September 23, 2017

Déjà vu…

…all over again at Camp Street!

The authorities must be only people in Guyana who’re surprised at the weekend conflagration at the Camp Street jail. Everyone else – from their own bitter experience living in Guyana – knows if you close your eyes and pretend reality will change, you’re living in a fool’s paradise. And so said, so done at Camp Street!

On March 3, 2016, we witnessed the horror of 17 inmates incinerated in the facility. Seventeen human lives snuffed out! The Government’s CoI (obligatory for every misstep) announced two months later that basically the Camp Street explosion was just waiting to happen. What else to expect when 900+ men – including hardened killers on death row – are shoehorned into facilities meant to hold only half that number at best? And that’s overlooking the fact that each person’s space is about one thirds of what’s considered passable internationally!

Combine this with a judicial system that consigned at least a hundred men in the facility who’re only on “remand” – that is, waiting for their trials – for years. And getting the same treatment like the hardened criminals! That’s what was the spark then – and now! The only difference is there were less lives lost and more property destroyed now.

The BIG question, of course, is whatever happened to the recommendations of the CoI? The Government’s spin doctors, of course, have already boasted about all the plans they’d crafted. While this may be true, plans should have timelines…and they would’ve told the people of Guyana if the Government was serious. How is it they were able to refurbish Jubilee park – AFTER the last jail tragedy – but not get the proposed Mazaruni Prison expansion started immediately?? It was more than a year later (April 2017) that Cabinet approved a measly G$58 million for the latter project. And imagine they spent over G$1 billion of Jubilee Park!!

What we’re witnessing here is more than the typical lassitude enveloping every venture governments embark on. This is a reflection of the class bias that’s redolent in our society: lumpen elements are the dregs of society and their lives aren’t worth anything. The problem, of course, is who knows when any one of us could be consigned to Prison? What will we say then?

Way back in 2004, the Disciplined Forces Commission (DFC) had taken proposals not only to reform the Police and Army – but also the Prison Service – and the jails. Everything in last year’s CoI on the Camp Street conflagration was already in that DFC’s Report. But no action.

The only silver lining from this latest tragedy is a new prison will now HAVE TO BE BUILT!

…on the Lisa find

Your Eyewitness noticed the Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA) has joined the line with all those (like your Eyewitness and the WPA) who’ve been complaining about the information Black Hole the Government created around the contract their Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has signed with ExxonMobil.

The latter, for what it’s worth, announced out in Berbice they’ll be very open about what they’ll be paying the Government – once the oil starts flowing. Fat lot of good that’ll do us by then. The boat (with our oil) would have already “gone a watah”! Now you don’t have to be a genius to understand the only reason the Government has clammed up is because they have things to hide from the people of Guyana.

Things like what will be the rate of taxation Exxon will be paying on their profits. Surely the lawyerly Minister, who undertook to negotiate for us against Exxon’s battery of lawyers, didn’t give that mega company a tax break?

Or did he?

…on gas

Still on the Lisa find, some are enquiring about the gas that’ll be pumped out with the oil. But that’s no mystery, is it?

Exxon has already said the Government has accepted the gas will be pumped back into the seabed!!