Saturday, October 29, 2005

Stella Says…I Know How You Love a Good Story!

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 29 Oct 2005)

I would like to tell you a story today. My story has heroes and heroines, a thrilling plot and lots of twists, but best of all – there is a moral to my story.
In a beautiful Kingdom far, far away (good start, eh?), there lived a docile Poodle who ruled over his doggie realm with a somewhat heavy heart. When he became ruler – some 13 years ago - the Kingdom was in pretty bad shape. There were dogfights all the time between the Poodles and the Terriers, which were the two dominant breeds in the Kingdom, and the puppies barely had enough food to satisfy the furry little tummies.

Things were better now though, or so he would tell himself, and to a certain extent he was right. The Kingdom was certainly in a better state than when he first became the ruler with his Passive Puppy Pack. However, just because things were better, it did not mean things were good.

In fact, there were still several doggie citizens who had a bone to pick with the ruler. Some were upset that the ruler’s friends from the Passive Puppy Pack lived in very large and fine-looking doghouses while most of the rest of the Kingdom had to live in very small and old doghouses.

There were other issues too, like the fact that so many dogs were out of work and couldn’t afford to buy dog food or fresh bones for their litters. However, the ruler’s biggest problem was that his Kingdom was plagued with fear. The doggies citizens were afraid of some very bad dogs that went around stealing dog food, chew toys and collars from good doggies. These bad dogs were making the Kingdom a dog-eat-dog world.

There were some Poodles who believed the bad dogs were mostly those feisty Terriers. This offended the good Terriers. The leaders of the Terrier pack said being a Terrier doesn’t make a dog bad – and they were right. Bad dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. There were even bad Poodles.

The truth of the matter is that there were lots of Terriers who were afraid of the bad dogs too. The ruler knew he needed to do something about the bad dogs, but he just didn’t know if the Canine Unit could handle the job.

The Big Dog at the Canine Unit was a Terrier with a feline name. The poodles didn’t know if they could trust a Terrier to protect them from the bad dogs. Those naughty dogs were acting more like brazen wolves and even biting others and stealing in the middle of day. The Kingdom was filled with fear and the puppies were afraid to go outside to play.

So one day the ruler of the Kingdom told the Big Dog to do something about the bad dogs. The Big Dog knew this assignment was a no win situation for him and his Canine Unit. The doggie citizens, both Poodles and Terriers, wanted the bad dogs to be on a very short leash in a doghouse far away.

However, given the sensitive situation in the Kingdom between the two breeds, the Big Dog knew the Terriers would be very mad if he went into a certain Terrier village where every dog knew a lot of bad dogs were hiding out. On the other hand, if he didn’t go into the Terrier village with his Canine Unit, every dog would still be mad.

The Big Dog decided to do his job and planned to round up as many bad dogs as possible who were hiding out in the Terrier village. He prepared his Canine Unit for the task at hand and they all set out to implement Operation High Heel. The Big Dog intended to force those bad dogs to heel the to laws of the land.

The Canine Unit went into the Terrier village and searched lots of doghouses looking for the bad dogs. If they found a dog who looked suspicious, he or she was put on a leash until it could be determined whether they were good or bad. The good doggies got to go free and the bad dogs had to stay on a leash.

The Canine Unit found lots of bad dogs to send to obedience school during Operation High Heel, but just as expected, the doggie citizens were still mad. Some of the Terriers accused the Big Dog of singling them out as a breed and making it look like they were all bad dogs.

In fact, the leader of the Terriers said the Big Dog should have let the village know ahead of time about Operation High Heel. Big Dog said that would have sent the bad dogs on the run. It didn’t seem to matter that the Canine Unit had made the streets safer for the puppies or that the whole Kingdom could sleep a little better in their doghouses at night.

As the ruler of the Kingdom curled up on his doggie bed the next night, he pondered many things. He wondered how dogs could be so finicky like a cat. It seems the doggie citizens say they want something, but when they get it they still aren’t happy. He also wondered if there would be enough leashes to hold all the bad dogs.

Most of all though, he wondered if the Poodles and the Terriers would ever realise that although they may be different breeds, they are all still dogs – great dogs who lived in a beautiful Kingdom.

As he dozed off to sleep, the doggie ruler could swear he heard the whimper of a pup trying to suckle from its mom and he wondered if the next doggie generation would be the ones to bring peace to the Kingdom.
I wish I could say that every one lives happily-ever after, but that part of the story hasn’t be decided yet. Besides, I’m not the one who determines the outcome, you are.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Stella Says…Keep the Church and State Forever Separate

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 27 Oct 2005)

I am not as “religious” as I use to be. I was brought up to believe in a God and although I often questioned the existence of such a being, I held close to these teachings for most of my life. In fact, I used to devoutly teach scripture to others.

I won’t bore you with the circumstances that caused me to shift my thinking to a more humanistic approach to life, and I don’t want to make everyone worry about the status of my soul, because I believe life is a journey and everyday reveals new enlightenment.

However, the past five years forced me to address certain issues head-on and the outcome was unexpected. When Bush took office in 2000, I was a person content to live the rest of my life by the teachings I had been taught for years. It was 9/11 and the subsequent events that propelled me into a whole new dimension of self-evaluation that I had never before dared to venture.

The death of so many on 9/11 in the name of holy war was heart wrenching for me. And Bush’s unwarranted invasion of Iraq and the resulting deaths of even more thousands of people turned my broken heart into an indignant cynic. After all, isn’t Bush supposed to be a Christian?

So much blood has been spilt in the last five years for no justifiable reason. In the process, my cynicism for religion has grown. I won’t go into the clinching factors that finally caused me to reject religion altogether, but I find myself today in a place that acknowledges a Supreme Being, though how that being is defined is still undetermined.

I do not wish to participate in the teachings of my youth and after an extensive search, I have yet to find a religion that satisfies my conscience. Though there are many faiths that reject the type of violence that caused me such turmoil that I gladly walked away from my former beliefs, I have yet to find one that can reconcile my conscience and my brain.

However, I am not dissuaded in my quest – though I must admit I’m in no great hurry to resolve this issue either. It has sat months without much thought, and for good reason. I believe it best to pick this up at a later date when my cynicism has cooled and I am ready to once again consider my spiritual journey with a pure heart.

This whole process has reinforced my long-held beliefs that one’s spiritual walk is ongoing and progressive. Each of us is allowed to define for ourselves what we choose to believe about a deity and the guidelines by which that deity is defined.

Further, the Constitution guarantees our freedom to practice our faith in the manner we deem most appropriate. Guyana is a beautiful example of the harmonious co-existence of multiple religions. It is heartening to observe the tolerance and respect each faith bestows on another.

However, a recent statement by the new Third Force has perked my interest. In listing their “Core Values,” the belief in a Supreme Being is noted. I found it to be quite disturbing that a political entity would make such a statement. I’m sure this declaration was primarily made to rally the “religious-minded” to the party’s cause, but this is absolutely dangerous ground on which to tread.

I am a staunch advocate of the separation of Church and State. The inception of this notion was initially intended to protect the Church from the influence of the State. That is, the State cannot impose a universal religion or set of beliefs on the Church.

However, this concept also protects the Church from the influence of the State in that the adherence of one leader or party’s religion cannot be imposed on the nation as a whole. This was practiced for thousands of years. Consider the mandatory conversion of Rome to Christianity under the rule of Constantine or the absolute rule of the Catholic Church in Europe during the Dark and Middle Ages.

The PPP’s communist stance, which has been totally void of religious persecution, has benefited the nation in at least this regard; they have not imposed – or even so much as introduced – the notion of mixing religion and government. This is exactly how it should remain in Guyana. To relinquish the act of governing to any party that infuses Church and State could threaten the one aspect that has yet to create a volatile situation for the nation – religion.

