We have lost Mark Benschop and Gerhard Ramsaroop
You feel lost, lonely and resigned when you think that this country has no functioning human rights body. We have on the books a constitutional Human Rights Commission that “superb, excellent, brilliant, democratic” presidents like Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar were never interested in implementing (God knows it irritates me when these two gentlemen criticize the present leaders for incompetence).
Our so-called caring current government which promises the good life (by raising tax on donkey and horse drawn cart owners) have not even vaguely alluded to this constitutional body since it came to power in May 2015.
Guyana has no functioning consumer protection organization. I rang Lincoln Lewis, the other day after an employee of Bounty Supermarket complained to me that the staff do not get a day off because the supermarket chain doesn’t open on Sundays. Lincoln says that in such a situation, there has to be extra pay after the five days a week work, meaning the company has to pay extra for Saturdays. I didn’t see the worker again to ask if Bounty does pay extra for Saturday duties.
Under the law, a worker has to get a day off in the week once he works Monday to Sunday. Employees at the Sheriff Street supermarket “Survival” told me the day-off was given every two weeks. That was early last year. I raised it with the owner’s son who administers the Sheriff Street branch. Workers now tell me they get a day-off each week. There are horrific industrial violations all over this country and I don’t see the TUC and FITUG investigating.
There are two organizations that I find comical – the Bar Association and the Women Lawyers’ Association. Whose or what rights they protect? When Mark Benschop lived in this country, his energy combined all those organizations. He was a one-man machine. I heard people say that Benschop embraced human rights causes because he wanted publicity.
And who were saying this? Three kinds of fools–the first type hides under their mother’s petticoat to write an anonymous letter to the press; the second type would urinate in their trousers if a ruling politician points a warning index finger at them or if a policeman looks sternly at them; and the third kind are those who will spend the rest of their lives not caring to do even for a moment what Benschop did for years.
Benchop is gone. In a telephone conversation with him, I suggest he stays in New York and educate himself. He is studying law. His absence is bad for Guyana. This country needs the energy of Mark Benschop. His law study is good for Guyana. We have 1120 lawyers here and only one name stands out as someone who would do a free appearance for a lost soul – Nigel Hughes. One day Benschop will return as a lawyer and brighten the face of someone who needs help in the courts.
Guyana lost a politician for the future who is different from the jokers that rule us at the moment – Gerhard Ramsaroop. I campaigned with Gerhard in both the 2011 and 2015 elections. He has a fantastic rapport with ordinary folks both rural and urban. I don’t know what happened with Gerhard in the AFC but he resigned a year after the 2011 general elections.
It was a huge blow to multi-racial politics. I honestly think Gerhard had that touch to cross the deadly, dangerous and demeaning racial barrier in this desolate, dehumanizing country.
I really don’t have the factual details as to why he fell out with the AFC but I saw his importance as a multi-racial politician during the two election campaign and on the trail to explain to rural Indians why the 2012 national budget was cut by the opposition AFC and APNU. It shows how worryingly shortsighted the leadership of the PNC is.
Gerhard Ramsaroop had political capital. The PNC desperately needs credible Indian politicians. I couldn’t understand why the PNC leadership didn’t reach out to him. But maybe the PNC, PPP and the AFC do not need transformers.
I don’t think with their kind political culture they will ever touch a Benchop or a Ramsaroop. I always think it is unbelievable that after the 2015 victory, given his political and academic background, Dr. David Hinds was not officially asked to take up a meaningful post in Guyana. Gerhard migrated to Germany last February where his mother, brothers and sisters are. He is gone and Guyana’s politics is poorer. If the political players that we have move off the scene in 2020, I hope there is a place for Benschop and Ramsaroop. But that is just wishful thinking.