Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stella Says…The PNC has proven it is not a viable opposition party

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 29 July 2007)

First the PNC was upset that some of its own prominent members were talking about the many irregularities within the party. Then those members decided they should try to make a change for the good of the party by presenting the people with an option for a new party leader.

Then the elections were manipulated when thousands of new names appeared on the list from out of nowhere to vote for a party leader. Then the PNC refused to verify those thousands of new persons for those members who brought up the party irregularities in the first place.

Now, the PNC has decided to discipline the aforementioned members for pointing out the irregularities that the entire nation already saw – irregularities that in fact continued to be on open display for the past few weeks. Truly the recent behaviour of the PNC has been some the most injurious conduct to democracy in Guyana that I have seen.

It seems to me that if Robert Corbin started sporting a uniform and carrying a whip, I would not be the least bit surprised at this point. It is truly no wonder that I often hear people say the PNC will never change. If the last few weeks are an example of what Guyana can expect from the PNC, it is a good thing this is a dying party.

At this point, the only thing left for the PNC to do is to rip the vote away from the people all together. If this party is so bent on preventing a healthy democratic atmosphere within its group, why even pretend the vote of the people matters at all?

It would save a lot of money if the PNC just did away with the voting practice all together and quit the pretence that democracy matters in the process of choosing a party leader.

In fact, if the PNC wants to complete this course of action of washing away democracy, it should just bring the newspapers before a disciplinary committee as well, since journalists and columnists are all a part of the democratic process. I just bet they wish they could.

What is so striking in this whole fiasco is just how bold the PNC is being about its dismissal of democracy. It has shown no shame whatsoever in demonstrating its angst toward those who would challenge the party’s leader – as if this mere man is infallible. If anything Corbin has proven to be one of the weakest opposition leaders Guyana has ever produced.

The intolerant approach the party is taking regarding the democratic actions of some of its key members is nothing less than reprehensible. To pretend that it is normal to call for disciplinary action against notable leaders for challenging the party leader does not fool anyone into believing this is a democratic action.

This disciplinary action is being enacted for one very important reason – to make it clear that no one (not even the most senior members) should ever again dare to challenge the party leader. Making a spectacle of these brave few in front of the nation will send that message across Guyana.

What has taken place during this leadership challenge is all the proof Guyana needs that the PNC is not capable of leading a democratic country. In fact, this whole fiasco is making the PPP seem like it does truly does have “ultra-democratic tendencies.” Though we all know this is a laugh, it is a sad observation that Guyana’s primary opposition makes the ruling government appear more given to social equality.

The cloud of speculation that surrounded any national election the PNC ever won has found new validation in the recent actions of the PNC during the past few weeks. Moreover, it is now evident that this practice of refusing to allow democracy to run its rightful course has become an internal exercise as well.

Therefore, it seems necessary to spell it out clearly for the PNC leader to understand – Mr. Corbin, it is undemocratic to censure your challengers. It is undemocratic to manipulate elections. It is undemocratic to intimidate any would-be future contenders for the position of party leader. Guess where that leaves you and your party in a democratic nation?

The entire nation will be watching the actions of the PNC very closely for the next few weeks as this issue of disciplinary action progresses to see if this dying party intends to put the nails in its own coffin or to prove there is at least an ounce of democratic integrity left in those old bones.

My crystal ball has already shown me the outcome.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stella Says…I have good news and I have bad news

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 27 July 2007)

I have good news for you today; and I have bad news as well. The good news is that India swore in its first female president this week. The bad news is that not many women in India see this event as offering a promising future for them.

Pratibha Patil, India’s new president, has said, “We must banish malnutrition, social evils, infant mortality and female feticide.” These are nice sounding words, so why is it that more women in India do not see Patil as a step in the right direction?

According to a July 25 USA Today report, Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi, a feminist and human rights magazine, said, "She was chosen for her loyalty and has moved from one post to another because of that same loyalty.” It would seem that some women in India expect Patil to be more loyal to the government than to them.

Kishwar continued, "I have always believed that it's not everything to just have sari-wearing creatures in politics. It's more important that politics stands for and enables honest, upright people to survive. But sycophancy is the only token that works.”

It is easy to understand Kishwar’s point. Just because a woman is in a position of power, there is no guarantee that she will use that position to help other women. Moreover, one woman in a position of power does not necessarily change the plight of women in general throughout a nation.

Take Guyana for example, this is one nation that has already had a woman as president. Even the US has not had a female president as yet. Moreover, although the position of president in India is largely a ceremonial post, that is not the case here. The president of Guyana is the one who actually leads the country. Yet still even though a woman sat as president nearly a decade ago, the women of this country continue to suffer immensely from all sorts of atrocities because of their gender.

What good does it do the women of a nation if those who achieve positions of power forget what it is like for the rest of her sisters? It is for this reason the women of India are not jumping for joy that they finally have a woman as president – they simply do not expect much from her.

Patil was chosen for this role because of her known devotion to India's powerful Nehru-Gandhi family. It remains to be seen to whom she will be loyal as president of India - to the ones with power or to the powerless?

For example, Patil drew criticism for calling on all women, Hindus and Muslims alike, to abandon the tradition of wearing headscarves. However, upon being sworn in as president this week, Patil herself wore a headscarf. This does not seem to be the type of leader that is strong enough to champion the cause of women in India.

Female feticide is rampant in India despite laws against the practice that aborts a baby girl because families would prefer to have a boy instead. A UK Guardian article from just this week reported, “Police in the eastern Indian state of Orissa exhumed skulls and body parts believed to be from three dozen aborted female foetuses and murdered girls in an abandoned well, a grisly find that highlights the persistence of infanticide in the country.”

This find comes after seven foetuses were found two weeks ago. It is also important to not that women who do not wish to abort their female foetuses often suffer all sorts of abuse from their husbands and his family members.

Male children are deemed more desirable because of the large dowries a young bride’s family must still pay to the husband to placate the burden of caring for the woman for the rest of her life. Sometimes the family must take out large loans to pay the dowry.

