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The African proverb “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm” rings true in the extant geopolitical, political and military circumstances in which we, in Guyana, find ourselves. In another column, I will deal with the wider geopolitical context in which Guyana is now situated, and the importance of its emerging oil and gas sector to the global community. This week, however, I will comment on a few enemies within our nation that continue to keep us backwards, poor and weak.
For decades civic- minded Guyanese have been bemoaning the fact that the PPP/C government has not been demonstrating the quality of patriotism and nationalism necessary to keep Guyana and Guyanese safe, and to lift our nation to a plateau of strength, pride and greatness. It is true that, under the political leadership of the PPP/C, in every period, of it being in government, the state has become weaker. Certain constitutional bodies and state institutions were either decimated, or restructured to fit the selfish partisan political convenience and purpose of that party and its cohorts. For the PPP/C running the government appears to be a money- making affair with great emphasis on the award of contracts to friends and families of the regime. The government pays very little attention to nation- building, prosperity for all and security of our motherland. It demonstrates a high level of disloyalty. This way of thinking has infected the collective civic- consciousness of the nation to the point where many of the social, economic, environmental and political values, we once held dear to ourselves, necessary to build a strong nation, have been badly compromised.
One such value is civic education in our schools and other institutions of learning. It took the escalation of the border controversy between Venezuela and Guyana to shock the leaders of that party into seeing, not necessary understanding, the importance of such matters in our schools, and, generally, in our education system. Even then, last week, the activities, in schools, aimed at highlighting the importance of Essequibo to Guyana, were put together in an ad hoc manner, and did not get the national attention they deserved. If those activities were part of a national public relations campaign then it fell far short of creating a sense of belonging and patriotism; it failed to foster an environment of civic duty and national pride. It seems as though very little thought and a similar amount of financial resources were put into this day of activities. The government spends billions of taxpayers’ dollars on things which can be considered low priority. I wonder what was the quantum of resources given to schools and other related agencies to promote those activities. I wonder too what has happened since that day; what programme has been put in place to continue educating our children and students about our national inheritance.
While the PPP/C regime is busy entertaining itself, calling a Member of Parliament “low- life”, and trying to prove that it is democratic when it is clearly an authoritarian regime, the aggressor is busy strategising, miseducating and misinforming its citizens about our Essequibo. Theirs is a deeper policy and program to influence their citizens to action. But the PPP/C appears to be very comfortable holding press conferences, at the end of which journalists have very little to report on. The interplay between this clear demonstration of disloyalty and lack of focus facilitates a certain weakness that allows that bellicose bully- Venezuela- to believe that it can continue to occupy our land. I deliberately used the words “continue to occupy” because the aggressor has been occupying a part of Ankoko since October 1966. Yet, this government failed to engage its mental faculty to be more proactive in its planning to cater to the civic education of our citizens.
The other value is national – defence. This government has been allowing Venezuelans into this country without a proper vetting system. The government does not know exactly how many Venezuelans are in Guyana. Worse, the government does not have accurate information on many of them (place of origin in Venezuela, occupation, criminal records, etc.) because it does not have a proper vetting system. In fact, some of those already here could very well be military officers of the Venezuela Army.
This lapse is inexcusable, particularly in circumstances where these migrants are coming from a country that is an imperial aggressor who wants to take over more than sixty percent of our country. Even so, with all that has occurred within the last few days, the government has not even taken steps to close our western border to prevent settlement invasion. A similar situation to the one in the Middle-East- Israel in Palestine, and Crimea and Russia. The PPP/C government is good at bad governance.
Then, there is our army- the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). Of the hundred billion plus dollars the government has withdrawn from the National Resource Fund (NRF), an infinitesimal amount has been spent to kit and equip our soldiers and related personnel tasked with defending our country. It is pure commonsense that in the face of an imperial aggressor, the government must use a significant percentage of the nation’s wealth to protect our territorial right and integrity; otherwise, it would eventually lose the source of that wealth. But there is noticeable greed among leaders. They spend the nation’s money as if it were their personal credit card on projects that do not really improve the quality of life in local communities but put money in the hands of their cronies, friends and supporters.
Disloyalty, unfaithfulness to the motherland, compromise of our high national values and greed are the enemies within. If we do not arrest and destroy them then the enemy without- that imperial aggressor would think that he could invade and take our birthright from us. In order for us to destroy those enemies within we must remove their host- the PPP/C.
Long Live Guyana!