No laughing Matter – A Commentary by Patrick Carpen.
I mentioned in the article that Exxon, which I humorously called “EXCON,” has given Guyana a “raw deal.” But at that time, I had no idea just how raw the deal actually was. Just a few days later, I read on the News Media that EXXON has handed Guyana a bill for 460 + US dollars.
Now this is no laughing matter. 460 million US dollars is no easy cost to recover, especially for a country already in so much debt. On top of that, the government keeps “inking loans.” Subsequently to this, I read another news article which stated that Guyana has the responsibility of footing the bill in the event EXXON is taken to court for any legal matter. It just doesn’t get much worse than this.
Actually, it does. Just a few days later, I read that the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela is now being taken to court, which means that it is still not officially settled. Venezuela still lays a claim to the Essequibo, and with a superior military which Guyana can by no means stand up to, our only salvation lies in a warning to Venezuela from Brasilia. And no, the USA will not intervene in a military confrontation between Guyana and Venezuela.
Personally, I think the current government has too eagerly and excitedly plunged into a deal with EXXON, forgetting the timeless proverb we learned since primary school: all that glitters is not gold.
Is Guyana really going to get rich off of this oil? How many oil-rich nations did not come to ruins? Venezuela and Iraq are just to name a few. It’s not how much money keeps coming in, it’s how you use it. And it’s now always about selling yourself short; it’s about holding on to resources and harnessing your strong points.
Our strong points? This brings us to the “curse” of sugar. I was extremely disappointed to hear our president referring to sugar as a “curse.” The same sugar that put food on the table for so many Guyanese families for centuries. The same sugar which enriched and sweetened the lives of so many people. The same sugar that laid the foundation for so many other industries, and created so many millionaires of all races, classes and conditions.
The president commented that our citizens have better things to do with their lives than become cane cutters. Yet, I see nothing wrong in cutting cane, and so many proud Guyanese have boasted that the job of cutting cane has kept them strong and fit. Indeed, sugar was the foundation of our country’s economy, and cane cutters were the backbone of our country’s economy. Once again, our leader has forgotten the timeless adage: think before your speak.
Some time back, I wrote a commentary about the way Guyana was treating Venezuelan refugees seeking political asylum in Guyana. Instead of helping, Guyana has chosen to jail and deport the Venezuelan refugees. You can learn more about this in my article: Brazil Helps, Guyana Hurts.
There is an old saying that goes that when you refuse to help those in need, “your time will come.” Well it seems like Guyana’s time is coming again when its citizen’s will be running helter-skelter to every foreign shore they can take refuge on. The richer ones will flee to USA, Canada, England, and other first world nations. The less fortunate ones will flee to Suriname, Brazil, Trinidad…and the list goes on, while a chosen few will be left back to face the storm or built a nation back from ruins.
And that’s not just financial and emotional ruins, but physical ruins as well. Whether you like it or believe it or not, pumping oil out of the earth will leave the country more prone to seismic activities such as earthquake and landslides. EXXON officials will not readily agree to that, but that’s a fact. Another fact is that Guyana has been a country that has long boasted of being free of natural disaster. Now we’re literally opening ourselves up to natural, financial and economical disaster.
And finally, we have to pay the cost of the “aftermath.”
It looks like our leaders need to revise some basic truths about life that every child should learn:
All that glitters is not gold.
Look before you leap.
Think before you talk and…last but not least:
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
I do hope that something changes.