by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 3 October 2006)
How many times have we seen it happen? A good and honest guy/gal decides to get involved in politics because they want to help make a positive difference in their little part of the world, only to turn into some type of Jekyll and Hyde monster who retains an honest face in the light of day, but has a dark and sinister face in the shadows.
I am not sure if some disinfectant spray is enough to clean up all of the raunchiness spread thickly across the world’s various governments, but the level of corruption and debauchery has reach levels that would make ancient decadent Rome seem pristine and pure.
In America, there are some disgusting allegations that a Florida congressman, Representative Mark Foley, “exchanged sexually explicit messages with teenage congressional pages,” as CNN.com put it, and that the Republican leadership in the House had improperly squelched concerns about the Representative’s contacts with those youth.
What’s even more ironic (and sickening) is that according to CNN, “The six-term Florida congressman was co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus and a prominent backer of legislation to crack down on online predators and criminalize child pornography on the Internet.”
In Brazil, there is a different type of dirtiness, though just as treacherous. The incumbent president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of the Workers’ Party, finished first in the presidential vote held in Brazil on Sunday, but fell just short of the majority he needed, amid allegations of corruption, to avoid a runoff on Oct. 29 with the runner up, Geraldo Alckmin, of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, as reported in the New York Times.
The article said, “Mr. da Silva had seemed assured of coasting to a first round re-election victory until the eruption of the so-called Dossiergate scandal two weeks ago. That was when Workers’ Party operatives were caught trying to pay $792,000 in cash for information they apparently thought would incriminate Mr. Alckmin’s party in a scandal at the Health Ministry involving kickbacks on the purchase of ambulances.” Tsk-tsk.
What do some of the Brazilians think of their president? “I voted for Lula in 2002, but I won’t ever make that mistake again,” said Mr. Mello, a 40-year-old systems analyst. “He hasn’t done what he promised, and all we’ve had is corruption. I’ve lost hope and my faith in him,” said the New York Times article.
Jose Reis, a 39-year-old salesman interviewed in Madureira, a working class neighbourhood, said, “I didn’t vote for Alckmin; I voted against Lula and the corruption around him.” He continued, “There are just too many scandals, and it’s damaging the country.” My sentiments exactly about the last presidential elections held in America!
Why can’t the good guys and gals who we initially vote into office maintain that integrity and honestly throughout their political career? Which brings us to Guyana. Jagdeo is a likeable guy, just like cowboy Bush with his Texan twang, which is why it is so difficult to believe there could be a Hyde personality lurking in the shadows.
There is an old saying that maintains you can take measure a man by the company he keeps. George Bush keeps company with slick Dick Cheney and shifty Donald Rumsfeld. That alone is reason enough to run as fast as possible. Heavens forbid that anything should ever happen to George Bush because I would hate to see what becomes of America with Dick Cheney in the oval office.
Jagdeo has his cronies too. For example, Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, is one character who has had his own cloud of allegations following him around too, yet Jagdeo had no qualms about putting him in yet another high profile position.
In an interview with Stabroek News, Rohee said. "I would be tough on drug lords; I don't have a problem with that. I am not in bed with any drug lord. I am prepared to advance the policy of the government to make it as effective as possible to counter narco-trafficking." I will not hold my breath as I wait for this to happen.
It is a sad thing when a minister of the government, and a servant of the people, has to clarify that he or she is not in bed with drug lords. The very fact that the people are put into the position of making such an assumption in the first place proves how much the government has failed the people. Where is my Lysol spray?
Oh, that we could find leaders who, when presented with temptations of compromise, would unflinchingly maintain their integrity and not sell the trust of the people to the highest bidder. But alas, there is no greater tempter than the lust of power.
Hey, at least Jagdeo has not put his face on the covers of all notebooks used by the school children like certain other world leaders and even a former Guyanese president. Well, not yet anyhow.