their oil, but here we are doing those waiting duties for those coming in to exploit our riches in a variety of upstream and downstream activities.
When any Guyanese shake off the shackles and press against the onslaught of this kind of propaganda from President to the Palace Guard of voices standing at the ready to rush into action, they are chopped off in midstream, with strenuous efforts made to overwhelm their messages that convey the real story, the true reality, of oil Guyana. Like Princess Meghan in Jolly Olde England, the ‘Stop’ signs come out, and icy glares rise to the surface. The problem for the PPP Government is that no Guyanese with a conscience, and a small sampling of honesty in him or her, is bound by any such protocol. Truth and accuracy are what hold water here, and it is not the kind that the PPP Government and its agents work around the clock to stuff down the craw of citizens. The Government is never short of hired guns, or media channels, through which to stream its versions of what must stand and against which no disagreement will be allowed.
In the continuing streams of propaganda and the sprawling perversities that result from them, there is the Vice President. All things considered, he may not be as smooth as the President, but he is a proven heavy hitter where mincing truths is concerned. I have encountered some good ones in my travels, but if there is ever a need for someone to take down a bewitching propaganda dance, the Hon. Vice President must be first choice. I read and watch his oil management practices, and it is apparent that an oil salesman is in action, a used engine oil (used cooking oil) salesman has been born.
The Vice President is Guyana’s best pitchman covering up, or red herring distracting from, Exxon’s oil predations. Look at what has become of the EPA, and one has to go no farther. Guyana’s Vice President has transformed into a walking, breathing, 24-hour commercial for Exxon’s draining Guyana’s riches and interests. His position is compressed into a phrase that he favors heavily: investors must get a return that compensates for their risk. Agree. But I disagree that the returns must be so many multiples for the risks they are taking, and what they cart away. Any Guyanese hear any shareholder of Exxon cussing out Guyana? Any citizen can remember the United States Ambassador expressing alarms about American interests being given a hard time in the local oil arena?
Her Excellency doesn’t have any grounds for such bad feelings when the Vice President is now a composite of such American oil strongmen of legend, as John D. Rockefeller, Carl Icahn, and T. Boone Pickens. The trouble is when a few Guyanese, like this one, straighten up and say wait a minute Dr. Vice President (and Dr. President), things are not as they are being said. There is a world left out; and even what is presented has a lot of holes in them. Take that Wales gas-to-energy project, the price keeps spiraling (double presently), but the projected cost of cheap electricity stays the same. Plus, the trusted studies that form the basis are either still pending, or simply don’t exist.
Now, other Guyanese can swallow the PPP propaganda outpourings, and stick to protocol, by accepting blindly and live with dumbly. That has its own people, and they will pay for their silence and the mounting costly perversities. The President and Vice President are having fun at the expense of Guyanese, with an army of self-enrichers at beck and call to spread the message, that they are the best, and all is well. Sorry, but please leave me out of the census.