TOO BIG TO FAIL – THE FUTURE OF SUGAR


As a prelude to the privatization of the sugar industry, the Government of President Desmond Hoyte invited Booker Tate to manage it in the hope of arresting its catastrophic decline during the years of the PNC administration. Then as now the sugar industry employed about 20,000 people and provided a substantial portion of Guyana’s GDP and foreign exchange earnings. The plot to privatize, for which no mandate was sought or given at the 1985 general elections, unraveled when the PPP announced that it will not by bound by any such agreement. As it happened, the PPP won the elections, freely and fairly held for the first time since 1968.

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Drag Racing


There is a growing phenomenon in Guyana, particularly in Georgetown and its environs, called ‘Drag Racing.” This consists of drivers of motor cars lining up in streets side to side and racing their vehicles a high speed up to a point further up the street. I do not know the extent of it and, apart from a comment or two in the press identifying it as the reason behind a particular accident, there is little talk about it. Perhaps no one knows because there have been no journalistic investigations. But if you talk to young people who are familiar with urban night life, you will learn that it is a popular ‘pastime.’ For example, I have learnt that near to a place on the lower East Bank where alcohol is available, at a late hour in the night bordering on the early morning hours, cars gather together to ‘drag race.’ This apparently is widely known. And it has fuelled speculation that some recent road accidents resulting in deaths in the East Bank area were caused by ‘drag racing.’ Other deaths in the city from accidents occurring in the early morning hours were also alleged to have been caused by this dangerous phenomenon. The reports about ‘drag racing’ are now too persistent to be ignored.

Those of us who have long passed the age of youth are now familiar with the adventurous spirit of young people and the thrills which are attained by dangerous pastimes. We remember our own youth and though we were of a different generation, we are no strangers to the activities of different types that we engaged in which posed great dangers to life and limb, dangers which we either did not recognize at the time or which we ignored. It follows that many good, productive and ambitious young people, some with families, are not always aware of the risks involved in activities which they undertake to provide thrills and adventure. And they resist expressions of caution, not because they are bad but because it is in the nature of youth to feel invulnerable. Some city bound youth, searching for an easy opportunity for thrills, and having the resources of motor vehicles which were not available to earlier generations, have now discovered ‘drag racing.’

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FROM ‘CROWBEY’ TO CREKETTEH


First published in Apsara Magazine, Issue 1, 2009

– A SATURDAY MORNING FASCINATION WITH THE MARKET –

There is a palpable excitement in the air on Saturdays that is missing from the other days. Even the sky on Saturday always seems different from weekdays and Sundays. The weekend is starting and anything can happen. The possibilities on a Saturday morning always seem to me to be infinite – especially if the day was cloudless and sunny.

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THE LONG LOST SWIZZLE


First published in Apsara Magazine, Issue 2, 2008

The swizzle is Guyana’s long lost, but once favourite, alcoholic drink. It seems that it got its name from a combination of two 1800s words: ‘switchel’ meaning ‘a mixed rum drink’ and ‘fizz’, an effervescing drink, and it once enjoyed fame the world over as being part of Demerara life. But now the swizzle is almost unknown in the country which gave it birth. In the 1800s and up to the mid 1900s, the drinking of swizzles was a custom in Demerara which grew to cult status, with it becoming the drink of the day in British Guiana, long before the combination of rum and coke was ever tasted.

The swizzle was noted by everyone who visited and lived here, and between 1871 and 1957 at least eight authors wrote about it, complete with lengthy descriptions, recipes and poems (one written about the swizzle as a goddess). In fact, so many people have written about swizzles and Demerara that it seems quite a mystery that the drink disappeared with almost no trace.

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JUSTICE IS NOT A CLOISTERED VIRTUE


Robust public scrutiny of the administration and dispensation of justice is vitally necessary to preserve the rule of law and the independence and integrity of the magistracy and judiciary. A public debate is raging in the press at the time of writing this article about the right of a Magistrate to reject a confession statement on the ground that it was obtained by coercion. It is not a debate that I am qualified to join publicly as I can claim no significant expertise in criminal law. I am concerned, however, about a sentiment that crept into the opening bout of the debate. Mr. Juman-Yasin not only criticized the legal principle advocated by the PPP but he suggested that the criticism was disingenuous and malicious. This is what he said: the ‘whole thrust of the statement was to criticize the decision……and implied ulterior motives.” I am sure that he could not be complaining about the right of the PPP or any group or person to criticize the magistracy or judiciary. Mr. Juman-Yasin has himself publicly criticized the judiciary and judicial officials in the recent past. Is it because the PPP is the critic that Mr. Juman-Yasin sees a problem – perhaps because it is the governing party and its criticism might be misconstrued? Or is there some other reason for Mr. Juman-Yasin to seemingly suggest “ulterior motives” on the part of the PPP?  The reason cannot be that the PPP was wrong. The argument clearly posits so far, in my humble view, what is actually the practice as against what the legal authorities say. At best the issue is still at large. Why cannot the PPP take a position based on the legal advice that it receives?

Mr. Anil Nandalall responded by rejecting the allegation that the PPP’s statement could be construed as imputing improper motives and, citing legal authority for the proposition that the magistrate had no power to reject the confession statement, disputed Mr. Juman-Yasin’s view of the law on the issue. Messrs. Bernard DeSantos SC and Nigel Hughes joined the debate in support of Mr. Juman-Yasin but, not citing any legal authorities, the matter is still unresolved. With such eminent lawyers being in disagreement, only a future court decision will probably finally resolve the matter.

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