Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stella Says...Casino gambling could bring in some much needed revenue

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 14 December 2006)

Let us get right to the point, Guyana needs money and gambling will bring money to Guyana. That is really all that needs to be said on the issue, but I suppose it would be terribly brash to be so inconsiderate of the concerns of the religious community.

However, since Jagdeo and his party are finally doing something to create economic growth, and they are attempting to do it legally, I could not be more tickled. Of course, I'm not naïve enough to think this opportunity for a little wealth will extend beyond the PPP faithful. Then again, what economic endeavour created under this administration would favour equitable distribution of wealth?

Countless investors have been chased away for no other reason than political persuasion, or rather the lack of allegiance to the current governing party. Bright economic reform measures have been shot down because the smart proposal was not from the right political party.

Moreover, in an attempt to keep the nation isolated from an invasion of investors from neighbouring Brazil, this administration has been opposed to the idea of connecting the two countries by road until recently.

It is very difficult to take a broad look at the overall economic progress, or rather the lack thereof, and not draw the conclusion that the governing party wants to maintain a level of economic starvation in Guyana. Personally, I think this is because a nation in poverty is so much easier to manipulate for the PPP's ongoing political agenda.

Therefore, I am jumping for joy over the prospect of introducing casino gambling. Again, I fully acknowledge that there is probably a pocket full of money somewhere that readily supports the PPP and is pushing for a way to make even more money through casino gambling and is offering kickbacks to politicians who are inclined to look favourably upon such an endeavour.

Regardless, I do not care about the PPP and its ongoing incestuous acts. All I care about is that the flow of income into Guyana will bring much needed economic growth to the nation. If even a small amount of this income trickles down to those who really need it, then I am even happier.

The introduction of casino gambling may indeed be intended to plump the pockets of those precious PPP elite, but in due time, it will have to be an industry in which any one can invest – whether it is now or in five years when the PPP no longer rules the roost.

As such, I am quite excited that Jagdeo finally wants to do something good for the economic situation of Guyana. Although, I also have to say that it is simply ludicrous to think about telling a resident Guyanese that he or she cannot gamble. This would be like making El Dorado Rum in Guyana but telling the people who make the rum that they cannot buy it.

Now let us return to the concerns of the religious community, many of which were very nicely addressed in Tuesday's editorial in Kaieteur News. The article said, "When radio bingo was first introduced in Guyana, there was nary a peep but that was a form of gambling. When lottery came it was the same thing. Today, lottery is entrenched and more than few churchgoers participate in this form of gambling."

The editorial continued with a very sound argument against the concerns of the religious community, "The harsh reality is that no group of people should decide for the majority. Casino gambling is not going to be compulsory. If an individual is opposed to casino gambling then he [or she] has the right to refuse to gamble. Horseracing and other forms of gambling abound in Guyana and there is nothing to compel an individual to be a part of the venture."

I share this sentiment as well; it cannot be enough to simply oppose an economic endeavour because it might have a negative outcome for a small number of people. Life cannot be lived in constant fear of the "what ifs."

If we applied this reasoning to life in general, then Guyana should not make rum because everyone might get drunk. Guyana should not grow rice because someone might choke on it and Guyana should not build any more houses because there is a chance one might catch on fire.

I prefer to live my life with a more optimistic outlook. Applied to this situation, my outlook would ponder the benefits of casino gambling and applaud the government for finally taking some measure of initiative toward economic growth – even if it is being done for a small few instead of the nation at large – because I know in time the nation at large will reap the profits too.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stella Says…Mental abuse is debilitating for women too

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 12 December 2006)

We rightly spend a good amount of time focusing on the negative effect of domestic violence, rape and child abuse. However, in the process we seldom take the necessary time to talk about how detrimental mental abuse can be for women too.

Of course, it goes without saying that physical abuse spawns mental abuse because violence produces a mental state of fear, anger and mistrust. Physical violence creates a tainted filter through which a victim views almost every aspect of life.

Likewise, mental abuse is just as debilitating. Mental abuse includes humiliation, harassment and threats of punishment or deprivation. In short, it is the constant use of degradation against another person.

I have seen some men boast about how they would never lay a hand on their wife, but turn around and assail her with words that should never be spoken in a civil society amongst good-hearted people.

All too often, that woman will cower in fear, never thinking for a moment that she should take a stand for herself. The patriarchal institutions of society insist that the woman must simply submit herself to such abuse or she may burn in hell.

A person can only take so much verbal and emotional abuse before they break. Low self esteem, crafted by long-term degradation, eventually caves to the intimidation of a monster and humiliation becomes a way of life.

