Guyana Politics: I sense this is the calm before the proverbial turbulence – By GHK Lall

  Letter By GHK Lall

It is quiet around here in the political straits and the desperate political shoals.  Things are very subdued, almost to the point of muteness.  Sometimes I wonder if I have lost my sense of hearing and powers of observation.  I do sense, though, this careful marketing civilizing business involved in the very crucial matter of political self-reinvention.  With so much at stake it is worth more than a try.  It could not come at a more opportune time, too.

Everybody has to be on their best behaviour and they are: the language is temperate and thoughtful.  Eggshells come to mind.  There is this rarity in political Guyana: every word and phrase is subject to cautious screening and tense analyzing for any undesired misinterpretation, anything resembling the outlier of the unintended.  

That will not do; not good for either continuance or resurgence. It is taking political correctness into unheard of, unseen, and unwitnessed atmospheres in the locality.

I think that the government has a head start on sounding more mature, more patient, more understanding.  That is part of the advantage of being in the driver’s seat of power.  It is one that is milked for all that it is worth.  Government can afford it; there is the luxury to appear to be wise, to be statesmanlike, to be the epitome of unruffled tranquility.  And all the while without saying much of substance.  Not to be outdone, the opposition and its senior people have ensured that it is not behind the times or the programme of political self-reinvention.  There is studied lushness to speech these days; careful parsing of expression and a certain leanness of posture.  I trust that it will be enduring all around.

Here is a very particular standard now prevailing.  Nowadays nobody other than that cohort of unwashed critics (a minority of minorities) is bashing ExxonMobil.  Nobody has come out and railed against the extraditing of citizens.  No political stalwarts (mostly long in the tooth) are coming out and blast the United States for even the appearance of its machinations in Venezuela.  This is the new religion of reinvented and self-reengineered Guyanese politicians.  It is a pretty picture: where all parties through their public princes exhibit the requisite humility and pay due recognition to those external forces that will ultimately be the signal callers and decision-makers.  Yes, the buck does stop there.

Across the board, there are these reengineered, reburnished images, refined demeanor in and out of parliament, before a press pushing for an irresponsible thought, an errant slip of the tongue.  It is nothing doing.  The media walks away disappointed; the trail has gone cold.  No panegyrics.  Nothing that could be construed as controversial in the least.  Nothing to print but newborn political epiphanies.  This is boring, but calculatedly so.  It is so bad as to make me long for the bad old days of heat and brimstone syntax, and mild churchgoing postures.  Every day is Sunday in Guyana today.  Just take a close look.

Local politicians are all dressed up: might not be Savile Row or Armani attire; Brooks Brothers are close.  Dress to impress is the new motto.  And utter those words that are sure to be heard.  I hear them.  About constitution and CCJ and no-confidence and electoral lists.  And if I hear all of that; then, without a doubt, the watching, listening, diplomatic corps is paying even closer attention.  Nothing is missed: words and body language and sincerity of all concerned.  They are very good at bringing all kinds of interpretations to the table; of detecting clues in tea leaves and hidden agendas.  And lest it be forgotten, the big dogs have big bones in this contest.  Oil is a big power interest, of course.  But so, too, are efforts concentrated on combating trafficking, laundering, and financing.  All citizens should know of what.

In my book, I sense this is the calm before the proverbial turbulence.  It will be from the moment that the bewildered CCJ pronounces.  Bewildered that amazed and amazing body is, as someone told me the other day that the CCJ described Guyana as “a mystical country.”  I suppose I could stretch things a little and interpret that to mean that all of us are now mystics; indeed, trapped in a strange world of, to put it kindly, political eccentricities.  As much as I struggle to adopt the best face, all I end up with is that there is a loaded phrase, if ever there is one.  I find absolutely nothing mysterious nor complimentary in those three carefully chosen words; they cover much ground, and all of them distressingly disparaging.  What have we done to ourselves?  What have citizens allowed leaders (again, across the political terrain) to do to this place and to all?

When I reflect upon the new political image and behaviours of Guyanese leaders, I am impressed by the self-discipline; the remaking of self and the reconfiguring of messages and postures.  Now if the deeds can follow those self-sacrificing overtures, then there might be some movement to somewhere.  Time will tell.

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