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Too many Guyanese adopt the stance of the proverbial ostrich and are only too willing to stick their heads into dark holes while pronouncing that the many cries of inequality and racism spiraling around the country are but a figment of the ‘complainers’ imagination. Notwithstanding, if the truth is told, ever since August 2020, the advent of the Ali administration into office, there have been strident calls for the containment or elimination of inequality and discrimination, a sore point among the Africans who are most affected by such draconian incidences. Even amidst such allegations and the overwhelming evidence to substantiate the claims the Jagdeo/Ali led ruling cabal continues to debunk these allegations.
Equality and non-discrimination are the core of rights guaranteed by international human rights organizations and unquestionably, international law and international human rights have their genesis in the desire to ensure that those who administer the state apparatus and the government treat all citizens with some measure of equality and non-discrimination regardless of their origin, political affiliation and circumstance.
The principles of international law, moreover international human rights law, allow for affirmative action to favor historically disadvantaged groups to regain their strength through greater equity, equality, non-discrimination, and access to natural resources. The laws pertaining to equality and non-discrimination are enshrined in our constitution and their application carries huge benefits in the reduction of inequality and discrimination through the fair distribution of resources and benefits.
Despite such clear-cut guarantees, there exists a woefully inequitable and unequal distribution of developmental benefits. In every area, Indo-Guyanese are the greater beneficiaries and are ofttimes awarded the greatest proportion of government contracts.
The nation expects regular updates from those sitting in the seat of government in order to understand and/or appreciate the government’s efforts to create the type of opportunities that benefits all citizens. Instead, citizens are browbeaten into acceptance of positions and policies that defy their intelligence.
Instead of structured, civil, information-based press conferences, VP Jagdeo chooses to use these forums to harpoon specific African leaders and/or groups in what is oftentimes a ‘buse down’ forum. He organized one of these on Friday, December 9, 2022, and insinuated that contrary to allegations leveled at his government, Afro Guyanese failed to tender, or their tenders were not deemed responsive for government contracts. Given the grave inequity and discrimination in developmental benefits, it was expected that VP Jagdeo would have offered a solution rather than adopting an ad hominem approach in diverting from the issue to heap ‘hot coals’ on Messrs. Patterson, Hinds, and Hughes, claiming that they should be hauled before the courts for redress in some of their allegations leveled at his government.
The cries of Africans are real and not delusional nor a figment of their imagination as Jagdeo wants people to believe. Indeed, there is incontrovertible evidence to support the accusations of discrimination. The deceptive tactic of awarding a few trench cleaning contracts coupled with the distribution of peppercorn handouts will not suffice and certainly will not wish away the realities. Then there are the bully tactics employed by the executive including verbal assault on ardent critics, and the disruption of social cohesion within communities. These strategies will not resolve the problem which dictates a more cohesive approach involving the implementation of genuine measures to urgently address this unjust position.
Unfortunately, the inequitable and unequal distribution of the nation’s patrimony will inevitably lead to rebellion on the part of the disenfranchised. Both Jagdeo and Ali are singing the swan song, “Show us the proof.” Indeed, the evidence clearly uncovers the bare reality that over the past two years a greater proportion of Indo-Guyanese amassed significant wealth. Conversely, a greater number of Africans experienced marked income reduction. This calls for immediate attention and possibly strong coercive action because, if left unchecked, the extant situation will lead to the further emasculation of Africans.
The preservation of the African culture and their well-being are directly linked to their economic health. Their inability to earn livable wages/salaries has resulted in lower academic achievement among their children coupled with poor health and the nurturing of families in dysfunctional communities. The situation has resulted in increased social problems and threatens the viability of our communities and the long-term survival of African Guyanese.
Traditionally, Africans were employed primarily in public service and disciplined services. Even a surreptitious observation will uncover the bland reality that Indians are the preferred employees in public service over the past two years. Further, there was an exponential increase of African employment in private security jobs and other blue-collar employment.
The extant conditions do not allow for the creation and growth of intergenerational wealth by Africans but serve to hasten the destruction of their culture and promote inter and intra-communal conflicts. The situation is further exacerbated by the unadulterated propaganda being fed to citizens of African communities. Unfortunately, Africans do not control the mass media which limits their ability in the dispensation of news content.
The deliberate attempt at emasculating African Guyanese is repugnant and will not be accepted. The African community and ‘other’ supporters must collaborate and demand that the Ali administration urgently address the problem by honoring the intent and spirit of the constitution. Moreover, developmental benefits must be allocated in an equitable and equal manner if we are to progress as a nation. Finally, naysayers and propagandists must immediately cease miniaturizing the issue and pronouncing that it is a figment of Africans’ imagination.