Comings and goings…

first_img…on indentureshipNow that every immigrant group has an “Arrival Day” — save for West Indians and free Africans — can we wish the descendants of the ones who came from India a “Happy Indian Arrival Day”? Well, to be honest…NO!!Look at those who still labour on the sugar plantations: they live lives of increasingly quiet desperation, especially the ones who’ve been axed at Wales and the ones who are about to be axed at Rose Hall, Enmore and Skeldon. How different will their lives be from those of their indentured foreparents, who saw their jobs in cotton destroyed by the British in India and were forced to accept wages in Guyana that even the freed slaves refused?? That has to take the most unimaginable desperation!But it has to be even worse today. Back then, at least there were JOBS; and even though it wasn’t what the immigrants were promised when they signed up in India — they had to do all sorts of odd labour to supplement their meagre wages on the plantations: fishing in canals, tending kitchen gardens, rearing chickens, etc – today, there are no jobs in sight; and there are no fish in the canals, after the drugs runoff in the water, and there is no space in the 40×80 lots to cultivate vegetables and rear chickens. Today it is sheer starvation!!What to do?? Well, back in the day, the Massa authorised a Portuguese or Chinese rum-shop or two right opposite the pay office or on the road from the fields to the public road. These provided “solace’ to battered bodies and tortured psyches. After “independence”, the Burnham regime allowed rum shops to spring up like “jumbie umbrellas” in the sugar workers’ housing schemes. And these will once again offer “refuge”.Of course, this will lead to the same pathologies that are endemic in Indian rural communities — suicide, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc…etc. And we can expect the suicide pimps, who will rake in funding to “solve” these problems, to also crawl out of the woodwork like the termites they are. So, it’s a good thing we now have INDIAN Arrival Day…since this should hopefully force Indians to do some much-needed retrospection today.Like ask: what’s this nonsense about who destroyed the sugar industry?? Is there any doubt?? By 1968, sugar workers were receiving profit sharing — split 60% to workers and 40% to the owners. In the wake of the 1974 price spike, the PNC government scooped off more than US$400M by 1977 with their “sugar levy”. If sugar workers had received their 60%, they would have, for the first time, become millionaires!If Burnham had taken government’s 40% and modernised the factories, sugar prices afterwards would’ve matched world prices.Instead, he gave sugar workers “Guyanese hydro” – goadie!!…in healthAnd here it is, your Eyewitness thought that Government officials were only behaving like the authoritarian government they are with their control of the Chronic (like Pravda) and their love of parades!! On the latter, Royston King was miffed that the $100M May 26 Independence Bash at Stabroek Square was called off. Not to worry; the one at Jubilee Park gonna be “bigger and better”. Roy just won’t get to fill his pockets!! It’s equal opportunity time in the pilfering business!!But do you remember the guided tour the totalitarian states used to conduct for western visitors, to “prove” they were doing better than the West?? Well…it’s now reached Guyana. The “creeping” totalitarianism is speeding up!! Inspecting GPHC, members of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services were booted out of the Pharmacy Bond when they veered off the guided tour and insisted on checking on the biggest challenge facing the tertiary health facility – drugs!!Junior Health Minister Cummings insisted shortages of drugs don’t affect health services!!  Prayers instead??…in diplomacyThe British High Commissioner accompanied visiting Minister Baroness Anelay to meet representatives of the Government, but not to meet the Opposition’s representatives. Was it because Anil Nandlall was there, and might’ve asked him to sip some wine at the Oasis??last_img

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