An op ed written almost two years ago. As one now sees the marked improvements to the capital after only a few months, one can be more assertive in assuming that the neglect of the city by the previous administration was deliberate. But to what end?
November 28 2013
The recent flooding in the city should have crystallised in the minds of even a moderately politically conscious observer exactly what the PPP Government thinks of Guyana’s capital.
A night of rain, and Georgetown was immediately inundated by the traditional blame game. The execrable Guyana Times chose as its headline not a story about the suffering of the average city dweller but rather an article that wildly claims the business community wants the City Council out. No business people are named. Never mind. The Mayor retorts from his crumbling tower that the Town Clerk is actually in charge ..blah blah. It stank worse than the dead dogs that were floating down Regent St.
What is really going on? What is really going on? Well first consider this. Hamilton Green has been in power for almost 20 years. If a poll was taken now he would almost certainly have a zero approval rating. He has no political support to speak of. Certainly the government has played a nasty passive aggressive game with City Hall. They call for Green to go, starve him of funds to truly run the city, but have allowed the status quo to continue. So why then does the PPP persist in keeping him there? Perhaps they want him, and by extension the APNU, to look bad, to show they can’t run the city so surely THEY could never run a country.
That is a well worn if reasonable analysis. But it does not seem to be enough of a reason. After all the capital is a national embarrassment and thus its condition hurts the government politically. And when one considers the aspects of the city they do have control over they have also failed. Take public transportation for example which after 20 years is even more chaotic and dangerous, or law and order as it relates to trunking and muggings, where there has been no improvement.
Now a cynic might say those two issues help to reinforce the stereotypes held by some PPP supporters about how dangerous the city is and that this helps to maintain their fear and by extension their loyalty to the party. Actually that’s not cynical at all.
But perhaps there is a truly cynical even malevolent strategy at work here, of reinforcing stereotypes within the city dwellers themselves. After all if one lives in a pig sty long enough, after a time one might start to think one is a pig. Amid the chaos of everyday life in the poorer Georgetown neighborhoods, might one not simply start to blame oneself? Especially if the government media are hammering away about how dirty you are, how you don’t take care of your children like other folks, or how your community is riddled with fictional gangs. Might you even start to blame yourself for being poor? Not like the dynamic successful role models creating jobs for the nation, the real patriots? Where is YOUR entrepreneurial spark?
Now to counter this, one needs to step back and see that Guyanese are really no different from any other people on this planet. No they are not uniquely lazier, more lawless, more criminal minded, or drunken than any other humans. Sorry. How do we know this? One only has to take a Guyanese out of Guyana, and he or she fits right in, gets a job, and largely follows the laws of the country they have migrated to. Indeed most are very hardworking. In short they are like any other immigrant.
So if it’s not the people, it has to be the system. It has to be the way the society is formulated (or not) that makes the people of Georgetown, indeed of the whole country, behave in certain anti-social ways such as littering or driving like lunatics. Minibus drivers don’t drive like psychopaths on purpose; they’re hustling to make a living. Mothers don’t beat their school children for fun. They do it as much out of frustration at their own miserable lives.
Indeed it does feel at times as if this city is one big lunatic asylum, full of angry, listless people. And that is just what this government wants. The PPP is not so much interested in transforming the city into one big mess in and of itself, but rather to create the conditions that would utterly destroy the morale of its inhabitants. To make life so hard for them, that they become worn down, at times violent, broken human beings. It is a politics of demoralisation whose end goal is to destroy the spirit of a people so they could never feel they will ever be in control of their lives let alone their country.
And the only way to combat this strategy is to first understand exactly what is going on. To look from above and realise that the people’s erratic lawless behaviour is not their fault. Then you have to vote the PPP out of office and build a new city, indeed a new country which holds the welfare of all people above the filthy greed, the rank grasp for power of this government. It is they who are rotten, they who are dirty because they have dragged this once beautiful city and its people into the gutter, all in the pursuit of money and power.
(Gordon Moseley photo)