by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 10 October 2007)
Yet another family from Guyana was recently granted protective asylum in Canada. It seems President Jagdeo could not protect this family from his whimsical politicians, corrupt government officials or nasty drug lords after the man was approached with an offer of a bribe last June to use his position as a wharf manager to allow drug shipments to pass through in rice shipments headed for the U.S.
This is how the situation was described in a Hardbeatnews.com article from yesterday, “In his affidavit, the claimant said that when he refused the bribe, he was verbally abused and threatened. Five days later, he said he received a cell phone call telling him he knew too much and would be eliminated.”
The article continued, “Subsequently, the Guyanese national claimed he was forced to flee a group of apparent kidnappers and later the windows at his home were shot out. He said police did nothing despite several reports and alleged that the police and “senior politicians” are being paid off by drug dealers in his homeland.”
I don’t mean to nit-pick, but this does not sound like the business friendly atmosphere the President portrayed at GuyExpo just a few days ago.
I do realise that this promise of protection extended to businesses by the President may indeed be a new policy that would not have been in effect in June. I also acknowledge the fact that Jagdeo did not promise protection from the drug lords. On the other hand, surely this is something that can and must be addressed.
I am sure President Jagdeo meant to include those nasty drug lords when he said he would protect the businesses in Guyana. Likewise, I am also quite sure he meant to include protection from the government officials who work hand-in-hand with the drug dealers. Yep, I’m sure he did.
The Hardbeat.com article said, “The [Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada] ruled that the ‘claimant’ along with his wife and five-year-old daughter is in need of protection by authorities [in Canada] since Guyana police did not give him the protection he needed from drug barons, whom he had refused to work with.”
It really makes me mad when I hear that upstanding citizens like this family are chased out of Guyana by criminals because they were not protected after taking a stand for doing the right thing. This man made the difficult choice to make the right decisions for Guyana and as a repayment of sorts, Guyana’s authorities turned their back on him.
This situation makes me wonder what would have happened if this man had just accepted the bribe of US$20,0000 per shipment of cocaine allowed through the wharf. Would the police then have protected him? Would his family be safe? Would he still have the life he built in Guyana instead of being chased off to another country?
Late last year Stabroek News ran an article about 67 Guyanese who were granted asylum in Canada during the years of 2005-06. The article said, “According to Mamann and Associates Immigration lawyers, the majority of Guyanese seeking refugee status in Canada, do so because of the criminalisation of the Guyanese society and the fear that they are victims of criminal gangs with political associations as well as for a number of political reasons including assassination, reprisals, victimisation and discrimination.”
Note the interesting trend of the reasoning for the Guyanese who seek asylum in Canada. These people are not just running from the overt criminal elements, but from the “criminal gangs with political associations.”
There is no doubt the drug lords, murderers and thieves instil fear into these good people, but it is those whimsical politicians and shady government officials who really scare people. Criminals can be expected to behave in an unlawful manner, but we expect more from the leaders of a nation and it is a terrifying thing when they behave just like the criminals.
What a joke that the world is informed of a family that needed protective asylum from Guyana at almost the same time the President is promising protection. Obviously the President needs to try a lot (lot, lot, lot, lot) harder if he expects any business to take his promises seriously.