Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stella Says…Arrogance is not a good trait for Guyanese to emulate

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 28 Feb 2006)

In a letter to the editor of the Guyana Chronicle yesterday, concerned Guyanese Gilbert Campbell expressed his deep hurt over how Guyanese were being treated by its fellow Caribbean countries. Of course, there is reason for Mr. Campbell to be distressed over this situation because it hurts anytime someone feels rejected by another person.

However, as Mr. Campbell pointed out, there is one driving factor that causes some (definitely not all) in the Caribbean to fear Guyanese. My job is to offer an independent view to the pages of this paper - a perspective that is not swayed by entrenched political loyalties or by racial devotion.

I did not grow up under the PNC or PPP government and I am neither Afro-Guyanese nor Indo-Guyanese, which allows me to approach my writings from a perspective of putting the interests of the people before my fear of government reprisal or personal vendettas, since I do not have a long history of fear and/or hate of either of the two standing political parties.

Last year, when the issue of Guyanese being turned back from Barbados was at its height, I did not understand the reasoning behind such actions and decided to do some personal research into the situation. Since then I have read dozens of letters, columns and news articles from Barbados on this subject and have come to one conclusion – Barbadians fear that Guyana will bring its racial strife into their peaceful island.

This fear might be misplaced. However, it is certainly understandable since even Guyanese themselves do not want to live with the racial division that has caused the nation to virtually stand still in time – economically, socially and democratically. Certainly we can understand why these small islands that have recently found economic success are afraid of importing Guyana 's racial division.

In his letter, Mr. Campbell said, “The cause of all this is our divisive politics. We need desperately to have a national Guyanese government composed of Amerindian, Portuguese, Chinese, Afro- and Indo-Guyanese. After 40 years we should have learnt the lesson. We need a national government or we will become the footstools of all and everyone.”

I share Mr. Campbell's sentiment. When Guyana starts acting as one nation and one people, it will then be obvious to the rest of the world that Guyana also has one destiny. This is a crucial time for Guyana because it is of utmost importance to show the rest of the world that Guyanese can live together in harmony with each other – and with the rest of the world, especially if Guyana hopes to reap the full benefits of the new CSME.

From what I understand, Barbadians fear Guyanese for two primary reasons. The first one is the racial conflict, and the second being job security.

It seems Barbados has taken in a substantial amount of Guyanese immigrants for being a small island. I have read of protests that Guyanese are taking jobs that should be going to the native Bajans.

Again, this second reason is also understandable to a degree, yet it does not seem the government in Barbados views this as a real issue, because the hard-working Guyanese are taking jobs that many Bajans do not really want, such as positions in construction work.

In short, the real underlying problem is fear. When other islands read of the day-to-day issues between two racially divided political groups and hear of the violence that plagues Guyana – sometimes because of race and sometimes because of the ongoing crime that the government is unable to control – they fear Guyanese will bring this instability with them as they travel and migrate.

I am sure there are minute portions from these other islands that feel superior to Guyanese, but I truly do not believe it is the majority of the population. In fact, from what I can gather, most of these islands have as much respect and admiration for Guyanese as I do.

Which is why I cannot agree with one particular sentence in Mr. Campbell's letter that said, “But we are worth more than them! We are better and greater!” I certainly do not believe Guyanese are better or greater than others in the Caribbean, anymore than I believe others in the Caribbean are any better or greater than Guyanese. In fact, I believe it is this same arrogance that makes other nations so dislike the United States .

I am quite sure there will be some from Barbados and Trinidad who will read this letter from Mr. Campbell, especially since there are still some in the country for Mash. Can you imagine how it would make them feel when they read that someone from Guyana thinks he is worth more than them? I imagine that person would feel just like those Guyanese who were refused entry into Trinidad and Barbados – humiliated, victimised and dejected.

Now I know many are saying, “Good, let them get a taste of their own medicine!” Just as there were some who praised the Guyanese immigration officer who refused entry to a Barbadian man who was here to visit some friends at the start of this year. But an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind, as Gandhi would say.

This is not a time to get mad over the understandable fear Guyana's neighbours have over its violence and racial politics when even Guyanese do not want to live with such things. Instead, it is time to take drastic steps to reshape Guyana 's image into one that does not produce fear. A good place to start would be by demanding a government that will stop crime and be racially inclusive.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stella Says…How Does the AFC define Servant Leadership?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 26 Feb 2006)

When Raphael Trotman responded to the questions flooding in for his new party, the AFC, on February 17, he made a statement I found to be very interesting. So interesting did I find his statement that I want to devote this column to it.

Trotman said, “We [the AFC] acknowledge that all questions raised must be answered. Our commitment to the notion of servant leadership has compelled us to adopt a bottom- up approach for inputs to influence and contribute to designing an action- plan for change and development.”

The term I want to highlight in Mr. Trotman’s statement is “servant leadership.” These two words did not escape my attention when I read through the letter because I have spent much time studying various forms of leadership and find this type to be the most righteous.

Quite frankly, I first stumbled across this term in regards to church leadership within the parameters of a religious group I once belonged. Not that this group practiced servant leadership, but it was because the leadership of this group was so abusive that I began studying leadership in general.

In fact, I then went on to take a few college classes on the subject because it was so fascinating. Hence, I have studied, to varying degrees, several great leaders and their varying leadership styles. Which is why I could not help but take note when this presidential candidate said his party was committed to servant leadership.

There are many who claimed to be servant leaders, but have as many servant hood qualities as the Queen herself. Just claiming to be a servant leader does not in fact make one a servant leader.

For example, if a leader thinks he/she is better than those being led, then this person is not a servant leader. If a leader expects fame, money or power from his/her position in leadership, the motivation is not to serve the people, but to use the people. If the leader is a micromanager, that is to say that he/she feels no one else is sufficiently competent to oversee even the smallest of tasks; that person is not a servant leader.

As you can see from what I listed so far, to date Guyana has not had a servant leader in the Presidential Office. There have been Machiavellian leaders, the type of leader who does not trust anyone, silences all criticism through whatever means necessary and uses fear to garner the submission of the people. This leader sees the people as nothing more than mere peons and would snuff out a life with the wave of a hand.

Guyana has had the elitist Philosopher King type of leaders too. These are the leaders who view the people as ignorant children and themselves as wise and benevolent fathers/mothers who must watch over the nation. This leadership is limited to the insight of one person who does not believe the people are capable of successfully leading themselves. Marcus Aurelius was a perfect example of a Philosopher King.

However, a servant leader recognises the value of every citizen and considers himself/herself merely the tool by which the people rule together as one. Gandhi was a servant leader, as was Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. All of these leaders saw themselves as facilitators to serve the people as oppose to a privileged sovereign to rule over them.

If Guyana had been fortunate enough to have even one president who was a servant leader, it would be in a very cosy economic state right now. In fact, the one obvious indictment against the current administration is that they all live so well while the majority of the people live near to destitution and in constant fear of victimisation.

Surely a servant leader would be embarrassed at the nation’s current situation. A servant leader would know he/she has absolutely no right to withhold information on government contracts and that there should be detailed accounts of public money. These poor leadership traits alone are enough to guarantee a continued state of insolvency and keep Guyana at the bottom of almost every international economic and democratic report.

The international community continues to pour money into Guyana and one cannot help but wonder where the millions and millions of U.S. dollars go. If there were a servant leader president in office, we would know exactly where the money went and who got what contract and the specifics on each contract.

A servant leader knows his/her place in society – it is to serve the people. The first and only priority is to ensure the well being of the people. To this end, the people can trust the leader and go about their day-to-day business knowing there is someone who is taking good care of the concerns of nation.

It is because I have so much respect for servant leaders (and so little respect for the rest) that Mr. Trotman’s statement peaked my interest. I wonder if his definition of servant leadership is anything close to what I believe it to be, and if so, how does he propose to implement this alien ideology into a long-standing system of poor leadership?

I also cannot help but wonder if this is a propaganda statement. After all, when one watches the PPP day after day as it says one thing and then does another or makes a promise and never fulfils it, one cannot help but be just a bit jaded when it comes to statements that seem like clouds with a silver lining.

If the AFC is the real thing, then I think the PPP may indeed have a formidable opponent in this year’s election. How will we know if the AFC is the real thing? My mom always told me that you can know a tree by the fruit it produces. I’m watching and waiting for some fruit.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stella Says…I don’t wanna be a stupid girl

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 23 Feb 2006)

My column today is for the ladies (sorry guys!). Okay, girls I just have to tell you about a new song that just hit the charts, “I don’t wanna be a stupid girl.” This song is performed by Pink, an artist I have always admired for her ability to put out material that has a deeper substance than the typical shallowness that pervades contemporary pop culture.

In her new song Pink wants to know what ever happened to all of the smart girls and then she remembers, oh yeah, the smart girl is dressed in a skimpy outfit and dancing next to 50 Cent in a video. Pink boldly declares that she does not want to be that stupid girl.

After hearing the song and reading the reviews, I scoured the Internet to watch the video for this song and it made me feel ashamed for succumbing to the superficiality of that make-believe world at times. Pink mocks the likes of Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Brittney Spears by showing how these girls have little more than a nice voice and a set of fake breasts to offer the world.