Also, only sons can perform last rights for the parents in the Hindu religion. An old proverb shows the general attitude of how girls are viewed by many in India. The proverb says, "Raising a girl is like watering the neighbour's garden."

The question then becomes, what can India’s new female president do – if anything –to help the women of her nation? Can she bridge the gap between the entrenched patriarchy and a life of equality for India’s women? If the scarf she donned during her induction ceremony is any indication of how she waffles under pressure, the answer seems clear.

The Indian government is trying to crack down on female feticide through the doctors who are aborting the female foetuses. Talk of a registry of pregnancy has also been tossed about. So as far as Patil’s statement about ending this practice goes, it seems quite possible.

However, one must ask if the government is now taking such drastic steps simply because the gender ratio is so skewed since so many boys are being born and so many girls are being killed. If this is the case, the way women are viewed in society does not change at all.

Girls will still be deemed a burden on the family, women will still be second-class citizens and female leaders will still be impotent. The focus should not be on stopping the abortion of female foetuses, but on how to change society’s view of women. Once the latter is accomplished, the former will dissipate as well.

China ran into a similar problem when they realised there were not enough women for all of the men after their one-child policy seemed to mean the death of so many little girls to make way for the more desirable little boys. The government started paying some families to have girls to balance the gender ratio again.

However, the practice of female feticide is only a symptom of a much larger social ill – misogyny. A woman in the position of India’s President only guarantees that at least there is not a sexist man in that position, but will Patil’s appointment add up to anything more than a “sari-wearing creature in politics” for the women of her country? Only time will tell.

(Here’s hoping Priya will make a difference for women when she is president of Guyana)

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stella Says…Making the switch gets rid of the glitch

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 25 July 2007)

I know quite a few political conservative Americans who have made a conscientious switch from being Republican to become a Democrat in the last five years. To understand the gravity of such a move, one would have to know that for some Americans, this is like a PPP supporter becoming a member of the PNC.

I have watched carefully over the past few years as it dawned on the American people that the leader they elected was leading the country to ruin. Moreover, this phenomenon of conservative Americans turning to the Democratic Party for guidance is not occurring in a trickling state, but as a waterfall.

Although this trend has been going on for a few years now, it was last week when I talked to my brother that I realised just how serious this could be for the Republican Party. If someone wanted to know how to define a conservative American, my brother would be the perfect example.

He is a God-fearing man from America’s heartland whose principles line up with that of the Republican Party. Just a few short years ago my brother would rather have eaten dirt than to say Hillary Clinton should be in the White House. Although my brother is very smart, I never gave him credit for being able to see the impact U.S. policy has beyond the shores of America.

While talking on the phone the other day, he made a startling statement to me that caused me to rethink my brother as a person. My brother – the strict conservative Republican - intends to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008 if she gets the nomination.

For someone like my brother to decide to vote for a Democrat (and Hillary at that!) in the next national election means that a new day has truly dawned in the U.S. This means that even the staunchest of Republicans are realising that a great wrong has been done and it is up to the voters to make it right again.

It is one thing for a woman or a loyal Democrat to say that one intends to vote for Hillary Clinton. It is a whole other story for a highly conservative white man from Middle America (like my brother) to declare that he believes Hillary Clinton is the only one who can save our country from the disaster Bush and his administration has created.

I have seen many people make this switch from the Republican Party to be a Democrat. I have seen those in the military make the switch in droves. Even the July 9 issue of Fortune Magazine declared on its front page, “Business Loves Hillary.” In smaller letters below the headline and in parentheses it then said, “Who Knew?”

Indeed, who would have ever thought big business would support a Democrat as a candidate since the Dems are typically known for championing the plight of the poor and middle class. The rich have always despised the Democrat candidates. What a switch!

I made the switch as well, but mine was made early on when it was apparent that Bush intended to start an unprovoked war regardless of what the American people wanted. I was one of those voters looking around in disbelief that such a leader could get voted back into office to cause more harm after the last elections.

Hillary Clinton is just one of the many viable Democratic presidential candidates. There are a handful of potentials to choose from – each just as qualified as the next. My astute brother pointed out to me that it was not worth the time to even browse the poor selection of Republican candidates.

I still cannot seem to fathom that my conservative brother is voting as a Democrat. It would appear that Bush is the best thing that has happened to Democrats in a very long time. During the congressional elections last November, the American people gave the Democrats control of Congress and as a result, this week the poorest of the nation have seen the first rise in minimum wage in ten very long years.

Hillary Clinton’s response to the fact that big business supports her candidacy was that CEOs and other business leaders “know I’m trying to figure out how we can have shared prosperity.” Let me get this straight, Clinton is suggesting shared prosperity and big business is still supporting her?

I am completely convinced that because of Bush, there is nothing the Democratic leaders can do wrong at this point. Morgan Stanely CEO, John Mack, is a long-time Republican who has been won over by Clinton as well. Morgan Stanely is a U.S. multi-billion dollar investment company that has over 55,000 employees.

When conservative Americans, like my brother, and big business CEOs, like John Mack, voice their obvious support for a Democratic presidential candidate, it is clear that the very foundation of American politics is changing.

Although I loathe the way this change has come about – with the lives of so many by way of Bush’s unjustified war in Iraq – it is encouraging to know that people are willing to change even their core belief systems if they recognise a leader intends to use their loyalty for evil purposes.

I am very comforted that my own brother, someone whom I always viewed as immovable when it came to politics and religion, is actually far more open-minded than I could have ever dreamed. I do not even want to think of what this world would be like if people like my brother continued to believe the government’s lies.

It gives me hope to know that so many are willing to change their entire political orientation to do what is right for the nation and for the world.

Now I dare you to take the time to understand how the previous sentence (and the entire column) applies to Guyana. Not that I would suggest that anyone should switch from one evil to another, but to change the very foundation of Guyanese politics to do what is right for the nation.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Stella Says…Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater!

