Tag Archives: Kaieteur News

If it ain’t broke…

It has been almost forever that the Guyana Government has been doing everything to fashion the education landscape. The historians and other knowledgeable people who had been exposed to the machinations of the education system realized that Guyana’s education system was rooted in the tradition of the Mother Land.
The schools and colleges were patterned after those in England. In fact, Guyana was training its students for a career in England or in any other country governed by Guyana.  For one, the language in which classes were conducted was that of the Mother country. Even the clothes worn were of the English tradition.
In the broiling sun people decked themselves in coat and tie, and schoolboys and girls wore ties. In fact, this is the trend to this day. The external examinations were prepared by examiners in England and marked by those very examiners. The local students easily gained places in the British schools based on the local exams.
When all was said and done, the education system prepared the locals for work in Britain or its overseas territories. This should explain why so many of our skilled people ended up working in England during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. All of our Guyana Scholars until recently went to England to further their studies as did our lawyers before those who then qualified themselves at the Hugh Wooding Law School.
Guyana’s education system was considered the best in the region. Those who pursued studies at the University of the West Indies excelled. In fact, the Jamaican lecturers had the mantra that Guyanese always do well.
Those of our English-trained doctors are excellent by any standard and it is the same with our engineers. The bottom line is that, Guyana provided an excellent academic base, so good that our students could progress to any heights.
It was the same with those of us who travelled to elsewhere in Europe and the United States. Such was the respect for Guyana’s academic standards that those of us who migrated sent out children back to Guyana for their academic base.
But suddenly we begin to tamper with the system. The fact that we made our schools co-educational is not an issue because in today’s world the focus is on equality. But we began to change the curriculum. Some of the changes were intended to cater for those who are not academically inclined. We introduced the multilateral schools that were intended to provide an education simultaneously for the academic and the technically inclined.
But then things went haywire. In our quest for our identity we began to provide our own textbooks and it would seem that there was not enough study of the mind of the child to produce a meaningful textbook.
In Guyana, having developed a reputation for having quality teachers, the country then became a hunting ground for those countries that wanted to have their children properly taught. When the poaching began so many countries came at the same time that in short order the best teachers were all gone.
The first thing that we did was to panic. Over enthusiastic decision makers decided that we would train as many people as we could to compensate for the drain on our resources. They did not take into consideration that our trainers had also been recruited. The result is that there has been a decline in the quality of education provided.
Our administrators went even further; they were going to promote every child regardless. This is a most stupid decision, one for which the nation is paying and the Education Ministry seems bent on maintaining this nonsense. And this is maintained despite the protestations of the educators who suddenly find that many children are prepared to sail through, not keen to study any more because they will be promoted regardless.
Education Minister Priya Manickchand did have an excellent amendment when she reported that those who failed Mathematics and English would be referred. To recant now is to give up and to accept that Guyana is prepared to accommodate its illiterates
There is no plan to reverse this trend at the start of the academic life.

No turnaround for sugar industry…GuySuCo produces sugar at double world market price

- owes over US$170M in debts  
- employees’ contributions not paid, benefits in jeopardy

As concerns continue to grow over the viability of the country’s sugar industry, Government yesterday said that it is seriously considering other alternatives, including going the route of producing ethanol.

Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, and GuySuCo top executives yesterday.