In fact, these girls are the exact opposite of what I want my own girls to be in life. I do not want my daughters to think if they flaunt their beauty they can treat the rest of the world with disregard. The image portrayed by these famous faces, and that Pink is taking to task, is not the sentiment that young women should be embracing at this crucial junction of fresh opportunity that awaits women in the 21st century.

Like men, we no longer have to be beautiful to be someone in life. We are no longer a commodity to be bartered depending on how appealing the package. We are our own persons and we determine our own futures. Our intelligence, drive and determination will get us farther in today’s world than being just another pretty face.

I will admit, regrettably, that I have been sucked into this shallow world to varying degrees at different times in my life. For example, since my mother died from skin cancer, I’ve never been one to stay in the sun for any length of time. So when I wanted that deep tan donned by those in Hollywood, I wasted my money to try to get it. But it never looked good on me and I can’t help but wonder if those chemicals aren’t worse than the effects of the sun I was trying to avoid.

Now why would I waste my money on something so trivial when I know better? Just like every real woman in the world, I am beautiful in my own way and I do not need to try to look like someone else (who probably got her beauty from a cosmetic surgeon) to be beautiful.

Before I turned 30, I wanted desperately for the world to stop looking at my bosom and start looking at my brain. Now that I am approaching 40, I find more and more that my intellect and personality are the traits that make me shine.

No doubt there are men out there who want women who are ignorant and have no opinion – I have met this type of man myself. These guys would prefer a shallow woman to be arm candy instead of an intelligent one, but they are also usually shallow themselves and couldn’t keep up with a smart woman with a strong opinion.

I absolutely believe beauty and intelligence can coincide in one woman, but her brainpower should always outshine her pretty face.

In Pink’s video, there is a cute little girl struggling with a good angel on one shoulder telling her to be herself and a bad angel on the other shoulder encouraging her to be shallow – to flip her hair, look down on the “small people” and to be beautiful no matter what it takes. In the end, the little girl glances at her Barbie dolls and then takes off with a football instead. She chose to be her own woman and I’d gladly play some ball with her anytime.

Ladies, my concern is that our young women are growing up in a world where shallowness is celebrated and intelligence is scorned. Our daughters are finally in a position to be whatever they want to be in life, but too often the women they choose to emulate have limited themselves to be judged by their outward appearance.

Our daughters are expected to fit this unrealistic image of a paper-thin woman who is visually appealing and can sometimes sing (and sometimes not) and those girls who don’t fit the mould are left to feel like something is wrong with them – when in fact it is the sick system of anorexia that is wrong.

How many movies and television shows have an overweight, unattractive man playing the husband/father role and his wife is a beautiful skinny woman? There are several. Now how many shows have an overweight, unattractive woman married to a gorgeous, well-built man? I cannot think of even one. Both of these scenarios are unrealistic, but only one is broadcast into our homes.

This sends a very clear message that it is acceptable for men to be less than perfect, but it is not acceptable for women to be anything but perfect – as defined by shallow Hollywood. I love that Pink pops up out of nowhere and shatters that perfect image into tiny little pieces. I don’t need to have a tan or be paper thin to be beautiful, I am beautiful just as I am – and so are you.

We need women like Pink who will take such a strong stand for our daughters. Even more, we need to take a stand for our daughters by teaching them that they are beautiful even if they don’t fit the image being imposed on them through television and magazines. Together we can reshape society’s definition of beauty to include a more accurate version of real women.

The stupid girls from Pink’s song are the exact opposite of what this world needs from the feminine half of the population. There is poverty all around us, violence and wars, and people dying over cartoons. What the world needs is for smart ladies to stop hiding out in their houses, realise they have a responsibility to their generation and get out in the world with their sleeves rolled up, ready to work.

Someone needs to set this world in proper working order and it sure won’t be those stupid girls.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

What is the matter with Stella Ramsaroop? - Kinda Velloza-Monkhouse

A letter in today's Kaieteur News:

Dear Editor,

Can you or anybody tell me what is the matter with Stella Ramsaroop?

It seems as though she has nothing educational or interesting to write about, so she sees it fit to make personal attacks against persons who have read her columns and made contact with her and of course the other KN columnists.

The way she personally attacks Robert Persaud (Mr. MBA) and other columnists is quite unprofessional and seems as though the situation has became a hobby of hers.

Look at professionalism; look at what situations are being addressed in Mr. Persaud's articles, issues that are of mere interest to us Guyanese; read the Peeping Tom column.

I really enjoyed his column in the Friday edition of the KN under the headline of “Ring… Ring”; it was nothing but the truth. But again, Stella wouldn't be aware of the situation, since cellular phones are banned in most of America 's public institutions.

But sometimes I feel as though Stella cannot be blamed since in fact she does not live in Guyana and just probably has to go with whatever she reads on the internet.

She laughed out at Mr. Persaud's article “It's the Vision.” Well, I can fairly say I share his views and at least someone has a vision for our country.

Believe me when I say that I travel in public transportation and have the opportunity of hearing people talk down Guyana , saying that they hope that one day they can actually sit on a plane and wave goodbye.

Think about it, Mr. Persaud can do better off with his MBA tagline, as Stella calls it in other countries, but instead he chooses to stay here to share his vision on how he can improve our country.

Stella cannot share that vision, being away and seems to be filled with hate and less solutions for Guyana. As my mother always says, “who feels it, knows it”.

By the way Stella, I do not need your recipe on how to make chocolate chip cookies nor cheese cakes. I happen to be Guyanese by birth and those are not our favourite foods. But we can teach you how to make sugar cakes and tamarind balls.

Kinda Velloza-Monkhouse

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stella Says…A bucket full of worms will fertilise a garden

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 21 Feb 2006)

Sometimes there is just so much to say and so little time in which to say it. This past week has offered some comic relief to the usual run-of-the-mill statements and exchanges. For example, how funny is it that NCN got caught red-handed peddling PPP propaganda? That one gave me a real good laugh.

Speaking of the PPP, I was sure that when I read the title of a certain column named, “It’s The Vision,” it was just another of Peter Ramsaroop’s “Vision Guyana” articles that sees the country as it could be maybe in a decade or so instead of as it is at the present time. Imagine the laugh I got when I read that the column was by Robert Persaud.

Subsequently, my mind automatically thought of Mr. Persaud’s new MBA tagline that is now attached to everything – just like the suit man himself. Maybe the new Mr. MBA with a vision wants to be just like the other Mr. MBA with a vision when he grows up? As if this country didn’t have enough problems already!

In fact, this past week Home Affairs Minister, Gail Teixeira, was urging young people not to get caught up in one of the more serious problems in Guyana - the drug trade. According to the Kaieteur News article “Drug barons contaminating our young people,” Teixeira said, “young people getting involved in the drug trade cannot be certain of living a long and prosperous life.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle, because if I had been sitting in front of her, I would have wanted to ask, “Does that mean the young people can expect a long and prosperous life if they avoid the drug trade, Ms. Teixeira”? What other options do the young people have to steer them away from drug trade?

According to the article, the Home Affairs Minister then, “urged the youths to pursue a career in organisations such as the Guyana Police Force and the Prison and Fire Services. She explained that there are rewarding and lucrative career opportunities in these fields which will enable them to be part of the exciting world of information technology.”

Lucrative career opportunities in the Guyana Police Force and the Prison and Fire Services? I wonder what Ms. Teixeira considers lucrative? Perhaps she should compare her salary with that of my friend who works in the police force who can barely make ends meet. My friend told me the only reason she works for the force is because there is absolutely nothing else available for a young person in Guyana to forge a career.

If Ms. Teixeira wants to keep the young people away from the drug trade, wouldn’t it make sense to offer them some viable alternatives? Are the police force and the prison and fire services going to employ all of the youth of Guyana? Hardly. Then what, pray tell, are the rest of the youth going to do when there are no more jobs in these areas?

Does this mean that the PPP is going to do something besides talk about the situation? Are they actually going to go after the drug barons? Are they going to put action to their words for a change? Or is this just another one of those times when we are all suppose to smile and nod our heads while pretending like we believe the PPP is going to take steps to stop the drug trade and create a thriving economy so the youth will have an alternative way to make money?

Let’s move on to the next item on my list before I get on my soapbox again about the precious youth of Guyana. It is no secret that there is no great love loss between a fellow columnist whom I affectionately refer to as Peeps and myself. However, I found his article from last Saturday, “Blowing a woman’s mind,” to be very insightful and dare I say that Peeps seemed to be able to highlight some of the menacing activities women have to endure?

Just this past week in Annapolis, Maryland (a city about 45 minutes from where I live), an 84-year-old State Comptroller made national news when on camera he asked a young woman who had just brought him some water to come back and walk away again so he could watch her walk away.

This is where all the guys give a deep chuckle and all the women who have been in that humiliating position feel the pain of that young woman. That old geezer got a kick out this whole incident; the girl is too embarrassed to release her name to the press. I am so glad he is up for re-election later this year.

Election time is quickly approaching for Guyana too, which is evident by the wonderful letters from the various contenders. I couldn’t help but notice the letter from Raphael Trotman in Stabroek News last week. I had never before realised that Raphael could be so articulate. Indeed, he addressed my questions for his party by saying the AFC is still refining their position on various issues.

