Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A few websites also joined the call, stating that their sisiter Caricom nation was seeking to stifle Jamaican culture. Some Jamaicans have suggested that the move by Guyana was in response to Jamaican moving to import rice from outside the region instead of accessing traditional Guyanese market...more coming
Judge Dora Irizarry has told prosecutors that they have to file their motion to seek to admit evidence to support their contention that Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan killed Davenand ‘Dave’ Persaud by today. The order came on Monday when both the defence and the prosecution clashed over the treatment of evidence and the release of unsubstantiated claims.
They had appeared in court last week when the defence charged that it had procured evidence from one of its informants that Shaheed Khan had ordered Persaud’s death on the night of October 25, 2004.When they returned to court on Monday, one of the first observations the Judge made was that there was an absence of any relative for the defendant.
Defence Counsel immediately assured the court that they would be there and that they were caught up in traffic.The forum was for a status conference to address a number of things, including Khan’s application that depositions be taken in Guyana and the trial date, which is tentatively set for October 27, next. “The court will need to address that motion (the deposition motion) in terms of the number of witnesses and so on, and the relevance in order for the court to determine whether or not the relevant factors have been met.”
“There was an indication at the last conference as to some of the witnesses, a total of six at least, who the government represented could be subject to criminal liability if they entered the United States and subsequent to that status conference, the defence has represented to the court in its sealed submission that those six individuals are now unwilling to come to the United States.
“That's obviously a factor that the court will have to address in terms of making a determination,” Judge Irizarry saidThe court also examined the application by the government side for an “Anonymous jury”, which Judge Irizarry said was something on which she would rule.The prosecution was vehement that there was a need for such a jury, or at least a partially sequestered jury.
Defence Attorney Diarmud White said that the move by the prosecution for an anonymous jury is based on speculation.“It's just that the government's motion relied so much on newspaper clippings and usually in anonymous jury motions that I've seen, the showings are much more concrete than just the word of the government's submission.
It's based on tape recordings, prior tampering with a jury in such and such a case.“These were, I will use the word "speculative," as I can say, based on a lot of newspaper clippings, on the agent's investigation, in quotes, and we were just challenging that. That is not a sufficient factual showing without more detail to base an anonymous jury on.”
But the prosecution countered, “We think there is a sufficient basis for an anonymous jury based purely on things that are not in dispute, things that Mr. Khan admits himself, that he wielded a lot of power in Guyana. “He has many people who are still loyal to him. He has many followers here in the United States. I think he would admit to that himself.
“Judge, to not put too fine a point on it, all that needs to happen is for Mr. Khan to be able to get to one juror and our whole jury trial goes down the drain. We're extremely concerned that that could happen in this case,” prosecutor Paige Petersen stated.
The defence insisted that the prosecution arguments were based overwhelmingly on speculation.“We're actually asking for a more detailed proffer, and if we dispute them, then we would want a hearing.”Judge Irizarry then noted, “By his own words he was involved in organizing various paramilitary groups.
Whether it was government sanctioned or not, quite frankly, the fact that he had access to troops that were allegedly trying to control the government there or control opposing parties, for whatever the reason, still means that he had access to people with weapons, people who were doing violence, people who were committing violent acts.“Certainly in this country we wouldn't condone anybody doing that, whether it was under colour of law or not, whether it was sanctioned by the government or not.”
Defence attorney countered, “I don't believe it follows from the charges in the indictment that Mr. Khan has control of anybody in the United States.“What the government had said in their papers is that he was at the head of the cocaine business in Guyana; that he had a source from which he got cocaine and imported it into the United States. That is the theory of liability.”
Judge Irizarry continued that people like Pablo Escobar of Colombia pulled the strings in the United States so that the prosecution arguments were not that far-fetched.
“Pablo Escobar wasn't the one over here in the United States doing the deals himself and transacting business and delivering the cocaine; there's no question that he was pulling the strings from Colombia; there is no question that he was kept apprised of what was going on in the United States in terms of the distribution, and there is no question that he gave orders, and there is no question that he controlled a segment of the Colombian government back at that time -- we're talking well over a decade ago, almost two decades ago -- so I don't think it's that farfetched an argument.”
She however reiterated that she was reserving her ruling on the matter of the anonymous jury.A letter by the prosecution filed on April 24, last was also discussed. At the root of the discussion was the move by the prosecution to restrict the defence access to documents from previous trials involving Guyanese on trial in the United States on drug charges.J
udge Block had ordered limited distribution of certain documents, including one that dealt with the shooting death of Davenand Persaud in Guyana.Ms Petersen was the lawyer at one of those earlier trials. “We had a particular issue with defence counsel about what would be the close with regard to Mr. Persaud.
Mr. Persaud was dead at that time, he had been dead for about a year, but his statement came in at trial, his co-conspirator statement.”She said that the judge in that matter placed some material in an envelope with a view to making it available to the defendants if they wanted to file for an appeal.
“There were four defendants who went to trial and many of them got other counsel for sentencing and appeals… I'd like to know if any of it was disseminated because there was a court order and it should not have been disseminated.”The defence noted with suspicion that the letter was filed at the same time as the motion for an anonymous jury and that while the motion was sealed (not to be made public) the letter implicating Khan in Persaud’s murder was not.“Everything about the Persaud murder was under seal.
Then Friday, in a theoretical response on discovery, she (Ms Petersen) includes in there in two points, in a footnote and in the body of the document, the allegation about Persaud. She could not have forgotten what occurred in this court the last time and the court's efforts at caution.
Frankly, I think there should be a sanction against the government.”Judge Irizarry denied the request.The court also heard that Dave Persaud had been cooperating with the United States authorities to the extent that he allowed them to tap his phone.Defence attorney Robert Simels noted, “The government has provided us with a series of conversations purportedly made by David Persaud, with which -- I don't want to misquote Ms. Petersen, she'll correct me if I'm wrong -- she's either told us that it was a consensual Title III or something of that nature.
“If there was, we would like the application for the same, if the government intends to offer those tapes at trial. We would like to know if there are other tapes besides the ones they have proffered to us and we're really not getting a lot of direction.
If they are not going to offer them at trial then I don't need the exercise and I don't need to listen to other tapes, but if they intend to offer those and they are either a Title III or they're consensual, we would like to know if that is the universe of the tapes and if there are applications to the court about them.”
Ms Petersen insisted that the recording was consensual and that the prosecution intends to use those tapes at the trial.“Mr. Khan doesn't have any status to challenge the propriety of whether we could be recording Persaud's phone or not.
He doesn't have standing to do that.”The prosecution also emphatically stated that it intends to use the dead man’s recordings at Khan’s trial.The court will meet again on June 9, to continue preliminary discussions leading to the trial on October 27.
The defence expects the trial to last three months while the prosecution expects it to last three weeks.And in closed door proceedings in the absence of the government, Judge Irizarry and Defence Counsel Robert Simels and Diarmund White, examined detailed oral presentation as to the need for each witness, and then dealt with the subpoenas that the defence wants to issue.
The judge also directed that the government provide the defence with all transcripts by June 16.The government is also directed to provide access to the defence handwriting expert with respect to a ledger belonging to Alicia Jagnarain by May 30. Alicia Jagnarain is believed to be one of the prosecution witnesses in the trial.Jagnarain is a Guyanese who was arrested for drug dealings in the United States and who has faced a judge on the matter.
Mayor Gonzalo Navarette Munoz says he wants to improve their quality of life by giving them free access to Viagra.
He will give men aged 60 or over in the working-class suburb of Lo Prado the chance to get their potency pills courtesy of the taxpayer.
He says he was inspired by complaints from older patients about their poor sex lives while working as a doctor.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Mr. Edwin Carrington
Caricom Community Secretariat
East Coast Demerara
As Guyana teetered on the brink in 1997 the institution of CARICOM responded in both a timely and effective manner giving birth to the Herdmanston Accord and the St Lucia Statement. Guyana breathed a sigh of relief.
Sadly, some ten years after the inking of those historic documents it seems necessary to once again, contemplate the exercise of CARICOM’s collective influence in Guyana’s affairs to facilitate an environment of peace and social stability – a necessary prerequisite for progress, development and the security of Guyana’s citizens.
In this context, I wish to bring to your attention and the Heads of Government of CARICOM recent unsavoury developments in Guyana in the hope that Caricom may once again use its collective influence on the President and Government of Guyana to move in a positive direction.