Why mess with success? Right now Guyana’s various religions contentedly thrive and the statement of religious proclamation by a political party could invoke questions of religious affiliation and create a wedge between the people that has not existed to date. Further, it could generate feelings that have so far have only been obvious on a small scale, such as religious arrogance and intolerance for other faiths.

A spiritual journey is a personal and private matter to be worked out between an individual and their God, not in public arenas. The statement of one’s faith, or a party’s faith, should not be made a matter of political gain or public scrutiny. This is one area that is best left untouched by Guyanese politics, lest we add yet one more source of contention and division among the people.

Though I no longer hold to my former religious beliefs, I do consider a spiritual pursuit to be a noble endeavour that should not be tainted by injecting the unpleasantness of politics into the venture. Let’s keep religion holy by keeping it separate from politics. As Ulysses S. Grant said, “Keep the Church and State forever separate.”

Read Roy Paul's comments on this column

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Stella says... Write a Letter to the Editor

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 25 Oct 2005)

One of the fantastic and unique aspects about the newspapers in Guyana is the way in which letter writers interact with each other. It is not uncommon to watch as an entire political or social scenario unfolds with a variety of views on the Letter to the Editor pages of the newspapers every day.

For every individual who holds an opinion on a subject, there are five others who have opinions on that opinion. It really is so much fun to rip the paper open every day to see who has what to say in response to something said yesterday by someone else.

Even Sweet and Sensitive Freddie, who has a daily column, writes letters on a regular basis. You would think he would be able to get all of his thoughts into the column, but obviously he needs to have another outlet too.

The Letter to the Editor section of each newspaper also has its own aura and personality. I think the funniest letters are in the Chronicle, which has so many letters that extol the greatness of the PPP that I read it with the same light-hearted merriness that I do the cartoon sections of a paper. In fact, they are usually funnier than the cartoons, and I find myself laughing out loud.

I have to admit that often I ponder to myself how many of those letters are actually penned by Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud under a pseudo identity. It doesn't really matter, though, as it's not like anyone really takes those types of letters seriously - but my, oh my, they sure are so much fun to read.

I'm still waiting for a pro-PNC or pro-Third Force letter to be published in the Chronicle. What really perks me up every morning is reading the “things are so great now with the PPP” letters.

These letters are there every morning and always say some version of the same thing, “Since the PPP took over 13 years ago things are so much better.” If the economy stinks, there is a letter that says, “The economy is better now than it was in 1992 when the PPP took office.” Other issues are racism, crime, media freedoms, etc. Whatever the issue of the day, it is better now than it was before. Could it be that someone is missing the point?

The most recent letters that had me rolling with laughter were on corruption and Transparency International's perception survey. In Monday's edition, letter writer Sabrina Narine said, “We have all come to the realisation that Guyana is a developing country, but has shown tremendous growth and progress over the past 13 years, more so with the accession of the PPP/C to office in 1992.”

That joke just never gets too old for me. I told someone the other day that it is akin to telling a mother that her child is black and blue from the beatings she is inflicting, and then her responding with a flippant retort that the child is better off now than when living with the drunkard father who molested and beat the child.

Here's a novel idea - how about no corruption at all! How about a zero tolerance for crime? How about adding some radio stations to the dial? Instead of excuses and the pathetic “things are better now than before” gobbledygook, just give the people of Guyana what they really want – a thriving economy, a crime-free society and a government they can trust.

But if that happens, the daily letters singing the praises of the PPP would stop, and I would have to start reading the cartoons again every morning for a good laugh. I would gladly make that sacrifice though, if it meant the end of crime and corruption.

There is a definite “sway” in the way news is portrayed. The Chronicle sways toward its beloved PPP, and Stabroek seems to sway toward the new and upcoming AFC. I have to hand it to Kaieteur News; they don't seem to sway too much – but maybe that is me swaying now.

Honestly though, Kaieteur's diversity in its columnists is nothing short of impressive when a journalist examines the objectivity of the paper for which they write. I'd like to say I made a good choice, but I didn't choose Kaieteur, it chose me - and I'm so glad it did.

I can't imagine writing for the Chronicle. Not that they would have me write for them. Can you imagine it? Just picture them trying to make me tone down my views of the sitting government! There would have been stuff flying, and nasty words flying, and then I'd be flying out the door.

Even if we did get along for just a short while, they would eventually have to fire me for laughing at their Letters to the Editor. I like that Kaieteur allows me to be me - an intelligent woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind. And I'm so glad I don't have Robert Persaud standing over my back while I write my columns. That could get really annoying.

Email: Stellasays[at]

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My Defence - Freddie Kissoon

Here's Sweet and Sensitive Freddie's response to my column "Your Voice Is Not Your Own, Freddie."
I have been criticized by Stella Ramsaroop, someone I feel has an interest in building a culture of independent thinking in Guyana , for espousing the cause of the Alliance for Change. Ms. Ramsaroop feels that I could jeopardize my standing as someone who has staked out an independent landscape in Guyana .

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with any columnist choosing a political party of his liking. The obvious question is the one that many people will ask – would you criticize that party in your column?

The answer is yes. I have done that before. I was sympathetic to the Working People's Alliance when I did a simultaneous column for the Catholic Standard and the Stabroek News. That was public knowledge. Yet I had made analytical remarks on the strategies of the WPA and earned the wrath of many of their leaders. In fact, a WPA executive member had confided in me that he was getting married.

When I did a piece of the WPA's flawed attitude towards the Election Commission in the Stabroek News, he was annoyed and left me off his guest list.

In Guyana , politics means everything to the people of this country. Politics is the single most destructive factor throughout our history and at the present time.

If we are ever going to take off as Barbados , Trinidad and Jamaica have done, then we have to get our politics right.

I have watched as a little boy, a grown up lad and now a person moving on to middle age, how politics has destroyed this potentially rich country whose actual realization of its wealth could be another Singapore success story.

The journey for that success story began in 1992. Whatever hope we had of this country began in 1992.

By “we” I am referring to that politicized section of the Guyanese society that had struggled heroically against the PNC dictatorial government since 1968. It is the failure of the dreams and hopes of 1992 that have led me to see hope in the Alliance for Change.

That hope should not be denied me because I (and to a certain extent my family) have suffered tremendously in struggling for a free Guyana .

Guyana is my home. I am not migrating. I don't want to. Therefore my obligation is to see a free and democratic Guyana .

As someone who has made sacrifices (and I guess still do; twice my life has been endangered the past two years), I see it as a philosophical right to support new, enlightened forces that could help my country.

Inside the inner depths of my mind, I believe Guyana does not have a future with the PPP. I will use the rest of this essay to explain why I think so.

It is within this framework, I support the Alliance for Change. This political conceptualization of mine is based on a social exigency – all Guyanese are facing a bleak future if there is no profound rearrangement in the distribution of power in this country in 2006. Whether we are columnists, businessmen, civil society leaders, we do not have a choice.

Look at our past. Look at our present condition. What have the combined 48 years of PNC and PPP rule done for Guyana ? Why shouldn't every Guyanese look for changes? We do not have a choice. Guyana 's future is at stake.

The focus for any analyst in the 2006 election has to be the PPP. Because of our demography, the PPP is more likely to win the 2006 election. I believe the PNC lacks the talent and resources to mount a successful campaign.

I cannot escape my obligation as a social science analyst in evaluating the rule of the PPP going back to 1957. In the remaining paragraphs, I will briefly attempt such a task.

At the individual level, the people who make up the PPP hierarchy are ordinary people like you and me. They have normal lives and do the mundane things that husband and wives and parents do.

It is when they function as the PPP that they lose their individuality and become part of a culture. The PPP is not an institution. It is not an organization.

The PPP is a culture. From the youngest as in Robert Persaud and Bharrat Jagdeo to the oldest, Janet Jagan and Reepu Daman Persaud, the party manifests that culture when dealing with people whether in their capacity as PPP leaders or as government functionaries.