Raphael was even nice and said it appears that my concern for the AFC is genuine. Isn’t that just too sweet! Don’t get the cart ahead of the horse though, Raph. My genuine concern is for Guyana alone and the AFC has yet to prove that it will be any better than the do-nothing-but-get-a-lot-of-money-anyhow party that is currently in power. If you and your party can prove how genuine you are in bringing change, then you will see just how genuine I can really be. Until then, I’ll be waiting anxiously for you to announce your platform.

I also took note that the PNC decided to show it had something of merit from its sorted past to flaunt in front of the PPP. The Programmed Propagandist Party sure can spin things well – to the point where I think even the PNC forgot they had started the nation on a respectable path economically before the PPP got a chance to shut it all down. Does anyone else ever wonder what Guyana would be like if it had continued that path of economic recovery? Maybe it would be like some of its Caribbean neighbours – prosperous.

A bucket full of worms can fertilise a garden or help catch some fish for dinner – if there are seeds in the garden and fish in the pond. Otherwise the worms are useless. The same goes with drug legislation that is enacted but never enforced and economic reforms that are not implemented. Empty promises and shallow words will not help Guyana.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Stella Says…I’ve been contemplating lawsuits, watchdogs and fences

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 19 Feb 2006)

It was with extreme interest that I read that the National Assembly approved a motion on Thursday by the PNCR calling for equitable access to the state owned media. I have stated before that a free press is one of the foundational aspects of a democratic state. It is for this reason that I watch the development of this issue in Guyana very closely.

In fact, it was because of my strong feelings on this issue that caused me to write a letter to the editor of Kaieteur News last summer condemning the President’s decision to sue a newspaper. This letter marked the first time I had chosen to voice one of my many concerns regarding the political and social conditions of Guyana.

It was also this letter that started a spar of words between myself and Sweet and Sensitive Freddie Kissoon. Freddie said I had lost my groove and possibly my marbles by taking such a strong stance on this issue by citing the chilling effect a suit by a president of a country against a newspaper could have on the preservation of the free press.

Well, I promptly let Freddie know that both my groove and my marbles were still intact and the rest is history – as the saying goes. Now it seems Freddie has passed up an opportunity to champion a free press this past week and he thinks I will be disappointed in him for this decision.

I can certainly understand how he would come to this conclusion, but in truth, I am not at all disappointed. In fact, if I had the knowledge and was presented with the same opportunity within the confines that were placed on Freddie, I would have made the same decision. I too would have wanted to examine the freedom of the press (or rather the lack thereof) of the 70s within the context of the degree to which the press is free in Guyana today.

I have often wondered if there were boundaries on this freedom and what the outcome would be if as a member of the press, I took the current administration to task on various matters. I have heard a great many stories as to what has happened to others when they did something that upset those in power. Therefore, I have been watching the development of this freedom in Guyana very closely to see if the government is genuine in its claim to democracy.

In a letter to the editor on July 22, 2005 from Information Liaison to the President, Robert Persaud, MBA said in response to my initial letter on the presidential suit against a newspaper, “I would be the first to agree with Ms. Ramsaroop that freedom of expression is an essential freedom in any democratic society. One would recall that it was the PPP/Civic Government, which the President currently heads, that restored this freedom which is relied upon these days as if it were always a part of our culture. The President has always and will always continue to defend and champion the citizen’s freedom and rights of expression, as His Excellency recognises that a society in which the said freedom is denied is a society doomed to intellectual paralysis.”

In fact, the PPP was doing so well for a long time and had maintained an impressive level of maturity and dignity, at least in regards to my column. It was beginning to appear that indeed this administration was able to take the critique I handed out and resist the urge to retaliate.

Then one day not too long ago I suggested that their apparent incompetence (especially in light of the flooding situation) might be premeditated. That very morning, and without any notification, my brother-in-law’s costly new fence was tore down and the pieces were hauled away at the command of someone “higher up.”

It is difficult for any direct action to be taken against me since I am so far away, however, it seems someone thought the way to get my attention was through the only person they know to be related to me in the country.

No one will say who gave the command to tear down this fence, but when calls were made to see if it could be stopped since the fence was no more in the way of the canal than any of the rest of the neighbours, the response was an emphatic no. The fence had to come down.

I know my brother-in-law can be a bit contentious at times too, but before this fence issue he was being a good boy and was focused on other issues, so it was more than obvious to us that this whole fence episode was in response to my article from that very morning.

I would like to think I am wrong and that Guyana does not have a government that will take such drastic measures to try and intimidate those who point out their weaknesses. I would also like to think that I can eat all the chocolate ice cream I want and not increase my waistline, but that is just not the case.

I would hate to think of how many people would have open yards in America if their fences were torn down every time one of them chastised the Bush administration for its incompetence. Even worse, I suspect its incompetence is not intentional. I suspect it is more likely just cowboy politics dressed up in some nice suits. Yahoo, partner.

I have an uncle in London who feels the same way about Blair that I feel about Bush. We had a lengthy discussion in Guyana a couple years ago about the glorious day when both leaders will be sent packing. Yet we still have our fences, but no one seems to know where to find my brother-in-law’s fence.

I believe the purpose of a free press is to be a watchdog for the people. We are supposed to point out the obvious and call for action when none is being taken. We are obligated to ask the hard questions like “whatever happened to all of that international aid that came in for the flood last year that was suppose to prevent more flooding this year?”

We are suppose to wonder how those in the government are able to live in such nice houses and drive nice cars when they could not afford to do so before taking office. We all have our roles to play in democracy. The government’s job is to take care of the people. Our job is to make sure the government is doing its job. Still, I do wonder who has recently gained a new fence.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Stella Says…Are the scales of Gender Equality tipping too far on the other side now?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 16 Feb 2006)

I was born into a world where little boys had so much promise and little girls, regardless of their intellect or potential, were treated with indifference regarding their role in society. Because of this, I try to bridge the gender gap whenever possible to show how important it is to have a world where both men and women are able to operate at their fullest potential.

After just a few decades of aggressively pursuing gender equality, it seems there is a turn-around of sorts. That is not to say that women are in fact on equal footing as men yet; indeed there is still so far to go. There are parts of the world where women are still considered property, not allowed to have a say over their own lives and bodies and must live their entire lives to please someone else – usually a man.

Even in countries where women are considered equal, there are still significant gaps in political representation and pay rates for the same jobs held by a man. Though these and other inequalities are still present, I truly believe that within the next decade or two we will have made even more substantial advances that will bring gender inequality to the brink of extinction.

However, I am now concerned about an alarming new trend that could prove to be problematic in regards to gender equality – it is what a recent Newsweek cover termed as “The Boy Crisis.” In a gist, there has been a considerable plunge in male academic performance in the last decade.

The cause of this decline is not fully understood as yet, some attribute it to the introduction of video games, others to the lack of male role models in the family unit and still others to the development of a teaching process structured to allow the girls (who just a few decades ago were given equal access to education) to catch up to the boys in the classroom. My guess is that it is probably a mixture of all of these factors.

Guyana is not exempt from this new gender issue either. In a December 06, 2005 article, “Four to one -- Females outnumber male UG graduates” the Guyana Chronicle reported that of the 169 graduates from the Berbice Campus of the University of Guyana, only 39 were males. This is indeed an alarming figure, especially when one considers that, according to the article, of the 179 who enrolled at the campus at its establishment, 149 were males.

I know there are some who believe that those who strongly advocate women’s rights are in actuality anti-male, but this concern is no more than just ignorance of the issue. My stance is for gender equality, which means that if boys are now the ones in jeopardy, then as a society, we need to take every step necessary to help them re-establish themselves in the academic world.

I have noticed this trend first hand with my own children. I have four children, two boys and two girls, and my boys have always struggled in school – even the one who has the IQ of a genius. As a mother, this has been quite frustrating for me because it is difficult to see all of this wasted potential in my own son.

I recently started taking a closer look at my children and their friends to see if there are any correlations that suggest that boys are indeed falling behind and I found something quite interesting. My daughter, who is a freshman at a university in the Midwest, has a boyfriend who is absolutely brilliant, but has chosen (at least for the present) to not attend college. Instead, he is working at a fast-food restaurant as a cook.

This is also the case with many of the girls she knows and their boyfriends. It seems that with this small group of children, most of whom I have known for years, the girls are choosing to get a higher education and the boys are not.

I finally persuaded my “genius” son to attend college (after much pleading, yelling, crying and reasoning). He is attending a community college a couple hours drive away and he has a girlfriend who attends a nearby university. Last week we were talking about how school was going and he told me that he has made friends with several other guys who are also attending his community college and have girlfriends who attend the renowned university.

In this case, the girls are the ones getting a first rate education while the boys are attending a community college – mostly because their parents are forcing them to do so. I know my examples are just a small representation of this bigger problem, but my family seems to clearly demonstrate the crisis highlighted by the Newsweek article concerning boys.

My advocacy for gender equality has always been to bring women up to the same standard as men – academically, socially, politically, spiritually (I believe women should also be religious leaders such as pastors, priests, Imams, etc.) and in any other way necessary. I have been such a staunch advocate of gender equality because I truly believe this world will be a better place when both genders are allowed to contribute with their full capacity to society.

This is also why we cannot allow the boys to fall behind academically. The consequences could be just as disastrous to the world as the thousands of years of feminine repression. The goal in gender equality is balance. When one gender is allowed to overtake another gender, the outcome will always be an imbalanced and unhealthy society.