This need becomes more urgent in the context of the Region’s recently expressed concern for security; the destabilising impact of the spiralling price of food commodities and, the proposed hosting in GUYANA of a major socio-cultural event, namely, CARIFESTA X.
The continuing dictatorial behaviour and abuse of power by the President and Government of Guyana, the Government’s continued disregard for the Rule-of-Law and the Constitutional rights of citizens, the insidious use of torture of citizens by the Security forces, and the blatant non-implementation of Agreements solemnly entered into with the Opposition have created conditions which threaten the environment of peace and social and political stability in Guyana today.
The closure of CNS TV Channel 6, by the President, for four months, is the latest assault by the Government on the right of Freedom of expression, and the right to work, as guaranteed by the Guyana Constitution.
These assaults, against anyone expressing opposing views to the regime, started since 2001 with the threats and closure of HBTV Channel 9; the threats and undermining of the economic interests of VCT Channel 28, by forcing the removal of the Lottery Broadcast contract from that station to the State owned Channel 11 and later the cancellation of the TBN broadcasts in Guyana which were managed by VCT Channel 28; the vilification and physical assaults on C.N. Sharma by PPP activists, with no redress in the Courts; and removal of advertisement by Government in the privately owned Stabroek News for more than 17 months.
It should be noted that the Administration only recently resumed advertising with the Stabroek News, apparently to cushion the effect of their planned closure of CNS Channel 6.
The exercise of this arbitrary power by President Jagdeo has been facilitated by his refusal to honour a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between himself and the late Leader of the PNCR and the Opposition, Mr. Desmond Hoyte. That MOU established the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) on November 17, 2001, “…..to advise the Minister [responsible for administering the legislation governing Broadcasting] with respect to compliance by Television Station Licensees with the terms and conditions of Licences and to recommend to the Minister such appropriate action in the event of failure by a Licensee to comply with such terms and conditions and to discharge other related functions.”
Moreover, the MOU explicitly stated that “The Parties agree that the Minister, in the exercise of his power pursuant to the Act and the Wireless Telegraphy Regulations made there under, with respect to Television Station Licences, will act in accordance with the advice tendered by the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting.”
The President has acted unilaterally and disregarded this commitment. More significant, however, is the fact that the ACB was an interim measure until the enactment of appropriate Broadcasting legislation based on the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Radio Monopoly, Non-Partisan Boards and Broadcasting Legislation adopted by the President and Leader of the Opposition in December 7, 2001. This was to ensure that political control over media in Guyana was completely removed. The Government failed to honour its undertaking.
There was a renewed commitment in the Communique of May 6, 2003 signed by President Bharrat Jagdeo and Mr. Robert Corbin, Leader of the Opposition to introduce Broadcasting legislation within four months of that date. Regrettably, approximately five years later this remains yet another unfulfilled commitment.
This assault on Press Freedom is but one of the many matters which have created an atmosphere of tension in the country. Other issues of concern include:
Presidential Abuse of Power, Disregard for the Rule of Law and for the Constitutional Rights of Citizens.
The Integrity Commission has been illegally appointed by the President in breach of Section 3 of the Integrity Commission Act No. 20 of 1997. Attempts to have this matter determined by the Court over the last four years have yielded no results.
The Life of the Ethnic Relations Commission was extended in 2006 by the President in violation of Article 212 B of the Guyana Constitution.
The Government, through the use of agencies of the State, such as the Security Forces, has displayed contempt for the Fundamental Rights of citizens as guaranteed by Title I (Articles 139 -154 (a)) of the Constitution and in total disregard for the Rule of Law.
Recent Examples of these Breaches include:
(a) The arrest, detention and subsequent trumped –up charges of sedition against Oliver Hinckson who has been refused bail while his case has been repeatedly adjourned.
(b) The arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens on various pretexts – the common practice being to detain persons late on Friday so that they remain in custody for the weekend and are then released on Monday without any charge being brought.
(c ) The use of brutal torture by the Security Forces against citizens including, Victor Jones, Patrick Sumner and David Zammett, in contravention of the International Convention Against Torture ratified by the Government.
(d) The unlawful destruction of property by the security forces, particularly at Buxton where the sanctity of homes has been violated with impunity, personal property wantonly destroyed and farms have been irreparably damaged.
(e) The unlawful killings of citizens by the security forces and the disappearance of others without a trace. The most recent examples of unlawful killing are those of Tyrone Pollard of Lot 81 Buxton Sideline Dam and Donna Herod.
The above-mentioned breaches have been compounded by the failure to hold Inquests or mount independent investigations into these incidents.
In the circumstances, I urge you to bring these matters to the attention of the Caribbean Heads of Government. I hope that consideration by them could lead to recommendations to the President and Government of Guyana to meaningfully address the issues raised in this letter. In this regard, my Party and I stand ready to present any further information which may be deemed necessary.
Robert H O Corbin, MP
Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform &
Leader of the Opposition of Guyana
c.c. Caricom Heads of Government
His Excellency Mr. Hubert Ingraham
Prime Minister of Bahamas
Chairman of CARICOM
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
It is not my desire to descend with them into the cesspool of gutter politics to hurl filth, as it is beneath my dignity. People who are bankrupt and cannot compete in the arena of ideas and lack vision, do so best. I must note however, that I have never seen as much as a letter to the press, from this so-called "PNCR of North America" group, condemning the PPP government's racism and constitutional violations. I am therefore happy that they have fired up their engines to attack me. I hope that they can overcome their smarting and personal vendetta, and direct their misplaced fire and nascent enthusiasm to the condemnation of the myriad injustices that plague our beloved homeland.
I am amused that Mr. Corbin could mobilize his few supporters in North America to attack me but cannot mobilize ten people for a street march in Guyana. I am even further amused that he could not muster the courage to attack and mobilize against Head of the Presidential Secretariat in Guyana, Dr. Roger Luncheon, who recently referred to him as a fool. He remained as quiet as a church mouse then but has now galvanized his obsequious minions to attack me. That not withstanding, his machiavellian politics cannot intimidate me.
Their response is bereft of substance and is symptomatic of a hollow leadership. It's school-boyish, infantile platitudes are infradig. They claim that "Rickford Burke was eager to ingratiate himself to President Jagdeo during last year's (2007) Folk Festival in Brooklyn." Even if this were true, what has is to do with the price of cheese in Scotland or Mr. Corbin being an incompetent leader? It is a desperate and pitiful stringing together of a clumsy lie, by an idle mind, to spawn a mendacious cocktail of vitriol. But it is cowardly and laughable.
Their statement also foolishly claimed that I asked for a photo opportunity with Jagdeo at the Folk Festival; another blatant lie. I was at the event with a New York State Supreme Court Judge, a State Senator and an Assemblyman and was introducing them to the event organizers when Jagdeo came by and photographers asked for a group photo. In any event, even if I had asked for a photo of the President, what is its relevance to a discussion about Corbin's competence as opposition leader? This is an amateurish diversion.
Corbin's so-called North America group also suggested that I emigrated from Guyana while he (Corbin) remained. How imbecilic can they be? This contention would have been slightly credible and less ridiculous and hypocritical, had Corbin not asked his supporters, who have themselves emigrated from Guyana, to make this charge. Furthermore, their attack on me for emigrating is an insult to all Guyanese immigrants in New York. If this is how Mr. Corbin truly feels about us, then why come to us for financial donations?
Mr. Corbin group also asked? "If, indeed, Mr. Burke is interested in the removal of the Jagdeo regime, as he so robustly proclaims, perhaps he should explain why he was so eager to ingratiate himself to President Jagdeo?" I don't know what this question is expected to achieve as I have never "ingratiated" myself to Jagdeo or attempted to (or intend to attempt) to remove his regime. Mr. Corbin and his supporters seem confused. CGID is not the political opposition and is certainly not in the business of "removing regimes." If Mr. Corbin intends to continue to hope that others will do his job for him, then he should look elsewhere. The removal of the "Jagdeo regime" might be his agenda but it is certainly not an expressed objective of ours. I hope that his so-called North America group can actually contribute his agenda. They need not worry about ours.
As we have said before, we all criticize the PPP government for its ineptitude but the truth is that Corbin and the rest of the leadership of the political opposition are in lockstep with this paralysis of incompetence that permeates Guyana's governance and political culture.