The PPP was born in a tempestuous, violent era. It was a time when the West was locked in a bloody, silent war with communists all over the world. Communists were slaughtered on a vast scale in countries where the Cold War found a battlefield. Guyana was no exception.

The communist character in those years incorporated the trait of paranoia. The fifties and sixties were periods of Western domination. The Soviets had to be content with Eastern Europe and Cuba .

The worldwide communist movement lived in fear. The communists felt that they were specially selected for decimation by the Americans.

This paranoia runs deep in the psyche of every communist. The tragedies the Jagan Government suffered in the sixties reinforced this phobia. It explains why the PPP will never practise inclusive politics. A communist movement will not trust “outsiders.” One has to be blind not to see that we have had 13 years of this trait by the PPP.

Then there is the characteristic of messianism. A little bit of this came out at the PPP Congress in August. Communists believe that that Marxist ideology is superior and must triumph. Messianism in the PPP took a tighter hold on its leaders with the recapture of power and its retention since 1992.

For all PPP leaders, history has proven them right. Out of messianism comes a natural tendency of greatness. The two are organically related. If you have historical destiny, then you are superior to others.

The combined instincts of messianism and greatness are manifested in a disgusting display of chauvinism in the PPP.

The PPP is not going to share power or compromise with other parties or actors in the society unless these other groups become subservient.

I believe that even if Jesse Jackson or Nelson Mandela come to broker a peace deal with the PPP, these four characteristics will prevent the PPP from signing on to a historic compromise.

The truth is that the PNC will not change its spots. The PPP will never change its own. If the PPP wins the 2006 election, it will be business as usual.

For me, the way out of this 48-year prison is for new forces to emerge in government.

For this reason I support the Alliance for Change. Others can make their choice but I have a right to make mine.

Stella says…It Is Never Easy To Do The Right Thing

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 23 Oct 2005)

One of my all time favourite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, “Always do the right thing. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” I have generally found this statement to be true.

However, for the sake of honesty, it must also be said that doing the right thing is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it is down right hard! Take for example the perplexing situation that Raphael Trotman, Khemraj Ramjattan and Sheila Holder have recently found themselves.

These three Members of Parliament are in a simply delectable position. The trio has decided to form a new political party, Alliance For Change (AFC), and to contest the election next year. Much ado has been made about this new party. It is as if there is a tiny gleam of hope peeking out from the usually pessimistic eyes of the people.

This situation gets a bit sticky because the GAP/WPA, PNC and PPP are the ones that granted these seats in Parliament and since the MPs claim to no longer adhere to the thoughts and practices of their former parties, it seems they are now– by constitutional mandate – expected to resign their positions.

Further, the people expect these resignations too. It would go a long way toward proving the MPs have completely cut ties with their former parties and are ready to start something fresh and new. Consequently, the whole country is now watching to see if they will do the right thing and resign from their positions.

Indeed, this must truly be a very difficult decision for them. On the one hand, if they relinquish their seats and the legislative power attached to them, the result will no doubt be sad and torturous. It means they will no longer have the ability to positively affect decisions that will have an impact on the people.

On the other hand, if they do not resign, their actions will be viewed with contempt and their motives with suspect. This could mean the end of their new party before it even got a chance to get off the ground. However, one thing is for sure – the people of Guyana have a very long memory.

In 1992, Cheddi Jagan promised a government free of corruption. The results of Transparency International’s (TI) recent survey are proof that the PPP has not followed through with this promise. But we didn’t need TI’s survey to be aware of this corruption; all we need to do is take a stroll through Pradoville to see that something is indeed askew.

It is because of such a long history of government distortion and ambiguousness that the people long for leaders who are above reproach. It is not perfection being sought, but a clear indication that doing what is right is the highest priority, regardless of how difficult it may be.

This is why the three renegade MPs need to step down from their positions. The people need to know these leaders are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to retain their integrity. Transparency, integrity and honesty are the desired qualities of the next generation of Guyanese leaders. The people deserve squeaky-clean leadership, not sneaky team politics.

In reality, this sacrifice on the part of these MPs would be a great one since there is a high possibility that none, or possibly only one, of them would regain their position in the election next year. Therefore, if Trotman, Ramjattan and Holder do indeed resign their positions - the people can take a deep breath with the knowledge that they have no other agenda than to serve the people.

If they do not resign their positions, then it would be wise to reassess their motives to determine the driving factors behind starting a new party. However, I am hoping for the best. I am hoping they will gratify and astonish the people by doing the right thing.

Trotman and Holder have both said they will deal with this situation at the official launching of the AFC next weekend. It will take a great deal of internal fortitude to make a decision to do the right thing in this situation. However, it is exactly that kind of courage and determination that Guyana needs right now.

As for me, I am struggling with my own decision. I know the right thing is to ignore my craving for chocolate, but for some reason I simply cannot seem to stifle this craving.

Therefore, I have no plans to gratify anyone else but myself today, because I’m on my way to the store to get some scrumptious, delectable, mouth-watering chocolate. Maybe I’ll share with a friend or two – since that would be the right thing to do.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Stella Says…Corruption is Guyana's Primary Enemy

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 20 Oct 2005)

I am giving it my all this morning not to be spitting mad. How often do I get this upset? Not often; I'm a somewhat easy-going type of person. However, I do have sensitive buttons that, when pushed, tend to provoke a passionate response. This morning's button is Guyana 's extremely low rating in the Transparency International's (TI) 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

Guyana scored a measly 2.5 on a scale of 10 and ranked 121 out of 159 countries. The press release from TI said countries that scored below three indicated, “a severe corruption problem.” I am embarrassed and sad for Guyana . However, I am also piping mad. There are expletives I would love to throw in here, but I will refrain for the sake of propriety.

According to TI's Chairman, Peter Eigen, “Corruption is a major cause of poverty as well as a barrier to overcoming it.” Excuse me for a second whilst I once again regain my composure.

Up to this point, I have maintained a playful and fun ambiance with this column. Such an approach allows me to touch on sensitive issues in a polite and civilised manner. However, I do hope you will indulge me today and allow me to vent about this issue. I want to address this report which is not the least bit funny, and I simply don't feel the need to be polite. I promise to return to my usual wit and humour after I have had my say on this issue.

Concerning corruption and poverty, Eigen said, “The two scourges feed off each other, locking their populations in a cycle of misery. Corruption must be vigorously addressed if aid is to make a real difference in freeing people from poverty.”

In other words, poverty will reign in Guyana for as long as corruption reigns in Guyana .

The ironic part of this press release by TI is its timeliness. It comes right on the heels of a column put out by Robert Persaud, Information Liaison to the President. I had already determined to write a review of his column from this past weekend, where he said corruption “is like a cancer that can eat away at the fabric of any democracy.”

How very insightful of Mr. Persaud. Corruption is indeed one of the primary threats to any democracy. So here we are; the people are well aware of the extensive corruption, the government acknowledges the corruption, and now even the international community is weighing in on the extremity of the corruption in Guyana . What now?

To simply acknowledge this fact means absolutely nothing. It is pointless for Persaud to give lip service to the severity of this issue without providing an equally effectual strategy to battle it. However, I am making it my duty to call the government on such capriciousness, though usually in a more genteel manner. Conversely, today's news requires a good tongue-lashing.

Today the government has caused Guyana to be an embarrassment to the region. Today the government has no one but itself to blame for Guyana 's poverty. Today is the day that someone needs to be held accountable. Our 1992 hope for an honest and trustworthy new government has since been dashed. This rating is a direct reflection of our country's continued state since its independence.

“Corruption isn't a natural disaster: it is the cold, calculated theft of opportunity from the men, women and children who are least able to protect themselves,” said David Nussbaum, TI's Chief Executive. “Leaders must go beyond lip service and make good on their promises to provide the commitment and resources to improve governance, transparency and accountability.”

Corruption prevents local and foreign investors from doing business in Guyana . Corruption is a deterrent to the international community when considering their friendships. They don't want to be considered guilty by association, and who can blame them? After all, bad company corrupts good morals.

