Venezuelans doing the jobs, Guyanese already behaving like Kuwaitis
Observations are of strange, though not unexpected, developments in the outlook and behaviours of a small, but growing, number of citizens. I have heard and know that it is characteristic of some nations when the oil starts to flow. Already, I sense that Guyanese have trapped themselves in that same unhelpful, unconstructive place.
As soon as word came that oil was on the horizon, Guyanese were on the move. Regrettably, it is not the kind of movement that takes them anyplace positive. Amidst the hullabaloo and howls for local content presence and depth in the oil business, a segment of the local content beneficiaries has started to turn things on their heads. There are reports that on bustling Regent Street, the low-level locals are passing orders, with loud commanding directions to others. In these instances, it would be Venezuelans, who come looking for work; they are willing to do anything, most times for any price.
As a former immigrant myself, I am familiar with being without: without food, without a settled place, without work, without prospects. Thus, there was readiness to do just about anything in an alien land to make ends meet. To do the dirty jobs, to obey fools, to follow the rules, to pay dues. Stated differently, I was prepared to do the things that the natives were not interested in doing. Just like some Guyanese are not prepared to do anymore. There was biding of time, while planning for and envisioning a better day, for there was one thing that almost all striving, ambitious immigrants are blessed with, and that is with abundant hope.
There is the hope that tomorrow will bring better, but that today it must be grin and bear and deliver. That is what the Venezuelans are doing for less, through bringing more to the table: more energy, more focus, more devotion to the tasks at hand, and without a word of objection. The complaints and objections are now the realm claimed by Guyanese, who are about barks of ‘do this’ and ‘move that’ and ‘step up’ and ‘hurry up’. Ah, the good life, the sweet, thickening viscosity that comes from the crude flows beneath the waters. Even at this early stage, with no cash money trickling down to the peasants, they are behaving like Kuwaitis. Perhaps, some will dispatch some Venezuelans to vote for them on March 2nd and protest for them afterwards, if they do not like the result. But the mischievous part of me makes me wander.
Leave Regent Street (and Robb and elsewhere) and head over to the wharf at Meadow Bank, and it is the same enlightening story of Guyanese on the ascendancy, and Venezuelans in determined action. There is the latter on the receiving end of English Language directives (from those who may barely be able to read their own name or write a sensible sentence) to increase efforts, to speed things up, and keep the paying customers going and coming.
Tasks that previously Guyanese used to fight over, they now parcel off to our foreign neighbours. I have been startled bystander and eyewitness to some of those arguments and fights; the homemade weapons were visible, sometimes unsheathed. Now that is a circumstance of the past. Cleaning and filleting freshly caught fish are now below Guyanese workers, they hold their noses, manicure their nails. They pass those jobs on to the hungry, helpful newcomers, of which they are many. They do not say no, they do not refuse to do anything.
Move over to a construction site, particularly private ones where houses are being erected, and the workers are Venezuelans. There is a little twist to this situation, in that the Guyanese spending their hard-earned money to build have little to no faith in the skills, dependability, and work product of the Guyanese workers they find, or who are recommended. They have many a sorry tale to share on that score. On the other hand, the Venezuelans that answer the call are the opposite: they work long hours, they put in quality time, they produce high quality work, and they are around on the day(s) after payday.
These are a few areas that have crossed my attention. I am sure that there are more. With local unemployment at high levels, the few available jobs are already being scorned and distanced from by some of our local brethren, who have come into their own. Or think that they are going to, now that the oil keeps filling those tankers.