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 22 July 2007)

Remember when as children we would play games and pretend to be a doctor, a fire-fighter or a bride? Our imaginations would run wild with remarkable ideas and most of the time there were no rules to such games. Instead, we would just make up the rules as we went along.

Of course, some children have bigger imaginations than others. I have one daughter who had an imagination as big as the universe and when she played with her neighbourhood friends who also had a huge imagination, they could get lost in a fantasy land of their own making for hours a day.

I would hear their conversations as one would say, “Pretend that a robot is coming to destroy the world.” The other would respond, “Yeah, and pretend the robot is taller than this whole house.” The story would get bigger and bigger and soon their imaginations would have them in a world of make believe.

This is what came to mind as I watched the drama unfold for the PNC over the membership list verification. My first notion was to wonder why it is not standard policy to verify the list each time a vote is required. I suppose there has never – or very seldom – been a need for a verified list of members before.

Yet still, verification of voters should be a standard requisite in any democratic process. As Mr. Corbin well knows. Oh, when I think of the fuss he kicked over verifying the voter list during the national elections last year, and rightfully so. Which is why it is so funny to see him making up his own rules this year.

It is like he is just playing government and making up the rules as he goes along. When my boys would play together as children, one would make up a rule when he wanted to win the game. The other would protest loudly and I would chastise both to play fair. Then the other would turn around and make up his own rule so that he could win the game.

Cheating might help someone win the game, but everyone playing the game knows the person cheated and the win was not real. Therefore, that person does not get our respect for playing a good game or for outwitting us; the person gets our disdain and our pity for not being able to win the game fairly.

When it comes to governing a nation, there should not be any rules made up along the way to suit the purposes of a single individual or a small group of elitists. There should be an established set of regulations in place that ensure the democratic process of voting and governing.

Government is not a board game like Monopoly. Or rather, it would be more appropriate to say Government should not be a game like Monopoly. In government, cheating the process is equal to cheating the people – and the people do not like to be cheated. The people do not want leaders who make up the rules as they go along.

They want the security of knowing an established process is in place from which even the most slippery of leaders cannot deviate. Guyana is still a young nation, but if every election someone is demanding voter verification to prevent cheating – then perhaps this is a policy that should have been installed decades ago.

A simple change of policy would save everyone a lot of grief and prevent the drama of these childish cheating games every time it is time to vote. It should not be so hard for the people of Guyana to vote – and to make sure their vote actually counts for something after their leaders get done cheating.

A good leader would have no problem with verifying a voter list because it is of utmost importance to make sure every voice is heard and that the will of the people is done – even if that means that particular leader must vacate his position.

It is a bad leader who prevents the will of the people by cheating just to win the game. Such a person is not fit for office. The comforting old saying, “Winners never cheat and cheaters never win,” is not always true when it applies to politics. When a leader is allowed to make up rules as she or he goes along, there is a high chance that person will win the game.

Sadly, this is the very last person who should win the game because a cheater lives by his own rules. I have known a few cheaters in my life. These are the types of people you keep at arms length for protection and must constantly look over your shoulder to make sure they are not stabbing you in the back.

This is the point in the story where everyone stands up, points at the cheater and yells, “Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater”! The world is warned about the cheater.

How can one possibly trust someone who makes the rules up as he goes along? If cheaters want to play games, let them play amongst themselves so the real leaders who truly care about the people can get on with the work at hand.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stella Says…Praise the catastrophe that destroyed the illusion and put truth in its place

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 20 July 2007)

I simply cannot allow an article on the increase of passion crimes against women slip by without analysis. On Tuesday, this newspaper published an article entitled, “Ten females murdered in six months,” which listed the names of these women who were murdered and how they were killed in crimes of passion.

This information is not a surprise to any of us because it has been addressed several times over the past few months. I suppose when all of the names are listed - when the victims have names to make them real – and we see each name running one right after another, it really hits hard.

It struck me on Tuesday when I read the article that all of these women are gone forever. They are gone from their children, gone from their friends and gone from their communities. The loss of these women is great.

Moreover, the article did not list the number of women who survived being hacked, stabbed and beat during crimes of passion. Some did survive, but their lives will never be the same.

It so happens that I read the information from this article during the same week I picked up a Virginia Woolf book for some light reading. The book I chose is one of her most popular, A Room of One’s Own, which was first published in 1929 – soon after women received the right to vote.

And so it was that as I read about the number of women murdered in crimes of passion for the past six months in Guyana, the information was filtered through the pages of Woolf’s writings on the struggle of the woman to be creative in a patriarchal world that shunned her work.

Of course, the usual questions assailed me as I read about the murdered women in Tuesday’s paper. Why did a woman have to die so a man could feel somehow bigger or better over her small, helpless form? Why must so many of the male gender use physical force to deal with emotional problems?

Will the police find the murderers and collect some tight evidence against them so that at least from the grave these women will know justice? Will the justice system consider the last precious moments of these women’s lives – each filled with terror and pain – before handing out a sentence?

These questions and so many more fill my head as I read about each woman murdered by a man. However, my many questions are usually never met with any real answers because such violence, such sadism, is never reasonable. Instead these questions usually just fester in me, as in so many women, and I continue to hope for a better day for women.

Yet Virginia Woolf offered me some words of comfort as I pondered my questions. It struck me as ironic that she too hoped for a better day for women so many decades ago. Her book reveals the obstacles she faced in her academic pursuits, such as being turned away from a library because she had no male escort.

No man can turn me away from a library, or museum or even a school now. She talked about how just forty years before women were not allowed to own land, manage their own money or run a business – all this must be done by her husband. Today women look after their own financial affairs.

At face value, the lives of women today are far better off than Virginia Woolf’s life. Except that women are still beaten, raped and murdered. Again the questions fill my head. What did Woolf say that helped me to better comprehend these incomprehensible actions?

In remarking about the musings of a particular misogynistic man of her time, she said, “Perhaps when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That is what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price.”