So who is it? Who takes the bribes? Who takes the people's money and spends it on themselves? Whoever it is should be fired. I am calling on the government to start an independent investigation, headed by upstanding citizens, to hunt down each and every corrupt public servant and fire them.

Corruption and poverty have direct links. Therefore corruption is Guyana 's primary enemy and it is time to declare war on it – starting with the immediate implementation of transparent accountability and open records. It is time to know from whence those big mansions and the nice cars your kids are driving have come. Tell me, did you buy those nice toys on your own salary? I don't think so.

Therefore, Mr. President, what is the government's response to this report, and what will you be doing to clean up the corruption for the people and for the future of Guyana ? This isn't a rhetorical question…I expect an answer.

Email: stellasays[at]

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Stella Says…Your Voice is not Your Own, Freddie

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 18 Oct 2005)

Sweet, sweet Freddie, what on earth are you thinking? You have aligned yourself with a political party and caused poor Peeper to believe this might be your Waterloo. Alas, my dear friend, I too need to have my say in this sorted situation.

Do you not realise the gravity of this decision to throw your hefty political weight behind one particular party? Never mind the vast amount of disappointment your decision must have caused nationwide, I just wonder if you have considered your role as an independent voice in Guyana or how much the nation depends on your static autonomy?

Sweet and Sensitive Freddie, do you not comprehend the level of responsibility you owe to the public? As a journalist, your voice is not your own – though it does not belong to the Third Force – it belongs to the people. You are obliged to speak for the people, and thus far you have done well to own up to that obligation.

From whence does this uncharacteristic move originate? Do you aspire for people to view you in the same manner they view columns written by other political parrots? Your column would be reduced to that of a biased voice with an agenda instead of a trusted media watchdog.

Don’t think me unsympathetic to your plight. After all, my last name is Ramsaroop. However, I know my job and I know where my alliance should always be – with the people – and that is exactly where it will always remain regardless of what the future brings.

This is a decision I made from the beginning because I know the ink of my pen (or rather the keyboard of my computer) should always be inclined toward the people. I also know that I cannot hope to offer an independent and impartial summation of government activities if I am personally tied to those affiliated with political aspirations – even if I cannot escape the connotations and assumptions attached to my last name.

So although I have a strong voice and a mighty pen, I refuse to allow any words attached to me personally to be used as a facilitating force for a political platform – regardless of pressure to do otherwise. I know full well that when my voice is compromised by political aspirations, the integrity of my voice will have been lost to the people.

Further, sweet Freddie, if you bow out of your responsibility to the people, someone they have trusted for years even if they do not agree with you, whom will they ever be able to trust again? It is already so very difficult to determine those who are really on the people’s side in Guyana.

There are other considerations to contemplate as well. For example, what if “your” party wins next year, will we be able to trust you to be impartial? Will we still be able to expect you to dig deep and deliver the truth concerning the government?

If “your” party looses, how could we then take your criticism of the standing government seriously? Although you may have offered an honest political critique for years, it would, in light of these new developments, seem slanted. You have always been above the unseemliness attached to politicians, so why would you willingly choose to get in the mud and roll around with them now?

There is one more issue, as an aside, that I would like you to take to heart as well. I implore you to reconsider your stance, because if you do not I will be forced into a position that would not reflect well on any columnist.

Consider this, if you relinquish your independence to a political party, I will be forced to attempt to manoeuvre my way into your lofty position as “the most courageous political analyst in Guyana” - as Peeping Tom called you.

I know that I am the newbie here, but if this position were indeed open, my competitive nature would compel me to attempt a coup d’etat against the other long-time and highly prolific columnists for such a desirable position.

Dear friend, do you really want to force me into such an awkward position so early in my journalism career at Kaieteur News? I do hope, as a friend, that you would at least consider the implications your decision would have on the rest of us before you take your leave as an independent mind.

I realise this is a lot pressure to put on you and I am truly sorry for that fact, but I am sure of your capacity to handle it. I also know there are some who might try to attach an alternative agenda to my plea for your continued independence. However, I will make this promise to you, if you do decide to reverse your decision and remain an independent voice for the people – I will do the same.

In fact, I will continue on in my independence even if you do not change your mind. However, this situation would put us on totally opposite sides of the spectrum – you as the politician and me as the watchdog. And trust me dear friend, I would watch you closely.

Read Freddie's Response

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Stella says…Guyanese are Very Smart People

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 16 Oct 2005)

Only recently, I have established a charming friendship with one of the PPP big dogs – Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud. Although to this point our friendship has been one-sided, with myself doing much of the talking and him doing much of the listening.

However, I trust this is only because he is an ample listener. Or perhaps it is because he is so busy with his various posts that he simply cannot find the time to respond to some pointed questions I posed to him a couple weeks ago. In my deep desire to be a good friend, I feel therefore obligated to be understanding and considerate of his time constraints.

I do find it odd that he has found the time to respond to several letter writers though, and it would seem that, at first glance, he is neglecting our friendship and purposefully avoiding interaction with me. However, I refuse to believe such poppycock and have instead decided to forge ahead believing the best of my new friend.

My dear friend, Smart and Sharp Robert, has lately waxed philosophical in his remembrance of the PPP’s time in office. He has even been quoting the likes of Plato and Rousseau. This is of great interest to me, that he would choose these two particular philosophers to emulate, especially given the most alarming way Mr. Persaud chose to start his column from last Sunday entitled, “What is Democracy – Part 1.”

Within the first few paragraphs of my friend’s column, he cites no less than five philosophers/politicians/scholars. These citations were not of the endearing qualities of democracy, but instead, when all placed together in short form, made one question the value of democracy.

In fact, so anti-democratic were these quotes that one would even most certainly question the need for democracy at all. The primary thrust was to focus on the problems of democracy, which in the end is only one problem – the people. Smart and Sharp Robert was quick to point that out; however, I sense a struggle in my friend concerning democracy.

This whole episode left me to wonder if my dear friend does indeed believe in democracy. He spent so much time and energy on pointing out the negative aspects of democracy and so little on the positive aspects, that it would indeed cause any one to question his views on this subject. I believe his use of Rousseau would explain so much, so I will explore this a little more.

You see Rousseau’s issue with democracy was the people. He did not believe in individual rights or property ownership. He felt that in a society where individualism is allowed to thrive, each person’s self-interest would clash with the self-interest of others and the result would be chaos. In other words, he did not think the people capable of governing.

Rousseau thought the people were not smart enough to sufficiently control their emotions to govern judiciously. Therefore, only the abstract “general will” of the people should considered by a statist government – thereby assuming the state is superior to the individual and all individual rights are derived from the state. This teaching is the primary foundation of socialist thought and the basis of the writings by Marx.

The paradox in this assumption is highlighted in implementation since those in government are also people who would be driven by self-interest and have no more intelligence than the common citizen. As proven in most socialist governments, self-interest drives politicians as much as it drives the people, if not more.

Rousseau’s political ideology was the diametrical opposite of John Locke, the philosopher whose thoughts most democracies desire to emulate. The stance Locke assumed, that the people are capable of governing themselves, is also the one I believe.

The underlying notion of Rousseau’s teachings is the inherent ignorance of the people, which is funny considering his lack of a formal education. This assumption of ignorance is where I take issue and where I must differ with my good friend, Smart and Sharp Robert. I do not think the people of Guyana to be so self-interested that they cannot decide for themselves what is best for the nation.

On the contrary, I find the political discourse in Guyana to be highly intelligent and the letters to the editors on political and social issues to be progressive and inclusive of the needs of the society at whole. Would that more countries in the world had people who were as active, able and inclusive as the Guyanese.

I would venture to say that Guyana has more than enough people that are capable of governing. Guyanese know what they want in life and from their government. In fact, more times than not, it has been the government who has stood in the way of progress in Guyana – not the people.