The disclosure was made yesterday by Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, as the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) appeared for the second time in less than a week before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services.
But Dr Ramsammy’s comments seemed to echo those made by Anthony Vieira, a former sugar producer, in a letter published in the Kaieteur News, yesterday.
The industry is in a deep trouble with no immediate end in sight.
According to Minister Ramsammy, Government believes that GuySuCo’s future lies in mechanization and diversification. He pointed to an ethanol pilot project ongoing at Albion Estate in Berbice which will determine how GuySuCo proceeds in the future.
GuySuCo’s option of going the ethanol route is one that the Opposition has indicated a willingness to back.
But it is not only the Opposition that has been flaying Government over GuySuCo.
The letter pages in the daily newspapers have been filled with protests from local analysts, including Professor Clive Thomas and former sugar executive, Tony Vieira, among others.
In a stinging letter yesterday, Vieira, a former Member of Parliament, said that since September 2013, the world market price for sugar was fluctuating between US$0.16 a pound and US$0.19 a pound. He argued that the long term outlook for sugar, as far as price is concerned, is not good.
With GuySuCo admitting that production costs will only drop to around US$0.25 at best, it will only mean that taxpayers will have to consistently bail the industry out.
Vieira also slammed the US$200M expansion of Skeldon, calling it “a monstrous mistake by itself.”
“They are reluctant to admit that they created a white elephant and are now making a second mistake by turning to the production of packaged sugar instead of ethanol, which is what they should have done once they had made this disastrous decision to expand the Guyana industry when everyone else was downgrading/abandoning theirs. Trinidad, Jamaica, St Kitts and Barbados are good examples, due to the loss of the EU subsidy.”
Not only does GuySuCo owe US$170M in both short and long term debts, including for the troubled flagship Skeldon factory, but it is producing sugar at an unrealistic US$0.35 per pound and selling for a worrying loss of an average US$0.25 per pound.
According to GuySuCo’s outgoing Finance Director, Paul Bhim, GuySuCo owes banks – both local and foreign, suppliers, the Guyana Revenue Authority, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund Committee (SILWFC) some $58B.
With regards to NIS payments, there have been repeated claims of non-payment of contributions, and there are now fears over how this will affect workers who are claiming benefits.
It also owes another US$112M loaned to the Guyana Government for the New Skeldon Sugar Factory by the World Bank, China EXIM Bank and Caribbean Development Bank.
GuySuCo is asking for patience, saying that Guyana will have to wait until 2017, as part of its strategy to turn the fortunes of the industry around, to bring production prices to about US$0.27 per pound. Between last year and now, Parliament approved US$50M. GuySuCo now wants another US$30M to help the industry.
But there is still no guarantee what will happen in 2017 as already sugar prices have plunged from over US$700 per tonne in December to below US$500 per tonne. To realistically compete with the rest of the world, Guyana must bring down its production costs to below US$0.20 per pound.
Industry experts are forecasting that sugar prices will remain depressed for some time as neighbouring Brazil and Thailand have increased their output, helping to flood the world market. GuySuCo itself has said that there is glut in the world market of almost two million tonnes. This has driven prices down.
The Skeldon expansion project is the most expensive project to date in Guyana. Shortly before he left office in 2011, former President Bharrat Jagdeo said he would have personally made it his duty to ensure the problematic Skeldon factory is fixed.

Another reminder of what the Police Force has become

The Wendell Meusa experience is another stark in-your-face reminder of what the Guyana Police Force has become.
Up front Mr. Meusa’s forbearance should be commended, but not before questioning whether his Mandela-like demeanour was motivated by an overwhelming desire not to jeopardise his standing as national coach to the Guyana Chess team for the upcoming World Chess Olympiad in Norway.
If Mr. Meusa’s version is to be believed, then one wonders if we should hold our breaths awaiting an apology from the police in the same manner that they are quick to write what passes for responses to public concerns and complaints.
A citizen is held in custody for over 72 hours without a proper investigation being conducted into his alleged involvement in an attempted robbery and the fact that to date we have heard not one word of regret from the police is unacceptable. Imagine the number of unreported cases where people are deprived of their freedom of movement in direct contravention of the Constitution of the country and subjected to among other things racial slurs and physical abuse.
The former claim tells us that racial prejudices are being acted out in an organization which surely should have a zero tolerance for practices of that nature. This incident clearly shows that what is definitely needed at this juncture in the relations between the police and the rest of the citizenry is a more robust recourse to litigation in all situations like the one Mr. Meusa had to endure.
One nuance evident in the whole episode is the refusal of the individual to support Mr. Meusa’s story of how he came to be involved in the first place.  Again, if Meusa is speaking the truth it would appear as if having been drawn into the affair by the brother of the virtual complainant Meusa was left on his own, with the woman’s brother flatly refusing to speak on his behalf.  It would seem as if the brother took the position that a look-alike in racially bifurcated Guyana, in the hands of the police was enough satisfaction for him in terms of getting justice for his sister. This is one surefire indication of why people should be extremely hesitant about rendering assistance in similar situations if there is the very real possibility of starting out as a good Samaritan and ending up being detained as the accused.
That sordid incident brings to the fore the issue of supervision at police stations at these times.  Anyone familiar with the myriad complaints made about police behaviour may justifiably wonder if the senior officers only perform 8-4 duties, leaving ranks unsupervised during critical periods.  The police administration can speak of police reform all they want, but their talk is not supported by positive action in that regard. If anything, it looks as if there are elements who are bent on retarding any movement in that direction. How can a man be detained for so long without a senior rank inquiring into the matter?
Which brings us to the realization as to the fundamental relationship between lack of supervision, acts of police brutality and torture, at police stations.  But much worse than that is the incapacity of the police to admit that they were wrong, and to give assurances that the situation which gave rise to citizen dissatisfaction in the first place will be dealt with expeditiously. Initiatives must go way past a few cosmetic and increasingly selective efforts in the name of discipline.  It is unfair to take the easy way out by transferring problem ranks from one location to become problems in another community.
Guyanese deserve much more service and protection than the Guyana Police Force is willing to give.  It simply is not enough to mouth-off about police reform to assuage an image of rank incompetence and rampant corruption throughout the force.  If the “rotten apples” at all levels are not reformed or removed, all of us will be consumed by our fears, even as we seek to survive in the face of unrelenting image of brutality that the Guyana Police Force seems unwilling to relinquish

