I wrote this on a U.S Virgin Islands Facebook page, but it can apply to Guyana. As for Guyana, the possibility is there that all that land, all that potential can be taken over by foreigners and it appears it is heading that way considering the prospect of 18,000 new expats coming to the country, the majority of them being white foreigners.
Since writing the piece below and coming back from Guyana, I met with a few Guyanese and the comments were: "I am not going back" or "I don't even plan to go back there to live because...crime, bad mind, no opportunity, etc." I hear the SAME thing from my disapora peers from the U.S Virgin Islands.
What are your thoughts?
Almost without fail, if you ask just about anyone on or from a Caribbean island or Africa what they think about their government or police, you get people who are suspicious and lacking faith in either. The common refrain is that they are both corrupt and incompetent. As for the government, when it comes to money, the local population often concludes that government officials pocket money for themselves at the expense of their people suffering. In places like Haiti, complaints are often made that foreign aid goes missing and never make it to the common people. In Guyana, where offshore oil has been recently discovered, much of the population has already given up hope oil proceeds will benefit them and that the government will steal or squander much of it. On a few islands, people believe the government is selling off their lands to the highest bidder or giving too much rights and access to foreign countries like China.
In the Virgin Islands, time and time again, I have seen people begging for “the Feds” to come to the islands and clean up the crime mess and I have even heard some people in places like Guyana and Jamaica express a regret that they are no longer under the British flag because of lack of faith in their current institutions. Some point to islands like the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bermuda, still part of the British Commonwealth and successful, as shining examples of what other independent Caribbean islands are missing.
I say all of the above as a backdrop for a Devil’s advocate argument. It was a recent conversation I had with someone that got me thinking about this.
There is this spoken or unspoken narrative that predominantly black/brown countries are backwards, with clueless leaders. Supposedly, we don’t know what we are doing and we have poor governance. As stated above, we admit as much. As a result, we give rise to the “white savior” narrative where people like, say, a Donald Trump, can scoff at a place like Puerto Rico as being a money pit that deserve no sympathy. Considering what I said up top, are we unwittingly playing into this narrative? Are we little children that cannot make it in the world without our hands being held? As for the U.S Virgin Islands, in light of the constant lament of government mismanagement, does the bold declaration to seek self-determination, make sense if we can’t even right our own ship? How do we counter the narrative if we are not in any encouraging position to show?