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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The European Union should halt all developmental assistance to Guyana

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Kaieteur News – I cannot recall now who said it but I recall what was said, “There is a middle finger on each hand but no middle hand.” This saying was intended to convey the idea that there are two main ideological paths – the Left and the Right, no middle way.
However, it is also said that on each hand there are four fingers and a thumb, which means that whichever way you choose – Left or Right – there are different paths to that process.
This is worth remembering when one tries to assess where the PPP/C stands on the ideological continuum. The PPP/C leadership is now ideologically fixated to the Right. While it assumes a more moderate posture than the more extremist Right wing governments, there can be little doubt that the PPP/C’s primary interest lies more with the business class than the working class.
The PPP/C has found its own route towards Right wing politics while still paying lip service to the working class.
This is best illustrated by the manner in which it has addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. There has never been a government, which has treated Guyanese, particularly the elderly, as dispensable as has the present PPP/C Government. The majority of persons who have been dying from COVID-19 have been persons beyond the age of 60.
Moreover, this catastrophe has not forced the government to consider tightening the social restrictions, even though the pandemic has exacted a huge cost to the Treasury, including $800M to procure vaccines from the United Arab Emirates. Is it because the majority of the victims are the elderly that this callous approach is being adopted?
There is a factoid, which is being advertised on social media in which there is a claim that more than 150,000 persons have been vaccinated locally and that 60 percent of these are persons over 60 years old. This would mean that 90,000 persons 60 years and over have been vaccinated. But how can this figure be correct when Guyana is estimated to have only 72,000 persons above the age of 60 years?
Vaccine hesitancy was so high that on April 21, the government was forced to open vaccinations to persons aged 40 years and over. And two weeks later, on April 3, a mere 40,468 persons had been vaccinated. If 90,000 elderly persons were vaccinated, then the deaths should not have been as high as is being reported.
The number of COVID-19 infections and deaths has also climbed appreciably since January and yet the PPP/C is stubborn to return to any form of post-August 2020 restrictions, including a closure of non-essential businesses, rotation of government workers and an extension of the curfew.
The PPP/C has opted instead to further reopen the economy. Casinos and betting shops have reopened in the midst of the most recent surge and enforcement efforts are aimed mainly at targeting entertainment spots after 10.30pm and preventing social gatherings.
But that is how Right wing governments operate. They make calculations and those calculations put profits above everything else.
The PPP/C’s Right wing approach is also evident in the recent controversy over the destruction of mangroves. The PPP/C, which has championed environmental protection, is however siding with big business when it comes to environmental destruction.
The PPP/C is justifying the destruction of the mangroves on the basis that the removal of the mangroves is necessary for development. Yet, it was this very PPP/C Government, which launched in 2009 a campaign to protect the country’s sea and river defences by mangrove reforestation.
The expansion of mangroves was intended to serve as a natural defence against rising sea levels and flooding. This was all part of the PPP/C’s much-vaunted Low Carbon Development Strategy. The PPP/C even launched Village Mangrove Action Committees as a means of adaptation to climate change. Now it is saying that development trumps the mangrove.
In light of this latest retreat by the PPP/C Government, the European Union, which had funded the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project, should cease all climate adaptation assistance to Guyana. Also, all those environmentalists who have accepted positions on government Boards and committees should immediately tender their resignations in protest against the government’s stance on the destruction of mangroves at Versailles.
However, the government has four fingers and a thumb and so it will create a façade that it is committed to placing people’s health and environment above that of the business interests. And so it will aggressively move against persons who have established industrial facilities without the necessary permits. And it will go around boasting about how many persons it has vaccinated even though question marks remain over its protection of the elderly.
If the PPP/C were even a center-Left party, it would have long taken aggressive action to impose stricter social restrictions in light of the pandemic. And it would have been outraged over the destruction of the mangroves at Versailles. But in so far as the PPP/C is concerned, business comes first.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)

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