I have also argued that "Mr. Corbin appears to be nonplussed, like a deaf man amidst a sonic boom, as the state collapses; unmoved by events and circumstances. Citizens are murdered everyday and the Police conducts no investigations. The Chief Magistrate has been removed from office for no legitimate reason, the government commits crimes against humanity; including torture and extra-judicial killing, people are executed by death squads with alarming frequency, there is massive corruption in government, including law enforcement and the judiciary, and the country is overrun by drug-lords, with full complicity of the government. Amidst all of this, all Mr. Corbin's does is "talk" at a press conferences. Is this all he can do?
I hold firm to the above views and make no apologies. I will however "talk half and lef half." (Did Adam Harris help write this)
However, word is that the sugar union has instructed the workers to return to work, and that three of five cane cutting gangs have already returned to work. According to Vincent Loncke, a spokesperson for a delegation that visited Prime Minister Sam Hinds on Monday to make a petition, only a “selective” quantity of cane was burnt, and with not enough to grind, only a few gangs of workers were able to do anything.
According to Loncke, the workers will be waiting to see what the Prime Minister comes up with before deciding on more protests.
He stressed yesterday that claims of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) on Monday that the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has partially called off the action is erroneous, since it was not a strike but a protest over the cost of living, and not one against GuySucCo.
Sugar workers from Rose Hall downed tools last week Tuesday over rising food prices, electricity rates, and delays of payments from the National Insurance Scheme. The action spread to other factories in Berbice, and nine persons were arrested and charged with unlawful procession and other unlawful behaviour.
On Friday, Prime Minister Hinds met with workers at Berbice and requested a delegation to meet with him and present their concerns.On Monday, the delegation met with the Prime Minister in the city and tabled a five-point petition. It was clear on Monday that the delegation was not ready to back down, and according to Loncke, the workers, while being aware of GuySuCo and the world prices, emphasized that it was the workers who were feeling the harsh effects.
According to another delegate, Paulton Austin, rice price has risen from $4,500 per bag to almost $8,000. With children to send to school, food and other expenses, it is impossible to live on the wages.Meanwhile, the Prime Minister indicated that Government has trimmed its infrastructure budget in light of the rising prices.
More Money for WorkersOn Monday, GuySuCo said, a meeting was held at Blairmont Community Centre, where the management of the Corporation met with all the harvesting and factory representatives from the estate and officials from the union’s head-office.
“Before the union officially declared that there would be a partial resumption, the Corporation took the opportunity to impress upon all in attendance that the Rose Hall strike was in total violation of the subsisting grievance procedure, and that the Corporation reserves the right to dismiss any employee or representative who instigated such strike.”
The Corporation has rarely invoked this in the past, but conditions have now changed dramatically and the Corporation finds itself in the position where this course of action will be taken in the future, regardless of whether the person or persons are union representatives or ordinary workers, a release from Chief Executive Nick Jackson said yesterday.
"After six days of the protest, which not only halted grinding operations in the most ideal harvesting conditions, but also caused 160 punts of burnt canes, at a value of G$15m, to be discarded due to the deteriorated condition, action has put the reduced production target of 108,000 tonnes at serious risk of not being achieved.”
The Corporation told the representatives of the protesting workers that if they improved their attendance from 64 per cent then they could earn more money and hence mitigate against the increases in the cost of living.
The workers are required to work five days per week, but were only turning out to work 64 per cent of the time. This means an average work week of only 3.2 days for the cane harvesters.
The Corporation regularly offers six days work per week during the cropping periods, so there is not a problem for the workers to attend more often and earn more money. “Attendance at work is a major issue for the Corporation, and poor attendance last crop caused the carryover of in excess of 200,000 tonnes of cane into the first crop of this year.”
GuySuCo faces the possibility of not producing even 100,000 tonnes of sugar this crop, due to the low attendance and strike action across the industry following on from the poor start due to bad weather.
“This is down from the original target of 124,000 tonnes, and the revised target of 108,000 nnes, due to the La Nina conditions experienced at the beginning of the year.
The Corporation urges all harvesters and other workers in Berbice to maximize their working days and to take advantage of the good dry conditions to produce as much sugar as possible before the mid-year rains come and bring the first crop to an end.”
The target remains at 108,000 tonnes, which is essential to meet current market demands in both the Caribbean and the European Union
The Leader of the Opposition wishes to suggest to the Minister that his time would be better spent advising his President:
· to cease disrupting the peace of mind of the thousands of Guyanese who have been denied their constitutional rights to freedom of expression by the arbitrary and unjustified suspension of Channel 6 licence for 4 months;
· to free Oliver Hinckson who has been locked up in prison with unsustainable charges and with continuous postponement of his trial;
· to immediately pay to the hungry Guyanese workers an immediate cost of living relief to cushion the effects of the spiraling cost of living, compounded by the draconian VAT. This may be a better way of spending the windfall obtained from the Value Added Tax than wasting it on celebrations, that cannot put food in the stomachs of the hungry people in the country;
· to seriously address the problems of sugar workers in Berbice who have been on strike for more than week because they cannot survive on the meager wages paid by GUYSUCO, neither can they survive on the empty words uttered by the Prime Minister to them since then;
· to use some of the money allocated for the entertainment budget of Carifesta for drainage and improving the infrastructure of the villages on the East Coast of Demerara so that they can, indeed, grow more food;
· to ensure that there is equitable access to the state-owned NCN television and radio by Parliamentary Parties as agreed since May 6, 2003, in the signed Communiqué between President Jagdeo and the Leader of the Opposition;
· to expedite enactment of Broadcast Legislation so that an Independent National Broadcasting Authority will administer the Wireless, Telephone and Telegraphy Act and remove it from political control.
The presence of these issues in Guyana is doing more harm to the Carifesta environment than anything the Leader of the Opposition could ever say. The Leader of the Opposition wishes to make it clear that he has made no threats. He has merely stated what is a fact of life in Guyana that, unless these human rights, Rule of Law and bread and butter issues are settled, the environment would not be conducive to the management of any Carifesta.
The Minister should know that it was under the PNC Administration of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham that the first Carifesta was held in Georgetown in 1972. At that time, it was the PPP which spearheaded a boycott of the National Cultural Centre, which was built for Carifesta 1972, on the grounds that no money from the Indian Immigration Fund should be used for its construction. Perhaps, Frank Anthony was still in ‘short pants’ at that time, he can be enlightened by retired MP, Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud. The PNCR’s commitment to Caribbean integration and to the development of culture is therefore beyond dispute.
The PNCR is therefore very qualified to give Mr. Anthony a lecture on the benefits of Carifesta and how it could be successfully organized. The first prerequisite is to have a coherent policy on culture and a dynamic and well-organized programme to promote culture and art forms in Guyana . This includes expenditure in the promotion of arts, drama and other cultural expressions, promotion of indigenous music, including steel bands, tassa and congo drums, etc.
The showcase should then be a well-organised Guyfesta from which the best of our talent can emerge for participation in a Carifesta celebration. Despite all the talk by the Government about their interest in Carifesta X, nothing has been done over the years to demonstrate this deep concern or interest in the promotion of culture. The reality is that there is political manipulation of our cultural talents as a smoke screen to cloud the unconstitutionalities, illegalities and dictatorial behaviour of the PPP/C Administration. It is hoped that Guyanese artistes will not become victims of this vicious political manipulation and demand their full pound of flesh from the PPP/C Administration for any use of their talents.
Minister Anthony must also demonstrate his capacity to manage such an event. For e.g., the first information PNCR MPs had of the launching of Carifesta in Guyana was an advertisement in the local media three days ago, perhaps, after the PNCR had raised the profile of the event by its statement.
Minister Anthony must therefore explain to the nation why invitations to the official launching ceremony were only dispatched to the Leader of the Opposition and PNCR Members of Parliament yesterday (April 21), twenty four hours before the event. This is indeed an insult to the purported theme, “One Caribbean , One Purpose, Our Culture, Our Life”, and exposes the hypocrisy of the PPP/C Administration and Mr. Anthony about their genuine concern about Carifesta.
Monday, April 21, 2008
The Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin, had indicated that such an exercise would take place when he spoke at the March and Rally organised by the PNCR on Friday, April 18th last at Parliament Building Square to protest the suspension of the licence of CNS TV Channel 6, the breaches of the Constitution by the Government, the abuse of power by the President, the high cost of living and the deteriorating security situation, among other issues.