At this I wondered what had changed in the last six months that could cause men to become so hot-headed that they would hack, stab, burn, strangle and shoot women? The statistics show these crimes of passion have been on the rise during the past six months. What has changed that could cause these men to loose it?

Then I remembered some of the stories behind these brutal murders and many of them chronicled a woman who was headed for independence. The man felt spurned or jealous and could not come to terms with the fact that the woman had a mind of her own and a will of her own to do what she wanted with her life.

In general terms, one could come to the conclusion that the air of male superiority is failing in Guyana and there are some men who are not willing to relinquish the notion of being automatically superior to half of the world’s population because he was born with a penis.

In fact, it seems some men are willing to fight for this long-held idea (by beating the women back into submission) and some are even willing to kill for it. It is as if some men blame women for the loss of their superior status when, in fact, all women want is to be removed from their inferior position.

I suppose it would be easy for some to conclude that by shaking their long-held status of inferiority, women do impose themselves on the superior status of men – because it is necessary to raise women up, and subsequently bring men down, in order to assert gender equality.

Again, Virginia Woolf has a fitting passage to address this notion of blame pushing. She said, “But why say ‘blame’? Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in its place?”

In other words, since male superiority was never real in the first place - it was all an illusion – we should now be glad to finally know the truth, destroy that illusion and put truth in its place.

The answer is not to murder the women who take a stand for their independence. The answer is to begin to work together as a society – both genders side-by-side as equals – to create the best life possible.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stella Says…Who do we blame for the ill-treatment, murder and rape of women?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 15 July 2007)

Where should the finger point when blame is being distributed for the ill treatment, murder and rape of women? Surely there is someone to hold culpable for such atrocious acts against half of the world’s population.

Do we blame the men who commit these acts? Yes, of course. However, the truth is that they are only acting on what they have been socialised to consider acceptable. True, society does not say that rape and murder are acceptable, but when it promotes the second-class position of women it is a very short trip to a conclusion of rape and murder.

Should we blame hip-hop music, which objectifies women? This week I heard a radio interview with a Georgetown University Professor and author, Michael Eric Dyson, who spoke on this subject. Dyson maintained that hip hop has been extremely seductive in that it promotes the idea that the only place for women, especially black women, in the political economy of sex globally is as a hoochie mama and a slut whose “role is to service the masculine, especially the heterosexual male crotch.”

Hip-hop has certainly colluded with the mentality of female objectification - much like beauty pageants, pornography and girls gone wild videos. However, this music is only a couple decades old and we all know that misogyny has been around for thousands of years.

Perhaps we should blame the legislators for not going to greater lengths to protect women or the law enforcement system for turning a blind eye to women in jeopardy or the judicial system for doling out slaps on the wrists for rapists and wife abusers. Certainly all of these factors play a role in the treatment of women today.

However, all of these factors such as rape, female murder, sexist hip-hop lyrics and videos, pornography, lack of proper legislation to protect women and the obvious indifference from law enforcement and the judicial system, are no more than symptoms of the larger malady that has a very strong hold in so many nations today.

Obviously, there is a greater work in play here that must be recognised for its part in misogynistic socialisation. I have known the answer for quite some time and it seems others are seeing the light as well. The author I mentioned before from an interview this week went on to talk about what he sees as the primary promoter of sexism.

Dyson said he suggested to the “Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton instead of in the aftermath of Imus protesting record companies, how about smashing the sermons of some of those preachers who stand up in church on Sunday mornings in Black America, 75 – 80 percent of those churches are attended by black women, the minister is not calling them the b-word or the h or a skeezer or slut, but he is reinforcing a gospel that subordinates them to the interest of men and therefore he is much more seductive, he’s got a bigger pulpit, he’s got a bigger platform, and he’s got god on his side. Snoop Dog never claimed to be Jesus in rap form, but many of the ministers claim to be god’s representatives on earth and the message from the minister is god wants you to be a second class citizen because men should run stuff.”


I know there are times when religion helps people. For example, I have a very good friend who is going through a nasty divorce and is relying on strength from her god more than at any other time in her life to get through this difficult time. I do not discourage her faith because there have been times when I have needed a higher power in my life too.

I would rather see her stand on her own two feet and realise she has the strength to get through this on her own, but she hasn’t the resolve at this point in her life. So she turns to religion and finds comfort and strength in her faith.

What she does not realise is it is that same religion that gave her husband the right to think he could do anything he wanted to do regardless of her feelings or his responsibilities. In short, this religion to which she now clings is actually the very instigator of her problems.

Her husband maintains that men work, that’s what they do and justifies his excessive travel away from the family, which leaves all of the house duties and child rearing to the woman. If this is what the husband wants, religion teaches that it is acceptable and if the wife protests then she should be taken in hand.

The wife is reduced to nothing more than a slave, and she had better be a submissive slave or she will pay for her rebellion. God forbid that she protest anything, which is what my friend did and now finds herself in a divorce – something she never dreamed would happen to her.

The fact is that women are just as capable of working outside of the home and there are many who would rather have a career than to clean, cook and care for others their whole life. At this transitional point in history, far too many women do both – careers and home – with little help or support from their husbands.

As long as women are subordinated to the interests of men by the same higher power to whom they run for strength to deal with the intolerable situation created by that higher power, they will never find an end to their suffering. This is a never-ending circle of sexism.

It is time for women to realise they have the strength to rise above the sexist socialisation that is instilled in us from the cradle and incessantly reinforced via multiple conduits all around us for our entire lives. Could it be that this is where blame should be laid for the ill treatment, rape and murder of women – at the doors of our places of worship?

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, July 13, 2007

Stella Says…Not even the PPP can make Freddie Kissoon irrelevant

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 13 July 2007)

It is more than just a little amusing that the letter pages of Thursday’s Daily Chronicle was heavily laden with remarks about the ads fight (between Stabroek News and the government) and comments demanding Freddie show the nation his academic competence by producing any papers he has written during his time at the University of Guyana [UG].