It is of utmost importance to find a way to help bring the boys back into the educational institutions with a willing spirit to learn. Men and women may not be physically or psychologically the same, but both genders play a significant role in shaping the political, economic and social landscape of the world - and neither gender should be refused that opportunity.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Stella, Stiglitz understanding grew and so should yours - Rajendra Bisessar

From today's Kaieteur News:
by Rajendra Bisessar

Stella, I would welcome your input as to the flaws of capitalism. Just remember that I mentioned a structural contradiction accounted for by objective economic laws.

It's ok for Freddie to say both are bad. However, the problem is that one of them is here, capitalism and it is dominant.

In one of his columns, Freddie stated that a number of persons have ceased to be Rodneyites. I would like to include Freddie in this list.

Stella mentioned having money and being capitalist and that it is easy to be socialist when you do not have. I am assuming that you are one that does not have, as you have called yourself a socialist. Or is it that one's intellect can transcend one's interest. I believe the latter is correct. On the other hand, we have seen many workers and those who do not have rooting for capitalism.

With regards to Stiglitz, “this brilliant economist”, it would definitely be stupid to suggest that he would “encourage a communist approach to trade entrenched with tight governmental control - as you are alluding and which the PPP has implemented.”

I have not alluded this and the PPP has not and in fact cannot practice this.

And remember Stella, a country cannot be classified communist simply because of some levels or even high levels of autocratic rule. I explained this earlier. Singapore had a dictatorship, as it strove to become your economic model and it was not communist.

Stella refers to Stiglitz's book “Fair Trade For All,” and says that he cites trade liberalisation as the primary driving factor for the significant progress and economic growth enjoyed in Britain during the 19th century, in Meiji Japan during the early 20th century, and in North America, Australia and the East Asian “Tiger economies” (India and China) at various points during the second half of the 20th century.

Stiglitz stated clearly in his book “Globalisation and its Discontent” (page 5), “To many in the developing world, Globalization has not brought the promised benefits.” He continued stating that there is a growing divide which “left increasing numbers in the third world in dire poverty living on less than a dollar a day” with poverty increasing by “100 million.”

Stella, open your eyes; let's look at the statistics. From 1950 to 1973, the spread between the richest and the poorest of the seven regions increased from 10:1 to 11:1, but between 1973 to 1992 it increased from 11:1 to 16:1. The spread between the richest and poorest of the 56 countries mentioned in the table increased from 35:1 to 40:1 during the first period, but for the period 1973 to 1992 it increased from 40:1 to 72:1 (“GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS”, Robin Hahnel).

On the question of Russia and globalization, Stiglitz stated that it had “not produced the promised result in Russia and most of the other economies making the transmission from communism to the market.” Almost all except two had declined, ranging from -1.4 to -20% with the Russian Federation at – 9.8 (World Bank, 1997). And there is a need to contrast Russia 's transaction as engineered by the international economic institution and that of China design by itself could not be greater.

According to Stiglitz, “The western countries have pushed poor countries to eliminate trade barriers by keeping up their own barriers, preventing developing countries from exporting their agriculture products and so depriving them of desperately needed export income. The United States was of course one of the prime culprits.”

He pointed out the difference between the impositions of the IMF and the World Bank and the position taken by the Asian Development Bank, which argued for ‘competetive pluralism' where “developing countries will be provided with alternative views with development strategies, including the Asian model - in which Governments, while relying on markets, have taken an active role in creating, shaping and guiding markets, including promoting new technologies and in which forms take considerable responsibilities of the social welfare of their employees”.

Stella, there is nothing inefficient about making little profits and giving more of the income from productive activities to the workers.

And Stella, it's important to understand the market question. According to Stiglitz, the IMF was founded “on the belief that markets often work badly” but it now “champions market supremacy with ideological fervor (page 12). Stiglitz states that the IMF was supposed to pressure countries to have “expansionary economic policies - such as increase expenditure, reducing taxes or lowering interest rates to stimulate the economy. Today the IMF does the opposite, which leads to a contraction to the economy.

Stella, I have written calling for a reduction of the amount of money being steralised, against high interest rates and against opposing reasonable rates of inflation and increased budgetary deficit to facilitate development.

I have also criticised the government with regards to capital market liberalization. This is being pushed although according to Stiglitz, “there is no evidence showing it spurs economic growth.” He further stated that the “European countries banned the free flow of capitol until the 70's. Some might say it's not fair to insist that developing countries with a barely functioning bank system risk opening their markets… The advanced industrial countries – including the United States and Japan – had built up their economies by wisely and selectively protecting some of their industries, until they were strong enough to compete with foreign companies”.

Stella stated that I am right, “those bringing in the big profits do not freely want to hand over their money to help the less fortunate, which is why taxes are imposed to collect the money”.

The reality is, according to Robin Hahnel the author of “In the USA,” the top 5% of households benefited from increased income -16.6% in 1973 to 21.2% in 1994. The top 20% obtained increased income from 43.6% to 49.1%. At the same time the share of the poorest 20% fell from 4.2% to 3.5%.

Between 1976 and 1992, the share of the wealth owned by the top 1% doubled. This is explained by the fact that the top 1% received 62% of the gain in wealth between 1983 and 1989, while the bottom 80% obtained only 1% of the increased wealth.

Interestingly while labour productivity increased, the average real wage in the USA fell by 11 percent.

Stella, if the Government only opens its mouth with regards to these suggestions from Stiglitz, a host of writers would jump up and call it communist. What needs to happen is all need to be educated so they can commence opposing the IMF conditionalities and push the government with their support to renegotiate.

Stella should understand that socialization and indoctrination are not just words but concepts that we are subjected to.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Stella Says…Love is bigger than chocolates on Valentine's Day

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 14 Feb 2006)

The shades of love are truly one of the most interesting aspects of human interaction. We hold varying shades of love for our family, friends – and, of course, for that special someone. It is in the exploration of these various types of love that we define each meaningful relationship in our lives.

The term I just used, "meaningful relationship," sparked an interest in me recently. I overheard the phrased being used by someone else and although I cannot seem to recall the person (I believe it was a stranger) or even the place where I heard this phrase, it was the use of this phrase that has stuck with me for several days now.

I have to confess that except for those in my immediate family, I cannot say that I am good at maintaining meaningful relationships. It's not that I don't desire these precious connections, or that I do not have a good amount of friends with whom I enjoy associating.

However, I have a terrible habit of not returning phone calls and if someone calls me (be it a friend or family member), I will often panic and not answer the phone. Writers are some of the quirkiest people on earth and I fully acknowledge that I fit that description in this regard.

Do I love my friends? Of course. There is simply nothing I would not do for my friends and when I do answer the phone or return a phone call, it is often the case that an hour has flown by before I know it because I enjoy talking to them so much.

I adore my family too. I have only one brother on my side of the family who is still living. We have no parents or other family members; it is just the two of us. Yet I find it so difficult to keep in constant contact with him. We love each other dearly, but still months can slip by without talking to each other. I made it one of my New Year's resolutions to call him at least once a month this year.

I have often tried to analyse myself regarding my apprehensive approach to relationships. I think it has a lot to do with being an Aquarius that has shaped me into this person who holds people at arms length – even when I love them and I know they love me. Aquarians are known for being the life of the party and then being able to walk away from any relationships developed therein.

We are very picky when it comes to friends, but when we finally decide to trust someone, that person will be a friend for life and have our undying loyalty. However, most times that person will have to be very understanding to deal with the Aquarian since we do like to distance ourselves from others so often.

In any case, I do try to be honest with myself concerning these non-productive relational traits and to find ways to grow whenever possible. Love is a too precious a commodity to be treated with indifference. Which is why I felt provoked to evaluate myself when I heard the term "meaningful relationship." I wondered instantly if I had any of these types of relationships in my life.

The answer, of course, is yes – probably also because I am an Aquarian. We hate to feel lonely, so we are careful to cultivate at least a few strong relationships. The strongest of my relationships is with my husband. Ours is a unique bond that I could never explain verbally and would even be at a lost to put the words in writing.

This week alone he shocked me twice when I went to say something and before I even got the words out of my mouth he had a response. One time, I had even forgotten what I was going to say, but he knew. It is true that after 20 years together, these types of interactions tend to become second nature, but for some reason I am still pleasantly taken aback each time.

There was a period of time when my husband and I were not together because life had sent us into different directions. This was a sad time, but somehow we found our way back to each other in the end. During that time apart, there was not one day when we did not talk to each other – even through some bitter tears and heartache.

I mentioned before that I married at a very young age and for years my whole life revolved around my husband and our relationship. When that relationship was then absent from my life, I felt lost for a few months, but in the end I found a whole new Stella that I never knew existed before.

We both learned so much about ourselves during our time apart and in the end found that we were stronger - and as a result our love was stronger too. We had always had a pretty balanced relationship, but now we have a completely different approach. Instead of the 50/50 type of give-and-take relationship that we had for so many years, it is now more of a 100/100 approach with each of us being everything we want to be in life while we share that life with each other.

In today's microwave – I want it now – world, it is much easier to toss our meaningful relationships aside than to invest the effort of carefully cultivating them or to painstakingly work through our differences.

I know Valentine's Day is suppose to be about the "butterflies in the stomach" type of feelings, but I truly do not believe the world needs even one more relationship that will flutter away when the wind blows too hard. Solid relationships are not found on the wings of butterflies, they are forged in the crucible of life and each day we make decisions as to how those relationships will develop.