The picketing exercise in front of the Caricom Secretariat Building was a prelude to the presentation of a letter to the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat for transmission to the Chairman of the Caribbean Community, Hon. Hubert Ingraham of The Bahamas and other Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community. That letter, which was signed by the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin, outlined in some detail the issues which the Party believes could seriously affect the peaceful and orderly development of Guyana and the hosting of Carifesta X.
Presenting the letters were Mr. Winston Murray, CCH, MP, Chairman of the PNCR, Mr. Oscar Clarke, General Secretary of the PNCR and Mr. C.N. Sharma, owner of CNS TV Channel 6. The Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin indicated that it would be unethical to reveal the contents of the letter in question until the parties concerned have had the opportunity to digest its contents. He assured the media that once this has been done the contents will be made available them. He, however, indicated that a copy of the said letter was forwarded by him to President Bharrat Jagdeo this afternoon.
In the meantime, the PNCR is actively putting measures in place to continue demonstrating its concern about such critical issues as the cost of living, the breaches of the Constitution, the torturing of our citizens, among other matters, by holding more picketing exercises and rallies and meetings in different parts of the country. The next picket exercise will be in front of the Office of the President on Wednesday, April 23, 2008.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
This will be a sensitive investigation and police must explore all leads. Case to note. About two or three years ago, a well known member of the gay community had his/her Durban Street home vandalised and his/her laptop stolen. It turned out that the fella had fallen out with his/her partner who in fact went to the home to seek revenge.
In a letter addressed to Sharma and dispatched a few hours after a meeting at his office to determine what would happen to the station’s licence, Jagdeo said he found Sharma’s explanations unsatisfactory as to why the offending broadcasts continued to air on CNS Channel 6, even after Sharma recognised that the content of the programme infringed the conditions of his licence. Later in a press release the Office of the President (OP) said Sharma was found to have committed serious infringements of the conditions of the licence by broadcasting on four occasions, including three rebroadcasts, content that advocated the killing of the Head of State and Head of Government.
The OP release said Jagdeo is the sole authority vested with power to decide whether a licensee has breached the terms and conditions of their licence and/or the provisions of the Act or the regulations and whether any sanctions may be imposed, adding that the Act provides that the Minister may suspend or cancel the Licence for such breaches.
Further, it stated that Sharma sought to prevent the hearing of the infringement matter by moving to court and that in his capacity as Minister of Information, Jagdeo heard Sharma on the charges and allowed a full opportunity to the station owner yesterday to show cause why his licence should not be cancelled or suspended. According to the statement, Sharma acknowledged at the hearing that the broadcasts infringed the conditions of the licence and the law.
“Under no circumstances can the Minister allow a Licensee to use the airwaves, without sanction, to advocate the killing of any citizen, moreso a Head of State and Government”, the release added.But last night Sharma said the move to close him down was, “a sad one that will hurt the people working here”. He said the campaign against him has deepened and has now reached the point where the people around him will suffer as a result, adding that government is taking bread out of the mouths of some 35 persons in his employ, mostly women among whom are many single-parent mothers.
Within minutes of receiving the letter Sharma went on air last night to inform the public and to speak out against the move. He was supported by several political leaders and members of the local media fraternity. Sharma used the opportunity to call on the public to stand by him and to reject the President’s decision resulting in supporting calls when he opened the phone lines.
Sharma said government cannot expect him to find salaries for his staff for four months when he is doing no business. According to him a significant amount of revenue will be lost during that period - in the millions he estimated. Since he feels a court challenge will be too exhausting Sharma said he and his affected staff will take to the streets in protest and will continue until the President realizes his mistake.
“They want me to run, pack up and go away but it ain’t happening today or tomorrow. I will fight this and the people of Guyana will fight this because it has been going on for too long”, the station owner said.Attorney-at-law Khemraj Ramjattan, who was part of Sharma’s legal team, said last night that the President has no authority to suspend Sharma’s licence. He said the decision was “nonsensical and an … abuse of state power”. He said the President and his administration continue to trample upon one of the pillars of democracy - freedom of expression.
Ramjattan said Sharma’s only perceived threat against the President lies in the power of his station, which he said, is the best in the country and the only one that people call into to state their problems. He said shutting Sharma down is in essence shutting down the views of the public.
According to him the legal team that went to meet the President at his request yesterday at the Office of the President advanced arguments that were satisfactory. He said they raised many key issues but mainly argued that the President had no authority to pass judgment in the case because he was a central figure in it.“We basically argued that he cannot be judge, jury and executor in a case that involves him. It is a sound fact yet this is what he is now doing”, Ramjattan said.
He said that Sharma has a few options open to him but noted that they are focused on the moment with getting a speedy resolution to the problem. Ramjattan said he has drafted letters to the United Nations and the Organisation of American States that he will soon be dispatched to draw international attention to the issue since according to him the President and his government must be exposed for the undemocratic position it has taken against Sharma.
He maintained that Sharma made his case to the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) and that an apology was accepted yet the President felt it necessary to persist with the matter. The lawyer said there is an agenda and that Sharma is being targeted.
Finding foodSharma told Stabroek News last night that his staff on hearing the news questioned how they will get by for the next four months. One of the staffers told this newspaper that he has bills and that the decision gave him an instant headache.
The station owner said the cost of living in the country is high and that food items are on the increase yet the President has decided that his staff must now find food however they must. He said that in addition to his staff there are many other persons who live on the streets that would drop by at nights or during the day for a few dollars or a meal and they are always assisted.
“Look how many people got it hard and now over 30 more people will get it hard because of this President. He wants people to go and beg but we will go on the street and protest this”, he added.
Sharma said government could have asked him to issue a public apology or even let him off with a warning. He said a suspension for four months is punishment meant to cripple business and hurt his staff. He said that Jagdeo could have simply said that what happened should not have and that he needs to be more careful in the future. He said that since the incident and the letter from the ACB alerting him of the infringement he has been more careful. Additionally, he said that when the caller made the statements about the President on air he immediately chastised her but this has all been ignored he added.
The Guyana Press Association (GPA) in a statement issued last night said it regretted and unequivocally condemned the decision by the President, in his capacity as Minister of Information, to suspend the licence of CNS TV 6 for four months.
Due process has been violated and sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and self-interest, rather than opting for an enlightened and transparent approach, the GPA said, adding that while it shall never ever support the use of the media for incitement of criminal acts and hatred based on race, religion, culture or association; it will also not sit idly by and allow Presidential executive authority and immunity from litigation to be wielded as an iron fist on the media.
The association said it will not debate the utterance by a caller on the Voice of the People programme that led to the suspension of the license but that it firmly believes that President Jagdeo should have recused himself from hearing and determining the matter because he is the aggrieved party, the threat having been made against him.
“To the best of our knowledge, the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) never recommended to Mr Jagdeo that CNS TV 6’s license be suspended or cancelled because of the broadcast of the offending remarks. Hence, the President has usurped the authority of the ACB which is regarded as the precursor to a Broadcast Authority whenever the long-delayed broadcast bill is tabled in the National Assembly and approved”, GPA stated.
The GPA called on the President to immediately withdraw the suspension because he has no locus standi in the matter as it was not referred to him by the ACB with an advisory. Additionally the GPA said the suspension of CNS TV6’s licence is an opportune moment for media houses to consider the establishment of a self-regulatory Media Complaints Committee that applies a Code of Conduct for all print and electronic media.
“Left alone, as it is today, Broadcast Legislation can be enacted with the proviso that the final authority rests with the Minister of Information who, in this case, is the President, thus opening the door for arbitrary and abusive actions that cannot be challenged in a Court of Law”, the GPA added.
Stabroek News Editor Anand Persaud last evening condemned President Jagdeo’s decision. Persaud said the President’s decision was indefensible since the mandate for addressing transgressions of the station’s licence lay with the ACB which has accepted Sharma’s explanations and had not recommended any disciplinary action. The suspension for four months, Persaud said, amounted to a horrendous press freedom assault.
Persaud said Stabroek News was acutely aware of the administration’s callous attitude towards press freedom as the newspaper had been a victim of this for 17 months via the arbitrary and insupportable cut-off of state advertising with the newspaper. While SN lost a large amount of revenue since November 2006 it could not be compared to the shutting down of Channel Six for four months. That, he said, was tantamount to putting the station out of business.
Persaud said the superseding of the ACB in this matter made a mockery of President Jagdeo’s own agreement with the late PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte for the review of licence breaches to be reposed in the authority. Persaud further added that responsibility for the chaotic state of the broadcast sector had be laid squarely at the feet of the PPP/C administration as it had made no effort to proceed with comprehensive legislation for a broadcast authority that had been promised for many years.