The PPP has gone off the deep end this time. Seriously now, to call into question Freddie Kissoon’s capacity to teach at UG is simply ludicrous. Does the government really believe it has so many people left in the country (who have yet migrated) who are more qualified than Freddie to teach at UG?

Even if we put the brain drain issue aside, just a weeks worth of Freddie’s more rigorous columns could easily be assembled for a paper that would be over the heads of many in the Jagdeo administration. There is not one person in Guyana who reads Freddie’s column that could not admit that a good portion of his work borders on pure genius.

What is the president hoping to accomplish through this witch-hunt? Is he looking to relieve Freddie of his duties at UG? Surely even the president realises this would not be in the best interest of the nation. That is assuming the president is still looking out for the best interest of the nation.

Perhaps this whole fiasco is the government’s way of trying to undermine Freddie’s credibility. If this is the case, they are fighting a lost cause as Freddie’s brilliance is in black in white every single day for the world to see. Not even the PPP propaganda machine can unseat Freddie from his position as the foremost political analyst in Guyanese history.

It is my opinion that this is more about shutting down any true opposition to the government. The PPP is not accustomed to being put on the spot by any real opposition because the PNC just crawls in its hole after each election and hides from the world.

Robert Corbin’s attempt this week to look strong by protesting the actions concerning the government’s judicial appointments is laughable. It is like watching a skinny fellow flex his nonexistent muscles as he tries to impress a lady. Everyone knows Corbin is just blowing hot air and no one really takes him seriously when he pulls stunts like this.

This long-time opposition party of Guyana has become as so irrelevant on the political landscape that even the PPP knows they have removed all the teeth from their opposition. The PNC is now all bark and no bite. Moreover, the AFC is often MIA, which leaves the PPP with no real opposition save us “sleaze balls” in the media.

The biggest “sleaze ball” of all is Freddie. He makes life difficult for those in the PPP who otherwise enjoys a charmed existence of passivity from the people – even if the sky is falling. How great would it be to make Freddie irrelevant too? Then the government could really have some fun.

However, I do not think the government should underestimate Freddie’s drive to see Guyana succeed. When the nation’s politicians have thrown in their towels, when the people have settled for incompetence, even when most of the media runs from the truth instead of giving it to the people on a silver platter – Freddie continues to fight for Guyana.

This is what Jagdeo and his cronies should understand, they will be but a glitch in Guyana’s history in thirty years time, but Freddie will be a hero. He is the embodiment of hope for this country. He is the last vestige of faith when all faith has been lost.

The PPP is making the biggest mistake of its existence (and they have made a lot) by trying to marginalise Freddie because he carries inside him the conviction that everyone in the nation clings to during these dark days. When everyone else gives up, Freddie still stands.

I do not know what the PPP hopes to accomplish from their smear campaign against Freddie, but I can see it blowing up in their face already – and as usual, they are clueless. Good. I cannot wait to see how this ends.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stella Says…Mr. Prime Minister, here is a column for the good of Guyana

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 11 July 2007)

I thought I would take the good advice so benevolently bestowed on me last week by the Prime Minister and do some hefty lifting in the research department. I dug in deep and came up with some very interesting information that I feel might be helpful for the Prime Minister’s PPP pals.

The good Prime Minister requested in a letter to the editor on July 5, “If facts are to be spun, misunderstood, ignored, let it be for creating greater harmony.” I am fully convinced that upon reading this column, Mr. Hinds will agree that the information contained herein will lead to the greatest national harmony necessary for the good of stabilising various vital sectors in the nation.

My research focused on government, judicial and law enforcement officials accepting bribes and what I discovered was absolutely astonishing. For example, did you know that in the “Republic” by Plato the punishment for bribery was the death penalty?

Further, according to, “Greece also applied such punishment [the death penalty] in all instances of bribery. Roman law also addressed the crime, in the Twelve Tables, imposing the death penalty on any judge accepting a bribe.”

I suppose it would be wise to clearly define bribery before this discussion continues any further. The word "bribery" is a term used to refer to corruption. In legislation, the word refers to the act of anyone who exploits the power of her/his position or job. A bribed official is anyone who sells his authority for material reward.

The death penalty for acts of bribery may seem a bit harsh at first glance, but when one understands that such an act undermines democracy at its core each time an official relinquishes her/his authority for a material reward, it is far easier to understand the reasoning behind such strict judgement – to protect the people.

The Koran says, “God curses the briber, the bribed and the intermediary between the two of them.” Islamic law provides several means by which to deal with this criminal act, the least of which include reprimand, fines, jail and whipping, depending upon the enormity of the act attributed to the person convicted of the crime.

My research showed that even in modern society there are still nations that impose the death penalty on corrupt public servants. Last November, according to, “The former chief judge of China's Hunan Higher People's Court was sentenced to death at a trial in Beijing yesterday for accepting millions of yuan worth of bribes.”

I am quite sure the Prime Minister will be proud that I have done so much research to this point, but I’m not done yet. I should get a cookie for being such a good girl. I know the Prime Minister’s buddies in the Jagdeo administration will find this information simply invaluable.

In the United States, punishment for this act is addressed in the Constitution. According to, “Bribery, along with treason, is one of two crimes for which the United States Constitution (art. ii, sec. 4) specifically prescribes impeachment for the President, Vice-President, and ‘all civil officers of the United States.’ Two federal judges have been impeached and convicted of corruption; more than a dozen others have resigned in the face of threatened impeachment. Indication of investigation has produced other resignations, most notably of a Justice of the Supreme Court.”

In my whole-hearted attempt to be one of those “professional news people,” I want to make sure the people of Guyana have all the facts to make their own decision when it comes to corrupt officials.

The European Parliament also has measures to prevent corruption in EU Member States. During my research, I stumbled upon a 1998 working paper that highlights the joint efforts being taken to combat corruption through bribery in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

So where does Guyana stand on bribery? Well, there are no death penalties being handed out. In fact, unless I have not done my homework as well as the Prime Minister would like, it seems there were no arrests or prosecutions for this form of corruption in 2006 at all. Now that is a newsworthy piece of information, wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Prime Minister?