Jagdeo’s light bill alone exceeds most MPs’ pension and salary – Greenidge

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)’s Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge, is contending that the political

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo

opposition does not have an issue per se with the pension of Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, although it is not set according to any principle used in the public service, but it is the uncapped benefits that are worrying and for which limits must be set.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that Jagdeo’s monthly electricity bill alone at over $375,000 by far exceeds most parliamentarians’ monthly pension and salary.
Greenidge reminded that the former President received a pension totaling $37.2M up to the end of last month. This is in addition to the recently disclosed figures upwards of $45M ($45,417,950) which the taxpayers have had to spend on his electricity bills, transportation and security between December 2011 and last February.
Using the monthly average for his security, transportation, electricity and pension Jagdeo to date, since leaving office, has cost taxpayers in excess of $90M. This figure does not take into account all of the other expenditure incurred by the former president under his ‘Pension and other benefits Package.”
In an exclusive interview with this publication, the Former Finance Minister said that the public needs to separate the pension from the benefits before they can fully understand the problem.
He explained that Governments set pensions and reimburse expenses on the basis of widely accepted principles.
“Although it is ethically wrong for the President to legislate for himself his own pension  on the basis of new principles just before leaving office, that is not the heart of the quarrel…It is his uncapped additional benefits that are the problem. When Jagdeo raised the emoluments of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice, he tied to it the emoluments of the President. He then tied the pension of the President to the emoluments of the current President not his (Jagdeo’s) own last salary. If you move President Donald Ramotar’s salary, the retired President’s goes up as well.”
“The President’s pension is to be seven-eighths of that of the salary of the current president. So if the President once received $2M in 2009 and it moved to $7M in 2012, the former President gets that fraction of not what he worked for before in 2009, but the bulk of the salary of the current President.”
The politician referred to the Constitution which says that the President should get a pension. But Jagdeo passed a piece of legislation, the Former Presidents (Benefits and Facilities) Act, in 2009, which says that he should in addition to his pension, get other benefits.
Greenidge said that this was never the intention of the Constitution, and is what his coalition is opposed to in principle.
“We are not trying to change the pension, and the public needs to understand that this is a most disgraceful situation,” he added.
The APNU Parliamentarian said that the public needs to recognize that these additional benefits, provided for in law, have been poorly worded and as a result do not provide limits.