I am not going to suggest that women do not mentally abuse men as well since this is obviously not the case. However, most men will eventually walk away from a relationship that is mentally abusive, while abused women often have no where to go and no way of taking care of themselves or their children.

It is an absolutely terrifying thought when a woman realises she must make it on her own, but like I have told women over and over again, it is better to face the fear of an unknown future that she has created with thoughtful care than to face the fear of a known abuser that has no intentions of changing.

Mental abuse comes in so many packages that it is hard to pin down just one mode of inflicting such horror. As I have already mentioned, incessant humiliation is standard in such relationships. However, there are subtle methods of mental abuse that many would simply dismiss as trivial even though the end result is just as catastrophic on the victim.

For example, I truly believe it is a relationship crime to assume that only one person in a marriage has aspirations and dreams. I have seen it time and again, the man demands the right to pursue his dream while the woman has no choice but to tag along if she wants her family to stay intact.

The outcome of such selfishness is never good. The constant denial of the woman’s aspirations to the deference of the man’s desires makes the woman feel as if her desires mean nothing. She begins to think of herself as a diminished individual who deserves nothing more than to be treated with such condescension.

A healthy relationship encourages both individuals to strive for their own personal goals, it supports the endeavours of both people and it would never force one person to do something that was explicitly unwelcome just to support the aspirations of the other.

When a woman agrees to remain in a relationship that completely negates her aspirations while the man devotes all energy to his dreams, she becomes but a shell of a person – she loses her heart and her soul. All life drains from her and she will find it difficult to regain control of her life again and start anew.

There is no doubt about the horrifying effects physical abuse has on women. However, mental abuse is just as debilitating and can have lifelong repercussions. The best thing to do if you find yourself in a mentally abusive relationship is to simply walk away.

Sure, you could stick around for another year or two just to see if the abuse continues, but will you still be a whole person when that trial period is over? It is not worth the risk.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Stella Says…Spam, it’s what’s for breakfast

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 10 December 2006)

The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is head for my computer. It holds the secrets to my day. I read my e-mails from several accounts, I check my schedule for the day on my Outlook calendar and I read Kaieteur News’ online version for the news of the day. I would be lost without my computer.

However, I have one huge frustration - privacy invasion. In the last few years, I have had the privacy of my personal computer invaded in so many ways that I am starting to feel like it is public property instead of my own property.

In the past, my home page has been changed without my consent, my search engine was set for Internet Explorer and was changed to some search engine I never knew existed, and hidden programs have infiltrated my computer and set it to randomly open windows to casino ads and porn sites.

My e-mail is constantly bombarded with ads from companies that claim I have "opted" into their e-mail list. As if I would waste my time asking someone to send me e-mails that are deleted as fast as they are received.

I received over 500 junk emails to one email account yesterday alone. Can I have a little orange juice with that spam at 6:30 in the morning?

One of my e-mail addresses is on a privately owned server that is not related to any of the big name e-mail sites like Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail. But those nasty little computer geeks have even invaded that part of my privacy by using this server to send out e-mail ads.

They get tons of money from the dupes who actually buy into their moneymaking schemes and I get to have my account flooded by all of the undeliverable e-mail. Isn't that just peachy?

My biggest frustration comes from the pop-up messages I receive when connected to the Internet. A friend of mine explained the technical aspects of this phenomenon to me, but I do not care about how it happens.

All I care about is that it does happen. I get pop-ups about all kinds of stuff. I have received several pop-ups inviting me to learn how to enlarge my penis. Last time I checked, I did not even have a penis.

I even get pop-ups telling me how to not get pop-ups. Now that is frustration to the nth degree. If I could, I would reach through the lines that connect me to those privacy bandits and pour my orange juice all over their geeky little heads. But alas, I have no such super powers.

Is it really necessary to feel victimised in your own home at your own computer while eating breakfast? Luckily, Paul knows quite a bit about computers and helped to restore my computer to its original state, but that does not stop the spamming or the pop-ups and it does not protect me from future invasion.

The truth of the matter is it is very hard to catch and prosecute these privacy thieves. The Internet crosses international boundaries, which makes these home invaders quite elusive and difficult to prosecute.

This frustrating situation wears on my patience daily, but I suppose I just have to hope that one day soon my personal computer will be safe from invasion. Until then, I will eat my breakfast and continue on with life.

However, I do not intend to share my OJ or my toast with them - unless they like OJ as shampoo.

Email: StellaSays[at]
(an email account that currently has 275 emails in the junk folder)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Stella Says…The flip side of the immigration issue offers a valuable lesson

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 7 December 2006)

It is no secret that millions of people want to migrate to developed countries every day. There is always that notion that the grass is greener on the other side of the border, which is true in some regards and just pure silliness in other regards. There is no Utopia on Earth.