To assume the ignorance and idiocy of the people is foolhardy in itself. For example, further on in my friend’s column he says, “The rule of law has been restored and people today can feel, with varying degrees of comfort, that their community is one in which the laws of the land are paramount and respected.”

Does he really think one person in this country believes this type of malarkey? Indeed my good friend, I must say that only a government who thinks the people inferior would insult them with these types of fairy-tales when they have to dodge bullets and run from rapists.

Don’t be distraught though, my good friend, I have a hefty library of John Locke and am more than willing to share these jewels with you and your other friends. I do hope you don’t mind if I point out little inconsistencies in your quotes or the overall imprudent judgment of your foundational philosophies.

Since last week’s column was only part one of your views on democracy, I do hope that you redeem yourself in part two. I’m sure our newly formed friendship is more than able to withstand such interaction and I look forward to additional amiable dialogue with you in the future.

Email: stellasays[at]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stella says…Let’s Help the President Look Good

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 13 Oct 2005)

According to an article in Stabroek News last Tuesday, President Jagdeo is cutting through more red tape by freeing up over $50 million to take care of those nasty sewers. Although there is still no word yet on whether flowers will be planted in place of the sewage, as I suggested last week, this is a monumental step.

So great is this step that, being the sceptic that I am, it begs the question, “Why now”? Why fix those sewers now? They have been overflowing and stinking up the city for decades and after 13 years in office, the President has yet to do anything about it.

Could it be the upcoming election has motivated the PPP to let go of its purse strings a little and make some grand gestures to impress the people? Maybe this is how they plan to keep the hearts of the people – they are going to buy our affection.

Within the last year, the roads have improved and the airport is looking real spiffy. The initial stages of the long awaited Berbice Bridge are supposedly underway too (although I truly have serious doubts that anything substantial will really develop between now and election time, but I guess we can always hope for the best).

All of this generosity AND new sewers too! Maybe Guyana should change its Constitution to have an election every two or three years so we can see this kind of progress on a regular basis instead of as a treat bestowed on the country every blue moon.

The best part of this announcement was that after 13 years in office, President Jagdeo has decided that "If the city looks good, I look good as President of the country." I suppose that would work in the other direction as well, that if the city looks bad then he looks bad. If so, then His Excellency is in need of a major makeover.

If we are going to draw a parallel between how good/bad the President looks with how good/bad the city looks, then we are going to need add a whole team of plastic surgeons to the government’s payroll.

We’re not talking about the speedy type of makeover that you get from your girlfriend right before an important event. This is going to require the type of massive makeovers you see on the television when surgery is involved, fat is sucked out, dangly things are tucked and pinned, botox is injected and lots of implants are strategically inserted.

There would be lots of lifts in the right places, enhancements and reductions as needed and lasers would be blazing for all of those ugly blemishes. This type of makeover would entail very long words like rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, liposuction and liposculpture. Lots of time would be needed for healing and maybe, just maybe, the end result will be something that resembles normalcy.

I guess it all has to start somewhere though, and those repulsive sewers are the perfect place to start. Evidently the council was moving far too slow for the President, so he decided to start this face-lift right away by circumventing the bureaucracy and just putting the money where it needed to go. If only someone would have thought of that a decade ago!

I was reminiscing with some older Guyanese this past weekend who talked about how beautiful things use to be way back when. Gesturing with her hands to demonstrate the splendor of trees and paved walkways, my mother-in-law told me for the umpteenth time about how picturesque Main Street was back in the day.

How many times has this story been told by one generation to another? How many times have our hearts ached for the return of this beauty? Even now, my heart aches to think of how much Guyana has to offer its citizens and the world – if only.

If only the economy was thriving. If only the PNC was not power-hungry when in office. If only racism wasn’t a justification or an instigation for crime. If only the road to Brazil was already built. If only…the sewers could last another 50 years, then we could use that PPP treat to pay the police enough to catch the drug lords.

I’m not trying to belittle the sewer makeover; I just think that if election time were not around the corner then the sewers would continue to be neglected. I may be wrong, but history does seem to prove that I am indeed right.

So I say we milk this for all we can! Let’s try to get as much out of the government as we can between now and the election next year. Maybe we could get some of the litter cleaned off the streets or some paint to spruce things up here and there. Maybe we even could sweet-talk them into a real big treat like additional traffic lights to keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely.

Gosh, there are a million things we could try to get out of the government in the next few months. And why not? After all, if the city looks good, then the President looks good – and we all want the President to look good, right? Because making the President look good is the most important issue in Guyana right now…right?

Email: stellasays[at]

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Stella Says…Play Nice Children or You’ll Get No Vote

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 11 Oct 2005)

What is the most important item on the agenda for the next few months? For Guyanese, there is a very important decision to make about the future. Therefore, until this time next year we will all be carefully watching the party in power, the opposition and the formation and juxtaposition of new groups. This is going to be a lot of work!

Sometimes, it seems like all of this “watching” it is like being a babysitter or a mother. Actually, come to think of it, these groups often act like children too. One party blames another party for breaking the country’s economic stability. Almost daily one party is pointing an accusing finger at the other party and pouting over how they have to do the so many chores because of the other party. It really is so childish.

All of this childish behaviour meshes together in one’s mind until a year (or 13) has gone by before you know it and although that teenager is suppose to be acting more mature and preparing for adulthood, the childish behaviour still prevails. That child needed some good stern discipline years ago and now it is becoming very difficult to teach even the basics of good behaviour without getting a jutting chin of rebellion for a response.

All of these years Guyana has had two big babies that actually need a stern hand instead of a pacifying pat on the shoulder. It really is time for them to grow up and start acting like adults. The citizens are the ones who have to keep cleaning up after these kids every time they make another mess and refuse to take the responsibility for their own actions.

There should be a new rule in the house, if you can’t clean up your mess after you are done playing – then you don’t get to play. This would apply to the new children too. It seems Guyana has given birth to at least two more kids for the next election. One is named Guyana Third Force and the other is Alliance For Change. Who ever named these babies should be ashamed of themselves.

Therefore, we have new babies who want to start playing with the already immature children. The big question is whether they will all be able to play nicely together to make Momma Guyana happy. I’m not holding my breath. We all know how selfish children can be and I’m willing to bet the farm that the older children are not going to want to share their toys.

The PPP (with this name there is bound to be a lot of diapers) has been able to play all it wants without so much as a murmur from Momma because she is just happy that the older child, the PNC, isn’t around to be mean anymore. Even when the younger child is acting atrociously, Momma just shrugs and says, “At least things are better now than before.”

I suspect things may change very soon though with the addition of the new children. Mothers tend to give a lot more attention to the brand new babies with their cute smiles and their fresh personalities. Where will that leave the PPP? Mark my words on this one folks, that stubborn, childish teen will do anything necessary to get Momma’s attention back. Just wait and see how much the PPP will act up in the next few months if Guyana starts to give more attention to the new babies.

In fact, this jealous behaviour already started a few weeks ago when Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud threw a fit about other “politicians” being able to write in the same paper he was allowed to write in. And what a temper tantrum it was! Poor baby! Momma had to gently explain that it was okay for the other children to play too and the PPP needed to be a good kid and share their toys.

I guess kids will be kids. I do have a couple words of advice to give the new Third Force though. I noticed you didn’t have any girls playing with you. Tisk, tisk, tisk. You need to take that “No Girls Allowed” sign off of your tree house right this instant boys. Girls don’t have cooties. In fact, they have the sharp minds that you need if you really plan to navigate your way through the playground.

The second piece of advice is that you play nice with the other new baby. If you two play nice together and make cute cooing sounds, Momma will forget about that rebellious teenager and give you all the attention you want. But if you two can’t play nice, she will treat you with the same disregard as she does the other children.

