July 28 ,2021
Over the past five years, I have never seen so much fear. People are afraid to criticize the government; they are afraid to correct situations within their control. An example of the latter involves poorly constructed roads.The government issues a tender and some contractor wins the contract. These days, just about everybody would swear that the person who wins the contract is handpicked by the government. So this person undertakes the job. Within weeks the road deteriorates—even before the period of liability kicks in.
But no one would say anything because as far as they are concerned the government is vindictive. People have been known to write letters complaining about a situation and not even signing a name or putting an address on the letter.
The local newspapers would tell anyone that most if not all of those letters end up in the wastebasket. When I was an active reporter, people would call to say that they had sent in a letter and that it wasn’t published. On enquiring, I would learn that the letter had neither name nor address.The caller would then admit to writing the letter but would still decline to give a name or an address.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo recently visited Leguan Stelling where some works are being conducted. Among his first words when he confronted the contractor was, “I hear you are APNU.”What has a man’s political affiliation got to do with anything? That is a rhetorical question. Everyone knows. If you belong to the political opposition you will eat the bread that the devil needs. But that is only a small reason for the fear.There are people who believe that they could be killed for being too critical of the government.
Grey Boy, who was recently freed of the murder of Courtney Crum-Ewing, actually said in open court that someone sought to recruit him to kill Mark Benschop.Why? Because Benschop was a staunch critic of the government. He spent five years of his life in jail on a treason charge that couldn’t hold water. The preliminary inquiry was stacked against him. The state hired Anil Nandlall and Sanjeev Datadin as special prosecutors. They were highly paid and as a measure of protection, they lived at Pegasus.At the trial in the High Court, one juror, despite the arguments of the other jurors, refused to vote ‘not guilty’, It was back to jail for Benschop. Attempts to get the requisite retrial was like pulling teeth. Priya Manickchand and Anil Nandlall challenged the decision on the ground that cases should be heard in chronological order—that is—heard in the order they are disposed of in the magistrates’ court.The Court of Appeal struck that argument down.
In the end, it took a discussion between Robert Corbin and Bharrat Jagdeo to allow Benschop his freedom. This is one of the reasons that people are afraid. They fear that they could end up in jail at the behest of the government, and remain there until the government decides that the detention is enough.The other day Glenn Lall, Publisher of Kaieteur News, did a programme entitled a 27-year journey to fearlessness. He claimed that since his advocacy against the oil contract Guyana signed with Exxon Mobil people have been reaching him and urging him to be careful and to watch his back. The threat was not veiled.He spoke of the bombing of his printer in Eccles, the killing of his workers, and the visit by gunmen to his office, all during the tenure of the PPP administration. He spoke of his fear and the financial attacks.
He said that many people fear for his safety. Why should that be? It is not nice for any society to see its government as an instrument of death against its critics. And the government is not doing anything to quell the people’s apprehension.
But then again it may be in the interest of the government to have that aura. But why was this not the case during the tenure of the coalition?For the first time, I have seen criminal charges against such a large number of public officials. It seems as though they are being charged for just about anything. For the first time, I have seen a confrontation between the government and a service commission.
Some members of the commission have also been charged, criminally.
And so we come to the case of the public official who shot a woman in her abdomen. He has not been charged although there is evidence of abuse. The man and the woman were said to have shared a relationship. It would seem that this public official has a political cover.The woman remains in critical condition in hospital but the shooter has not been placed before the court. Wonder what would have been the case if the shoe was on the other foot.