The flowers and the chocolates are nice (really nice), but in the end I am happy with just the knowledge that my husband and I still enjoy long walks together. The flowers will fade and the chocolate will be eaten (in my case, by the end of the day), but the many shades of love can be enjoyed every single day within those meaningful relationships we choose to cultivate.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Monday, February 13, 2006

Stella Says…I offer my analysis of analysis

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 12 Feb 2006)

If there is one thing Guyanese love to do above all else, it is to analyse the political state of the country. No doubt there has been enough commentary written on the political culture of Guyana to fill the bookshelves of some of the largest of libraries in the world.

Although I am well aware that there are some who view the input of “outsiders” with indifference, I am honoured to be privileged enough to be able to add my voice to the chorus of these commentators and I appreciate the warm acceptance extended to me by most of those who choose to correspond with me.

To be sure, Guyanese politics is chocked full of interesting shifts and nuances. We pick apart the smallest action, or inaction, of the various politicians of the country. We dissect policies and procedures, comparing each to how things were done in the past and to similar thoughts in other parts of the world. And we meticulously watch every movement made by the nation’s leaders for a sign – any sign – of goodness and integrity.

However, all of this is done through very sceptical eyes because Guyanese do not trust their politicians – and for good reason. We carefully scrutinise even the most miniscule position taken by a party based on an assumption that there must be some sinister motive driving their decision.

Why do Guyanese spend so much of their time analysing their political culture? Because of an undying hope that perhaps they can help find the cure for Guyana’s many woes. To an outsider, all of this effort may seem like much ado about seemingly nothing, but to most Guyanese, these analyses are often viewed as a lifeline to possibility. Each author (be it a letter writer, commentator or politician) writes with the hope that he or she can pen the words that will end the long reign of despair and futility in their country.

It seems Guyanese have a long history of trusting the wrong leaders and the few times when the nation is blessed with an sprouting leader who actually cares about the people, it is difficult to trust him or her.

The constant economic decline, incessant crime sprees and entrenched corruption have caused Guyanese to scamper to other countries by the tens of thousands. Each son and daughter of Guyana who leaves their homeland behind for safer and more prosperous shores takes a part of Guyana with them. However, each one of them also leaves a big part of their heart in their beloved Guyana.

Many long for the day when they can return to their homeland. But that day has been very long in coming. In fact, the first generation to leave the country are now aging beyond the point of making such a drastic move again – even if the country did turn around in the next five years. Which means there is now a whole generation of Guyanese who will never be able to return to their homeland.

This is the same remarkable generation that started this legacy of relentless critical analysis, which is a necessary function even if it does seem to be a bit over the top at times. It is a protective measure against the wiles of scheming politicians with selfish ambition as their primary agenda. Therefore, Guyana continues to write, dissect and analyse every little move of country’s politicians with the hope of one day finding the cure for the nation.

There is a passion that flows from the hearts of Guyana’s citizens and its Diaspora. There is a passionate love, a passionate loyalty and a passionate desire to see Guyana reach its full potential. I believe it is this same passion that will be the catalyst to usher in significant change and end the thorny times in the country once and for all.

It seems there is a certain unseen, yet very distinguishable, signature imprinted on the soul of each Guyanese that does not fade with time or distance. This is the mark of a great people – a strong and patient people with enduring faith and boundless hope.

Though the struggle may be long, and though their faith has been tested time and again by treachery and betrayal, this faith does not grow faint. Instead, these people grow even more determined to fashion their nation into a unified and progressive country.

For as long as Guyanese hold firm to their faith, there will always be hope for Guyana and maybe, just maybe, one day it will all pay off and the cure for the nation will be found. So long as all of this analysis has one primary goal, a healthy nation, then not one word of it will be in vain.

However, if this system of analysis becomes a clone of the political system – that is to say a feeble group of intellectuals who would rather shove blame than work together for the good of the nation - then we should all lay our pens down right this instant. Guyana does not need even one more so-called leader who spends his/her time vying for the limelight while portraying a fa├žade of sincerity over the ills of the nation.

I write all of this because here of late I have found myself in a he-said/she-said cycle that seems to be taking on the same tone as that of the political arena in Guyana. My intention is debate for the betterment of the nation and I do not wish to be sucked into these political games that would rather belittle one another than to have a real discussion on even one aspect of the nation’s predicament.

My hope is that one day this drive for analysis in Guyana will translate into an examination of past mistakes for the sake of posterity instead of a desperate search for cure to present woes. It will be a glorious day when we can all look back from a position of social and economic stability and dissect these days of the contrary.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Emperor's New Clothes - Peeping Tom

From today's Kaieteur News:
Remember the story of the Emperor's New Clothes? Well, I was reminded of that story this past week when Stella tried to escape the embarrassment caused by her bluff about the political philosophy of Hobbes.

The Peeper had seen through her superficiality a long time ago and had gently suggested that she steer clear of political analysis. Her writings indicated how little she knew about these matters. It was not, the Peeper advised, her forte. She would be better served, was the advice, by sticking to her field of competence.

The adorable Curly Stella however felt that she could bluff her way through and escape with it. She was wrong.

Her exposure came when she began to plug what she called, Hobbes Theory of Chaos. There is no such theory in political philosophy attributed to Hobbes and at first when she wrote about it, the Peeper allowed it to pass not wishing to embarrass her. But she persisted when in another of her fluffy columns she asked the leaders of the Alliance for Change what they thought about Hobbes's philosophy of controlling a state through chaos.

I could not allow this misrepresentation to go without commented. Stella was attempting to put forward the possibility that the PPP was encouraging chaos to keep the nation in a suspended state of confusion so that the people will constantly cry out for the government to intervene.

She is entitled to her opinion and even to develop such conspiracy theories; what she will not be allowed to escape with is the pronouncement that this action of keeping a state in confusion in order for state intervention is something that Thomas Hobbes proposed. Hobbes's political thought makes no such prescriptions and Stella is bluffing when she tries to pass off her possible theory as having some solid philosophical basis. In so doing she has once again exposed her shortcomings.

I also wish to assure her that neither does Hobbesian philosophy state that the more bestial a society becomes, the more it will tolerate state intervention in almost every aspect of social life. This is a complete inversion of Hobbesian thought.

I will urge Stella, therefore, to entertain herself in such discourses with that other fellow who said that it was Marx that developed the theory of “materialist dialectics.” Stella will be in suitable company with the Raj. She may even find his receding hairline attractive. Leave the Peeper's baldhead alone, Stella! You have my permission to fantasize about it, but please do not entertain the thought of rubbing it!

And please do not flatter yourself that you can make Robert Persaud tizzy with what you write. You may give him a good laugh but certainly not food for thought.

I wonder, Stella, just who is being naughty when you wrote that the Peeper did not clean up the issue of whether or not an apology had been offered to you? I never accused you of lying; I asked that you provide the proof that an apology was offered and you did this. I then wrote in my column of Monday January 30, 2006 that Stella had produced the evidence that an apology was tendered to her. I am therefore disappointed that on this score you can say that the Peeper was naughty.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Stella Says…Peeps is being naughty

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 09 Feb 2006)

Peeping Tom has been acting sort of strange lately. He is usually just so cute that I can’t help but want to rub his adorable baldhead for some good luck. However, here of late he has been behaving quite badly and his baldhead is looking less and less adorable by the minute.

It all started early last month when Peeps thought he would be funny and called my column “fluffy.” I thought this was very ironic coming from a columnist whose primary input seems to be to regularly discount the meaty contributions of the rest of his fellow columnists, but nonetheless, as the newbie on the block, I let this slide since I felt Peeps had the right to keep the young pup columnists in line.

Mind you, his status does not even come close to that of Freddie’s. Peeps is well deserving of a nod of respect to acknowledge the role he has played in society. However, Sweet and Sensitive Freddie merits a fully prostrated bow and kisses on his feet. I want to be just like Freddie when I grow up, but don’t tell him that because he struggles with bouts of narcissism at times when he thinks everything is about him.

Oops, I forgot this column was supposed to be about Peeps (see how easy it is to forget him?). The next strange act concerning me (since I’m sure there were plenty of other strange acts that did not concern me) was when he decided to question my credibility regarding an email exchange my husband and I separately had with David Jenkins a couple weeks ago.

Peeps wanted proof that I was indeed being truthful regarding this email exchange, so I immediately sent him that proof. I also sent the proof to Glenn Lall, the big boss man, and to the editorial staff AND I offered to allow Glenn full access to my inbox if there was anymore question as to the authenticity of the proof I had provided.

I expected Peeps to clear this situation up quickly since he had led others to believe I had lied. I should have known he wouldn’t take the time to clean up his own mess, after all, Peeps expected Bisessar to clean up the mess he himself had made by incorrectly attributing the wrong governmental position to his fellow columnist. As if it was Bisessar’s job to clean up Peeps’ messes!

Peeps did not clean up this other mess concerning me either. It has been two weeks now and there has not been a sigh or a peep from him on the subject, which got me to thinking. Being the sceptic that I am, I started wondering if poor Peeps had been sucked into the PPP propaganda machine. He has been spouting out pro-government statements quite a lot lately.