Carl Greenidge

“If Jagdeo retired without children and tomorrow decides to adopt 50 children and he wants to take all of them to the USA to seek medical attention, the taxpayer has to pay. If he wants an Olympic-size swimming pool that costs a further US$1M for electricity we have to pay for it. The benefits need to be capped. Neither former US Presidents nor the former T&T President enjoy anything like this, for example. The magnitude of these benefits bear no relation to any paid to NIS pensioners or to public servants,” the politician argued.
He said that it is something that Jagdeo specifically designed for himself and “his PPP cronies that will succeed him and voted for it.”
“No Member of Parliament will receive if he/she lives to (2050) age 90, 7/8 of the salary of the Parliamentary salary in 2050.  In other words, the pension he has paid himself is already generous, even without the other benefits which were added in 2009.  The benefits alone are extravagant and leave it likely that the former President is receiving more in income and benefits than any current President. This is ridiculous and that is why there has been a continuing public outcry,” Greenidge concluded.
Apart from what has been disclosed, Jagdeo is also entitled to, under the controversial law he enacted: expenses incurred in the provision and use of water; telephone services at the place of residence in Guyana; services of personal and household staff, including an attendant and a gardener; services of clerical and technical staff (numbers not specified), if requested; free medical attendance and medical treatment or reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by him for the medical attendance or treatment of himself and the dependant members of his family.
As it relates to the tax exemption status, Greenidge said that if the former President were to get involved in activities such as gold mining for example, they would not be taxed. The APNU parliamentarian said that this is completely “unprecedented and unacceptable.”
Greenidge had attempted to cap the benefits by bringing amendments to the National Assembly. This was approved by the Opposition in 2012, but President
Donald Ramotar has refused to assent to it.

A young gang member poses more questions than answers

Citizens are likely to be assailed by the emergence of criminal gangs in what seems to be a denial at the official policy level that Guyana has a gang problem.  How on earth can a 22-year- old man post on his Facebook page photographs with what appears to be an enormous amount of cash, guns of different calibers, and a person purportedly bound and blindfolded and no one sees anything to be alarmed about?
Something has to be wrong with our people when the same evening that an East Bank establishment is robbed; a young man is seen posing on the social network with large sums of what appears to be cash? Is anyone tasked within the security forces to monitor the social media expressly for this very reason?
The problem is that if we do not confront issues firstly with an acceptance that we have a problem, then we are operating with our eyes wide shut.  Perception most times mirrors reality, and if the relevant officials do not remove the blinders from their eyes we will realize that predatory youth gangs exist a little too late to rein the situation in.
The Agricola community, like some others across the country, is no stranger to youth gang activity. However, what should be of concern to everyone is the direction in which these youths are channeling their energies.  If as was reported, residents claim that the fatally shot Kevin Fields was part of a gang that terrorizes the community, and that there is no indication that anyone proactively engaged the community to develop intelligence on this gang, then something is seriously wrong with our priorities.
One is left to ponder the possibility that certain communities still observe signs of gang activity and live in mortal fear of speaking out which poses a real problem to their survival.  Is the Agricola Police Outpost adequately staffed or is it another white elephant?
The thing is that although the authorities may be ignorant of residents’ daily experiences, the people are in the best position to know the scale of the problem, or whether gang activity is increasing or decreasing.
In all of that, the perception of gang activity has the power to sow mistrust, to feed stereotypes and prejudices, and to erect barriers between groups of young people and between youth and adults in a community.
What is required is a toehold in these communities which are fertile soil for gang formation, and which may be easier said than done particularly in the face of parental denial of wrongdoing or the potential for anti-social behaviour on the part of their offspring.
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) sends letters that alert parents to the consequences of their child’s actions although the Department is under no obligation to inform them of any intention to treat with their child as a gang member.
Research shows that youth who are drawn to gangs, demonstrate a great need for belonging and have been known to have criminal records before they reach twenty-five.  Some of the attendant risk factors that lend themselves to gang attraction include growing up in disorganized neighbourhoods; coming from very low income distressed families; poor academic standing; and time spent with delinquent peers.
If we do not have a gang problem can anyone seriously accept that this country does not have the accumulation of risk factors that can be used to predict the presence of youth gangs, or that the enabling conditions for gang development do not exist?  Youths who frequent gang areas are at risk of being sucked into undesirable, unacceptable and illegal gang activity.
What is needed is multi-sector approach with the primary focus on a service delivery strategy that targets gang-involved youth.  It is quite easy to dismiss the concerns of youth with the position that they are accountable for their acts of folly, but it is also important to remember that we owe it to them to provide adequate services for their academic, economic, and social needs.  Community initiatives like the Albouystown Impact if properly activated can serve as a conduit to encourage gang members and potential gang recruits to control their anti-social behavior and to focus their energies by participating in legitimate mainstream activities.