Persaud said he hoped that President would immediately withdraw the ban as it once again placed Guyana in the category of press freedom offenders and was an ominous sign at a time that the country needed to pull together to combat the crime threat.
On Thursday, the Working People’s Alliance warned that there was a “real and present danger” of another attack on press freedom by the government. Referring to the government’s summoning of Sharma to a meeting at the Office of the President, the WPA said that it believes that any bid to curtail the operations of Channel Six must be seen as “another blatant attempt by the government to trample on the fundamental rights of Guyanese. We call on all Guyanese to close ranks behind Sharma to resist this latest violation. Yesterday it was Buxton, torture and Stabroek News, today it is Sharma’s CNS TV 6. Whose turn will it be tomorrow?”
The WPA noted that the ACB is the body lawfully constituted to oversee the television media and had accepted Sharma’s explanations on the transgressions and had not ordered any disciplinary action. The WPA noted that Sharma had made air time available to the parliamentary political parties. “These developments have not gone unnoticed and unchallenged by the PPP/C and its supporters and in the process Sharma has been the subject of numerous abuses, threats and actual physical assaults”.
In a statement on Thursday, the PNCR expressed alarm at what it said appeared as a concerted effort to shut down Channel Six. The party said it readily understood that given the live nature of Voice of the People there may be instances of the use of intemperate language. “When there are such occurrences, these can be dealt with by sensible programme management precautions to ensure conformity with acceptable broadcasting standards”.
The party added it does not condone the employment of strong-arm tactics which seem motivated by self-serving partisan political considerations. “The party wishes to warn the Jagdeo PPP/C administration that any attempt to close down CNS TV Channel 6 will… retard the building of a democratic culture in Guyana and generate unwelcome tensions in this society, at a time when there is need for calm and peace”.
Online status of the three dailies:
Stabroek News' top story: Sharma closed for four months
Guyana Chronicle's top story: CARIFESTA fever catchin on
Kaieteur News' top story: Omai extracts 3.8 million ounces of gold…prepares to leave Guyana (This was the same top story about the same time yesterday)
Friday, April 11, 2008
‘It wasn’t me’
April 11, 2008
-Brassington disavows any role in copter purchase
says ‘all indications point to a terrible deal’
One of the aviators from whom the government said it received sound advice on purchasing two helicopters valued at $300M yesterday distanced himself from the transaction and said all indications point to a “terrible deal”.
Mike Brassington, a Guyanese pilot residing in the US was one of the persons whom Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon told Stabroek News last week was consulted by the army and the government before the acquisition of the two Bell 206 helicopters.
In a letter to this newspaper yesterday denying any involvement in the deal, Brassington wrote “I categorically would like to state that I was not involved in the acquisition, purchase or transportation of these Bell 206 Jet Rangers for the GDF.”
Brassington said it was sad that at a time when President Bharrat Jagdeo and Chief of Staff of the GDF Commodore Gary Best were doing their best to acquire assets in an expeditious manner to prevent another slaughter that the country with already limited resources might be hurt once again by individuals who have procured substandard equipment.
Controversy has erupted here over the capacity and suitability of the helicopters, the first of which flew into this country last week. Captain Gerry Gouveia was the first to weigh-in on the machines, one of which has chalked up over 10,000 flying hours, calling them “junks”.
However, President Jagdeo defended the purchase, saying that the choppers would be used to conduct surveillance work and slammed Gouveia’s statements as being “silly and unfortunate”.
Setting out the details of his involvement with regard to the helicopters, Brassington wrote in his letter that in early 2008, he requested an audience with Luncheon and Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best. He sought to address the unserviceable Bell 412 helicopter, which the military was incapable of operating due to the high operating cost associated with the 27-year-old helicopter. He said he offered a “trade” for the ill-fated Bell 412 of two Eurocopter helicopters and one fixed-wing Islander aircraft. This trade was rejected by the military, he said, because the Guyana Defence Force was not interested in switching aircraft manufacturers having had a long association with Bell helicopters.
Brassington said his company then submitted two additional Bell helicopters “trade” presentations to replace the Bell 412. These discussions were put on the “back burner” because of the unfortunate massacre in Lusignan, he said.
Brassington said later he was called by Luncheon and was specifically asked to contact Commodore Best to assist in the acquisition of two helicopters. “I immediately contacted Commodore Best who directed me to the Commanding Officer of the Air Corps, Lieutenant Colonel C. Kyte. I was informed that he was in charge of the acquisition process and the Commodore was completely reliant on his expertise since he is also the Chief Engineer for the GDF Air Corps and has maintained this appointment for many years,” Brassington said.
The pilot added that Lt Col Kyte indicated to him that the decision was made to purchase two Bell 206 Jet Rangers and he was more than welcome to submit his proposals. He said his group in the United States researched the best Bell 206 Jet Ranger options that were also within the government’s budgetary guidelines. “Two presentations were submitted that included newer variants for both Bell and Eurocopter. The two Bell helicopters purchased by the Guyana Government were not included in any presentations submitted by my group,” Brassington declared.
He asserted that his company would not have and did not recommend the two specific rotorcraft bought by the Guyana government. Additionally, Brassington said, the Eurocopter rotorcraft’s superiority to the Bell 206 Jet Ranger is so significant that the United States Military signed a multi-billion US dollar contract in 2007 with a foreign manufacturer (Eurocopter) to replace the Bell light rotorcraft fleet.
“This unprecedented decision to go against a US manufacturer and replace most of their fleet is testimony to the fact that the Eurocopter is the better choice due to proven reliability and demonstrated ability with top military and specialized police units worldwide,” Brassington argued. However, he said after its presentations were submitted, his group was never contacted by the GDF regarding the acquisition of the two rotorcrafts.
According to Brassington, follow up calls were made at which point his group was advised by the Best that a local group was chosen to work with the army and the purchase of two Bell 206 Jet Rangers were in an advanced stage. Brassington said Best further explained that both aircraft were inspected and okayed by the competent staff of the Air Corps.
“Our assistance was still offered once again, however, we never received any call to assist. We subsequently read in the local newspaper that two Helicopters were purchased by the Guyana Government.”
Brassington noted that he researched the proposed sale using local news links and found out the specifications of the Costa Rican Bell 206. He said he then made a phone call to Best to offer further assistance, but was informed by the army chief that this was not necessary since his team had secured the two helicopters. Further, Brassington said, Best told him that Lt Col Kyte and Lex Barker, the other aviator who Luncheon said his government consulted, expressed their success in acquiring two excellent rotorcraft that were not only well equipped but came with extensive spares and accessories. Noting that Lt Col Kyte personally inspected both aircraft at their respective locations in Costa Rica and Texas and gave them both very high evaluations Brassington said regretfully, all indications point to a terrible deal.
”I want to state that I had no contact with Mr Lex Barker and associates, nor was I ever invited to be part of this process with Mr Barker and associates.” Brassington said he was more than happy to assist his country, the people of Guyana and the GDF in future aviation consultations.
Following the two recent massacres, which claimed the lives of 23 people, government said it was purchasing the helicopters to aid in crime fight.
The action was filed on April 3 at the CCJ on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, by TCL’s attorney Claude Denbow.
According to a TCL spokesman, in January 2007, TCL commissioned a US$10.5 bagging facility, Guyana TCL Inc, to supply the Guyana market with cement on the understanding with the Guyana government that the CET would have been placed on extra-regional imports of cement.
TCL ships bulk cement from its cement plant in Barbados to Guyana where it is bagged at the Guyana facility.
The spokesman said the Guyana government had “unilaterally waived” the CET on cement imported from outside the region without seeking approval from the Council for Trade and Economic Development (Coted).
TCL officials said they raised the issue at a Coted meeting in Guyana last October, and Coted officials informed the Guyana government of its obligation to apply the CET.
There was no comment from the Guyana government on TCL raising the matter at that forum.
The TCL spokesman said TCL did not legally contest the matter earlier because there was a supply issue, and the understanding was that the CET would have been applied once the bagging facility was operational.
Prior to the legal action being filed, TCL wrote several letters to Edwin Carrington, secretary general of Caricom, complaining about the issue.
The non-application of the CET means TCL has lost some market share and competitive edge, to importers of cement.
TCL has calculated its earnings loss from the CET not being applied and has asked the CCJ to order damages be paid as it sees fit.