Freddie rescued me just in time from sure madness when I almost became a convert to the PPP. Perhaps an intervention is in order for Peeps as well! If he has converted, then that would certainly explain why he feels so compelled to take potshots at my credibility since I can be a tad hard on the PPP at times. Maybe Peeps is just trying to help out his party during this is an election year.

Mind you, I have nothing personally against anyone in the government, but I have a job to do. My chief directive is to make sure the government is looking out for the best interests of the people and that it knows its place as merely the employees of the people. Therefore, I cannot sit around worrying about whether I have sent Robert Persaud into another tizzy by something I said in one of my columns.

So if Peeps has truly been converted, it would explain this naughty behaviour here of late. I bet it was those blasted car-watching trips he has been taking lately. It seems to be his new pastime to go to a busy intersection and watch the government officials drive by in their nice cars with drivers. Maybe Peeps decided he wants a nice car and a driver too.

The latest of strange behaviour came this week when Peeps decided to call into question my theory on Hobbes and accused me of creating a new philosophy. If this idea is my own creation, then I am far more intelligent than I even give myself credit.

In the first column I mentioned this idea, I said, “Hobbesian philosophy, which states that the more bestial a populace is allowed to become, the more it will tolerate – yea, earnestly desire – state intervention into almost every aspect of society to control the volatile elements.”

It is from this solid philosophical foundation that I suggested that the PPP could be acting on the notion that if a chaotic society will desire more state control then surely Guyana should have more chaos. Peeps may be right though, maybe the PPP is not operating under this notion, which would only leave one other possibility – can you guess what that is Peeps?

I have been trying to figure out this strange behaviour that materialised since the start of the year from Peeps. Maybe he is upset that no one is emailing him. If so, then perhaps we need to start an email campaign to help our dear friend.

It could be that Peeps thought I have given far too much attention to Freddie and Bisessar since I started writing this column, and he was just trying to get my attention. If that is the case, Peeps, there are far better ways to make friends. I know older men have a tendency to be cranky sometimes, but really now Peeps, this is taking far too much liberty with that old wives tale.

However, my feminine intuition tells me that being a cranky old man is not the real problem. I fear you have fallen into the trap! You have walked into the camouflaged net laid to snare you. Oh, how could we ever live without our precious Peeps!

We must not lose hope, Guyana! Though Peeps does seem to suffer from a multiple personality disorder, I am sure Freddie can find the character who has weakly sold his soul to the propaganda crusade and exorcise that ghastly imp from our precious Peeps. That is, if we can find him as none of us know his identity. We may have a problem there.

I know, we will search every intersection in Guyana where balding men watch cars drive by and cast the spirit of the PPP out of any who pledges their allegiance to the government. I like this plan the best – and hopefully we will find Peeps in the process too.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Stella and her cyberspace reality - Rajendra Bisessar

From today's Kaieteur News:
by Rajendra Bisessar

Stella likes to refer to Marx often. However, as I explained in my article, she knows little of Marx. I explained Marx's approach, where he recognised objective laws that determine the transformation of society. If she accepts Marx's socialism then she has to switch from the paradigm she is using and adopt the corresponding methodology. I doubt though that she even knows it. And it seems that she finds it difficult to escape the thrust of the highly controlled American media, most of which is owned and controlled by the corporate world.

Stella has pronounced that “ Guyana 's sitting government has attempted to control the trade unions.” She should explain how. In her next article, she told me to go among real people while it seems that she can sit behind a computer and browse the net and be so understand what is happening here.

She mentions that Chavez has moved to control the courts. She should be more worried about where she lives. There was a judicial coup against the Democrats while the President is packing the judiciary to overturn “Roe vs Wade”

She further states, “Ideally, in a socialist country, Bisessar, this $84 billion would have been distributed to the good citizens of Venezuela .” She somehow got the information that this money goes to “Chavez's loyalists.” She continued, “Instead of using that big wad of money to alleviate poverty, he subsidises the prices of neighbourhood grocery stores instead of spending money on maintaining a functioning infrastructure, it should trickle into social services, such as run down clinics.”

Stella does not want money to be spent on the poor to alleviate poverty, which I indicated was 80 percent, and does not want groceries to be subsidised in a situation where 40 percent of those are malnourished even though these among other things are part of the approach to the globally accepted Millennium Development Goals.

While it's good to develop and diversify the economy, we cannot allow people to die while we move in that direction.

Today, to prevent eight million people from starving in East Africa , the World Food Programme is begging the world for food and when Chavez does the same for his people he is no good. Maybe, you would suggest that they stop and instead develop the infrastructure of Africa .

It's not difficult to understand whom Stella was referring to as the good citizens. Chavez has done the opposite to George Bush, who gave tax breaks to the rich (Stella's good citizens to whom she wanted Chavez to give the $84B) and neglect medicare.

I guess the fact that the Indigenous population and expecially women, who would all now have access to free health care and education up to university. The fact that there are one million more children enrolled in the primary education system is not something that Stella finds favour with.

The chaos she talks about in Venezuela is one that her government would like to see. Remember Chile , Iran and her beloved Guyana , where among other places her beloved CIA moved to remove democratically elected governments. All the government of Iran (and it was not socialist) wanted was some more royalty for its oil. Does this ring a bell Stella?

And Stella, when I spoke of lessons from New Orleans, it was not the approach to the flood but the understanding of the poverty that exists in the richest capitalist country in the world - and this excludes the one million homeless in NY City.

Stella decided to discuss me instead of the issues. I interact with real people and not by utilising cyber space and virtual reality.

Incidentally, Stella may not know this and may gain an insight. During the three years I spent in America , I hitch-hiked from Los Angeles to Cheyenne , Wyoming , staying some time in Santa Barbara , Carmel Valley , Pacific Grove , etc. I then hitched to Denver and then to Oil City, Philadelphia, New York City, Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and then on to Bemidji, Minnesota. Then I hitched all the way to Florida , most times with little money, working here and there in causal employment.

In Guyana , when I was victimised by the Burnham regime, as a graduate, instead of staying in Canada where I was in 1982, I returned to Guyana and drove taxi, bought and sold greens etc. in order to remain in the struggle against the dictatorship.

Stella, I, and no one in this government, have ever said that Guyana is flourishing and so I do not know from where you plucked that. I might have said things have improved.

This country was made poorer than Haiti and that was under the PNC. In 1992, the per-capita income was US$204. Today, it's approaching US$900; poverty was, according to the World Bank, 80 percent but has now reduced. The World Bank was stupid to reclassify Guyana as a middle-income country.

Stella, no one in the government denies that there was negative growth. In fact, most of the countries in the Caribbean have been experiencing negative growth recently.

You then quoted from a report from the U.S. Embassy in April 2005, “Political uncertainty and poor economic performance by the Guyanese economy since 1999 have eroded consumer and investor confidence.”

Stella, who can question the intelligence of the people that work at the Embassy of the richest country in the world? Stupid Bisessar, the guy incapable of independent thinking, would have, in his ignorance, written thus: “Political uncertainty since 1999 has eroded consumer and investor confidence resulting in poor economic performance of the Guyanese economy.” Of course, the reverse would then take place.

I could have added crime; some levels of incompetence on the part of the government, absence of creativity in some quarters, an economically and culturally weak private sector, a private banking system that concentrates only on profits and that has no development genes; unnecessary and highly politicised conditionalities imposed by the US, controlled undemocratically structured IMF and World Bank, specifically the IMF, Washington's Consensus (and this is also Stiglitz's views); and a vast array of persons with presidential and political ambitions who can do nothing but criticise.

I could have qualified that the crime may have had political backing and also was facilitated by the deportation of high level criminals, nurtured and trained in the land of plenty, the USA. And before I forget, the migration of skills, often facilitated by direct recruitment by “lands of the plenty,” as they seem incapable of training their own.

Stella took Stiglitz's statement in a different context but I would deal with this and the other issues another time.

And Stella needs to spell out her innovative ideas. Be specific.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Stella Says…Will the PPP ever acknowledge the reality of Guyana’s economic state?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 07 Feb 2006)

Bisessar, I have one very important question to ask you. Do you and those in your office really and truly believe that Guyana is doing well economically – both on the local and international markets?

If so, then perhaps a field trip is in order for the entire party to get out and talk to the real people instead of just the “yes men” with whom you have surrounded yourselves. Certainly, you cannot judge the real economic state of the country based on your own living conditions, since many of you live in far better conditions than the average Guyanese.

I believe it is of utmost import to establish the fact that Guyana is not in fact flourishing economically, as the PPP would have us believe. In fact, figures released by the Bank of Guyana on foreign direct investment shows a significant decrease in 2003 and 2004 outside of the telecommunications sector. The figures show foreign direct investment in Guyana decreased from US$43.5 million in 2002 to US$26.1 million in 2003.

In 2004, the telecommunications sector accounted for US$25 million of the US$35 million invested in the country. Further, an investment climate report from the U.S. Embassy in April 2005 stated, “Political uncertainty and poor economic performance by the Guyanese economy since 1999 have eroded consumer and investor confidence.” Bisessar, please take note of the year mentioned in that quote, which means this is an investment climate created by the PPP – therefore, the blame game will not suffice as an excuse.