“Well done, neighbour!”

What a month it was!
From Thursday June 12 to Sunday July 13, the eyes of people from over 200 countries – whether at a stadium, televised or otherwise – were duly fixed on what transpired in Brazil, our giant neighbour to the south, at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The action was riveting. There were cheers and tears.                                                                                                       The atmosphere was generally festive. Appropriately, the most popular song in the twelve ultra-modern playing facilities was American Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” – everyone associated with the event seemed to be. There was no terrorist activity reported. And to crown it, there has been little or no dispute that the most consistent and impressive of the 32 teams, Germany, was deserving of its fourth success at that level.
That the host country did not succeed in its sixth conquest at the world’s most prestigious tournament understandably became a major talking point, particularly given the fact that it was off the field that any significant grief was supposed to be felt. But in the grand scheme of things, considering that an even greater task (the Olympics) faces the country in two years’ time, this effort was outstanding.
Two journalists, writing for Bloomberg, aptly summed it up as follows:
“A month ago, everyone from soccer analysts to economists said Brazil would win the World Cup title while the month-long tournament would be marred by unfinished stadiums, violence and horrific traffic. How things change.
Fans booed Brazil’s soccer team during the nation’s biggest-ever loss, a 7-1 pummeling by Germany last week which ended hopes of winning a record sixth championship. In the wake of the team’s 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in the consolation game, there have been calls from fans in the streets to President Dilma Rousseff to rebuild the national team.
Yet Brazil’s unprecedented defeats contrast with the organizational success of the world’s most-watched sports event, which went off without major hitches following months of public criticism about partially-finished stadiums, labour strikes and threats of mass protests. The results may bode well for the country’s ability to pull off a successful 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.”
President Rousseff at a news conference assessing the event described it as “one of the world’s most beautiful cups”.
“Our country can consider itself victorious regarding the organisation of this World Cup. I am sure that, without a doubt, it was one of the most beautiful. We had the Cup of Cups.”
Another journalist reminded us that one of the enduring storylines during the buildup to the event was all the money the government was spending to subsidize a sporting event while significant portions of the population were living in poverty. The price tag ended up at approximately US$15 billion.
On her Facebook page Monday, citing data from the Tourism Ministry and economics research institute Fipe, President Rousseff related that the tournament had injected US$13.5 billion into Brazil’s economy and created 710,000 permanent jobs. More detailed analysis will of course be forthcoming, but the early signs are encouraging.
Anyone who had been paying keen attention during the daily telecasts would have noticed that foreign supporters flocked to Brazil. According to the country’s Tourism Minister, there were more than a million.
It was also reported that a poll of visitors at airports in the 12 host cities and at 10 land borders had shown that 95 per cent of visitors planned to return one day.
More than three million locals traversed the country during the Cup, which mobilized more than 20,000 media personnel, and according to Brazil’s civil aviation ministry, 16.7 million people took flights during the event, with a single day record of 572,000.
Pertinent to all the observations about Brazil’s expenditure is that Russia is reportedly poised to fork out even more for the 2018 edition: US$20 billion, which would make it the most expensive football tournament in history.
When Russia first won the right to host, the costs were estimated to be about half of that. Prior to Brazil, the most expensive World Cup in history was the $6 billion that Germany spent in 2006. And just to put everything in sobering perspective, Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita, is promising to spend US$200 billion for the 2022 event!
So, given all that is required to successfully host a tournament of this magnitude, we need no convincing that Brazil has done a magnificent job, in more than trying circumstances, and for this we proudly exclaim, “Well done, neighbour!”

Mob beats, slashes cop trying to make arrest

An angry mob beat and slashed a traffic policeman at around 18.45 hrs yesterday after he had attempted to arrest an unlicenced motorist in Alexander Street, Kitty.

