Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Guyana is a country of diverse ethnic groups, each with its own history, culture and identity. However, this diversity has also been a source of conflict and division, especially along political lines. The recent presidential election, which was marred by allegations of fraud and violence, exposed the deep-seated racial tensions that still plague Guyana’s society. The gruesome murders of the cousins, Joel and Isaiah Henry and Haresh Singh created reprisals that threatened to escalate into a full-blown ethnic war. The government of Guyana instead of acting swiftly and decisively to encourage justice and bridge divides, turn out to be the purveyors of racism and division in Guyana.
Racism is not only unconstitutional but it is a moral evil, and it is a fundamental illogical approach to development. Racism undermines social cohesion, human rights and democracy. It fuels hatred, fear and violence that can destabilize the country and endanger its citizens. It also hampers economic growth and prosperity by creating barriers to equal access to opportunity by all. Racism discourages foreign direct investment and tourism that are vital for Guyana’s development, especially considering its newfound oil wealth. Racism also erodes trust and cooperation among different groups that are needed for effective governance and nation-building.
The government of Guyana must cease its mind-numbingly stupid approach to development using the tools of racism and discrimination. Every citizen deserves equal rights, equal justice and equal consideration in every way regardless of their race, ethnicity or political affiliation. The government must commit to upholding the rule of law and ensure that their handpicked leaders in every department across the country similarly commit to equality and justice for all.
Then there are the matters of the Mocha atrocities, the killings of Courtney Crum-Ewing and the extrajudicial killings of hundreds of young African Guyanese. There is the matter of the unjust arrests of Roxanne Myers, Keith Lowenfield, Trevor Benn, Heath London and many others. In any civilized society, institutions must be respected, and murders must be brought to justice swiftly and impartially. Will this ever happen under the PPP?
The government of Guyana must also engage in dialogue with all stakeholders, including the major opposition, trade unions, civil society, religious leaders, media and youth groups, to promote reconciliation and healing among the communities affected by the violence. The government must also implement policies and programmes that foster social inclusion, education and awareness on diversity issues. The government must also ensure that all citizens have equal access to public services, resources and opportunities.
The people of Guyana have a role to play as well in combating racism in their country. They must reject any attempts by politicians or other actors who seek to exploit racial divisions for their own gain or agenda. They must resist any incitement or provocation that could lead to further violence or hatred, but if the government continues to oppress African people, then they have a moral obligation to resist.
Any government of Guyana must embrace diversity as a strength rather than a weakness and encourage respect the various cultures and identities in Guyana. Guyana has the potential to become a model of multiculturalism and harmony in the Caribbean, South America and beyond but it is unlikely to happen under the PPPC government. Racism must be eradicated from our society. It is not only wrong, but also irrational and counterproductive. It is time for Guyanese to unite against racism and work together for peace and progress.