Guyana concerned about Venezuela donation to Buxton
Foreign Minister, HPS share different views on issue
Former Amerindian Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues was yesterday sworn-in as Minister of Foreign Affairs while Pauline Campbell-Sukhai was sworn-in as Minister of Amerindian Affairs at the Office of the President.
In the presence of Head of State, President Bharrat Jagdeo, a number of Government Ministers and close family members and friends, the women both took their oath of office. And on her first day as Foreign Affairs Minister, Rodrigues and Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, held different views on the recent donations by the Venezuelan Government to Buxton.
Speaking with the media shortly after taking up her new post, Rodrigues said that concerns about the Venezuelan involvement in Buxton was registered with the Venezuelan Ambassador here in Guyana.
This was done, she noted “so that we would ensure that in the future these sensitivities are taken into account.”“We appreciate the assistance from our neighbouring countries but there is a protocol involved, especially when it concerns matters or when assistance is given based on a submission that will probably compromise the work of the Joint Services,” the new Foreign Affairs Minister said. She added that the Venezuelans did not consult Guyana before making the donations to the village.
However, earlier yesterday, Dr. Roger Luncheon said that there is no explicit convention that imposes an obligation for bilateral partners to notify the government to engage in activities, such as those that the Venezuelans undertook at Buxton.
“I do not know if in Guyana we need to formally take a position on these interventions that are made by our bilateral partners. Many of them indeed make offers to groupings, to sectors, many times independent of any engagement with the administration. This one is no different,” Dr. Luncheon said.
At the swearing in ceremony of the new ministers, President Jagdeo, asked to comment on his new appointments, said that he has been very impressed with both women’s work.
He added that there is a growing number of women in the Cabinet and they bring with them commitment and hard work.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Strengths of the Bell 206
1. It has a maximum cruise speed of just over 200 km/h and thus can reach Rose Hall in just under an hour, which is a vast improvement from our immediate past capability.
2. This equipment has now empowered the Joint Services to react more swiftly with its first insertion into a crime zone until the back up arrives.
3. It flies at a maximum distance of just over 600 km which would allow it to access even a border town like Lethem without refuelling.
4. It is a very reliable machine that is accustomed to tough conditions.
5. It has a very good safety record.
6. It has a low operating and maintenance cost compared to other helicopters in this class which is a tremendous strength considering government’s history with maintenance of equipment.
7. The Charlotte, Chicago and Dallas Police Depart-ments did use a Bell 206 in their Aviation Unit for urban surveillance and crime fighting but they were a minority rather than the flagship since they found the Bell 407 to be a more capable machine.
8. The presence of a helicopter overhead helps tremendously to pin down criminals.
9. The psychological effect of a helicopter overhead reduces the chances of a suspect overcoming forces on the ground.
10. Any helicopter can increase an officer’s safety on the ground immensely especially if it is equipped with a remote control machine gun under the control of the pilot and this can be attached to the Bell 206.
Weaknesses of the Bell 206
1. Better suited for fire fighting, mosquito control, news gathering, support to the offshore oil industry, aerial application in the agricultural sector and air tourism but certainly not heavy duty crime fighting.
As a strength out of this weakness, the Ministry of Health can use them in their mosquito control programme, we can sell them to CGX in the future when they ramp up their operations, Guysuco or large rice farmers can rent them for large scale chemical application and the tourism sector can make good use of these helicopters.
2. It seats about five persons including the pilot and thus can only ferry four crime fighters (or in the case of two helicopters – eight) to engage a small criminal battalion of 10-20 heavily armed criminals in a remote town like Rose Hall.
This puts the crime fighters at a disadvantage but if they are eight highly trained men joining the local policemen they can make a difference.
In the case of Lusignan, if eight men in two helicopters were air dashed to the backlands to join the policemen from Vigilance and BV who would have covered the front lands, they may have made a difference until the rest of the TSU squad arrived from Georgetown to close the show.
3. Single-engine, meaning that it is best for use over the coastlands rather than over the jungles.
In case of an engine failure, which should be remote considering the reliability of the equipment, it is better to be over the coast with more option to land rather than over the jungle.
4. The Charlotte Police Department replaced the Bell 206 with a Bell 407 because it had inadequate crime-fighting features and capabilities to meet its needs.
5. These helicopters are second hand (in one case over 10,000 flying hours were chalked up).
Recognising that the deal is done, I would suggest that we should be grateful that we now have two functioning helicopters. The administration was in a difficult position in February since it was under severe pressure to do something and do it fast. It has now done something and we all have to support the effort now to minimise crime in Guyana....read more
You are the reasons why I am back.
For an entire generation, you have struggled under the flag of this party. You have sacrificed for the great cause of this party for freedom and a decent and happy life. You have suffered with this party in the troubled times, and through the crises of floods and crime. Yet, you have not walked from this party. My inner morality is based on profound respect for your struggles, sacrifices and sufferings, and that is why I am back with the PPP.For me, the PPP is not only my political party. It is my extended family – the family of Cheddi Jagan. And though we have differences, and we occasionally quarreled, and sometimes walk away – the PPP is always home.A son may walk away from home, but he always returns.I AM
BACK WHERE I HAVE ALWAYS BELONGED – IN THE HOUSE OF CHEDD1 JAGAN.
I have refused to join others to betray you or to destroy this home. I refused to be a neemak haram! AND IN THIS HOUSE THERE IS ROOM FOR ALL!In Cheddi Jagan’s house, there is and must always be room for all races, all ethnicities, all cultures, all beliefs. In Cheddi Jagan’s house, there is room for all shades of opinions, different views and critical analysis.I AM BACK ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL WITH THE PPP/C BECAUSE THIS IS THE MOTHER OF ALL ELECTIONS. IT IS THE ELECTION THAT WILL DELIVER GUYANA TO THE FUTURE. ELECTIONS BEFORE HAVE BEEN ABOUT FIGHTING COLONIALISM, OR FIGHTING FOR FREE ELECTIONS AND RETIFYING OUR PAST. THIS NEW TERM BRINGS GUYANA A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR ALL OF OUR PEOPLE.
Lack of VisionUnlike the PPP, which relies on a positive campaign based on its record in government, the PNC took the negative road. It revealed lack of vision, and refused to see the bigger picture.They became obstructionist, and opposed every move towards holding this election. They even took to the street in protest and promised protest after elections.In Mexico, the party of Obrador protested against the results after taking part and documenting irregularities. Here, the PNC pronounced the elections to be rigged even before a single ballot has been cast, and wrote to the UN Secretary General to this effect!The PNC cannot get rigging out of its psyche, out of its nature.
The shadows of past have enveloped the PNC to such an extent that it has become insensitive to the feelings of the people.In the past the only word the PNC knew best was “RIG”. So, they come to you in 2006 and ask the electorate to vote for PNC-RIG. They want you to say “Yes” to PNC-RIG. What do u say?
Nooooooooooooo! Not again. Never! Nada! Niet!Bharrat Jagdeo
When BJ came to office in 1999, he was tested by fire of POLITICAL ARSONISTS WHO SET THE CITY ON FIRE; THEN HE WAS CHALLENGED BY THE CRIMINAL GANG AND THEIR BACKERS. But he arose from the ashes and, like a Phoenix, he emerged victorious in the 2001 elections. He stamped his own style of leadership, one that saw him in the trenches – out in front.If he was tested by fire, by 2002 he was challenged by terrorism from the prison escapees – the like of which was never seen in this land before. It was brutal, senseless, cold-blooded. Then by floods. Some one told me he was the “Teflon Guy” – water does not penetrate him.But he stood the test of time, and we now know that he is made of the good stuff.
Like MOSES, he parted the flood waters and made this land dry and wholesome again!Bharrat Jagdeo deserves credit for his leadership. Reward him with a second term. It is always sweeter than the first. He is hard-working and capable. He has his fingers on the pulse of the nation’s problems and, in all cases, he has delivered solutions.I have watched Bharrat Jagdeo with unbiased eyes. I see in him a good person, who loves his country dearly, who portrays love of all races, love of children and our youth, and concern for the elderly.
Moreover, I see in him as a leader with an agenda to push development.I share his broad vision to modernize this country, so we may create more jobs, more opportunities, and raise the standard of living of all.PartyAfter the elections, the PPP has to be more responsive to the needs of its supporters, to fight for an equal space for them, to deliver services and care for them.We must continue to image ourselves after CHEDDI JAGAN – lean and clean, incorruptible, accountable.