Police Constable Roderick Mc Donald, who is seconded to the Kitty Police Station, was punched and slashed under the chin with a broken bottle by the civilians, including a few women.

He was treated at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), along with an unidentified man who was said to be one of the assailants.

According to reports, Mc Donald was in the vicinity of Alexander Street, Kitty, when he stopped an unlicenced motorist.

Kaieteur News understands that as the constable was about to arrest the traffic offender, some civilians who were nearby began to berate the rank. According to a source, a man who was with the group walked up to Constable Mc Donald and said: “Me ain afraid of no (expletive) police.”

The policeman reportedly then informed the man that he was under arrest and it was at that point that the other civilians attacked him.

Kaieteur News was told that ranks from the Kitty Police Station rescued their beaten colleague and also arrested one of his assailants, who was subsequently taken to the GPHC to be treated for minor injuries.

It is unclear whether the unlicenced motorist was detained.

The drug trade is not slowing down

The drug scene is anything but funny. Almost every day someone is arrested for either trafficking or possession. These days the police simply cannot find people who are using at the time of the arrest but this was not always the case. Young and wannabe Rastas, convinced that marijuana was a drug created by their omnipotent, Jah, smoked like there was no tomorrow.
The drug had just made its re-entry to Guyana and before long marijuana use was fashionable among the young. Getting ‘high’ was the dream many chased. There was no public youth forum where the pungent smell of marijuana was not.
Because of its allure to the young the drug became increasingly in demand. People soon derived an economic activity from marijuana. Then came cocaine and with it the Narcotics and Psychotropic Control Act which prescribed draconian punishment. For example, a man earned the death penalty if he sold a narcotic on the grounds of a school and he child died.
What makes the situation more noteworthy is the growing number of people who recognize the economic opportunities that drug trafficking presents. There is great demand for cocaine in Europe and North America. Such is the demand in those overseas markets that the price had made cocaine an attractive proposition.
Guyanese were a relatively laid back people until the advent of cocaine in the society and as has been the case in every country where cocaine became a prominent feature, there followed Death—violent death.
Cocaine has come to Guyana and has been here for as long as this administration has been ruling Guyana and many things have changed. People have chased after this drug for various reasons; some because of the immense wealth it offers and others because of the craving the drug induces. For either reason people have killed, some, because they were being cheated out of their earnings or their share of the usage.
The drug trade has led to the creation of a brand of people who see no value in human life. They become impersonal and even callous. People have been known to place drugs in corpses for shipment overseas. Although not in our corner of the world, people have been known to kill babies and to stuff the corpse with cocaine.
There are many people who now live like kings because of cocaine and marijuana they made so much money, almost too much to count but the bottom is falling out of the trade. The exporters are finding it increasingly to ship out the drug some call ‘white lady’. This difficulty is not doing justice to the image of the country but it surely heightened the ingenuity.
We have shipped cocaine in fish, in lumber, in coconuts, in vegetables and in molasses. When those failed we have tried exotic fruits like the awarra. Dissolving cocaine in pharmaceuticals and in alcohol has been tried to the point where just recently, a family died after consuming what the family members thought was a tonic.
We have also had people transporting cocaine in their bodies, either by swallowing or by hiding the drug in body cavities. Many have died and just last week one was in hospital performing his normal bodily duties in public view because the authorities wanted the drug he happened to be carrying. To think that this man was a national sportsman boggles the mind although he is not the first nor would he be the last.
Before him there were motor racers, racing cyclists, boxers and cricketers. Then we have had people plant drug on their invalided parents
We have now come to the point where young males are convinced that there is no way out of their unemployment cycle other than by being drug mules and pushers. But this cannot be the case. We know that the lure of big money is the calling card and that the risk of capture and imprisonment does not faze the drug mule or the dealer.
Why else would a man and his son be fetching drugs to the United States? Why would a woman and her son be doing the same thing? We are not talking about better drug pursuit but we are certain that the situation would remain critical for years to come.