There are masses of people around the globe who desperately want to migrate to the United States, Canada, Britain and other such countries because they believe their quality of life will be better. I have seen people talk about America with a glazed look in their eyes as if it was a promised land with no wrongs or ills.

This notion is just ridiculous, but there is no telling these would-be immigrants such facts. They believe America can give them everything they could ever need. However, no one really stops to consider the flip side of this issue, that America – and other highly desired countries - benefit greatly from these immigrants.

Immigrant workers were the driving force behind America’s Industrial Age, a period that helped to position the U.S. as an economic leader. Even now, Asian immigrants make up a significant portion of the brains behind the technology boon.

When a country guards its borders and shuts out foreign investors (and investors from its Diaspora), it deprives itself of these types of economic benefits. Let me share some information that I recently read in the Washington Post on this topic.

I relocated to Texas earlier this year from the Washington DC area. We lived in the Arlington, Virginia area right across the river from the White House and down the road from the Pentagon. The racial make-up of this area is not what most would assume. It is not predominantly White.

It is in fact a very diversified area with a mixture of several races from all over the world. One of the fastest growing groups are immigrants from India. The November 22 Washington Post article, entitled “Out of India, En Masse and on the Way Up,” had this to say, “The once-small Indian immigrant population, which for decades expanded at a slow but steady rate, has ballooned over the past decade. Immigrants from India are settling here faster than any group except Salvadorans.”

The article continued, “Many Indians were among the recent wave of high-tech professionals who entered on temporary permits for skilled workers. When their spouses, children and siblings followed, their numbers soared, especially in Fairfax and Montgomery counties.”

On the one hand, immigrating to the U.S. was beneficial for these Indian nationals because they saw a promising opportunity and wanted to make the most of it. The article stated that the median income for Washington area Indian households is US$87,369, which is “higher than the median income for whites, other Asians, blacks and Hispanics, according to new Census Bureau figures…”

However, the flip side of this situation is that America benefits too. These soaring numbers are good news for the area because with each immigrant comes the potential for additional economic growth.

While some might feel a situation like this could take jobs away from the locals, a sentiment expressed by some Americans on the immigration issue and shared by Guyanese who spurn the concept of outside investors, this article goes a long way toward proving the exact opposite, more jobs are actually being created by these immigrants.

In fact, the article pointed out that there are more than 8,300 Indian-owned businesses in the region, which means there are literally thousands of locals being employed by these companies owned by immigrants. The advantages for both the Indian immigrants and for their adopted country are reciprocal. Each will help the other to grow economically.

Likewise, there are so many of these types of investors just biding time and waiting for Guyana to open her arms to welcome immigrant investors. However, there are numerous obstacles standing in the way, such as government bureaucracy (red tape galore), a frightening crime situation (which at times targets businesses) and the nation’s poor economic state (a sure deterrent to any investor). This list is by no means exhaustive.

Regardless of how much potential Guyana holds for investors, when the pros and cons are weighed, Guyana oft times misses her opportunity for economic growth and another country wins the plunder instead.

If the government continues to treat these issues that discourage economic investment with indifference, the nation will never realise its potential. Moreover, other countries will continue to benefit from those who leave Guyana to find better opportunities elsewhere.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the World Cup will afford the nation so many investment opportunities that the government will be overwhelmed – that is unless they actually take the time to prepare for such a rare occasion when investors from around the world will be focused on Guyana, but being proactive is obviously not a strength of this administration.

It is time for the government to permanently remove those investment deterrents and open their arms to potential outside investors and immigrant investors who can bring the type of economic growth that the Indian nationals are bringing to the Washington DC area.

This is not only about what Guyana can do for outside investors, but about what outside investors can do for Guyana. If the government chooses to do nothing to encourage outside investment and lets the World Cup slip by without capitalising on such a profound opportunity, every one loses in the end.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stella Says…The answer to the Catholic Church’s current dilemma is female priests

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 5 December 2006)

The Catholic Church is once again faced with the decision of maintaining their stance on celibacy or finding a way for their priests to minister and be married too, like many other Christian denominations.

About two weeks ago a very influential Brazilian Cardinal, Claudio Hummes, who was recently named to head the Vatican's office in charge of priests around the world, said the Church should reconsider its stance on celibacy and allow priests to marry.

This is a very controversial issue within the church, as we have seen recently in the letter pages of Kaieteur News. In fact, the dire shortage of priests worldwide is one of the primary reasons this extreme measure is being considered at all.

