Guyana and the drug trade
The drug trade is pervasive. It has reached every section of the society with the result that one can now see splendour among poverty. In the city there are buildings with North American architecture going up among others slowly collapsing because their owners simply do not have money to rehabilitate them. To the casual observer, the constructions reflect a developing society in which businessmen move to expand their businesses. The truth is that money is not at a premium and anyone who undertakes massive constructions must have an alternative source of funding. The drug issue is of significant consequence to this country. Guyana has many cocaine addicts so the sale of drugs in this country can now be considered a major issue. A perusal of the records in the United States would reveal that countless Guyanese are being arrested almost every day for conspiring to ship cocaine and even marijuana into the United States. They appear in the various courts with such regularity that lawyers who recognise Guyanese in the courts would ask them if they are in any way connected to the people on trial. Scarcely a day goes by without a Guyanese appearing in a court in Brooklyn or in the federal courts of Manhattan on drug-related charges. We are sure that the situation is no different in the southern states where large numbers of Guyanese reside. During the past few years we have learnt of the novel ways in which people ship cocaine to the United States and Europe. We have had people charged with shipping cocaine in alcohol, fish, lumber, molasses, mints, and even in ochro. The ingenuity can be deemed remarkable. The perpetrators have been arrested and charged. The image of this country as a haven for drug traffickers has been further enhanced and no one has really been charged for dealing with large volumes of the drug in this country. The United States has more record on Guyanese drug traffickers than we do and this should not have been the case. We should have been in a position to provide information to the foreign authorities. The authorities would complain that they cannot get information because people do not talk to the police. But almost 60 years ago the very Americans taught us that we could catch the most serious of drug dealers on tax evasion. All those who put up the towering structures should be made to reveal the source of their income that would allow them to build the structures they erect. The investigators have from time to time announced that they were investigating people. In our opinion, and this has been proven over time, this is nothing but talk. We have so far failed to hear or read about anyone being prosecuted for tax evasion although every major country sees Guyanese as notorious tax dodgers. Money laundering is the order of the day, and those tasked with correcting the situation are weaker than we would ever have imagined. It may be that the authorities have given up on seeing Guyanese walk the straight and narrow. Guyana has essentially become a free-for-all. Guyana can now be aptly described as ‘gool’, as is popular in playground parlance – a place designed for untouchables. One school of thought is that the drug dealings have helped stabilize the exchange rate and have helped create employment in this society. Others say that the drug dealings have placed Guyanese in such a bad light that they are disrespected by most countries in the region. But the bottom line is that ill-gotten gains do not really help a country since the people who control the ill-gotten gains would have no regard for the lawful authority and anarchy would prevail. We know that many of the police ranks have been compromised and we know that many other sections of the society cannot now interdict any drug dealers. As frightening as it sounds, it is only a matter of time before the courts are compromised and then we would perhaps find ourselves isolated from the rest of the world. Remember that playground name?