My primary interest is to make sure these children are not toying with the emotions of the people. Though these politicians act like children, Guyana’s future is no game. It is time for all of the players involved in this game to grow up and get to work. While we are still in our infancy stages, the rest of the world is growing up fast. We just can’t be babies forever.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Stella Says…It’s Time for a Reality Check

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 09 Oct 2005)

I have always been a person who finds it difficult to take a statement from someone else at face value. Growing up in church, I was the one who always questioned the teachings from the minister and teachers instead of just accepting these dogmas as true just because an adult said I should.

Further, if I saw actions that would contradict the teachings, I was not one to stay silent and let it slide – as one is expected to do. In fact, I would even point these inconsistencies out and ask the obvious questions that would accompany such incongruities. In other words, my distrust of the “system” was a constant thorn in the sides of those who were supposed to be instructing me.

With age, this pesky little trait didn’t seem to diminish, as one would expect. Instead, it seem to grow stronger with the more knowledge I gained from my education and the lessons learnt in life. I can still remember the day when I realised it was not only permissible - but also a noble trait - to question even the President of the United States. This is the type of environment in which a person like me thrives.

Then I started my training as a journalist. We are taught to question everything. I can still hear the words of my instructors ringing in my ears as they emphatically tell me, “Even if your mother tells you she loves you – you must still question it”! No problem; I had been questioning these types of everyday occurrences for as long as I could remember.

When Bush said Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction,” I knew it wasn’t true and wrote columns upon columns against the immorality of invading another country unprovoked. I still question everything. I simply can’t help myself. Even when I want to believe someone, I find it so very difficult to do so. It seems that I have an innate ability to question and a natural instinct to seek out the truth, even if the truth is not what everyone wants to hear.

Which brings me to the point of this column. Guyana has started its 14th year as a free country and this achievement nothing short of remarkable. There should be dancing in the streets and fireworks flying in the sky. My dear friend, Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud wrote a beautiful column that called for all Guyanese to remember where they came from, take joy in their achievements thus far and to expect even more from the future.

He really had me hooked and I was soon basking in the rays of patriotism and revelling in the beauty of progress. But that all came to a screeching halt when I was so very near the end of the column. It was then when that darn intrinsic questioning started sending up red flags and I had to pause to make sure emotionalism hadn’t overtaken my sense of rationale.

The paragraph started out, “Look at how far Guyana has come since 1992. All freedoms are growing.” At this point, I’m still hooked and enjoying my sense of pride in Guyana. Then he said, “Our Constitution is the most inclusive in the Hemisphere.” BAM!

That was the end of my little trip down memory lane and the start of my uncertainty. Is that statement true? Well, I studied Guyana’s Constitution for a college paper, so I know that it is very inclusive. Is it “the most inclusive in this Hemisphere”? I’m not too sure about that, but I do know there is a difference between having a well-written constitution and the actual implementation of that charter.

This little statement is what caused me to turn my brain back on and check my emotions at the door. By the next statement my distrust had kicked in and was on full alert. Smart and Sharp Robert then said, “Our economic and financial framework is one of the most open in this part of the world.” I must say that at this statement my distrust sirens were going off and my own sharp mind was cranking away again.

With all due respect, Smart and Sharp Robert, but I think that a reality check is definitely in order my friend. Do you live in Guyana? Right off the top of my head I can give you a handful of examples of how Guyana is NOT open to investors.

At this point, the righteous indignation of a truth seeker is rising up inside me and I’m ready for a good, healthy debate. But the column goes even further. It said, “Our people today are free to criticise, object and even protest against their government.” Ha! Maybe someone should ask Sharma and Christopher Ram is this statement is true. My guess is that they would beg to differ.

The paragraph ends with his statement, “Our human rights record is world-rated.” It was at this point that I had start protesting to my husband because I was so upset. Like I said, I wrote an in depth paper on Guyana’s history, constitution, international relations, etc. This paper included the degree to which human rights are respected in Guyana. There are international organisations that track this type of important information, one of which is Amnesty International (AI).

Anyone can visit AI’s site and find out what they have to say about Guyana. They cite rampant crime and the government’s inability to control it as an infringement against the human rights of Guyanese. This is what it says, “Violent criminal acts, such as those occurring in Guyana, cause shock, outrage and grief and give rise to strong public demand for the punishment of the perpetrators and the prevention of further attacks. Although Amnesty International does not use the term ‘terrorism’ because it is an emotive and politically-loaded term without an agreed legal definition, the organisation takes action against killings and other acts which constitute abuses of human rights as defined under international humanitarian law and general human rights instruments.”

There are other considerations to take into account as well, such as death squads, women’s rights and children’s rights. Just the underlying fear that plagues the citizens and those who visit the country is enough to prove that my friend Smart and Sharp Robert does indeed need a reality check. If the human rights in Guyana were indeed “world-rated,” as his column would have us believe, then perhaps someone should tell Freedom House to take down its Website’s very long diatribe that specifies the various violations of human rights in Guyana.

In the end, I agree with Smart and Sharp Robert on the point of Guyana’s growing freedoms. However, let’s be realistic concerning the state of the country. Guyana still has so very long way to go. While it is good to be proud of how much growth has taken place in the last decade, we need to remember that there are still so many changes yet to be made and playing pretend games of make believe is not the way to get it done.

Email: stellasays[at]

Friday, October 07, 2005

Freddie willing to fight tirelessly for just society - Annan Boodram

Here's a Letter to the Editor written by Annan Boodram in today's Kaieteur News regarding sweet and sensitive Freddie.

Dear Editor,

Like Stella Ramsaroop whose columns I immensely enjoy, I too would like to throw my two cents' worth of support behind Freddie Kissoon. Love him or hate him, I'll wager that Freddie is today one of the most widely and intensely read of all Guyanese newspaper columnists.

The passion that imbues his writings seems to infect readers whether they agree or disagree with his positions. Indeed Stella puts it so succinctly when she states with respect to Freddie that “a society that is thriving in intellectual stimulation and encourages a healthy exchange of ideas and philosophies would be lost without him”.

But I venture to go one step further and disagree with Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen when she stated that “a proper society that is well-ordered would have no place for the likes of Freddie Kissoon”. In fact it is a Freddie Kissoon who would not only fight with every breath in his body to bring about such a society, but who would also strive with every bone and sinew in his being to ensure that such a society continues to flourish.

This love of country, this mission to right the wrongs of individuals and society, this endless striving to give voice to the voiceless and to represent the underdog is what separates Freddie from other columnists. And, while we may argue and debate Freddie's positions, curse or praise the man, very few will doubt his sincerity. So Freddie, keep that pen flowing because Guyana indeed needs you, my brother!

In the same vein, I find it rather ironic that Ms. Holder-Allen (as Freddie pointed out) threatens to sue for libel when the letter in which she makes that threat is chockful of libel. I wager that, had that letter been directed at someone else rather than Freddie, it would never have been printed simply because the owner and editor of Kaietuer News would have known that they would have had a lawsuit on their hands.

In that same letter the Chief Magistrate indeed waxes narcissistically (as Freddie also pointed out) while she proclaims herself a leader in her community. Strange that not only does this ‘leader' have to blow her own trumpet but that her followers have not rushed in their numbers to let her symphony reverberate.

Methinks the Chief Magistrate's diatribe, nay rantings, speak more volumes about her than everything Freddie has written.

On the matter that raised the ire of the Chief Magistrate, while I agree that myriad factors go into bail-setting decisions, is it not rather logical that the bail, like the punishment, should fit the crime?

Surely those impacting factors are not simultaneously mitigating factors to the extent that the entire bail structure becomes skewed? For then, are we not sending a message that the more serious the crime the less severe the bail?

Finally, I enjoyed the Peeper's column of September 29th entitled “Has history ended for the PPP?”

But I must express disagreement with Fukuyama regarding his thesis about the end of history. Given the emotional, psychological and sociological complexity of the human being, it seems rather far-fetched to accept that mankind would be satisfied with a sterilised, placid, downright boring world.

