December 14, 2017

Archives for September 8, 2017

Ms World Guyana extends benevolence to sport organizations in Berbice

Ms. Guyana World 2017 Vena Mookram as part of her personal platform for the upcoming Ms. World Contest in China on Thursday last donated sports gear to three sports organisations in the ancient county. The presentation was made during a massive Health Fair organised by Ms. World Guyana, the cricket teams of the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club, MS, with the support of Namilco and the Region 6 Ministry of Health.

Ms. World Guyana Vena Mookram makes a donation to one of the football teams

Ms. Mookram donated a quantity of footballs to the Rose Hall Town Football Club, Basketballs to the Guysuco Training Centre and cricket balls to Guyana’s leading youth and sports organisation, the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club and its cricket teams. The elegant Ms. World Guyana in handing over the gear stated that involvement in sports is a form of healthy lifestyle and urged the massive gathering to get involve in sporting activities.
Mookram whose personal platform is healthy lifestyles stated that she hopes that the sports equipment would assist youths to not only play the game but to also fulfill their potential. In a well-received presentation, the 2017 Queen spoke broadly on the importance of being physically fit and the danger of diseases such as diabetes. She urged the three organisations to use the donations for its intended purposes.
Secretary/CEO of the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club. MS, Hilbert Foster expressed gratitude to the queen for her donation of the cricket balls which would be used in the club’s massive Cricket Development Programme.
He added that they are pleased to work along with Ms. Mookram as the Club shares her view that a healthy lifestyle is crucial to living longer. Levi Nedd of the Guysuco Training Centre hailed the donation of basketballs to the Centre as the game is very popular among students.
Coach of the Rose Hall Town Football Club, Troy Paul noted that the Footballs were most welcomed as most of the players were from less fortunate background. Special emphasis was being placed on developing football in Guyana’s smallest township and the donation of footballs would serve as an inspiration. Paul expressed confidence that football would join cricket shortly as the pride of Rose Hall Town and wished Ms. Mookram well in her participation at the Ms. World Contest in China during the month of November.
Marketing Consultant of the National Milling Company (Namilco) Bert Sukhai stated that his Company was proud to support Ms. Mookram in her quest to promote a healthy lifestyle and educate Guyanese about the effects of Diabetes.

Repeat DUI driver’s licence suspended

The driver’s licence of a Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) hire car operator has been suspended for one year after he was caught driving under the influence for the second time within months.

DUI offender Solomon Stoby

Solomon Stoby, a 58-year-old taxi driver of Mongrippa Hill, Bartica, appeared before Magistrate Christel Lambert at the Bartica Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. He pleaded guilty to the DUI charge, and in addition to being suspended from driving for the next 12 months, he was also fined G$7500.
According to Police reports, this was the defendant’s second offence of this nature. Back on February 18, 2017, Stoby was taken to court after he was found driving while being above the legal limit of alcohol consumption. He had pleaded guilty, and was fined G$7500, while his licence was endorsed.
Then on September 1, 2017, the defendant, who owns and operates motor car HC 2999, was stopped at Fifth Avenue, Bartica, during a routine stop-and-search operation.
The slurred speech and the strong smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath caused an officer to administer a breathalyser test, which confirmed his suspicion. The test showed he had .122 micrograms of alcohol in his system when the legal limit is .035 micrograms.

