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Plea for the right to work


JULIE-ANN HALEY

Plea for the right to work

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THIS IS MY ATTEMPT to summarise my views on independence in slavery or dependence in independence as it pertains to our Guyanese.

Independence – self-government, self-rule, self-determination, liberty, self-sufficiency, independent lifestyle, individualism.

Call it what you may! Enslave – enchain, bind, repression, oppression, burden, bondage, subjugation, suppression.

See it how you may! Based on the above dictionary meanings of the two words, most Guyanese would choose the latter as their state of being, both in Barbados and Guyana.

Enslaved at home; enslaved as migrants. But the year is no longer 1692 or 1753 or even 1833; not even 1965, which would have been a year before Guyana gained its independence.

Enslaved

After over 40 years of supposed independence, and in the 21st century in the year of our Lord 2010, I, a young Guyanese woman, felt enslaved in my own homeland, and yet even more enslaved now residing in Barbados.

Guyana’s 44th anniversary of independence was celebrated on May 26; what Guyanese celebrated I am not quite sure! I know we as a people have achieved much since the dark years of colonialism, but how much is “much”?

Should we be satisfied when we have to scamper from our own land to someone else’s to earn a livelihood? Maybe we celebrated the freedom to vote, to free education, to work (did I actually write the words “to work?”).

Many Guyanese still feel trapped in and out of the workforce because of racial prejudice in Guyana which few want to deal with face to face. But really now, what have we achieved when so many Guyanese citizens (skilled and unskilled) have to be fleeing their own home and heritage for over 30 years now?

Still ‘dependent’

Even in “independence” we are still “dependent”.

The mouth-lashing which many Guyanese have been receiving throughout the region, but most recently moreso in Barbados, especially with many legal and illegal Guyanese immigrants residing in Barbados, has prompted me to express this viewpoint.

As human beings it is our natural desire for betterment. As a people with dreams and aspirations we have been forced to look beyond our boundaries to realise our potential.

Yet, I am in disagreement with those who reside here with no legal status. I therefore support Prime Minister David Thompson’s stance on the issue.

It needed cleaning up for quite some time.

Even before Government’s immigration policy was announced I had told Barbadian acquaintances of my concern for Barbados and its people, in that so many young Barbadians leave schools, colleges, institutes and universities every year to go into the workforce, and they have to find jobs, housing and health care on top of those who are here illegally doing the same.

So I understand the Prime Minister’s concern for his people and as a leader you have to make tough decisions for the betterment of your people, so I would most certainly not oppose his intentions.

My President in Guyana should however stop placing his attention solely on what Mr Thompson is doing and look for workable alternative solutions to assist his people when they return to their motherland.

The manner in which illegals are being treated by the Immigration Department in Barbados is certainly not correct, but if someone is illegal then they have to be deported, Guyanese or not.

But let us not forget our shared history and our common destiny when dealing with each other.

There are so many people who would say that Guyana is rich in resources, but resources managed poorly are not going to be beneficial to anyone.

I know it may be difficult for President Jagdeo, as when he took over Guyana’s presidential position the country was in ruin, but it is a job he sought and he must do it! He owes it to every law-abiding citizen who wants an opportunity to use his or her skills to earn a living in the country of their birth.

JULIE-ANN HALEY

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