We must push his agenda for eradication of poverty, for creation of sustainable livelihoods, for accelerated development for Amerindians, for social and ecological justice.CrimeWE MUST BE UNCOMPROMISING AGAINST CRIME. THOSE WHO LIVE BY THE SWORD MUST DIE BY THE SWORD!WE BELIEVE IN THE RULE OF LAW, NOT THE RULE OF GUNS. THOSE WHO LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE LAW ARE OUTLAWS. THEY WILL ALWAYS BE ON THE RUN. FOR THEM, THERE CAN BE NO “GREEN GREEN, GRASS OF HOME”.TO KILLERS, I SAY: YOU EITHER LAY DOWN YOUR GUNS OR BE LAID DOWN BY GUNS.
There are some criminal enterprises in Guyana that are snatching our children from the arms and breasts of their mothers. They are turning them in baby killers. They follow the killer gangs like those in Liberia and Sierra Leone.THESE MODERN SLAVE CATCHERS MAKE OUR CHILDREN DIE BEFORE THEY KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE A MAN.ALL RACES, ALL AGES, MALE AND FEMALE, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY, RICH AND POOR ALIKE, HAVE FALLEN VICTIMS OF MINDLESS AND SADISTIC RAPISTS, BANDITS AND KILLERS.WE HAVE ALL MOURNED FOR OUR DEAD; WE HAVE ALL CARRIED SCARS OF LOSS AND GRIEF.
THE PEOPLE WITH ONE VOICE THROUGHOUT GUYANA HAVE AT LAST RISEN UP AND ARE SAYING WITH ONE VOICE: GET THE KILLERS! TAKE THE FIGHT TO THEM! BRING THEM DOWN!SashWE MUST NOT SUBMIT TO CRIME AS A WAY OF LIFE. NEITHER MUST WE SUBMIT TO FEAR. CRIME HAS ROBBED US OF OUR BEST TALENTS, OUR LOVED ONES, AND THE INNOCENTS.NOTHING CAN JUSTIFY THE KILLING OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS, ELECTED OFFICIAL, MEDIA WORKERS.
The ashes of Sash Sawh, like the beautiful wings of a butterfly, are still blowing warmly in the wind. We feel his presence here.When Cheddi Jagan died, I said in 1997, I asked you that as you voted, as you marked your “X” you must say, ‘THIS ONE FOR YOU PA.” On August 28, as we vote, remember Sash Sawh.
Remember his big, broad smile, and his warm heart full of love for Guyana. GIVE HIM YOUR X. We must show the cowardly beasts who took his life that our ballots are mightier than their bullets! YOU HAVE POWER IN YOUR HANDS. AS YOU GRASP THE PENCIL OR PEN TO MARK THE BALLOT, GRAB IT FIRMLY AS IF YOUR FINGER WERE ON A TRIGGER, AND AS YOU MARK YOUR “X”, DO SO FOR SASH SAWH.
USE YOUR “X” AS A BULLET FOR JUSTICE AGAINST HIS KILLERS.No LosersIn all countries, the one factor that is constant is change. In 1992 it was the PPP that campaign on the slogan “time for a change”. And change we had with the removal of the PNC dictatorship. 14 years have passed, and today we must shift to the politics of adjustment. We must adjust to the reality of a multi-party political system, and to the ethno-political nature of our society.In the new term there must be wider space for all political parties.
We must refine our concept of inclusiveness. Under the new Government there must be extended room for the politics of consultation, consensus and compromise. All of the parties have a stake in Guyana, its people, its future.There is promise for the greatness of this land. Though we take pride in calling ourselves Berbicians, Demerarians and Essequibians; though we take pride in calling ourselves Indians, Africans, Amerindians, Portuguese, Chinese, Europeans and Duglas, we are one in our nationality – we are Guyanese!
Like the Guyana 20-20 team, we must all bowl for Guyana, bat for Guyana, run for Guyana, and win for Guyana!Voting on August 28 was a duty of all Guyanese of age. They have a right to a government of their choice. Elections Day must not be the end of our world. It must be the beginning of a new period of our development. No one must feel he or she is a loser when the results are known.
It is in our interest to have quickly a new government and a stable political environment.We must all, as we did during the 20/20 game, wave our flags for Guyana, rejoice for Guyana and show the world that our Guyanese civilization allows us to choose our government in an environment of peace and togetherness..
This follows the retirement of Minister Rudy Insanally from that position. Prior to her new appointment, Rodrigues was the Minister of Amerindian Affairs. Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Pauline Campbell-Sukhai has been handed the post of Minister of Amerindian Affairs.
A press release from the Office of the President in announcing the new appointments stated that Rodrigues is the first woman and the first Amerindian to be appointed to the Foreign Ministry post in the history of Guyana and brings to the position a wealth of experience. Noting Rodrigues’ academic qualifications in Social Work and Business Administra-tion, the release said her experience and highly respected leadership and management qualities as a Minister in the Ministry of Amerindian affairs over the last seven years “will add a new vibrancy to Guyana’s foreign image”.Meanwhile, Campbell-Sukhai has been appointed to Rodrigues’ former post and the release in stating that she had been a community and political activist for women and Amerindian rights over the last 30 years also pointed out that Sukhai has a degree in economics and post-graduate development studies. “Her work experience in SIMAP as an economist and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Project as a socio-economist coupled with 15 years as a parliamentarian will serve her well in her new post”, the release asserted adding that she will now demit her position at the Tourism Ministry.
Both Ministers will be sworn in by President Bharrat Jagdeo in the Creden-tials Room, Office of the President today.
SAN FRANCISCO, USA (Reuters): Democrat Jackie Speier, a former US congressional aide who was attacked during a 1978 visit to the Guyana cult compound of Rev.
Jim Jones, was elected on Tuesday to finish the term of the late Tom Lantos, a California lawmaker who died of cancer in February.
Speier, 57, won 78 percent of the vote in the special election in the US congressional district that stretches from South San Francisco to Palo Alto, election officials reported. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with Jackie Speier
Speier was shot five times and left for dead after the attack by followers of Jones at an airstrip in Jonestown, Guyana, while accompanying her boss, US Representative Leo Ryan, who was killed in the raid.
Ryan and Speier were investigating allegations that members of his San Francisco-area district who had joined Jones' doomsday cult, the Peoples Temple, had been kidnapped and taken to his jungle compound known as Jonestown.
The shooting touched off the mass suicide by more than 900 cult members at the compound who, according to news reports at the time, drank Kool-Aid laced with cyanide and sedatives.
Miner charged with 12 murders
By Sara Bharrat
Almost eight weeks after the gruesome slaying of 12 persons at Bartica, a 44-year-old resident of the community appeared at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court yesterday, charged with the murders.
Roger Simon of 25 Fifth Avenue Bartica, a miner and father of nine, was not required to plead to the 12 indictable counts of murder.
After reading the charge to him, Principal Magistrate Melissa Robertson-Ogle carefully explained to Simon that a preliminary inquiry would be conducted to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to commit him to stand trial in the High Court.
Simon stood in court with his head lowered and his eyes red, struggling to control his emotions. He wore a Bob Marley t-shirt with the quote: “Just can’t live that negative way…Make way for the positive way” and many in the courtroom were heard whispering, “Which way did he take?”
After the charge was read, the magistrate asked Simon if he wished to say anything. He declined to make a statement to the court.
It is alleged that on the night of February 17 at Bartica, Simon murdered nine civilians: Edwin Gilkes, Irving Ferreira, Ronald Gomes, Baldeo Singh, Dexter Adrian, Deonarine Singh, Abdool Yassin, Ashraf Khan, Errol Thomas and three police officers; Ron Osborne, Zaheer Zakir and Shane Fredericks.
Simon was remanded to prison and the matter was transferred to the Bartica Magistrate’s Court for May 14.
On the night of February 17 at approximately 9.40 pm, some 20 gunmen attacked Bartica slaughtering one dozen people including three policemen during an hour-long strafing.
It was reported that the gunmen attacked the police station first, killing three policemen and freeing prisoners. They then took the vehicle assigned to the police station on a rampage, terrorising the community and murdering an additional nine persons.
According to previous reports, the gunmen arrived in the area by boats and departed in similar fashion taking with them firearms they had grabbed from the police station and from a mining company.
The attack on the Bartica community came amidst supposedly heightened security across the country following the slaughter of 11 people at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara three weeks earlier.
