by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 29 August 2007)
As much as we might like to do so, we cannot conveniently overlook the magnanimous generosity exhibited by the President of Guyana this week when he granted Mark Benschop a Free Presidential Pardon and set the man free after years of imprisonment on the charges of treason.
At the same time, I am forced to ask some obvious questions that just do not add up. For example, how can we say Benschop was freed from his charges of treason since he was never given a trial? How do we know he was in fact guilty of anything at all if no court said as much?
Moreover, how can a president of any country pardon someone who was not found guilty of a crime? Is it just me (I am a long way away from Guyana) or are some pieces missing from this puzzle?
I suppose Benschop, as well as Corbin and the PNC, are not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth. After all, Corbin could use all of the help he can get from the PPP to look like a reputable leader nowadays.
To say the PNC is hobbling along would be kind after all of the many telltale signs to show just how much of a beating Corbin has taken from the whole Team Alexander fiasco. Whispers of rigged party elections and announcements of disciplinary actions against those in the party who ran against Corbin certainly did not help the PNC’s already spotty reputation.
I did expect Corbin to start pretending like he was a leader. I expected to see the ego posturing and veiled intimidations in hopes that the world would be impressed and finally believe he was a good leader. Things could not have been worse for Corbin in the past few weeks.
It sure is a lucky thing that Jagdeo came to his rescue. Just when Corbin’s situation was going from bad to really, really, really bad – Jagdeo came riding into a press conference on his white horse and saved Corbin just in time.
Just in time for what you may ask? Just in time to save Corbin from yet another failed leadership move. Never mind that all Jagdeo did was pardon a man of treason who was never convicted of treason. I told a friend weeks ago that Corbin would have to feed his ego and in the process would make yet more decisions that would be detrimental to his party and the nation.
Political pomposity is at an all time high right now and as usual it is nauseating. It is always such a hoot to watch people who think more of themselves than they ought as they behave in such a manner as to assume the rest of the world thinks as highly of them as they think of themselves. This would include almost every politician.
These types of people are so predictable, especially when they get their little feelings hurt. I am quite sure the PPP also knew to expect Corbin to do something drastic to prove that he should be taken seriously – like take to the streets in protests.
I have absolutely nothing against street protests to get the government’s attention concerning important matters. When I lived in the Midwest, I travelled over 800 miles to DC and protested the war in Iraq with tens of thousands of other people before the war had even started. Obviously, our efforts were in vain.
However, Guyana’s history with street protests has left a dark cloud over this form of demonstration. As such, when Corbin says his party will take to the streets in protest – the words can sound intimidating instead of like a healthy mode of democracy at work.
Enters President Jagdeo on his white horse with a freed Benschop and takes the wind out of Corbin’s sail. There is a national collective sigh of relief as fear of a street demonstration is quelled yet one more time.
Quite honestly, these back-and-forth movements by Jagdeo and Corbin seem mechanical and staged at times. Sometimes I cannot help but wonder if these leaders, both of whom are parasitically reliant on the other, have the history of Guyana planned out years before it even happens.
In the end, political posturing (or rather throwing a fit because your party is falling to pieces) does not make Corbin a good leader and pardoning a man who has not been convicted of a crime does not make Jagdeo kind-hearted – as the events of the past weeks are suppose to make us all believe.
The one thimble of truth in all this is that Benschop is finally free. All the rest is just pomp and circumstance.