Warriors send defending champions packing

By John Ramsingh at Tarouba in Trinidad and Tobago

Luke Ronchi and Chadwick Walton gave the Guyana Amazon Warriors their fifth straight victory in this year’s Hero Caribbean League (CPL) with a five-wicket thrashing of defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs in the Eliminator at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy on Wednesday night in Trinidad.
With the win, the Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) will now meet Trinbago Knight Riders in qualifier two for a place in the final against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
Set 169 to win, the three-time finalists got home with five wickets and 13 balls to spare. Assad Fudadin flicked Santokie for a maximum to seal the deal, but it was Walton who was ultra-aggressive from the start of the run chase that set up the clinical run chase. Walton, the GAW’s most successful batsman this year, added 67 runs for the second wicket with Ronchi in just over five overs that really knocked the winds out of the Tallawahs’ sails.
The Warriors had a slight stumble when they lost three wickets in four overs. Walton was first to go, dismissed for 40 from 23 balls with five fours and two sixes at 90-2 at the start of the ninth over and was followed by Jason Mohammed for seven and Gajanand Singh for 6. However, Man-of-the-Match Ronchi continued to mix aggression and caution before he was dismissed with just 14 runs needed from 22 balls still available.
In all, Ronchi faced 33 balls hitting five fours and a similar number of sixes. He got to 50 from 20 balls, the second fastest this year.
After his dismissal, Assad Fudadin with 29 from 24 balls and Roshon Primus played smartly to ensure the GAW deny the defending champions a shot at a third title.
Earlier on, the Tallawahs were out of the blocks in a hurry after being sent in by Rayad Emrit on a good batting track and big lush outfield. The bowlers had a continuous battle with heavy dew all night, but it was debutant Kennar Lewis and Lendl Simmons who put on 40 for the opening wicket in 28 balls that set the brand new stadium alight.
Emrit got the break-through after Veerasammy Permaul and Sohail Tanveer were roughed up in the first four overs. The powerfully built right hander, Lewis found Permaul at deep backward square. Trevon Griffith joined forces with the attacking Simmons and at the Power Play, the Tallawahs were 55-1 with Simmons on 34 and Griffith on four before the off-spin of Steven Jacobs was introduced.
Simmons drove to extra cover where Emrit flung himself to the right and took a one-handed catch on the second attempt, and Jacobs and the Amazon Warriors were suddenly on the hunt. Four balls later, Mahmudullah picked out Permaul at deep midwicket and the Tallawahs have lost three for 19 runs in 13 balls.
Meanwhile, Kumar Sangakarra, the Tallawahs captain, who is their leading run scorer, was assessing the conditions and beginning to accumulate his runs as wickets were falling at the other end. At the end of 10 overs, he was on 17 from 10 and his team on 84-3.
There was a keen battle for control of the game throughout the innings, but as soon as the Griffith and Sangakarra partnership was looking threatening, Roshon Primus was introduced into the attack. With his ‘slingy’ action, Primus got Griffith to mishit, but Chadwick Walton failed to hold on running back from fine-leg but five balls later, Griffith got another top edge and wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi made no mistake to end the 39-run partnership.
At 111-4 in the 14th over, Sangakarra, the defending champions’ captain, was warned by Umpire Gregory Brathwaite for running down the middle of the pitch and in the next over, he was in box seat when Rashid Khan got a hat trick.
Andre McCarthy was the first victim when he was bowled by a googly as he played down the wrong line at 116-5. His replacements, Jonathan Foo and Rovman Powell, followed in identical fashion over the next two balls as Khan completed the first hat trick of this year’s CPL.
Sangakarra then found another good partner in Krishmar Santokie to put on 35 for the eighth wicket before the Sri Lankan veteran brought up his fourth half-century this season. The innings then ended when 13 runs came off the final over bowled by Tanveer to push the 2013 and 2016 champions to 168-8, a score that they felt was good enough to keep them alive in the tournament before Ronchi and Walton crashed the party.
The GAW will now play home team, Trinbago Knight Riders tonight (Thursday) in qualifier two with the winners going on to play against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Saturday’s final.

Cop charged for drunk driving

Satrohan Gowkarran, a Police Constable who struck a pedestrian at Stewartville, West Coast Demerara (WCD) in a drunken state late last week, plead guilty and was fined for driving under the influence (DUI) when he appeared at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Quintin Anderson remains a patient at the Georgetown Public Hospital

The Policeman admitted that while being under the influence of alcohol, he drove his motorcar HC 2850 which hit and caused injuries to Quintin Anderson, 49, of Uitvlugt, WCD on Friday last.
Gowkarran entered a plea of guilty at his arraignment before West Demerara Magistrate Roshell Liverpool. He was fined G$7500 and his driver’s licence was endorsed, given that this was the first such offence. It is unclear how the endorsement was entered since most of the new and renewed licences for motor vehicle drivers are digital. Under the old system, the endorsements were entered in the licencee’s book.
Nevertheless, the Police disclosed on Tuesday that the matter has not yet concluded since the investigation into the accident is still incomplete. Meanwhile, the victim, Quintin Anderson, was transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital and is said to be in a stable condition.
Reports indicate the accident occurred around 22:40h on the night in question. Gowkarran was proceeding East along the northern carriageway of the road when he struck the pedestrian who was at the time crossing the road from South to North. Anderson fell onto the road, receiving injuries and a fractured left foot. He had been rushed to the West Demerara Regional Hospital where he remained before being transferred to Georgetown.
In August, two accidents involving junior Police ranks were recorded which resulted in the death of 58-year-old Pulmattie Ramotar, of Success, East Coast Demerara, who had succumbed two days after she was struck down on the Success Public Road; and Eno David, 22, of Matthew’s Ridge, North West District, Region One (Barima-Waini). He was struck down at the Soesdyke Public Road, East Bank Demerara by a Police rank who was reportedly transporting an injured colleague, who himself was involved in a separate car accident in the early morning hours. However, Police noted that no alcohol was traced when breathalyser tests were conducted on those two ranks.