Dynamic Airways still to operate out of JFK

 … hopes to rectify issues by Monday
Dynamic Airways will continue to operate outside of John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport since it is still to meet certain requirements that will allow them to fly in and out of the New York port. The American-based charter company is hoping that by next Monday all issues would be resolved when it provides outstanding documentation to JFK authorities; hires a new ground handling team and identifies a terminal to operate out of.
Head of Roraima Airways, Captain Gerry Gouveia reiterated during a press conference yesterday that US airport authorities denied operations at JFK when the initial ground handling crew placed untagged bags on the aircraft.

Captain Gerry Gouveia in his address to the press.

Gouveia assumed blame for the problems that arose as a result of the ground crew since he said that he recommended the ground handling team to Dynamic Airways because it is headed by a Guyanese-national.
Outside of that, a letter addressed to Dynamic’s Business Development Vice President Thomas Johnson from JFK’s Environmental Specialist Aeronautical and Technical Services Division showed that while the airline acquired environmental clearance they were still to fulfill other requirements.
The letter which speaks to aircraft noise, operational restrictions and weight is dated July 2, and is a response to the airline’s request of June 25 for the operation of a Boeing 767-200 at JFK. This suggests that the company had not cleared matters with JFK before it started operations out of New York to Guyana on June 26.
The letter had stated further that the airline had to finalize business and emergency plans with JFK’s Commercial Development Unit and Aeronautical Services Unit.  It included appropriate operating agreements, submission of required security deposits, emergency plans among other things.
Gouveia admitted to media personnel that in hindsight, given all that has taken place, it would have been prudent for the airline to have waited until everything was finalized.
“In terms of (Dynamic’s) start up, the haste with which it was done could have been delayed, and would have overcome these issues…and I will be the first to admit that. Unfortunately, I basically handled the Guyana part of the operation and I trusted Dynamic’s people to do their part.”
Gouveia added, however, that Dynamic and Roraima are in it together and they are working to resolve all issues.
Currently, Dynamic Airways’ passengers are being flown to alternate airports and are shuttled to JKF via buses. Gouveia stated that tickets are being sold with JFK as the final destination, but passengers are being informed before hand, that they will not be landing there. He said that the point of taking passengers to alternate airports is to ensure that they are not stranded as a result of what is taking place at the New York port.
Last Sunday, passengers were shuttled from JFK to Atlantic City International Airport before being flown to Guyana. They are also using the Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. On Tuesday, passengers arrived there and were then shuttled to JFK.
At the level of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Zulphicar Mohamed told the publication that they are aware of the issues the company is facing in New York. Dynamic had acquired permission to operate locally, a day before it entered the Guyanese market.
Mohamed said that the airline problem is with JFK where certain requirements have to be fulfilled by the airline to operate there. He continued that since Dynamic is an American carrier the local Authority had to merely verify that clearance was given from the US Department of Transport (DOT) among other oversight agencies.
The Authority also had to ensure that the airline made its security deposit, while safety and security checks had to be made locally.
The airline has authorization to operate out of any airport in the US, but will submit a schedule to the DOT to operate on specific routes such, for example Georgetown/ New York route. While the airline has the permission from both sides to operate, Mohamed reiterated that the difficulties come at the level of the airport. It is for that reason, he mentioned that flights were entering and exiting at other airports.

Manickchand booed during attack on US ambassador

Jeers and boos drowned out the remarks of acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Priya Manickchand when she last evening launched verbal salvoes at her host, outgoing US Ambassador Brendt Hardt, over his criticisms of government officials over long awaited local government elections.

“Like his President, Barack Obama, there exists a red line. This Ambassador has crossed that line. We have resolved and so informed our partners, with whom we share conventions and diplomatic relations that this is our red line… behaviours such as his would not be tolerated,” Manickchand said during a speech at a reception hosted at the Ambassador’s residence to mark the United States’ 238th independence anniversary.

Manickchand, who seemed prepared to give the ambassador a blistering send off from Guyana, accused Hardt of creating tensions between the two nations during his three- year tenure here.

The acting minister seemed unmoved by the strong reaction she set off, including shouts of “Oh please,” “Local government elections now!” and “Get on with it” that erupted just as she began her attack on the ambassador.

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Priya Manickchand toasting with outgoing US Ambassador Brendt Hardt following the ruckus sparked by her remarks.

