VILIFIED, isolated, pariahs on the national and international landscape, Buxton has assumed an identity of notoriety almost similar to the Taliban; but spare a thought to the besieged law-abiding citizens of this village, and similar villages.
Donna Herod was a mother, doing the things all mothers do when she was killed by a bullet. The ensuing animosity against the police was a palpable force that threatened violence. The average Buxtonian is a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a grandmother, a grandfather, an uncle, an aunt, a child, a friend, a neighbour; but they were cut off from the wider society through no fault of their own because, while it is easy to say, from the relative safety of other communities, that they do not expose the criminals so they are complicit in their activities, we should look at what happened to those who spoke out, including respected village elder, Eusi Kaywana. They had to run.
Take a look at the unenviable position in which the army and police personnel are placed – the decent ones, that is. They are committed to upholding the law and protecting the innocent; but within the community of Buxton during its crime wave, and other communities instigated into destructive, even criminal behaviour by political opportunists, how do they identify the innocent from the culprit? Many instances would naturally ensue when the innocent may be treated like a culprit; and just as naturally much animosity would result from these encounters. The distrust and dislike are mutual and are escalating by the day.
The hardships facing the average householder in the country are compounded by a multiplicity of factors in the case of the communities over which Opposition ploys predominate; but where could they run to? Where could they find sanctuary?
Fear stalks their community. Their children are daily exposed to scenarios and experiences that will shape their personalities – in which direction? What must be their traumas at being collectively blamed, as a community, for babies being blasted to death while asleep? Buxtonian mothers and fathers must have mourned along with the rest of the nation over the Lusignan and Bartica massacres and other such tragedies, but how could they have shown their solidarity with the bereaved without being spurned; or worse, placing themselves in danger?
Their enforced isolation has put them in a position where their primary access to leadership is directly in the hands of those who are exploiting their vulnerability in order to promote their own interests by touting shared power; but power for whom? And to empower whom? Those leaders who are encouraging supporters to flout the law and destroy their lives, along with the lives of others, had power for decades; but what did they do for their people? They disempowered their own supporters the most. They gave their own people the status of beggars by freezing the Public Servants’ wages at G$2,000 and destroying the bauxite industry, jailing, beating, and tear-gassing bauxite workers when they protested.
It was Dr. Cheddi Jagan who defied the IDB to unfreeze the wage lock and restore bargaining powers to the Public Servants, and it is the PPP/Civic administration which is seeking to restore some measure of viability to the bauxite industry, all the while subsidising the Region l0 community so that they can survive, and even triumph over crisis situations.
The PPP is not an Indian Party. No-one can call Jennifer Westford, Roger Luncheon, Jennifer Webster, Sam Hinds, Caroline Rodrigues-Birkett, Odinga Lumumba, Robeson Benn, Pauline Sukhai, et al, Indians; but the persons calling for power sharing because they say (sic!) that they want to look after their supporters earn hundreds of thousands of dollars and live in absolute luxury. How much of this bounty do they share with their supporters? And why do they have to be President before they can address the needs of their people when they can call on so much international support, which they utilise for themselves?
They are putting their supporters in the line of fire so that they can attain even more power for themselves, and maybe their people are aware of this, but to whom can they turn for help? Because if anyone within the community reaches out to administrative systems other than the parliamentary terrorists they most likely will be identified as turncoats, as others have been, and be put at risk, along with their families.
When the Government was attempting to empower Buxtonians by encouraging and facilitating agricultural enterprises in that community, it was heartbreaking to see the faces of the people who had genuine concerns, who most likely wanted to engage with the Minister of Agriculture on a one-on-one basis so that their concerns will be met, but who were most likely forced to follow the architects of death and destruction in their orchestrated walkout during the Minister’s meeting with the farmers.
The Government owes Buxtonians and other communities that support the Opposition, who want to live normal lives once more, who want their children to live normal lives once more, who want to go to bed and wake up without fear, as do the residents of Lusignan, and every Guyanese community.
Buxtonian mothers need to take their children to and from school without fearing that a bullet from a police/bandit encounter will not snuff out their lives in an instant. The primary statistics and real victims of the bandits who proliferate in certain communities are the children because, while bullets may not take a child’s life in most instances, the traumas and resultant negative lifestyle changes from being orphaned as either a direct or indirect consequence of the depredations of the bestial gangs will definitely impact their lives in a myriad negative ways.
Most members of the Joint Services probably find it distasteful to invade homes and privacy, even while they recognise the stark necessity for so doing; and most probably regret the necessity for these very essential exercises, because not everyone is the enemy; but how could they protect and serve the nation if, because they allow their human and social instincts to prevail, they fail in their mandated duty and even more lives are lost as a result.
The dichotomy needs to be recognised – all the tangibles and intangibles, and addressed by all stakeholders so that the peaceful members of every community can begin to identify the members of the Joint Services as the nation’s protectors. The traumas are real because the experiences are devastating, but Buxton, Agricola, Linden and others are Guyanese communities and should not be isolated and left anymore to the mercies of the predators – those who hide in the backlands and those who walk the halls of the Parliament Building.
Government has instituted many laudable community-development initiatives in Opposition enclaves, but these are a mere drop in the ocean of caring and attention that these communities need in order to restore the self-respect of the citizens, and consequently the respect of others for the communities because, while other communities may have concerns of equal import, they have not been held to ransom by beasts, nor have they been inflicted with the enforced association with robber gangs as an unending sore in their socio-psychological identities; and they have not become the bane and perceived enemies of the nation’s protective forces.