Professionalism

By Anu Dev

‘Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.”
– “Dr J” – (Julius Erving – basketball legend)

Now that I’m approaching the end of the road in Med School, and am soon to enter the “real world”, I’ve decided to revisit a piece on being a “professional,” which I wrote some time ago, when I was still a callow youth! We’ve all had those experiences: going to the doctor’s office, shopping in some store, or visiting a travel agency, where we probably went through the worst ordeal of our lives because of the way we were treated.
It’s really the pits to go somewhere on a chore and you end up being treated like some lesser being. Call me melodramatic, but after some jarring encounters with sales clerks, I started paraphrasing Shylock’s speech from Merchant of Venice to myself: “Hath not an Anu eyes? Hath not Anu fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases?” As I rise up in righteous indignation, vowing never to return to that store (at least not until next week!).
It can really leave a bad taste in your mouth, and makes you wonder if that offensive person had an overabundance of bile – or, more likely, absolutely no training. But the thing I don’t understand is it’s not like they’re doing you a favour; you’re paying them for the service. If it’s a doctor, it’s not like he/she is diagnosing you for free. You’ve already had to wait an hour in the waiting room, inhaling everybody else’s germs, and now the doctor is treating you like you’re an errant 3-year-old? What? That’s not being a professional, and I hope I don’t succumb to that hauteur!
And professionalism goes beyond treating your patrons like they’re actual human beings. It includes things like punctuality, accountability, and being able to carry out your tasks efficiently. We really need to break the mould of things always starting ½ hour late in Guyana (and the rest of the Third World). Sure, it’s a running joke that always manages to get a few laughs, but, in reality, it’s a sad reflection of how we’ve accepted our tardiness, and aren’t prepared to do anything to change.
In whatever profession we choose, we must always also have accountability. And not just being able to account for finances – we should be able to account for our actions. We’re not living in our own personal vacuums. Our actions and decisions affect the people around us, sometimes more than we could ever imagine. Nothing has disproved Aristotle’s dictum that we’re social beings. (Incorrectly interpreted nowadays as “political beings”)
But it can be difficult; sometimes you’re just having an “off day”. Some days you can’t be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But in some professions, that’s exactly what’s expected of you as a professional.
To be a true professional, you have to be professional in the way you dress, the way you carry yourself, the way you relate to the people around you. It could’ve been that little girl in the Bank who came in with her mom might’ve gotten inspired by the way you carried yourself, and now she wants to work in a Bank when she grows up, to be just like you.
As professionals, you’re representing your profession. You’re the ones who either inspire us to want to do what you do, or who make us swear never to touch, for instance, “the law” with a ten-foot pole.
And in some professions, you only ever meet some of your patrons for once in your life. Do you really want to be remembered as the impolite, scruffy sales clerk? Or, like Dr J, who can still soar and dunk the ball in his sixties?

Interesting animals of the Rupununi

Known for its rich biodiversity, the Rupununi is an ideal tourists’ destination with some of the most interesting animals. Below are some fascinating facts on a few of the animals found in the Rupununi.

Stingrays
Stingrays spend majority of their time inactive, partially buried in sand, often moving only with the sway of the tide. The stingray’s colouration commonly reflects the seafloor’s shading, camouflaging it from predatory sharks and larger rays. Their flattened bodies are composed of pectoral fins joined to their head and trunk with an infamous tail trailing behind.