Recent letter writer, Leon Jameson Suseran, was very adamant that celibacy is the distinguishing mark of the Catholic Church and he maintained, “Celibacy is not a doctrine; it’s a discipline which allows priests and other religious to give their fullest attention to their God and ministry.”

This line of reasoning seems to be the primary foundation upon which those who do not want priests to marry base their argument. I can easily see the rational of this stance and appreciate the fact that if one does indeed wish to devote full attention to study and prayer, then family life would be a burden.

Since the Vatican is so determined to uphold its tradition of celibacy, then perhaps another solution should be explored that both preserves the discipline of celibacy and significantly bolsters the number of ministers within the Catholic Church – it should ordain women as priests.

Now I know as much as the next person that the Vatican would rather chuck its tradition of celibacy than to ordain a woman as a priest. After all, the Bible does tell the women to be silent in the church, right?

However, if the Catholic Church does not wish to become completely obsolete in a world that now moves at the speed of light, it would behove of the church leaders to follow the example of Cardinal Claudio Hummes and reconsider some of their dogmas.

For those who insist that celibacy should not be dismissed and value the role such a discipline contributes to the church, the best answer to the very troubling shortage of priests is to ordain women, who by the way are lined up and ready to serve.

There is a sizeable movement for women priests, but the church continues to hold to archaic doctrines that were obviously instituted by a patriarchal ideology. As a result, the Catholic Church has chased off most of its nuns who had come to understand that the same equality and dignity that women outside the ministry enjoyed also belonged within the Christian mission.

A new book released in June of this year by a former religion editor at the New York Times, Kenneth Briggs, entitled "Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns," explores the role of women in religious history and the near disappearance of nuns and their role in the church.

The nuns are all but gone and the priests are disappearing too. In a world of insecurity caused by terrorist attacks, wars and power-hungry leaders, people are seeking solace in the church more than ever, but in a few years will there will be anyone left to deliver the Eucharist?

The Catholic Church cannot continue on its current course if it wants to be around beyond the 21st century. In the last few decades alone, the church has experienced some serious decay and without embracing new concepts, like gender equality and married priests, it will have done itself – and its congregants – a great disservice.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stella Says…A woman for President in 2011?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 3 December 2006)

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand has really been making the rest of those PPP Ministers look bad lately. Every time we turn around, she is doing something else of consequence. And doing it well, too!

Obviously she must have missed the meeting where the Ministers of Jagdeo’s administration were told to glide through the next five years doing little of consequence while telling the public the party is working hard for Guyana.

She has even left PPP poster boy, Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud, MBA behind to eat her dust as she whirs to yet another significant task. Pretty soon everyone will be saying, “Who is Robert Persaud”? Of course, even Rohee is outshining Smart and Sharp lately.

When I found out that Minister Manickchand went to visit the good citizens of an area that has been overrun with criminal scum, I thought to myself that Smart and Sharp would never have the cojones to do such a thing.

This lady appears to actually care about the people of Guyana. At this rate, four and a half years from now, Poised and Proper Priya will have won the hearts of the PPP constituents so completely that they will demand that she be the party’s candidate for president.

Such a turn of events would certainly be heartening since I really was not looking forward to a battle of the egos between the three MBAs - Robert Persaud, Peter Ramsaroop and Eric Phillips.

If she continues on her current path, Poised and Proper Priya Manickchand would be a viable alternative for the PPP’s presidential choice. Well, that is if they are actually looking for a viable candidate.

She has spunk, charisma and she reaches out to the people. She also seems to be able to work across partisan lines on important issues, but the vote is still out on that one.

Of course, it is still a very long stretch before the next general election and the good minister could pull a “Bibi Shadick” and ruin all chances of anyone taking her seriously again.

Bibi chose to throw away all of her hard work on women's issues when she callously disregarded the claims of some young women who said they had been assaulted. It was not for Bibi to decide whether these assertions were true, the claims should have been taken seriously and investigated fully by the proper authorities, but Bibi had some personal business that got in the way.

Bibi had me fooled for a long time. I thought she cared about the women of Guyana, but it seems she cared more about her close buddies. I do hope Priya’s apparent concern for the women of Guyana is more genuine than that of her predecessor. If so, then Guyana has found a promising future in one of its newest ministers.

However, in Guyana politics, you never know from day to day which way the wind will blow. There is always the off chance that Poised and Proper Priya will be kicked out of the PPP for being too effective, start her own party and steal some PPP votes in the next election.

Nah, the PPP party leaders wouldn’t be so petty as to get rid of a valuable Minister just because he/she is doing a good job. Would they?

Email: StellaSays[at]