GUYANA: The Audacity – Think on That – By Mosa Telford

Directors of Superior Concrete Inc., a foreign company in Guyana, disrespected Housing Minister Colin Croal, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Housing and Planning Authority Sherwyn Greaves and staff of the CH&PA’s Enforcement Department. Minister Croal and CH&PA officials visited a site in Houston Estates to issue an order to Superior Concrete Inc., which was illegally constructing a concrete factory.

Not only was the first Cease and Desist order destroyed by one who had the gall, but on another visit, our officials were not only told to leave because it was private property, but that the arrogant ones at Superior Concrete Inc. did not wish to speak to them.         

Can a Guyanese in a foreign country, not obtain the required permits to build but still proceed to do so? Can a Guyanese in a foreign country destroy an order prohibiting them from illegal construction? Would a Guyanese not be placed in handcuffs immediately and thrown in jail while awaiting deportation the minute they disrespected a Minister of Government of another country?

Most of this country’s population is of Asian and African ancestry. White privilege was on display at Houston Estates. Some of us love to play servile to the descendants of former colonizers and are quick to demonize our fellow Caribbean brothers and sisters, like those who enter our country legally from places like Haiti. At least the miscreants from Superior Concrete Inc. were ordered deported even though it baffles me that one of them was given seven days to leave.

Have we begun to see the intent of foreigners to take our country? Will the bulk of Guyana’s wealth enrich other nations and the wealthiest of us, while the average Guyanese will be left with the scraps? Will they exploit this land until there is nothing left for our children to inherit? This plot is nothing new.

Countries like ours have been exploited to maintain so-called developed nations for centuries. The Caribbean, South America and Africa have been exploited and they are still being exploited. And here in Guyana we seem under threat of heading back into slavery with foreigners coming in droves, establishing their businesses and some choosing to ignore our laws and to disrespect us. I am not talking about the ordinary man who is coming to seek a better life as many Guyanese do in other countries. It is the large companies coming to exploit us and the arrogance of any foreigner who chooses to disrespect our citizens.

But have we brought this on ourselves? Sometimes it seems like the wants of foreigners coming to invest in this country are placed above the needs of us Guyanese. It seems like they can acquire land expeditiously to build their hotels and set up their companies, yet many Guyanese have waited decades for a plot of land in their own country. Do we give them the impression that we are imbecilic? Are we Guyanese not an intelligent and proud people? Can we not stand on our own?

When incidents such as what happened at Houston occur, it should concern us all. You disrespect one of us, you disrespect all of us. The fact that a Minister of Government was disrespected by a foreigner breaking our laws is beyond me!

It is true that some people still want to come into small nations like ours and think they can do whatever they want. What has changed since we were officially a colony?

We are treading on dangerous grounds. First, they disrespect us, then they try to enslave us. And anyone who is enslaved is under threat of being obliterated.

TriStar Incorporated- Clearing of mangroves

Another dilemma we learned about this week is that TriStar Incorporated has cleared acres of mangroves at Versailles/Malgre-Tout West Bank Demerara for the development of an oil and gas shore base. They exceeded the terms under which they were granted permission. These actions have been defended in the name of development by Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill. He said measures will be put in place to prevent flooding. Even with the mangroves when we experience unusually high tides like spring tides or heavy rains, we have seen flooding. But I suppose it is okay to put our people at risk for so-called development because these miracle workers who are only interested in the black gold will somehow wave a magic wand and the ocean will no longer be a threat.

Mangroves are a coastal defense. Guyana’s coastland is below sea level. Our mangroves are important for stabilizing the shoreline and preventing erosion. It is a barrier against natural disasters. Is an oil and gas shore base a mitigation strategy for natural disasters?

Mangroves also help in the fight against climate change by pulling greenhouse gases and storing them in their soil. Is an oil and gas shore base a mitigation strategy for climate change?

Mangroves help in maintaining water quality. Mangroves are good for biodiversity. They provide nesting and breeding habitats for marine life. But we are destroying them in the name of oil? We are choosing to increase the risks the ocean poses? Will our country collapse if we do not destroy mangroves to build oil and gas shore bases? These are issues we should be protesting. Where are the experts from the environmental agencies? The conservationists? Are we now selective with our outrage? Will we sit silently and watch our natural sea defense be destroyed? What will happen when another company decides that more mangroves need to be cleared? What if they decide to clear acres of our rainforest because oil is supposed to save us? Did we really need oil for development though? Is it not decades of failed governance that has landed us here as we sink deeper?

What will be Guyana’s Legacy?

When the oil dries up, what will we be left with? A concrete jungle? Polluted air and water? Companies owned by foreigners? And where will they be? Perhaps back in their “developed countries” or buried with the glow of Guyana’s natural resources while their descendants enjoy generational wealth. But the average Guyanese? Perhaps continuing to grapple with poverty, and environmental and natural disasters.

Dear leaders, you must think beyond the now or a decade or two. You cannot leave a Guyana where the future generations must struggle and fight to rebuild what is now being destroyed. You should care about what happens to Guyana’s children after you are dead. In the name oil, we cannot destroy what protects us. In the blink of an eye natural disasters like Tsunamis devastate countries. It is wise for us to choose conservation instead of destruction. Our children’s children deserve a country that they can be proud of; one that they can safely live in and one that is not colonized again in this 21st century.

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  • Yvonne-K  On 05/18/2021 at 6:28 am

    It’s the government’s fault that these types of things are allowed to happen. A lot of shady deals have been made with Exxon and their affiliates by the Guyana goverment. Guyana is being sold off bit by bit as the politicians continue to enrich themselves without a care for the country nor the Guyanese people.

  • Francis Quamina Farrier  On 05/18/2021 at 11:39 am

    I grew up in British Guiana being taught that our Mangroves are important for sea and river defense. As an adult and Elder, I cry SHAME on our leaders as they sit idly by and allow The Republic of Guyana to be treated like the COLONY of BRITISH GUIANA, where FOREIGNERS seem to have more rights than GUYANESE CITIZENS. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME. BLOODY SHAME! There are large signs which state, “The Mangroves protect us, we must protect them.”

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