Stingray caught in the Rupununi River near Rewa Village

While the stingray’s eyes peer out from its dorsal side, its mouth, nostrils, and gill slits are situated on its underbelly. Its eyes are therefore not thought by scientists to play a considerable role in hunting. Like its shark relatives, the stingray is outfitted with electrical sensors called ampullae of Lorenzini. Located around the stingray’s mouth, these organs sense the natural electrical charges of potential prey. Many rays have jaw teeth to enable them to crush mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels.
When they are inclined to move, most stingrays swim by undulating their bodies like a wave; others flap their sides like wings. The tail may also be used to maneuver in the water, but its primary purpose is protection.
The stingray’s spine, or barb, can be ominously fashioned with serrated edges and a sharp point. The underside may produce venom, which can be fatal to humans, and which can remain deadly even after the stingray’s death. In Greek mythology, Odysseus, the great king of Ithaca, was killed when his son, Telegonus, struck him using a spear tipped with the spine of a stingray.

Savanna Hawk
Savanna hawks are commonly seen flying around savannah and swampy areas in from Central America to the Caribbean to Southern South America. It is a carnivore, feeding on meat such as small mammals and insects.
The savanna hawk has very long legs and thus is able to easily walk on the ground to catch its prey, or, like other birds, it can swoop down from the sky or a tree.

Savanna Hawk near Sand Creek village, Rupununi

They are known as opportunistic feeders – they eat when there is an easy opportunity to do so. For example, they follow forest fires and feed on escaping animals or steal food from other birds.
Savanna hawks build their nests out of sticks in palm trees, thorny trees or mangroves and use this same nest year after year. Its eggs however are sometimes eaten by larger birds, snakes and other animals that live in trees.

Boa Constrictor
Boa constrictors wear some of the most distinctive markings of all reptiles. Depending on the habitat they are trying to blend into, their bodies can be tan, green, red, or yellow, and display cryptic patterns of jagged lines, ovals, diamonds, and circles.
Boas are non-poisonous constrictors found in tropical Central and South America. Like their anaconda cousins, they are excellent swimmers, but prefer to stay on dry land, living primarily in hollow logs and abandoned mammal burrows.
Significantly smaller than anacondas, boas can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds. Their jaws are lined with small, hooked teeth for grabbing and holding prey while they wrap their muscular bodies around their victim, squeezing until it suffocates.

Boa constrictor in the yard at Caiman House, Rupununi

Boas will eat almost anything they can catch, including birds, monkeys, and wild pigs. Their jaws can stretch wide to swallow large prey whole.
Female boas incubate eggs inside their bodies and give birth up to 60 live babies. Boas are about 2 feet long when they are born and grow continually throughout their 25 to 30-year lifespan. The largest boa constrictor ever found measured 18 feet.
Hunted for their fine, ornate skin and for sale in the exotic pet trade, some boa constrictors are endangered and most have protected status in their range.

Black Piranha
Outsized jaw muscles allow the black piranha to exert bite force equivalent to 30 times its bodyweight, a feat unmatched in the natural world.

Black piranha caught in Mapari Creek

In fact, the muscle complex makes more than two percent of the black piranha’s total body mass.
In fact, relative to their size, piranhas outperform even prehistoric monsters like Tyrannosaurus rex and the whale-chomping megalodon, a massive shark that preceded the great white, according to a research done in the US in 2012.
The measured bite force of the black piranha was nearly three times greater than that exerted by an American alligator of comparative size, said the study.

Black Caiman
The black caiman ranges through Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela, and in French Guiana, and can be found in shallow, freshwater habitats such as slow-moving rivers, creeks and lakes, and would venture into flooded savannah and wetlands.
Black caiman typically hunt at night, using their acute sight and hearing to locate their prey. Fish comprise the major part of the black caiman’s diet, particularly catfish and the much-feared piranha, but adult black caiman also tackle much larger prey such as capybara, turtles and deer.

Black caiman among some Victoria amazonica lilies in Yupukari, Rupununi

This aquatic hunter is the largest of all alligator species, with reports of individuals measuring six metres (19 feet 8 inches). Domestic animals such as dogs and pigs may be taken by large adult caiman, and there are even reports of people being the victim of an attack. Juvenile black caiman stick to smaller foods, including crustaceans, other invertebrates such as snails, and fish. (Photos by Rupununi Learners on Facebook)

Exxon promises to submit Local Content Plan by year-end

– in accordance with 6-month Govt deadline

International oil giant ExxonMobil has indicated its intention to toe the proverbial line and submit its Local Content Plan by December of this year, in accordance with a Government-stipulated deadline.

