Crime is NOT a Problem In Guyana
by Rakesh Rampertab

MOST of us know the difference between right and wrong. Despite the occasional lies and acts of cunning, we will “do the right thing” when it is necessary. We know, for example, that it is wrong to prejudge someone simply by the size of his shoes. Yet, we have a major hang-up when it comes to this issue of crime.  

Crime is NOT a problem in Guyana. It is a lucrative career choice. It must be hard to go to school these days, because it makes no sense getting an education if one can make a million dollars in 20 minutes. Forget about CXC—all one needs to know is how to break a few windows and swing a twenty-two. If Crime were a problem the President would say so. He (the PPP) would have long begun providing resources to community policing groups or community members to better confront this criminal disobedience. The Police would have received vehicles instead of the Army receiving boats. After all, we know right from wrong—so this silence could only mean that Crime is NOT a problem in Guyana.

If Crime were a problem, there would be more Women’s Rights groups making demands in defense of women, since they bear the blunt of attackers’ victimization. Sure, we’re having a symposium here and there and protest every Friday in front of Parliament Building (Women in Black), but these haven’t truly raised the issue of Crime. One cannot blame the women involved though—thanks to them for their efforts. But where are the average Indian and Black women? Where are the men—the strong, “we-treat-our-women-with-respect” men? Aren't the women doing more than their fair share for their men, and now they have to be shamed and beaten?

But Crime is NOT a problem in Guyana. If it were, Blacks and Indians would leave their political hats under the bed and fight against it. Many of us say that poverty or getting jobs is the real problem. Fix these and you fix crime. But we’ve been fixing poverty and bringing jobs to town since the 80s. Some of us, in our close quarters, say that it’s not affecting “our” community, so why be concerned. We have "our" concerns to think about. Others say plainly that crime is a job for the Police and government. Considering the number of small businesses attacked, like that of Ms. Bediwattie Tikchand (who died), the Private Sector Committee and the Guyana Manufacturers Association, influential business-related organizations would be fighting it also. And let’s not ignore the wealthy Indian and Portuguese business families, whether they have shipping businesses, garment stores, or sawmills. Is it that they are too wealthy to be affected by crime—and because they are not truly affected, they are not concerned?

No one seems to be crying these days except those poor women like Ms. Archer, Ms. Budram, and Ms. Rookmin Rajkumar-King. Not even a march from the Opposition Leader or a request from him to the President to establish a committee to tackle crime. Since his recent list reflected problems faced essentially by Blacks, one can only argue that crime is NOT a problem for Blacks (well not enugh to warrant a national alarm). I hope no one expects much money to be allocated in the upcoming Budget to fight crime. Crime, after all, is NOT a problem in Guyana.

June 02, 2001 (Note: This was posted in Stabroek News as a letter on June 6.) eprinted from
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