Further, in a recent country profile from December 2005, the BBC stated, “…political instability, inter-ethnic tension and economic mismanagement have left [Guyana] among the world's poorest countries, with an infrastructure that is barely able to support its population.” Okeydoke, Bisessar, having given a better representation of Guyana’s true economic veracity, I now feel we can effectively continue this discussion within the reality of the economic situation.

As such, I completely acknowledged the flaws of capitalism. There are at least as many as can be found in socialism and communism. As Freddie was so astute in pointing out in a recent column, all philosophies have failed the poor. Indeed, I believe it is easy to be a capitalist when you have money and it is easy to be a socialist when you do not, but equity probably lies somewhere in the middle (or perhaps with neither).

However, at least I am trying to be innovative and come up with a system that might actually work for Guyana instead of nailing myself down to one method that is a proven failure for the nation. It’s called progressive thinking, Bisessar. You and your cronies should give it a try sometime – that is if you can get permission from on high to have an independent thought every once in a while.

For example, how is Guyana ever going to take advantage, even to a small degree, of any reduction on tariffs to developed countries from developing countries if it has nothing (or very little) to be marketed? Yet still, when the call goes out for a diversified economy, the messenger is all but dismissed as a brainwashed imperialist and the nation is once again robbed of yet another opportunity to shed its colonial mentality and move into the 21st century.

Since you questioned as to how one expects to retrieve the money from a capitalist once he/she has brought in the spoils, please allow me to explain how a capitalist market works. You are right, those bringing in the big profits do not freely want to hand over their money to help the less fortunate, which is why taxes are imposed to collect the money.

As I have already stated, that amount is as much as one third of the total income for those who fall into the highest income brackets. This money then goes to the government for reinvestment into the nation. In the US, above and beyond these federal taxes, there are state and local taxes, as well as consumer taxes. If a person does not pay their income taxes they are fined and even jailed. Therefore, those who make the most also pay the most.

True, there are still many who are poor, however, many of the poor also get some form of federal aid called welfare (which is paid for by those in the highest income brackets). This is the system by which many free market economies establish a healthy infrastructure, pay their law enforcement officials a decent wage, provide for the elderly, offer high quality education, etc.

As far as those in New Orleans, theirs is a sad story indeed. Much like Guyana during this year’s rainy season, their president knew ahead of time that under the right conditions their entire city would flood and did nothing about it. After the storm had come and gone, those poor people were also left to fend for themselves.

It was not until they pleaded for help on international television that Bush’s lethargic administration took the necessary steps to alleviate the suffering. The only difference was that these victims in New Orleans did not give Bush a parade for victimising them. Many of them were finally put up in hotel rooms for several months – again, paid for by those stinking capitalists (whether they liked it or not).

Further, you said Joseph E. Stiglitz (whom, by the way, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, not the Nobel Peace Prize as you stated) “had serious questions with regards the free market” [sic]. It is fair to say Stiglitz may have a few concerns regarding the value of free trade markets to lesser-developed states, but I believe it would be disingenuous to suggest that this brilliant economist would encourage a communist approach to trade entrenched with tight government control - as you are alluding and which the PPP has long implemented.

In fact, Stiglitz devoted an entire book to the promotion of free and fair trade through the ongoing negotiations of the Doha Declaration, which focuses on creating multilateral trade that is mutually beneficial for all parties, including (and, in fact, specifically for) developing countries.

In his book, Fair Trade For All, Stiglitz cites trade liberalisation as the primary driving factor for the significant progress and economic growth enjoyed in Britain during the 19th century, in Meiji Japan during the early 20th century, and in North America, Australia and the East Asian “Tiger economies” (India and China) at various point during the second half of the 20th century.

There were varying factors that also contributed to the success of each of these economies, one of which was a solid foundation on which to build a healthy free market economy – an aspect unfortunately absent in most developing countries, including Guyana. However, such information should motivate the government to action that would position the nation on the cusps of joining the rest of these strong economies instead of advancing further isolation.

Would that a more equitable approach could be designed and successfully implemented - one that would not neglect the poor while making the rich richer. Clearly it is not capitalism alone, yet neither is it socialism alone. However, until that day, each country is responsible for hammering out its own development agenda to ensure the economic security of its people. Which is why I am encouraging this dialogue – to facilitate a forum of economic debate within the parameters of realism.

Guyana is in desperate need of a multi-faceted economic development agenda that reaches beyond the mere trade agreements and diversification I have mentioned in this column. It needs a government that will lay aside its political insecurities and narrow agenda of self-preservation to focus on the interests of the people for a change.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Monday, February 06, 2006

Smile a while… not all the time - Peeping Tom

Here's a section of Peep's column from today's Kaieteur News.
I was asked by one reader to give an explanation of Hobbes Theory of Chaos. Since I myself had never heard of any such theory, I advised the reader that it would be better if he asked Stella herself [see Stella Says…Let’s Continue Our Discussion on Autocratic Rule].

Then when in yesterday's newspaper Stella took this matter to another level by asking the Alliance for Change what they thought about Hobbes philosophy of controlling a state through chaos, the truth came flooding in. Political theory was posing a huge challenge to Stella and she was certainly being confused because Hobbes never advanced any theory about controlling a state through chaos.

On the contrary, Hobbes political thought was about the necessity of an organizing coercive force or government to prevent a state of anarchy. I therefore have a duty to correct this mistake.

I do not know where Stella invented this view about Hobbes theory of chaos being a way to control the State. I can assure her that it finds no place in political philosophy and exists only in her imagination or her attempt to pretend that she knows about such matters.

When Hobbes spoke about the state of nature he was seeking to show what would happen in the absence of government. He was not by any means proposing that this condition be promoted by the State in order to control the population.

We have heard all manner of things by talk show hosts in this country but never have they descended to the level of arguing the possibility that the PPP is employing (encouraging) chaos to keep the nation in a suspended state of confusion and insecurity so that the people will constantly cry out for the government to intervene.

However, now that she has introduced it, I hope she will prove the Peeper wrong and explain how Hobbes indicated you can control a state through chaos. If she finds herself in some problems, she may seek the advice of that other adviser who claimed that Marx developed the “materialist dialectics”.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Stella Says…I Miss My Friends in the AFC

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 05 Feb 2006)

It has been quite a while since I have had the chance to chat it up with my pals in the AFC and lately I have been missing the good ol' days full of shopping sprees with Khemraj and the hearty debates over the “seat issue” with Raphael.

As such, being the good friend that I am, I thought it high time to give my friends a ring to see how they are doing. Khemraj, Raphael and Sheila, have you heard that the GTF is caput? This is indeed a sad scenario and I am grievously saddened by this turn of events, although we have all seen it coming for over a month now thanks to Freddie's crystal ball.

I do hope the AFC is faring better than the GTF. I am quite sure the PPP and the PNC are both doing a silly little dance in celebration while they listen to that oldie, but goodie, “Another One Bites The Dust.” I don't mean to put any undue pressure on you all, but the people's third force alternative lies squarely on your shoulders now.

I am sure you are up to the job, but I do worry for you because this is a very precarious position given the inability of previous third force alternatives to gain more than a seat or two in Parliament. However, to be as effective as a third party needs to be in Guyana , the AFC needs to attain far more than a couple seats – so I hope you have set your goals high.

If you have indeed set your sights on acquiring a good number of seats (not the ones that Khemraj and Sheila are still holding hostage – new ones that rightfully belong to the AFC), then you have to be up for a good fight and, therefore, need to have all of your ducks in a row before the real campaigning begins.

Listen to me just rambling on. I haven't talked to all of you in such a long time and here I am wasting your precious time on advice that I am sure you have already afforded considerable attention. In fact, I am sure that by now you have a well-formed platform on which to base a solid and persuasive campaign.

I do think this could be the year of the third party, which is why I was so upset that the GTF couldn't put their differences aside long enough to think about what would be the best course of action for Guyana . They are yesterday's news though and the AFC is the reigning champion of the third force competition (Although I still think all of you should have been working together, but what do I know, eh?).

As I was saying champs, I think this could be the year of the third force alternative. I mentioned over a week ago that I believe the PPP to be operating with a Hobbesian approach to government. Of course I cannot be certain of this without asking them myself, but I'm sure they wouldn't give me a straight answer anyhow since that just isn't their style.

I figure there is one of two possibilities if one wants to analyse the performance of the PPP; they are either simply incapable of eradicating crime, corruption and poverty and therefore incompetent, or they are employing Hobbes chaos theory to keep the nation in a suspended state of confusion and insecurity so the people will constantly cry out for the government to intervene.

I know that no one wants to hear such things about their government. After all, we are supposed to be able to trust those we vote into office to represent our best interests. In the end though, we are obligated to assess how well these representatives have done their jobs and if they are found lacking, we should fire them and replace them with representatives who will get the job done right.

Therefore, my AFC friends, I have a few questions that I am sure many people would like to ask of you. These are all questions that I am sure you have already discussed and settled amongst yourselves and, if that is the case, should share with the rest of the country.

Tell us AFC, what is your strategy for combating crime? For eliminating poverty? For preventing further flooding? For building a solid infrastructure? For diversifying the economy? For encouraging local business growth? For an enhanced educational system? What is your position on foreign investors? On women's issues? On the state of the judiciary system? On Guyana 's role in the CSME? On state-owned and operated media outlets? On Hobbes' philosophy of controlling a state through chaos?