Natural Resources Minister,
Raphael Trotman

Senior Director of Exxon’s
Public and Government
Affairs, Kimberly Brasington

This document will chronicle all the company plans to do for the individual development of the people of Guyana.
According to the Senior Director of Exxon’s Public and Government Affairs, Kimberly Brasington, the company will be adhering to the deadline and submit its plan exactly six months after being granted its production licence.
Authorities have reviewed the technical and environmental aspects of the Liza Project Development Plan submitted by Exxon affiliate Esso Exploration and Production (Guyana) Ltd in December 2016. Following those reviews, Government had granted the oil giant a formal production licence in June.
“So that’s December (when we are scheduled to submit our plan). We are required to submit our Local Content Plan to the Government six months from the (date of) approval of the production licence,” Brasington explained, adding that the Local Content Plan will focus on development.
Local Content
The Local Content Plan and what it will do for Guyana has been a burning question since it was announced that oil was found in the Stabroek Block. Expectations were initially tempered by statements to the effect that few job opportunities would be created by commercial exploitation of this oil find, but the company has since said it will help with Local Content delivery.
When ExxonMobil was granted a production licence in June of this year, Minister Trotman had given the company a six-month deadline in which to submit its Local Content Plan to the Government.
ExxonMobil’s newly appointed Guyana Country Manager, Rod Henson, had recently announced that the company would be relocating its onshore operations, which were used for support services, from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago to Guyana.
He had told participants at a meeting it was not the case that ExxonMobil would be looking to build a facility for its support services, but would rather put out tenders, and anyone interested in providing the shore-based services could present a proposal.
Trotman had, in 2016, announced that Cabinet had given its ‘no objection’ to the establishment of the onshore industrial site on Crab Island, in the mouth of the Berbice River. He had said it would be forged through the joint efforts of the ministries of Natural Resources, Public Infrastructure and Business.
Construction was announced for early this year, and the investments from the private sector and Government’s infrastructural work and support were to be equivalent to US$500 million; but the Crab Island facility is yet to materialise.
According to information released in March by the Government’s Department of Public Information (DPI), the construction of an onshore oil-and-gas facility seeks to cater to the expansion of exploration and subsequent production of oil in Guyana.
That report had said Government would be investing US$500 million to construct the onshore facility during the course of this year, and that the facility would serve as a logistics and supply base to the offshore production, creating crucial areas of opportunity for Local Content.
What is happening now is that an onshore facility to service Exxon is being constructed by Guyana Shore Base Incorporated (GYSBI) at Houston, EBD. GYSBI is acting in partnership with Muneshwer’s Limited, Pacific Rim Constructors, Total Tech Oil Field Services, and LED Offshore.
Guyana’s policy
For its part, Guyana has formulated its own draft Local Content Policy, which was seen by this publication.
According to the policy, legislation is likely to be enacted to set out how Guyanese will benefit.
The document also sets out that the policy will be enforced by a regulatory institution that is well-funded and resourced. The regulator, in turn, would be overseen by a multi-stakeholder group representing local bodies that are involved in the sector.
The regulatory agency would also have to report to Parliament, as is customary for most regulators who report to the Public Accounts Committee, or are overseen by the Auditor General and the Social Services Committee.
And if contracts are awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), the regulator would also be tasked with ensuring international operators manage their work according to the Local Content strategy. This, it says, will apply from the developmental stage of the project to its operational stage.
The agency’s duties would include monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on the licensing and registration process for all suppliers. It will also be in charge of creating databases for suppliers, local professionals and technicians, as well as projects. It is proposed that the body will also set targets for these projects.

The Indigenous and Nature An Enduring Organic Relationship

Indigenous culture, unlike others, is a process of accommodation with nature. Their concern for ecology and the environment, and the balance of nature, is part of their belief system.

A selection of natural products produced by a group of indigenous women from North Rupununi

An Amerindian WaiWai family returning from their riverside farm where they grow sugar cane. The Makushi tribe is very low in number and lives in the most remote deep south of Guyana.