Actually, Guyana does have laws against bribery. According to the Government Information Agency [GINA], “the Money Laundering Prevention Act of 2000 criminalizes money laundering related to narcotics trafficking, illicit trafficking of firearms, extortion, corruption, bribery, fraud, counterfeiting and forgery.”

I will just assume this law, or another like it, applies to both private individuals as well as the public sector. Otherwise, if such laws on bribery do not in fact apply to those in public service, what good is it for the nation?

From the information we now have, we can easily deduce that bribery has been considered a crime throughout much of human history. Likewise, if a public official in Guyana – be it a judge, a prosecutor, a police officer or a politician – accepts a bribe, we can and should assume this person will be prosecuted to the fullest extent and removed from the position of authority for betraying the trust of the people.

This is fantastic news and perhaps this would be the best time for everyone who has ever known a member of the government, the judiciary and/or law enforcement to take a bribe to step forward and let the nation know about it. Surely this would be for the greatest good of the nation.

And now back to my friend Samuel Hinds. In my opinion, this is a well-researched column that is chocked full of valuable information for the people of Guyana. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Prime Minister?

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Stella Says…I predict the future of the PNC if Corbin returns as party leader

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 08 July 2007)

After reading the party leader nomination results for the PNC’s upcoming congress, I could not help but ask myself once again why it is that people remain loyal to an ineffective leader.

While studying political science in college, one of my professors always seemed to be intrigued with the fact that my classmates and I would always choose to side with the philosopher who believed in the people’s ability to make successful decisions in regards to their leaders.

Naïve and without much life experience, our class wanted to believe that given the opportunity and the necessary information to make an informed decision, the people would always choose to elect the most promising leader and they would never choose to retain an ineffectual or corrupt leader.

Our professor found this quite amusing and would play the devil’s advocate and take us to task by reminding us that everyone in that class were either Political Science majors or minors. He would ask how many of us read the newspaper that morning, which was almost every single student.

He would ask if we knew the names of our national leaders and without fail almost every one of us could run down the list of names attached to the governmental position he indicated. Then he would ask if we knew our local government leaders and once again most of the class even knew these.

The professor then pointed out that we were the geeks who cared about political goings on, but that as a whole the rest of society simply did not care – nor did they take the time to be informed about the actions of their leaders or whether an incumbent had accomplished anything of consequence during her/his time in office.

This information was not easily accepted by most of us because we all believed in the power of the people so much that we just could not accept that the people would not rise to the responsibility attached to the democratic process. I must admit that I carried this political naivety with me for many years.

The political climate in Guyana is far more complicated than anything I studied in my poly sci classes. The racial factor and the nation’s spotted history play more of a role in determining future leaders than the highly important issues of competency, effectiveness, trust and potential.

Moreover, Guyana is a nation steeped in rich and beautiful traditions. These traditions have a familiar soothing effect on the people who do not appear very open to radical change. It seems the general consensus is that it is easier to live in a perpetual state of discontent and fear than to take the necessary dramatic actions that would usher in better leaders.

The result is a nation led by a Machiavellian style that assumes a fundamentally flawed human nature in the people and maintains that the end justifies the means in governing such people. Machiavelli believed evil acts and brut force were acceptable in governing so long as the necessary end is achieved. This style also uses a reward system to maintain status quo in the citizenry because the philosopher believed the people no smarter than to see through such ploys.

However, even Machiavelli maintained that the only acceptable end to such actions was the stabilisation and health of the state. Moreover, he held that individual power for its own sake is not an acceptable end and does not justify evil actions. Therefore, a Machiavellian leadership style that does not produce the stabilisation and health of the state is unjustified.

I once met a Christian minister who told me that people are like sheep. They want someone to tell them where to go, what to do and what to think. He maintained that not only do the people want such a leader, but they also need such a leader. This mindset completely removes all power from the people and puts it solely in the hands of the leaders.

The most glaring dilemma with this concept is that all leaders – even the good-hearted ones – a prone to corruption. A democratic system is supposed to provide various checks and balances to ensure that the needs of the people are the primary focus. When these checks and balances fail because of bribes and/or cronyism, the entire democratic state fails and it is the people who suffer most.

Although I am still a very optimistic person in general, I no longer believe the people will always choose effective leadership (and remove ineffective leadership) when they have the opportunity and the necessary information to make an informed decision.

For example, although Robert Corbin is one of the most ineffective leaders I have come across in my lifetime, I know his chances of being re-elected as the party leader for the PNC are very high. This says more about the people who are going to vote for his leadership than it does about him – although it says plenty about him as well.

I lived in Missouri for many years, which is a state that despises change so much that the state motto is “The Show-Me state.” In other words, we refuse to believe anything unless we can see it with our own eyes. The result is a group of people who refuses to change unless it can be proven that a better alternative exists.

Guyanese people are much like the Missourians. They want change, but they want proof that a better alternative exists before they decide that change is actually a good thing. The problem is that we do not have the power of foresight that would enable us to see if an alternative method is better or worse than the current.

Whether a new leader for the PNC party would be any better than Corbin is not for us to know at this point since we do not know the future. On the other hand, we can pretty much surmise what the future will look like with Corbin at the helm again.

What do I predict for the party if Corbin returns as its leader? Nothing. I predict the PNC will get what it has always received from his leadership all along, nothing at all.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Stella Says…Guidance is needed as men redefine their role in society

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 06 July 2007)

An editorial from this newspaper last Sunday pondered the ever-expanding situation in the West Indian society of the disappearing male. Indeed, there can be no doubt that something significant is changing in the traditional structure of the male’s position in the family and society as a whole.

Concerning this alarming phenomenon, the editorial lamented, “We have noticed that men are not seeking jobs as teachers, and even in traditional male enterprise they seem to have surrendered their pride of place to the woman. So we have the bulk of the public service being women; most of the teachers being women; most of the security guards being women; and even the bulk of the prison service being women.”