Police have blamed wanted man Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins and his followers for the attacks.
James Anthony Hyles, 19, called ‘Sally’, of 70 Friendship, East Coast Demerara has been charged with the Lusignan murders. He allegedly killed Clarence Thomas, Vanessa Thomas, Ron Thomas, Mohandai Gourdat, Seegobind Harrilall, Seegopaul Harrilall, Shazam Mohamed, Shalem Baksh, Seecharran Rooplall, Dhanrajie Ramsingh and Raywattie Ramsingh.
In comparison to Hyles’s court appearance, Simon’s was calm and quick. Hyles was taken to court and charged on February 21 and chaos visited the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on that day.
Before Hyles arrived at court, his relatives and friends were already outside the court compound loudly voicing what they described as “an injustice”. His relatives created a noisy chaotic scene in the courtroom that day and Magistrate Robertson-Ogle was forced to withdraw from the bench for a period of time during which security was enhanced.
In this day and age when the internet is swiftly becoming a major marketing tool and source for information, Guyana is without a live updated news site and yet the KN with the widest circulation falls away on the world wide web.
We await the KN to bring us the usual archival news.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Govt resumes advertising with Stabroek News
April 9, 2008
The state through the Government Information Agency (GINA) has resumed advertising with Stabroek News, placing its first order in 17 months yesterday morning.
Stabroek News’ Advertising Manager Patricia Cumbermack said GINA Media Coordinator Karen Persaud telephoned her yesterday morning to make arrangements to start purchasing advertising space in this newspaper once again. No reason for the decision was given to Cumbermack.
The first order was for an eight inches by three columns advertisement for the Com-munity Services Enhance-ment Project which is administered by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
Asked for a comment, Editor-in-Chief David de Caires said that a very senior government official had rung him on Friday and indicated that Stabroek News would begin receiving ads from ministries and other agencies starting this week.
“No reason was given for the change in policy,” he said. Nevertheless, he welcomed the change in the government’s position.
Government, through GINA, first withdrew ads from 29 ministries and state agencies in November 2006 citing economic considerations. It placed ads with the country’s two other dailies, the state-owned Guyana Chronicle and the privately owned Kaieteur News as well as the weekly Mirror, which is aligned to the ruling party.
Following this move other government and state-owned entities, which previously advertised independently of GINA also withdrew ads, including the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Office of the Auditor General, the Guyana Sugar Corporation, the Guyana Power and Light and the regional administrations.
Stabroek News objected to this move, contending that the withdrawal of the ads was because of the newspaper’s editorial stance on issues of governance. This newspaper sought to have the ads re-instated but to no avail.
The withdrawal of the ads was widely condemned locally by a number of entities and individuals including the Guyana Press Association, opposition political parties, the Guyana Trades Union Congress, the Guyana Human Rights Association, the Private Sector Commission and the Guyana Manufactur-ing and Services Association.
The Association of Carib-bean Media Workers (ACM) and regional media houses, as well as international media organisations, including the Inter-American Press Asso-ciation, the Commonwealth Press Union, the International Press Institute, and Reporters Without Borders had asked the government to restore the ads to this newspaper.
The cut-off also saw Stabroek News’ employees picketing a meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Georgetown last year. Last month, the Inter-American Press Association wrote to Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington asking for the cut-off to be placed on the agenda of the meeting of Caricom Heads in Trinidad last Saturday.
Efforts by a regional mediating team to end the boycott via an offer to craft a mechanism for the distribution of state advertising also failed.
Channel Six told licence in jeopardy over ‘infringement’
April 9, 2008
-Sharma summoned to meeting with Luncheon
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon yesterday wrote to CN Sharma inviting the television station owner to meet with him tomorrow at the Office of the President to show cause why his licence shouldn’t be cancelled or suspended for alleged infringements on air.
A caller to Sharma’s Voice of the People programme made explosive comments during an airing on February 21, 2008, leading to the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) writing to Sharma on February 26, 2008. Sharma then apologized in writing on February 28 and the ACB accepted this and said there would be no further action. The ACB wrote Sharma again on March 10, 2008, reprimanding him on the rebroadcast of the offending programme on February 22 and 23 based on complaints it had received from the public.Sharma then replied on March 28 apologising again and pointing out that the re-broadcasts had occurred prior to the receipt of the first reprimand from the ACB and, without his knowledge, by the person who books programmes. The ACB did not reply but it accepted Sharma’s explanation on the second infringement. The government has however taken a different position as evidenced by Luncheon’s letter to Sharma.
Speaking to this newspaper last night, Chairman of the ACB Pat Dial said that he didn’t know of the letter sent to Sharma by Dr Luncheon yesterday. He said that the ACB had accepted Sharma’s apology and had made no recommendation for further sanctions against the television station owner.
Dial said too that the ACB did not respond to Sharma’s letter of March 28, 2008.
The ACB subsequently sent copies of its letters to Sharma to the Minister with responsibility for telecommunications – the President.
“The Minister is of the opinion that your written responses to the ACB concerning the abovementioned alleged infringements of your Licence conditions are not adequate. Further, the Minister is of the opinion that the abovementioned alleged infringements are sufficiently grave to warrant cancellation or suspension of your Licence,” the HPS said in the letter to Sharma.
Luncheon then invited Sharma to meet with him on behalf of the minister concerning the alleged infringements “and to show cause why your licence should not be cancelled or suspended therefore. You may elect to bring with you, your legal or other representative”.
According to the ACB, the channel aired the following:
Caller: “The President was out of the country. As soon as he got back he knew exactly who did the massacre at Bartica.”
Host: “How do you know he knew?”
Caller: “He made that statement yesterday on the air…the very people who did the act at Lusignan did that there. How can he prove that? What evidence does he have to prove that?”
This statement the ACB deemed to be an infringement upon clause 23 A (b) of the station’s license “in that it is offensive to public feeling in that it attempts to trivialize a serious statement made by the Head of State and is presented without due accuracy as it was widely reported that forensic tests had linked the weapons and ammunition used in both the Lusignan and Bartica killings.”
But the statement that made the ACB sit up was this:
Caller: “…and the next thing, Mr Sharma, Jagdeo have some expire ministers walking with him and them giving up a lot of new fire as far as I am concerned. Because look at these killings and nobody can’t give account for these people’s lives and Jagdeo going to take a high risk job by going and telling people to calm down; he’s going to bury the dead bodies. If anything is going to happen to my family, I am going to kill Jagdeo.”
For his part, Sharma told this newspaper that when the statement was made, he objected, telling the caller that he couldn’t say such things.
According to the ACB the last statement by the caller infringed 23 A of the licence since it offends against good taste, is offensive to public feeling and is an incitement to crime.
The March 10, 2008 letter stated: “Since our letter to you of 26th February 2008, on the matter of an “infringement” in the terms of your licence in relation to the broadcast of your Voice of the People programme aired on 21st February 2008, the Commit-tee has received a number of complaints that you rebroadcast the programme on the succeeding days of 22nd and 23rd February 2008, with the offending words intact.
“The reason for the classification of the new broadcast as an infringement is that even though the broadcast of 21st February 2008, was apparently a spontaneous infringement, you could have edited out the offending words before re-broadcasting the programme,” the ACB said.
Sharma, in response to this letter said on March 28, 2008: “Please note, the programme in question was never re-aired after I received your initial letter dated February 26, 2008. In the instance when it was replayed prior to your letter, it was done without my knowledge by the person who books programmes, and I can assure you it was done with no intention of malice whatsoever.”
Sharma in the letter said that he was putting measures in place to ensure that this occurrence isn’t repeated. “To this end, we are in the process of engaging a delay system,” Sharma said.
On January 20, 2005, Sharma’s station had been closed down for a month when staff of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) seized all his equipment. The station was also closed down for two days in December 2002.
Speaking to this newspaper yesterday, CN Sharma said that while he is instituting a delay system – to cost some US$5,000 to US$6,000 – he will mute the voices of his callers so that their comments cannot be heard.
He maintains that he is being singled out for harassment – while others are getting away with other serious infractions – because of the stance he took to give airtime to Opposition parties. Sharma made reference to the editorial in yesterday’s Guyana Chronicle where his talk show was referred to as a “mid-day comedy show.” He said that such references shouldn’t be made of someone who is a presidential candidate.
According to the talk show host, he has spoken to his legal counsel and will show up for the meeting with Dr Luncheon.