By  June 2, 2017 stabroek news

Compelled to return briefly to my lead issue above, I remind that I wrote in part last Friday: “From submersibles in the North-West District to light aeroplanes to sawmills to arranging US visas, which type of individual(s) is/are most “qualified” to manage such enterprise?”  But is it true? That, as in Mexico, say, cocaine enterprises involve law-enforcement persons, big businessmen and politicians?… not in my Guyana…”

So, I return to this subject because the police and the media seem bound/obliged to be in overdrive with reports about cocaine activities over the past few days. Just peruse this past Sunday’s newspapers. Man! “Guyanese mom in Bahamas get three years”, “Guns, cocaine found in Duncan Street”; “Charges dismissed against Stephen Vieira.” There were also commentary by Anand Goolsarran on “the 2017 US State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report and most relevant remarks by Vice-President Ramjattan on the presence of cocaine trafficking in his jurisdiction – Guyana. (Of course, a former Region 3 Deputy REO just got “time served” for her conviction in Texas, USA; how she must be singing!)

In passing, I must remark that the role of the U.S.A in stemming the flow of illegal narcotics – inclusive of training local narcotics investigators and prosecutors: establishing DEA offices from Colombia to Mexico to Jamaica and Guyana; assistance in money laundering; extradition agreements – is most useful and noteworthy. Noteworthy simply because the USA seems to be the most lucrative market for the trade in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc.

I often wonder why. Are the poor, the rich, the college campuses, the army so vulnerable, so addicted, so stressed, so idle there that the drug is welcome escape? Why? Not enough education in the powerful American society? Discuss…

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06f7c9_8890423b88fb49a29fe2dae4747a8419Competent cartel lawyers
I’m moved to mention two related reports on all the foregoing, firstly there is the case where a Guyanese convicted businessman – Vishnu Bridgelall – now exiled happily in Canada – had his 2007 case heard by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). That court upheld recently an appealed conviction and ordered that the convict must pay a $254 million (G) long-imposed fine. As a reasonably-literate concerned citizen, when I read details of the CCJ decision, it dawned on me how the cartels’ attorneys earn their (lucrative) fees. The intricacies of a conviction, sentencing and all the provisions of relevant legislation and statutes provide much fertile ground(s) for the lawyers to “play with” – sometimes advised by accountants, perhaps.

Then when SOCU’s Head Sydney James revealed that he is investigating the same convict for alleged money laundering, this paper carried an impressive account of the provisions of the Anti-Money, Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (2009). Just when can the convicted crooks’ assets be seized by the state? (Yuh tink it easy for the untried prosecutors to win the approval of various courts?)

To you and me, the requirements, the technicalities are eye-openers. But Frankly Speaking, not for the well-versed, competent cartel defence counsel! So now, you consider the roles of special prosecutors and fair judges in these matters. Until…

Secondly, consider what our Public Security Vice-President Minister Comrade Ramjattan told the local Salvation Army: “While Guyana does not produce cocaine, sordidly this country has come to be seen as a drug-trans-shipment point, since coca-producing countries send the cocaine to Guyana; it is airlifted and dropped off in the interior then brought to Georgetown for onward trans-shipment to other countries, using various means…”

The Vice-President Minister then advised that it was therefore vitally necessary for his Coalition Government to launch recently, its own Drugs Master Plan Strategy for the years 2017-2018.

We law-abiding folks who wish Guyana and its youth and image well, must appreciate the need for plans, strategies and programmes in all aspects of governing and managing our present and our future.

But Frankly Speaking, do you believe that the hair-dresser, the young mule/courier sportsman, the well-connected businessman, the baron and magnate and their lawyers care one hoot about anti-narcotics “Master Strategies”?

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Race, greed, systems, crime…
A few columns ago, I did write: “Would I be considered racist if I noted the race of most of our high-profile criminal accused?” and that question was allowed to stand. But is criminality and greed confined to any one group anywhere? In multi-racial societies? Depends on class and wealth – or opportunity?

I recall that many, many years ago, over beer, old comrade Aubrey Norton and I were pondering “greed” – that “acquisitive or selfish desire beyond reason” – when he convinced me virtually that certain groups are more “acquisitive” than others. We debated the history and reasons for this characteristic. Some groups think long-term. Others, like me, probably live for today, at their peril.

Then again, what is greed to some cultures, is just sensible reasoning to others – no matter it’s by any means necessary. Therefore, as hinted earlier above, some in this society have more resources, opportunity – and cunning – than others, to “acquire”. Sometimes morality and the law merely “get in their way”.

Over in the good old USA, our Guyanese diaspora – Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Atlanta, Florida, New Jersey – “boasts” dudes who love to exploit and violate systems – laws, regulations, benefits, rights, freedoms – extant in that society. There are times when I think that “the law” and most eventual penalties are on the side of the crooks. But the immigrants – from college youth to business-types to qualified professionals – soon discover that the same “systems” orchestrate their eventual arrests and punishment for their unnecessary “crookery”. Next time I’ll give you an idea of many Guyanese “Americans” who flew our flag for the wrong reasons in their adopted “home”.

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Points to ponder today…
How soon will brand new heroes, martyrs and monuments be identified?

Could not Vice-President Minister of Public Security Ramjattan lobby from donors and countries for military transport helicopters to monitor our borders? From, for example, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Germany, the UK, India, Dubai or Brazil, for example? Even two would be great.

Saw the pix of fake bananas in Spain? With cocaine secured in them.

Forgive me for giving up. Even as I mourn the daily loss of life on our roads. Students, teachers, business persons, the wealthy, the poor and the professionals. What is to be done?

Quote of last month: “One would have expected that with so many pensioners in the cabinet, the focus on making things easier for other pensioners would have been one of their major concerns…”

Valid expectation, Sir/Madam, but cabinet ministerial pensioners are neither needy nor mindful.

Vendors are mobilising to lobby for the abandoned Stabroek Co-op Bank building to become a modern mall.

’Til next week!

(allanafenty@yahoo.com)