I WRITE to thank the President and Vice-President for hosting a press (media) conference (last Friday) regarding their visit to New York. The press conference was not limited to proceedings related to the New York visit, but also of happenings in Guyana as well. The open press conference of the PPP-led government contrasts sharply with, in fact, was diametrically opposite to the visit by the leadership of the preceding government. I am not aware of any media and public interaction by the leadership or ministers of the previous government during their stints in NY.
I have been reporting on visits by leading Guyanese political figures to New York going back to the late 1970s whenever they made appearances at public events. Because I had access to the media and was known to write for them as a reporter or columnist, I was often invited or at a least informed of the public engagements of political leaders from Guyana and other countries with the expectation of organisers that I would attend and would provide media coverage. That I did voluntarily, reporting on countless events, not only of Guyanese, but also visits by political leaders of other countries such as India, Trinidad, Antigua, Jamaica, St Vincent and Singapore, among others.
On Guyanese officials visiting New York, I reported for the media on public events of Ptolemy Reid, Desmond Hoyte, Hamilton Green, other PNC ministers, Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Sam Hinds, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar, and other public figures. I was repeatedly invited to press conferences and public engagements of Cheddi and Janet Jagan and proudly attended and reported on them.
I was not formally invited for events of other Guyanese public figures, but received notifications or public notices and made my appearances to cover the events for varied media publications. I did not report on any during the Coalition’s tenure for obvious reasons; certain media people are excluded from those events. By the way, although I wrote many reviews of airline flights for several carriers, I was never approached to report on or review inaugural flights to Guyana during the Coalition’s tenure.
President Granger addressed the UN in September 2015. I do not know if he held a press conference in New York during that or subsequent visits. I was in Delhi when the President visited for the Solar Conference in 2018. As best as I knew, there was no press conference or media engagement in Delhi. In contrast, I reported on President Jagdeo’s visit to Delhi in January 2004 and all of his official appearances in New York from 1999 and thereafter.
Although I have been writing for several media houses for over 40 years and was warmly welcomed by political leaders, I was not invited to any of the Coalition government’s events in New York, not by the consulate or anyone else, if indeed these were open to the press. I am not aware of any other media or reporters from the Queens area being invited to report on the NY events of the Coalition Government.
This is one major difference in media engagements and accessibility by the PPP and APNU administrations. The PPP leadership is not shy about engaging the media in the Guyanese diaspora. In this regard, I wish to compliment the present government, in particular President Ali and Vice-President Jagdeo, for making themselves accessible to the media.
The two government leaders are also applauded for engaging business persons, spiritual leaders, and the diaspora. Because of COVID protocols, the public engagements were limited in size and time. The gatherings and the reporters were very diverse and reflective of the population of Guyana unlike events held in Brooklyn. One complaint by attendees at diaspora engagements was limited time to interact with the leaders as they would have liked. There were several sessions in a packed schedule, making more personalised and longer interactions impractical. But it was noted that the limited engagements with the diaspora were much more than what occurred during the Coalition.
I compliment the consulate for organising this outreach with the media and the diaspora and the two leaders for making time for the diaspora.