I have addressed this changing of social roles a time or two before, but as I read the editorial I could not help but ponder the reasons again. Of course, the most likely suspect would be the women’s movement toward equality. Time and again I have heard that women are destroying the traditional family unit by insisting on getting an education and going into the workplace en mass.

One certainly cannot ignore the possibility that the women’s movement has indeed reorganised the entire social structure in the last century, but is the opportunity for female equality the culprit that is causing men to retreat from their traditional roles in society? And if this is the case, then why?

Could it be that the entire male gender as a whole has carried the sole leadership role in society for such a very long time that exhaustion has pushed them to move aside and allow the now willing woman to step in so he can take a long-needed vacation.

On some levels, this would certainly seem to be the case. As the aforementioned editorial pointed out, “Some argue that the male has found it very unprofitable to work for the sums of money being paid as wages and salaries. Others contend that the male has once more become a free spirit bent on a life that is unencumbered.”

On this point of males being exhausted leaders who want to gladly hand over their leadership roles and go on permanent vacation, I can from personal experience say that this does seem highly possible.

Even recently I have seen men running away from their responsibilities for a life as “a free spirit bent on a life that is unencumbered,” – as the editorial put it. However, on the other hand, I have also seen a number of men around me realise the importance of their role in society and gladly assume their familial, academic or societal responsibilities.

So it does not seem that all males want to run away on permanent vacation from their functions in the survival of the human race. Therefore, there must be another reason for this phenomenon of the disappearing male in the West Indian society, which is also very evident in many other societies as well.

I do have another speculation on this matter. In fact, it seems to me that this theory is the most probable. Allow me to first point out that the new opportunities afforded to females in the past few decades are extraordinary. Women are finally in roles of leadership within the government, the judicial system and the business sector.

As such, it could be that these new opportunities for women are also opening new opportunities for men. For example, much like women very seldom had any other choice other than to stay at home and raise the children, clean the house and cook the meals; likewise, men have long been expected to be the leaders in society and in the family.

Could it be that when the door of opportunity opened for women, it also opened for men as well? Perhaps men have decided that if women want to assume the roles previously reserved for males, then it was finally time to find something else to do.

Still, when the door did open, women knew exactly what it was they wanted to do. They wanted a place in government. They wanted to start businesses. They wanted to be doctors, lawyers, judges and teachers. They wanted to have a say in all of these aspects in the framework of society.

However, as women realised their long-time dream of equality and began to fill the positions that were previously reserved for men, the males – glad to finally share the burden of societal leadership with their feminine counterparts – had no plan on what to do with themselves. There are an infinite number of paths for men to choose now and they are being required to form a new social identity.

Men have the opportunity to redefine their roles in society and some are doing this by choosing to be the ones to care for the family at home while the woman builds a career. However, the machismo mentality that is so strong in some cultures will not allow many men to assume what has been traditionally viewed as feminine roles.

Fear of how others will view him if he chooses to raise the children and clean the house; many young males are choosing to form their new identity on the social fringe with drugs, theft and other such “masculine” activities as they abandon their social and family responsibilities all together.

It seems some apt guidance is in order for those who lose their way as men attempt to redefine their role in society. This situation could become a global crisis, but if handled correctly, it could usher in a new day for humankind where both males and females are capable of choosing rewarding and satisfying careers without detriment to the other gender.

It seems to me that just like the global environment is changing in very distinguishable ways (like trees popping up in the Sahara Desert), humanity is also changing in marked measures. All that is needed is a shifting in the way we view ourselves as a species so that we can adjust to the new social structure that is being formed.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Stella Says…Humans can be moral outside of a religion

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 04 July 2007)

Can I be a good person without religion? Hamilton Green does not seem to think so. In a letter to the editor of this newspaper, which was published last Sunday, Mr. Green left us with a sense that apart from a religious revival, there is no cure for the moral ills in society.

Like Mr. Green, I once connected morality with religion, believing that apart from religion there was no way to define morality. However, the longer I live the more I realise there are bad people who claim to be religious and there good people who do not believe in the existence of a god.

To go one step further, some of the meanest and most depraved of mind that I have known in my life were religious. Moreover, I know a man who is one of the most honourable humans I have ever met – and he is an agnostic. This fact alone breaks down the argument that humans need religion to be moral.

Mr. Green presented the reader with these questions in his letter, “Are our leaders wedded to religious beliefs which will allow them to help secure a morally strong society? Or, is it to fool as many people as long as it is possible?”

If I had a preference, I would rather choose leaders without any religious affiliation. Just look at what George Bush has done to the world with his brand of Christianity. Look at what Osama bin Laden has done with his version of Islam.

Mr. Green seems to believe that a revival of religion could help rid Guyana of its moral ills. However, I cannot help but wonder if religion is not what helped to usher in these moral ills in the first place.

I grew up in a very conservative Christian home in Middle America. The church I attended was so strict that women were not allowed to wear pants, makeup or jewellery. Those in my church were not allowed to go to the movies, drink any type of alcohol or dance to music. As I said, it was a very strict church.

The fear of hell was preached from the pulpit should I stray from living “right.” Of course, anyone who rejected this very narrow way of thinking would never make it to paradise. This is quite a guilt trip to put on a young woman growing up in a big city.

As the years passed, I moved further and further away from that conservative stance and that framework of morality, which was near to impossible to maintain. I do not know that I ever truly believed this staunch dogma in the first place, but it was imposed on me from infancy so it was all I knew for decades.

Even as I came to the end of my religious journey, I feared whether my moral compass would fail because I was always taught that my religion defined my morality. I was so wrong. After stepping outside of religion, I took on far more responsibility for my actions.

Outside of the context of religion, I could not lie, cheat or steal and think that some god would forgive the deed, which would make my sin not really count. I could no longer wait for some unseen hand to supernaturally feed the poor or to help the weak.

