De facto Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence, is worried because of the number of deaths in Guyana as a result of COVID 19. However, the 99% in Guyana already expected this outcome, because for as long as we can remember, our public healthcare system has been wanting. All of us have family and/or friends that have gone into Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) with an ailment that was not fatal and yet they have lost their lives. We have watched as our presidents and ministers – from both APNU+AFC and PPP/C – have gone abroad for the very best medical treatment, leaving those Guyanese, with similar conditions, who depend on the public healthcare system, to simply die. This also does not surprise us, because for a long time we have known just how shameless our political elites are. That is why the current election debacle, that has so shocked the region and the world, has not shocked many of us.
Given the current state of affairs we find ourselves in, OVP is calling on the Guyanese people to take matters into their own hands. COVID 19 is serious and we can and must act to protect our families, communities and nation. We are still seeing people socializing up under each other in bars, queuing outside stores in close proximity to each other, refusing to wear masks, etc. We are not wearing masks and keeping a distance for ourselves only, but for the health of the entire nation, including our mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. No matter what your race/ethnicity, or how many races/ethnicities run through your veins, if you revisit your traditions, the teachings of your ancestors, you will find that the care and protection of elders is paramount and must be of concern to everyone. This is so in Indigenous, African and Indian culture.
A failed public health system, coupled with endemic poverty, leads to poor nutrition, which in turn leads to weakened immune systems. As a result of all this, many of our people suffer from preventable respiratory ailments, including TB. This means that our population, both young and old, are extremely vulnerable. Already, we have lost too many young lives to this virus. We the people must flatten this curve. If there is anyone in Guyana who still believes that APNU+AFC or PPP/C can deliver us from our current political, social, economic, moral and now health crisis, they are delusional.
I have been warning and teaching for years that we must stop looking for a “Saviour” to deliver us from our present condition. The idea of a “Saviour” is a myth, a Hollywood phenomenon. It turns out that the age old adage, that “we are our own liberators” has become a self-evident truth. Forbes Burnham knew this when he said: “The free man is he who frees himself…the slave looks to others to free him and still remains a slave. A country like Guyana cannot afford the parasite, the lazy, the inefficient, or the colonial, all of whom hopes that someone will free him.”
As leader of OVP, I am urging my fellow citizens to wear a mask, to practice social distancing and to wash hands and sanitize your surroundings as much as possible. If OVP was the government, I can assure you that there would be no one in Guyana presently without access to masks, soap, disinfectant, food subsidies and financial assistance where necessary, because people need to stay at home wherever possible. Despite the fact that the government is failing to provide this most necessary assistance, we must work together with our families and communities to take care of each other as best as we can at this time.
We don’t need to look far to see how COVID-19 can be successfully managed. Just over in St. Lucia, they have achieved one of the highest recovery rates in the world, 100%, and some of these victims were elders. As part of their programme to combat COVID 19, government ministers have taken a 75% salary cut. Imagine that, while here in Guyana, our political elites are fighting each other for more than the obscene amount they already have, while the people are left to face this current peril as best we can. Meanwhile, in the US, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, the death toll is the highest, with more than 50,000 losing their lives as a result of misdirection of resources, incredible mismanagement and gross inequality. It is crystal clear that the vital factor in whether a country is able to contain this virus, or be ravaged by it, is visionary and decisive leadership. Unfortunately, this is something that neither APNU+AFC nor PPP/C have been able to provide. There can be no doubt that it is time to think outside the box we have been imprisoned in, both locally and globally. As the Bible warns, “Let those who have eyes to see, see, and let those who have ears to hear, hear.”
Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)