Ecology is woven seamlessly into the fabric of their culture. Everything in the forest and the surrounding area has a role to play in the overall scheme of things and nothing is wasted. They live in harmony with nature and do not adulterate the landscape or endanger plants or wildlife. One example: they once hunted fish for survival only until they were confronted with a market economy when their entire cultural landscape changed.
Their rich indigenous heritage and culture greatly impacted others. Many of the technological contributions of their societies have already been recognised by the native terminology, which has also entered our culture. In Guyana, quite a number of native products became current only after the Europeans and other immigrants settled on the coast: pepperpot, hammocks, balata, medicinal herbs, íte palms, and troolie leaves (for thatching roofs).
In their widely differing environments, indigenous peoples adapted and produced a stream of unique inventions, each one a distinct response to a local necessity: asphyxiating fish with ground leaves and roots of specific plants in the absence of hooks and nets, for example, or bending twigs to mark a trail or preventing one from getting lost in the forest and to mark their route.
It was through these bent twigs in Guyana and an indigenous line as a guide, that the cattle trail was cut (1916-1920) from Surama in the Rupununi to Takama in Berbice. Also, these bent twigs helped explorers find their way in the dense jungles and, enabled the discovery of many Amazonian tribes, bringing them to civilisation.
Some indigenous persons can be superb mimics of animals and bird sounds. They can mislead even the jaguar. They bring the yarrow fish to the surface, for instance, through a slow seducing whistle, and can even reproduce the mating call of the tapir. They bring other fish to the surface by splashing the water in such a way to mimic the falling of ripened seeds. They showed settlers a range of dishes based from the forest plants and animals, e.g., food from root crops like cassava and yams, and oil from turtle eggs.
Their intimate knowledge of forest resources is extensive and remarkable. They can recognise medicinal properties in hundreds of plants – knowledge that is a priceless resource of the rainforest. From oral contraception to insect repellent, scientists are still to analyse the scientific properties of Amazonian plants. Armed with the knowledge of thousands of medicinal plants, shamans and piaimen fought goitre, headaches, malaria, constipation and other illnesses. Ipecac from Amazonian roots cured amoebic dysentery. Quinine from the cinchona bark cured malaria. Curare killed without affecting the heart. These medicinal plants were eagerly sought by the early colonists to supplement the old world’s pharmacies.
Apart from introducing the benefits of forest resources to the world, the indigenous’ greatest contribution to modern Guyana was the help they gave to colonists and subsequent coastlanders in penetrating and understanding its hinterland.
All expeditions into the heart of the country and beyond relied on indigenous skills as guides, hunters, boat hands, woodsmen or canoers knowing every treacherous rapid, jungle trail, mountain, hill, tree, cataract or waterfall. Indeed, it was these expeditions that opened Guyana to its non-indigenous settlers and showed the riches of the interior – forest products, minerals, natural scenes and other phenomena that brought tourists.
Text provided by overseas-based Guyanese author, Lal Balkaran – MBA, FCPA, FCGA, FCMA, CGMA. Balkaran worked as a teacher in the Rupununi in the 1970s and travelled throughout the interior. He is the author of “Encyclopaedia of the Guyanese Amerindians”, “A Photojournal of the Guyanese Amerindians”, “The Rupununi – A Visual Journey” and several documentaries including “Historical and Contemporary Georgetown – Guyana’s Heartbeat”. He can be reached at lalbalkaran@rogers.com

End of the Plantation?

