D. Howells: I write in response to the article in the Guyana Review of Thursday, July 29 entitled, ‘External relations live from Washington DC.’
I empathise with the indignation of the Government of Guyana and many other small countries because it is clear that double standards are practised by the US as well as many international organisations.
Both the drug trade and sexual trafficking are worldwide problems. It is unjust to blame the present administration solely. Guyana was known as a transit for the drug trade long before the present government came into power. Countries richer and more powerful than Guyana have struggled to halt the drug trade. A few years ago the UK appointed a Drug Tsar to deal with the problem and he himself admitted at the end of his term of office that his success had been limited. The US, in spite of its vast resources has failed also to stem the drug trade and there is also the shameful fact that the drug trade was actually used by the US to finance the Contras in Nicaragua.
Sexual trafficking is abhorrent and is on the increase worldwide. As long as grave inequalities exist in the world, poor people will use sexual work as a way to support themselves and their families. There are also those who, in their greed for money, see nothing wrong in exploiting children, women and men to meet a rising demand in the world. I have two friends, both religious sisters who work tirelessly to stop sexual trafficking and who help its victims. Guyana is certainly not among the countries infamous for sexual trafficking. It is singled out unfairly, not because of the vigilance of international organisations as is claimed, but because of the immaturity and mean-mindedness of persons who believe that the way to oppose an elected government is to denigrate their country and exaggerate and publicise infringements. This is so unfair to all Guyanese.
Torture of a teenager is reprehensible but why do these international reports not condemn the US for Guantanamo Bay where hundreds of persons were tortured, including a teenager? Why do they not condemn water-boarding which was practised by the US? Why is there no outcry against ‘extraordinary rendition’ under which scheme, special planes from the US landed in countries, kidnapped individuals and took them to other countries to be tortured?
Nearly all countries that expressed concern over human rights violations in Guyana would also be reprimanded themselves if their citizens had rushed to report every infringement. People are still placing flowers in memory of the innocent young Brazilian shot as a terrorist by police in the UK.
I would not like to accuse those who compiled the reports of taking the easy option or of bias, but perhaps due to pressure of work and time, they seldom seek verification or explanations from governments and make no allowances for mitigating circumstances before they submit their reports. I think that one would be forgiven for concluding that there is one rule for the rich and one for the poor and surely such injustice is cause for indignation and anger.
The way forward is for all citizens, aided by the many faiths in Guyana, to work together to promote respect for all human beings and peace and justice. Guyanese are best placed to achieve this. They do not need to run to ‘big brother.’