And, given the now universally accepted Hindu philosophical proposition that the world exists in dualities, it becomes evident that placidity, sterility and boredom will give rise to their opposites. So, while massive ideological struggles

may have come to an end, massive religious struggles continue to fester — as do internecine ethnic conflicts. In fact, even in the realm of the ideological, differences continue to impact on nations and economies.

Venezuela's Chavez, for example, has been hogging the limelight as he pits himself as the champion of socialism willing to take on the American super-power.

So not only is the world a far cry from being a sterile, placid habitat but, at the end of the day, whether religious, ethnic or even ideological at the level of rhetoric, conflicts and confrontation have as their end result the striving for power and control.

And wasn't that what the Cold War was about - this endless striving for power and control over human lives?

Annan Boodram

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Stella Says…Polls Can Be So Temperamental

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 06 Oct 2005)

I was a participant in a recent poll at an event that was largely attended by journalists, political science junkies and historians (I am a little bit of all of these). The man we all went to hear started his lecture by polling the audience on their political views.

His first question was, “How many of you voted for George W. Bush in the last election”? Out of about 2,000 attendees, only three people timidly raised their hands. The speaker then asked, “How many of you think the war in Iraq was a wise and conscience decision”? Again, the same three people raised their hands again.

Then the man asked, “How many of you voted for John Kerry in the last election”? The room was filled with a sea of hands. Then he asked, “How many of you think the decision to invade Iraq was probably not the wisest move to make”? Again, waves of hands rolled through the audience.

At face value, a poll such as this would provoke one to question how on earth Bush ever got back into the White House. However, it is necessary to understand that the attendees at this particular event, though it was just a book signing, were most likely Democrats, which would explain the overwhelming disapproval of the current US administration.

If the same questions were asked in almost any church in America, the results would probably be just as disproportionate – but in the opposite direction. This is why I say polls are so temperamental. Yes, I took statistics in college and know there are mathematical equations and scientific methods used to gather, sort and dissect this data, but I also know that ever poll is subject to human error and partiality. This is why a stated margin of error usually follows the results of every poll.

Which brings us to the recent polls in Guyana. Politicians need a way to gauge the people – they want to discover the political temperature of the country. Polls are certainly vogue nowadays and there is just no way getting around that fact. I just have to wonder about the reliability factor though.

How can a poll possibly foresee a future that has yet to be decided? In fact, I would surmise that many Guyanese are still in the decision making process, so how can a poll know the results of next year’s election when the people still haven’t made up their minds?

Everyone has their own opinion about a matter and that is the purpose of a poll, to find out what that opinion is and if necessary, sway that opinion to favour the interested parties. For example, Freddie’s column yesterday was on many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax -- Of cabbages and kings --And why the sea is boiling hot --And whether pigs have wings (Okay, he didn’t talk about all of that, but it sure seemed like it).

After reading his column, if I took a poll and asked, “Do you think Freddie will indeed find God”? – Each person’s response would be based on several factors like religious views and the interpretation of Freddie’s column.

Further, even the interpretation of the final result is in the eye of the beholder. Those who want Freddie to find God will seek to interpret the results in a manner fitting their desires. Those who never want Freddie to find God will find ways to interpret the results in an entirely different way than the first group. And of course, there are those who would like the results to reflect neither heaven nor hell for Freddie.

In the recent political polls, the margin of error leaves enough space for pretty much anyone to swoop in and win the hearts of the people. This is what I hope happens. Not that I want emotions to take precedence over sound reasoning in the election booths, I would just like to see someone who truly cares about Guyana and her people win the election next year. I don’t care who that person is – as long as his/her focus is the people for the entire term in office.

Meanwhile, let’s test my theory on polls. I will present a question and anyone who wants to respond can do so through my email at the end of this column. Sometime next week I will let everyone know the results.

Here’s the question:

Should Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud ever vacate his post as Information Liaison to the President, who do you think should replace him?

a) Peeping Tom
b) Freddie Kissoon
c) Dem Boys

Feel free to vote as often as you like for as many candidates as you like. No scientific methods will be applied to the poll since I am not very scientific. In fact, we’re going to be lucky if I can simply count the responses without messing it up, because math is not my strong point either. Boy, it sure is good that I can write.

Email: stellasays[at]

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Stella says…If I Were President of Guyana, I would…

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 04 Oct 2005)

Don’t start worrying your pretty little heads; I am not adding my name to the list of those who want to be the President of Guyana. I don’t even want to start another party, like my friend Peeping Tom, although I do think I would make a great Minister of Groove (hint, hint Peeper).

However, since there are newly forming parties out there that do not seem to have an established platform as yet, I have decided to establish my own and since I have no plans to use this platform, these other parties are free to borrow from any part of it if they wish to do so.

Okay, here we go:

If I were President, I would establish an adopt-a-mile program so organisations, churches, schools, etc., could adopt a portion of a road and help keep it clean from litter. In fact, I would also impose a harsh fine for all the litterbugs and those menacing deviants who don’t know the difference between a toilet and a stranger’s home.

If I were President, I would privatise The Chronicle. As much as I would LOVE to have my very own newspaper to write gobs of columns on important issues such as shopping and dancing, I just don’t think sweet and sensitive Freddie could find the time to be my editor – and I don’t see how The Chronicle could possibly operate effectively under anyone else.

If I were President, unlike The Peeper, I would make the Pumpkin Eater a prime example of how the Diaspora can return home and have a positive impact on the investment climate of the country. Cutting through the red tape would be my platform - not something I promise to do years after being in office. After all, pumpkins don’t look very good when they are covered in red tape.

If I were President, I would never sue a newspaper – even if they hurt my feelings. However, I would keep Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud around since he is so good at spinning and that could come in handy on the dance floor when we are all getting our national groove on.

If I were President, I would build a world-class resort right next to Kaieteur Falls to let the world know that “Guyana is Open for Tourism.” I would also institute Baganara Lime-aid as the official drink of Guyana. This could help sell more rum, thereby creating new jobs and sparking fresh life into the economy.

If I were President, I would ban all forms of Puppet Politics. Important national decisions would be made with the good of the people in mind. I would cut the strings of puppet politicians with the same scissors I use to cut through the red tape. Then I would cut the nametags off of any airport employee who is planting drugs on unsuspecting travellers and give them a prison identification number instead. Those scissors would definitely get some good use.

If I were President, I would start building a road to connect to Brazil…yesterday. I would move heaven and earth to make sure that road is built and then I would open the borders to Brazilian tourists who would visit the new resort at Kaieteur Falls. I would also make huge cuts in import/export taxes, so the Brazilians can share all of their fun stuff with us and we can share all of our fun stuff with them. Everyone would be having tons o’ fun.

If I were President, I would let the world know that we love foreign investors. I would make buttons to pin on the shirts and lapels of those in Parliament so they could wear them everywhere in the country and when they are at official meetings outside the country. I would also teach each of them to hug potential foreign investors as a sign of trust and appreciation for considering Guyana for their business ventures. This brings a whole new definition to open arm economics and we all know that a little hug can go a long way.

If I were President, I would have the mothers of Guyana screen each applicant for the Police Force. Mothers have a knack for knowing if a person is good or crooked and they could help reduce the corruption in law enforcement. Mother’s are also very protective and take their jobs as guardians of their families and society as a whole very seriously. This would mean that the dad’s would have to start helping out around the house more and maybe even learn to make his own dinner. Now, wouldn’t that be a travesty? (Not!)

If I were President, I would plant great smelling flowers in the places where every sewer has backed up – after I have fixed the sewer system. According to Smart and Sharp Robert, it is important to remember our history, and since our history has smelly sewers, I think it is only appropriate to redeem that history with nice smelling flowers.