Moreover, I could not sit idle when I see others do evil because I no longer believed they would get their due in the next life or burn in hell. If anything, my religious upbringing held me back from being a truly moral person.

I am a far more moral human today than at any point in my life when I practiced religion. As such, I do not see a decline in religious practice as the cause of a moral decline in society. Guyana is probably one of the most religious nations I have ever encountered, so I do not think it is short on dutiful teachings about morals.

However, as I have said before, even religious people do bad things. I have spent so much time around very religious people that I have seen them use their theology as a way to justify their evil deeds – much like how George Bush justifies his war on Iraq.

If not justification, then humans can use their religion to dismiss their immoral actions by simply asking for forgiveness or paying penance. Moreover, even apathy concerning universal issues like global warming, AIDS in Africa and genocide in Darfur can be excused by a religious person if she/he believes that an all-powerful god will one day intervene.

Although fear of hell or desire of paradise might turn an immoral person around for a short period of time, fear and desire are fleeting emotions and not proven to be a long-term remedy for morality. Therefore, I do not believe the religious state of the Guyanese people has anything whatsoever to do with the nation’s dilemmas.

Guyana’s dilemmas are human problems that can and should be handled through human intervention. I believe with everything inside me that if humans were not so distracted by things such as mythologies, racism, sexism, petty rivalries and power struggles that we would be capable of accomplishing miracles.

We could feed every mouth, cure every disease and rid the world of war. I believe we could end racism. I believe we could end sexism. I believe every child could receive an adequate education. I also believe we are capable of instituting a moral system outside of the framework of religion.

I still believe and I still have faith, but my trust is not in any religion – it is in humans. Mr. Green sees a revival of religion as the answer to Guyana’s woes. I see it as a distraction from the miracles Guyana could achieve if it were to ever to pool all of its human assets.

I believe that if the Guyanese people were capable of ridding themselves of its many distractions, they could do more good than any religion humans have ever created.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Stella Says…Are you ready for this, Mr. Hinds?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 01 July 2007)

I have heard politicians say some low-down things. I have heard politicians lie and I have seen politicians dodge the truth to save their own rears. However, I have never heard a politician insult her/his own people the way that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds did to the people of Guyana this past week.

According to a Stabroek News article from June 27, the Prime Minister said, “You have a dynamic situation and it is changing and evolving so maybe we may not be ready for radio and maybe when radio gets going there may be some excesses and abuses but one would hope that it would be constrained.”

The Prime Minister of Guyana actually had the gall to tell the nation that they “may not be ready for radio.” You have got to be kidding me. What impudence!

Guyana is not ready for privatised radio stations? How so? Is Mr. Hinds saying the people of Guyana cannot handle the responsibility of freedom of expression on the radio waves? Does the government think so little of the people to make such a statement? How utterly pitiable.

Could it be that it is the PPP that may not be ready for radio? Perhaps it is the government that cannot handle the idea of putting so much responsibility into the hands of the people by allowing them to have full access to the most modern aspects of freedom of expression through the radio waves.

In the Guyana Chronicle’s version of the Prime Minister’s statements, it reported, “According to the Prime Minister, there is no monopoly in television because when this government came into office, TV was open and it allowed it to remain that way.”

The government allowed television to stay open? Oh, isn’t that just so benevolent of them? They allowed the people to have an avenue by which to express their thoughts. I suppose they probably allowed the newspapers to remain open too.

Funny, I thought the government was the one serving the people. This feels oddly like it is the people who are doing the bidding of the government.

The issue of the government monopoly of the radio waves has been going on for far too long. Hinds himself, while giving the history of broadcast legislation, talked about the beginnings of this issue in 1994. That is 13 years ago! And yet still today the monopoly continues?

Still today there is no consensus on broadcast legislation? Still today – in 2007 – the PPP has yet to relent its control on radio broadcasting and allow the Guyanese the right to use their own radio waves?

The Stabroek News article also noted, “[Hinds] later told reporters that the issue of broadcast legislation was a sensitive topic and one on which the government has been unable to gain consensus in the nation. However, he said it was a process in which every citizen could be involved.”

It is at times like this that I wished with everything inside me that I lived in Guyana. I would march straight to the street and start talking to every person I came across and ask whether they wanted more radio stations – privatised radio stations - or if they were happy with the current situation.

I would bet money right here and now that nearly every single person would demand more radio stations that are not government controlled. If Samuel Hinds wants a consensus on this issue, perhaps he should do just that. Ask the people!

You know, the ones who the government has vowed to serve. The ones who pay Samuel Hinds salary. Oh, and the ones Hinds thinks may not be able to handle the responsibility of freedom of expression on the radio waves.

But this situation is not about the people or what they want. This is about the government and what it wants. It is afraid of what would happen if the people were actually allowed to broadcast over the radio waves. What would they say? Whom would they support? Whom would they critique?

Even Thomas Jefferson, a US president who faced more critical press than any president in recent times, said, “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter.”

For once, I wish the PPP would comprehend that this whole thing is not about them. This is not about their survival in the next term. This is not about political manoeuvring. This is not about their fat wallets or nice houses. This is about the people of Guyana.

It is not important if the PPP is around in ten years time. What is important is that Guyana is around. For once, I would like to see the PPP put the people of Guyana ahead of their own selfish agenda.

The 13-year-stalled broadcast legislation is nothing more than a manifestation of the PPP’s fears of what would happen if the people were able to open their mouths and say what they truly feel about the government on the radio waves.

I do not give a rip about the fears of the PPP. Their selfish agenda means nothing to me. In fact, it makes me sick. All that matters is that the people are the ones in control of the nation – not a handful of elitists who withhold from the people what is rightfully theirs to enjoy.

When a politician has the audacity to stand up and condescendingly tell his fellow countrymen that they “may not be ready for radio” when the rest of the world seems to be able to handle the radio waves just fine, it is an insult to the intelligence of the entire nation and a betrayal of the good will that put him in office in the first place. And it makes me sick.

Can you handle that, Mr. Hinds?

Email: StellaSays[at]