What do you plan to do about drug trafficking? About the lack of jobs for young people? About paedophiles? About the astronomical duty levied on cars brought into Guyana ? About the lack of traffic lights (and the broken ones)? About domestic abuse? About the fact that Freddie (and anyone else who owns a RAV 4) has to take out a loan just to buy some new tyres for their car?

Will Raphael be reintroducing his Freedom of Information Bill if the AFC actually wins a majority? Or will the AFC follow the same double standard of its predecessors in regards to the tight control of information?

Okay, I'll take it easy on you and stop with these few questions. I am sure the rest of the nation will be as anxious as I am to obtain your response. After all, if you expect anyone to vote for you then you need to prove that you have something better to offer them than what they presently have – like a better life.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Stella Says… At least one family has found its will to fight

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 02 Feb 2006)

I cannot let this occasion slip past us without commenting on what I feel is a momentous occasion for the entire nation. What has me so excited? My exhilaration comes from a mere letter to the Editor on Monday, January 30, 2006 from the father of a family who has opened his eyes to see the PPP and his former newspaper in a different light.

This father and businessman, Lalta Gainda, was a staunch PPP supporter, as was his father and his father's father. However, now it seems Gainda and his family are having a change of heart concerning their long-time loyalties since they were subjected to brutal beatings during a robbery last week.

In his letter, Gainda said, “It is a myth that such activities make the support base of the PPP stronger because in our case it will certainly have a negative effect, which will be further expanded by our other relatives and friends.”

This statement challenges the theory I put forth on the same day this family was victimised concerning the possibility of the PPP implementing the Hobbesian approach of chaos to maintain control of the people.

Good for you Mr. Gainda! You, your family and your friends are the kind of people who have the astuteness and spirit to make Hobbes' theory shatter into tiny little pieces. Your letter signifies a distinct psychological shift that I hope many others will follow as well.

You mentioned that this whole situation has had a negative effect on how you, your relatives and your friends view the PPP. I wish everyone who has been victimised by a preventable flood could see things as clearly as you have. For all of the women who have been sexually assaulted and then watched their rapist walk out of court as a free man, I wish they could understand that life could be better.

For every young person who feels weighted down by the hopelessness of the future, I wish they could have Mr. Gainda's insight for even just an hour. If I could, I would wish this same insight on every one in Guyana . I would love for this nation to prove that Hobbes' theory is completely wrong.

Mr. Gainda took a drastic step to shake off this loyalty to an entity that is not deserving of such devotion. For that I admire him. However, it is the fact that he made his new stance known to the public that makes him a hero in my eyes. When I read his letter, I could have danced for the entire day (except that I was driving in a car the whole day instead).

This is indeed a momentous occasion in Guyana and such a splendid event should not be allowed to pass without the proper pomp and circumstance that should accompany any heroic event.

I would like that all of Guyana follow in the steps of Mr. Gainda and his family by demanding a safe life. This father is obviously done waiting for the PPP to do something about this situation – and he is done waiting for the Chronicle to care about his family's safety too. Mr. and Mrs. Gainda, I would be so honoured to shake your hand one day.

I hope this letter is the first of very many letters from people all over the country who want to prove Hobbes' theory to be faulty. The only way this theory of chaos can be disproved is by the people, as a whole, demanding an end to the chaos and replacing the perpetrating government with one that will take the necessary steps to end the chaos.

As long as the people sit back and accept their plight (crime, poverty, etc.), they have proven Hobbes to be correct. It is only when they take back control and refuse to be a citizen of a chaotic society that change will come and good things will start happening.

It is foolish to carry out the same action over and over expecting a different result. Likewise, it is foolish to put an incompetent government in office over and over again – each time expecting a different result. If poverty, flooding, crime and corruption are what you want in life, then the current government knows how to accomplish that job quite well.

However, if you want prosperity, a solid infrastructure, a safe society and a competent government, then you might want to start shopping around for an alternative choice to the PPP because they do not seem to have the capacity or the will to make any of this happen.

Last week, Mr. Gainda and his family had to rely on the mercy of a cold-hearted, abusive bandit to see the dawn of the next day. They could not rely on their government, the newspaper they had long supported or even the overwhelmed police department. This father seems to hold little hope of seeing justice dispensed either. Instead, they had to rely on one of the very men who were inflicting brutal blows to their bodies right in front of their kids. This ought not to be – and there is only one way to change it, in the voting booth.

This is what it all comes down to – is this family so determined to live a better life that they can change their generational voting pattern? Or will they prove Hobbes right and vote for the same government that allowed this victimisation by inaction and incompetence? If they vote the same as always, then they can only expect more of the same type of life they have right now.

When I said that change would come to Guyana through the people and not through a political victory, this is what I meant. This is not about the PPP, the PNC or any other political party. This is about the people and what they want in life – more of the same or something better. Mr. Gainda and his family seem to want something better.

Email: Stellasays[at]gmail.com

Stella's distortions continued - Rajendra Bisessar

Before I continue with what I consider the major ideological thrust of Stella I want to touch on what I consider very immature on the part of her friend who responded to me by email. Her friend in his email stated that if I believe in Marxism I should give away my assets.

First Stella aims at the houses of some in government and suggests that it is communism at work and if it were socialism the money spent to build those houses would have been distributed to the nation. It would have been used to do D&I work. Stella the dredging of the Mahaicony, Abary and Mahaica creek would alone cost $800M.

Stella's socialism

Stella suggests that many capitalist countries have made a good life for themselves. Yes, this is a fact, but let's not forget colonialism, slavery and indentureship. It is also a fact that as they developed into the monopolist/imperialist stage the few developed countries extracted a tremendous amount of surplus from the export of capital to facilitate their ability to, in the words of Stella, “bring in the money”.

Stella continues saying that once the money is there, the “socialist principles can then help to distribute the gains.”

Here again Stella ignores the original definitions, ignores the question of changes in the social relations and makes socialism a concept that has to do with only the distributive aspect, the sharing of wealth.

If we were to accept what she says about distributing the wealth, do we understand that the capitalist after receiving the profits simply redistributes it? Does the reality of New Orleans teach Stella anything?

When are we going to transfer, through Stella's socialism, some of the surpluses back to the third world so that we can stop three million children from dying from hunger? Maybe Stella can convince the corporate world to repatriate some of the wealth extracted from Africa 's diamond, minerals and oil industries, socialist style to stop these children from dying.

Peter R. Ramsaroop in an article captioned “Achieving Economic Justice” printed in SN on Friday, August 19, 2005 had the gall to suggest that Marxism is the cause for stagnation in many developing countries and the people are the ones to suffer.

While people like Stiglitz, Noble Peace Prize winner in economics, has serious questions with regards the free market, Ramsaroop seems to be a blind follower and Stella in her personal socialist style sees the capitalists consciously giving back the profits to the people.

Stella this is not about people. When one is a small capitalist one controls capital but when capital grows and concentrates it assumes control and in the end only capital has individualism and exercises control while men become slaves to capital as it strives to fulfill its nature to expand.

By the way it was the introduction of British capitalism that resulted in the de-industrialisation of India and the consequent poverty.

Stella and Venezuela

It is interesting how far Stella, determined to have Chavez and Bharrat look bad, has gone to spin the good to make it bad. She suggests that Chavez keeps the opposition sufficiently antagonised just to give the appearance of democracy and suggests that he polarized the nation and it is now the “wealthy and the middleclass against the poor”.

Stella the polarization was there, prior to the Chavez government about 80 percent of the people in this oil rich country were in poverty. According to Stella “Latin and South America continue to inch towards the left” and therefore I would conclude that it was definitely not the left that created this poverty.

And in Guyana , the present government inherited a situation where 86 percent of our people were in poverty, 26 percent of households were in deep poverty according to the World Bank. And Stella when this government took over, not only was there a deficit at the capital level but our current expenditure was greater than our current revenue. We were borrowing to pay salaries. Our balance of payment was in deep red.

Stella did not know or she chooses, in her deep desire to attack this government, to ignore it.

She claims that Chavez snatched up the land of those who oppose him. The reality is about 70 percent of the land was in the control of 2 percent of the population, a lot of it lying idle. Most rural Venezuelans have no land.

The December 10 strike was by business leaders and a section of the union movement, who were protesting a series of economic laws and land reform.

In a December 10 article in the Chicago Bi Weekly, Christian Parenti and John Marshall stated that the Venezuelan government moved to diversify the economy, turn over idle land to the landless peasants – to end feudalism - and encourage the growth of crops based on the highly successful Hungarian Model. These measures were met with a response from the US which saw US department loans being frozen, and Chavez accused of supporting terrorism in Columbia , Bolivia and in Equador.

Stella's distortions continued

While I would deal later with some of the other spin Stella placed on the situation in Venezuela and attempts to pass it off as the reality in Guyana , I want to inform on a number of issues.

The rich oil magnates were angry. The oil industries in Venezuela were huge cash cows for Phillips Petroleum and Exxon Mobil. They were enjoying a 60-year-old agreement which made them pay one percent in royalties and the government handed out huge tax brakes to them.

The new laws would mean that the US and French companies would have to cough up more.

Failed neoliberal economic policies coupled with corruption and authorianism resulted in the poverty, marginalisation and polarisation I mentioned. The Chavez government, among other things that I would discuss later, was able to reduce inflation from 40 percent to 12 percent and to generate reasonable growth.

To be continued...