By Ravi Dev

It appears the days of the plantations, the raison d’etre for Guyana’s existence, are numbered. As one who grew up on one, I really do not mourn their passing, save for the callous way this administration has gone about the job. Surely, we cannot accept the neo-liberalism dogma that decisions rendering 10,000 persons jobless must be made by the “market”.
The plantation has been described by some as a “total institution” that acted to socialize, through force and other coercive methods, the workers into an organized “machine” for production. There is no question the planters had a clear picture of what the ideal plantation worker ought to be: docile, industrious, concerned about the plantation’s interests ahead of his own, and willing to follow orders. That the workers would have resisted this dehumanisation of their being was also not unexpected, and the plantations were structured to overcome this resistance.
The plantation, founded on slave labour, was predicated on violence backed by the always available State coercive institutions. The demands of the sugar plantations required comparatively large investments, which in turn demanded consistent and cheap production to deliver demanded high returns. Violence and coercion were integral features of the plantation economy, to discipline individuals into this new technology of production. The abolition of slavery, while a landmark change in the legal relations between planters and workers as owner and chattel, simply forced changes in the methodology of applying the violence to extract production during the indentureship period and after.
Workers were organised into “gangs” under the direct supervision of “drivers,” who were selected for the position by white overseers recruited from the underclasses of Scotland and Ireland. Drivers were men most willing and capable of obtaining the greatest amount of labour for the least amount of money from their fellow workers – by any means necessary. This arrangement was crucial, since the nature of sugar cultivation and harvesting created variable conditions necessitating daily bargaining over the content of the “task” that had to be completed for a day’s pay.
Drivers of women’s gangs, as well as the White overseers, were notorious for taking advantage of the women in their gangs. These two issues — wages and women — were at the heart of most of the “official” violence against the Indians during their sojourn on the plantations, when they protested the quotidian injustices. The managers had a tactic of initiating the issuance of summons for any infraction, with its withdrawal contingent on the worker agreeing to pay costs. Up the 1880s, the majority of drivers over Indian gangs were Africans, and there were many reports of these drivers assaulting Indians. The plantation discipline featured floggings, assaults etc. that helped to fix in the Indian mind the image of the African driver as a “bully”, which was not alleviated when the Police Force formed in 1839 was staffed overwhelmingly from that section of the population.
The attitude of the planters towards the sugar workers was exemplified by the planter William Russell, who agreed with the view of plantation managers that indentured workers should be “at work, in hospital, or in goal”. These locales defined the three institutions over which total control of discipline and domination could be exercised over the immigrant: the “overseer/driver” system to deal with the immigrant at work; and the medical and judicial systems to impose the planters’ wish and will over them within the “hospital and goal”.
In his indictment of the immigration system in 1869, Des Voux not only castigated the magistrates (who would typically have lunch with the local manager before presiding over his court that imposed criminal penalties on civil charges, and beside whom the manager would sit if charged by an immigrant) but the medical doctors who conspired to ensure that immigrants get back into the fields. The hospital became part of the system and surveillance of the immigrants to ensure that the ideal worker was available to the plantation.
In the one hundred years following the end of indentureship in 1917, not much has changed in social relations on the plantations that were now ironically dubbed “estates”, invoking the “estates” of the English nobility with their serfs. Even local managers became “nobility”!

Jagdeo accuses Govt of not spending enough to boost economy

As Government continues its budget preparations for the next fiscal year, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has berated the Administration for its management of the economy, suggesting that much of the country’s money is being invested towards the perks and benefits of Ministers. Jagdeo, a former President, made these comments when he addressed sugar workers and their families at a Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) public meeting at Enterprise, East Cost Demerara (ECD) during last week.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

“This Government spends large sums of money but it doesn’t spend it on the economy; it doesn’t spend it on enhancing welfare for people,” Jagdeo claimed in his address.
Government has repeatedly noted that it has expended significant allocations to sugar but Finance Minister Winston Jordan suggested last year that it would be money wasted if finances were given out in similar fashion to the ailing industry. Jagdeo however countered that sugar was not a burden to the G$250 billion 2017 Budget, telling the gathering that allocations to the industry were a small portion. He also suggested that the coalition Government is misplacing budgetary allocations.
“Sugar gets a tiny fraction of the budget but when you look at where the money is going – G$40 billion increase in recurrent expenditure; non-productive, wasteful expenditure. Over G$100 million on building a fence around the Office of the President; millions more spent of fleets of vehicles for Ministers and drivers and everybody else; fixing up State House and the Prime Minister’s Office [and] trips abroad,” Jagdeo told the crowd.
The Opposition Leader further referenced that some Ministers have sought trips for medical care to Ireland in Europe and elsewhere.
“Just a couple weeks ago, they have decided to insure Ministers [for] G$38 million a year,” he noted.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon had however defended the move of the foreign medical care, suggesting that Ministers were footing their own bill.
Jagdeo later criticised the President’s bus programme, saying that resources would have been better allocated to the G$10,000 school voucher programme which had existed under the previous Administration.
“They took away G$1.6 billion from the children of this country when they removed the G$10,000 grant. In the three years, it would have been G$5 billion. They could have bought over 1000 busses with the G$5 billion but they took it away claiming they couldn’t afford it but they afford a 50 per cent increase for Ministers,” the former President stressed.
Months after assuming office in 2015, Cabinet Ministers were allocated salary increases amounting to 50 per cent, which saw their monthly earnings rising to G$870,000 from the G$579,000 which was handed out monthly under the previous Administration.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo was allocated a G$2 million increase to G$20,580,000 per annum, while other Vice Presidents are paid just over G$11.1 million per year.
Members of Parliament with no specific portfolio were awarded a 20 per cent increase in salaries which reflected an uptick to G$2,402,532 which moved from the previous G$2,002,116.