This is just a small sample of what I consider to be a healthy platform for any of the newly forming parties. Please feel free to use any part of this platform as your own since I will not need it. I believe each of these points to be an obvious issue that should be considered by anyone who want to serve the people of Guyana. In fact, I bet the people could add to this platform exponentially – so why not ask them.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

13 Years of democratic rule - Robert Persaud

Here's the column by Robert Persaud from today's Kaieteur News. Look for my response soon.
October 5 marks 13 years since the return of democracy to Guyana . This is a landmark date in the national calendar and an equally important fact of our history.

As we reflect on this occasion, we all need to recall the struggles of our ancestors and celebrated freedom fighters. The struggle for a return to democracy, after the blatant rigging of elections and the institution of a repressive dictatorship by the PNC regime, was inspired by earlier epochs of struggles.

Our ancestors' fight to end slavery and indentureship and more recently, to achieve Independence , steeled our people for the freedom battles which took place during the 1964-1992 period.

There are the apologists who harp that we must not recall the infamous dictatorship period. I caution them that a nation unaware of its past cannot move forward firmly. On Emancipation, Indian Indentureship, Independence and Republic Anniversaries, the entire nation engages in an exercise of recognition and deep reflection of past struggles and tribulations.

We would annually recall the contributions of our ancestors and fore-parents and their impact on current development and progress. Those who urge that we must forget the past are very selective; they only want us to erase the PNC's 28 years of dictatorship from our national reflections. Our history cannot be selective or rewritten. What has happened cannot be erased from our national consciousness, especially as new generations emerge.

These apologists want us to forget the ballot box martyrs who were gunned down at No. 63 Village, Corentyne while objecting to the removal of the ballot boxes in 1973. They want us to forget the cold-blooded slaughter of Fr. Bernard Darke, Dr. Walter Rodney and others and the tens of thousands who were forced to flee this land.

They want us to forget the hundreds who were tortured and abused for speaking out against the dictatorship. They want us to forget the suffocation of the private sector and destruction of the national economy. They want us to forget the squander-mania and rampant corruption. They want us to forget the ethnic and political discrimination practised in that by-gone era.

I have always advocated the view that our people's full appreciation of our newly- found democracy is impaired by the fact that we did not convene a Truth Commission following the return of democracy. Notwithstanding, our past should not be a burden on the future.

Many would urge that this past should not be a millstone as the nation moves forward. The misdeeds of the main opposition party do not mean that its political influence or its potential to contribute to our society's advancement should be ignored. Our celebration of democracy involves the painful exercise as we must always reflect on the journey covered.

This soul-searching has reinforced our people's commitment to build and strengthen our democracy.

Look at how far Guyana has come since 1992. All freedoms are growing. Our Constitution is the most inclusive in this Hemisphere. Our economic and financial framework is one of the most open in this part of the world. Our people today are free to criticize, object and even protest against their government. Our people's freedom is now safeguarded by our Constitution and a raft of international conventions. Our human rights record is world-rated.

Guyana as an emerging democracy is a shining example for countries which shared that similar destructive past. We are constantly reminded of the mantra – development requires democracy.

The month of October provides for activities to reflect and celebrate our freedom. This month must strengthen our resolve to defend our democracy, and prevent the enemies of freedom from retaking our society.

The significance of October 5 cannot be underestimated. We build on our national democratic state, which the late President Cheddi Jagan articulated, will grow in the coming years.

With every October 5, 1992, we must heighten our defence of the democracy.
Read My Response

Stella says…Caveman Ideology is So Last Season

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 02 Oct 2005)

This week the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security announced the re-launching of its quarterly magazine, “Woman Powah.” In light of the many vile headlines that blazed in front of our eyes this week detailing a woman dying because of a botched abortion, a woman being abducted on her way to work, 110 rapes in this year so far and little girls being sold by their families to disgusting old men – this is one headline that offers a bit of hope for the women of Guyana.

According to a Kaieteur News article from last Friday, Minister Bibi Shadick, “stated that ‘Woman Powah' has a role to play in keeping women informed, and by so doing creating that awareness which is required for moving Guyana towards its goal of gender equity.”

Bravo Bibi!! Bravo!!! I think you just might be my favorite person in the entire PPP government. In a time when gender equality is still on shaky grounds in even the most progressive countries, Guyana’s government is taking significant measures to dispel notions of inequity. Now this is one policy I can support 100 percent.

Caveman ideology, or misogyny – as they call it in modern language, is slowly being weeded out of civilized society since women are now “allowed” to get an education, work outside of the house and leave abusive or unfaithful husbands with compensation for their contributions to his success in life. We’ve come a long way baby! This is where we raise our wine glasses for a toast – clink!

Really now girls, isn’t it about time? Can you believe there was a time when men actually thought they were smarter than us? Please! That would mean that I wouldn’t have the intellectual capacity to hold my own with the likes of Freddie Kissoon – and we all know the rest of that story.

Further, when it comes to having a drive to succeed, we are on par with our male counterparts. In fact, in almost any university opened to both genders, female enrollment usually surpasses male enrollment. Once we have attained a good education, we go on to greatness.

Women are now lawyers, doctors, judges, businesswomen, reporters, editors, etc. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a profession where women have not penetrated. However, studies do show that women embrace a completely different style of leadership than men. Women tend to be more inclusive. They don’t step on others on their way up the ladder; because they choose lay the ladder down flat so everyone is working together.

This is the way women have always conducted their business. In fact, did you know there are archeological records that give credence to the notion that women were the first farmers? Or that it is highly probably that a woman created the first written language? Thousands of years before the start of the current patriarchal system, a design that confers sole leadership to the male, women served as judges and magistrates of the court and even as the leaders of their communities.

Once the patriarchal system was accepted as the norm in society, the benefits of female leadership were lost and women were confined to their homes in ignorance. Think of where the human race could be today if women and men were historically accepted as equals. Some say humans only use half of their brain. To further impede the growth of the human intellect the women and their extraordinary brains were hidden away for thousands of years.

The result was a species at a severe disadvantage to function to its full capacity and a world incessantly plagued by war. I bet two women could have sat down together and halted almost every war in history. Think of all of the lives that could have been saved! Women solve their issues through relationship development. We choose to talk and nurture those around us instead of the more violent means of problem solving.

This is same leadership style we mastered from inside the home within the framework of the family unit and the human race has thrived because of it. This is also the leadership style now being implemented into many companies – making the corporate ladder obsolete.

Societal changes such as industrialization and commercialization have reorganized the social structure in such a way that feminine leadership is now just as essential in the workplace as it is in the home. In fact, a New York Times columnist, John Tierney, recently said the old leadership structure simply doesn’t work anymore and he cites a study showing “large companies yield better returns to stockholders if they have more women in senior management.”

He also mentioned a businessman he knows who buys companies. He said the first thing this businessman considers is the gender of the boss since companies run by women are more likely to survive due to their capability to "create a healthy culture within the company.”

Corporate leadership structures are increasingly starting to resemble the feminine approach of the inclusive web or circle because it favours direct communication with several points of contact. I read a book recently called, “Woman’s Place.” It said in today’s technologically driven world, this type of leadership makes perfect sense. “The image recalls that of the microchip – making quick connections, breaking information into bits, processing, rearranging units: energy moving in pulses rather than being forced to run up and down in channels.”

Such a model is obviously more suited to the information age than the hierarchical structure, which found its most widespread application in the industrial era. Women understand that leadership is about more than money or being on the top. It is about the larger picture of creating an environment that promotes a sense of group accomplishment and connectivity. This method shuns individualism for the greater good of the whole, which in the corporate world means the company.

When I see a company that still doesn’t have a woman in its senior management position, it sends up a red flag for me. If a company is thinking long-term and is strategically planning for the future, then a feminine approach to leadership can increase the chances of reaching of those goals.

The winds of change are blowing once again and the astute male business owner will acknowledge the changing of seasons in the next phase of human development and find a woman to help lead his company as soon as possible.

As for me, my wine glass is empty and my bubble bath and a good book are calling me. I do have one last bit of advice for the ladies though – girls, never stop reading; knowledge is power.

Email: stellasays[at]