Diplomats and invited guests seemed shocked as she persisted. One Foreign Service Officer, looking perplexed, shrugged his shoulder and commented to a friend: “At a farewell party? Is this called for? Wow!”

Manickchand stated that Hardt’s country was one seen as taking advantage of smaller nations who have no say when sanctions are laid down lest they feel the wrath of “the big stick.”

“We have a situation today where international rule maintained today by democratic countries is anything but democratic… the (UN) Security Council, for example, is an excellent demonstration of a lack of democracy. There appears to be little appetite of those who control that council for any reform,” she added. The five permanent members of the security council are the US, Russia, China, the UK and France.

Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Priya Manickchand (left) and Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira leaving the reception last evening.

“Even though we are an independent country… the law of the United States applies in our countries. We are advised if we do not comply we would be sanctioned. For example, the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act… there was no consultation with any of our countries before that law was passed but we have to comply. Our banks in Guyana will soon have to provide info to the US government on bank accounts held by US citizens in this country,” she added.

Justifying insurrection

She scoffed at Hardt’s recent calls for local government elections, saying that those elections alone do not determine democracy.

“We will agree that democracy and the rule of law is not only about local government elections, which I am confident the Guyanese people will resolve in the very near future. It must be practised by all who choose to preach it at all times,” she stated.

Further, Manickchand accused the ambassador of being ill informed of local issues and depending on media houses that she called opposition media. She said the government viewed his nuanced resort to “justifying insurrection” in his remarks at the closing ceremony for a Blue CAPS training programme on Monday, reported in yesterday’s edition of Stabroek News, to be “profoundly disturbing.” Speaking at the closing ceremony for Blue CAPS’ Building Communities through Leadership Training and Service programme on Monday, Hardt had restated the case for the holding of the polls, and flayed a plethora of excuses that have been offered by the President and the ruling party.

“A collection of young minds being invited to such a mindset of future engagement with an elected government warrants our immediate repudiation,” she said.

US Ambassador Brendt Hardt (second from right), Deputy Chief of Mission Bryan Hunt and an embassy official listening as Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Priya Manickchand spoke.

“For a professional foreign (service) officer… to make such declarations, accusations, allegations and innuendos about the executive president of Guyana… is to our mind totally unacceptable,” she also said.

In his call for local government elections on Monday, Hardt had also invoked the name of PPP founder Dr Cheddi Jagan and this seemed to have incensed the government.

After she was done, a stoic Manickchand toasted to the birthday of the United States and the

Political and human rights activists Mark Benschop and Joel Simpson were among guests who last night heckled Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Priya Manickchand as she blasted the US Ambassador.

ambassador graciously accepted it. He then returned to the podium and exclaimed, “What a sendoff!”

Manickchand afterward left with Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira in tow and the two exited the function to booing and jeering.

Hardt later told Stabroek News that it was the first time in his career that he had ever experienced such a sour farewell.

He said that he was disappointed at the actions of the minister but added that it does not stop his commitment to advancing the goals of his country for a Guyana that is prosperous in all areas.

“I am engaged on behalf of my government and the interest we are seeking to advance when I’m doing my job… speaking out on behalf of those values, those priorities, if people wanna criticise that, then that’s fine,” he told said.

“President Obama had made clear—he sends us out here to engage and promote the kinds of democratic values and human rights values and so forth that we believe as a country and lead by example. Inevitably that is going to lead to some push back from time to time but I have always been very clear with the leadership in Guyana as to what my priorities are

Some of the guests at last night’s US Embassy 4th of July reception.

here. I’ve said from the start, I am here on behalf of my government to help build a Guyana that sees itself as part of the US and build a Guyana that’s democratic, secure, safe, prosperous and healthy,” he said.

“I have said to anybody that wanted to cast accusations and what not, ‘Tell me at any time if I am doing anything that is not in the interest in the people of Guyana or the country’ and I have never heard anybody tell me that I’ve done anything that is contrary to those interests. So, I’ve always felt that I am on pretty solid ground. At the end of the day you have your conscience. You know that what you are doing is what you should be doing and I sleep well at night knowing that we are advancing interests, not only to our country, but [of] the people of this country as well,” he added.