Thursday, April 28, 2011

Could this be the escape and evade route for the 16 year old drug pusher?

  Guyana- Suriname backtrack operations continue daily : Kaieteur News

Entrance next to Reno Nite Spot.
Entrance close to the old Radio City Cinema 

As I took a morning stroll along the #78 Village Public Road, I couldn't help but notice the group of people gathered in front of two seemingly empty storefronts. Curiosity kills the cat or unearths smuggling in high daylight. As I approached the group, few people asked if I wanted to exchange currency or go to Suriname? Ah ha, I got it! This was the entrance to the famous underground, no very open, "back track route". There are several entrances from the public road to the seawall. This makeshift area has seating sheds, a jetty for boats to dock, snackettes, and of course the ever present people who arrange for a boat to transport people or goods or anything one desires. 

Snackette Seating

Time out! Isn't this whole "back track thing" illegal? How is it that this place is so well built? It seems like an established well run operation.  Did I say that this entire seawall operation is not more than 100 yards from the Police Station?  Oh yea. Puzzled?. Could this be a very possible escape and evade route for the 16 year old drug pusher? After all, my sources informed me that his family operates one of the snackettes along the seawall. Possible right? 

Why was the new stelling built? This could be a very legal, safe, secure, and profitable operation for the locals. They are doing it anyway, why not legitimize and control the safe transfer of people and goods? This would at least make it harder for any illegal transfer. But what do I know, I am a "foreigner"! 


#78 Sawmill 
Waiting Shed

Thursday, April 21, 2011

She is home, but HE is still out there!

The 14 year old, who was in police protection in Corriverton, Guyana, is home tonight with her family. Her alleged kidnapper and rapist is still out there. The authorities were unable to apprehend this little rascal. How can a 16 year old elude the mighty Guyana Police Force? Who is aiding and abiding this fugitive and why can’t the police find him? Although, the magistrate in Corriverton upheld a warrant for his arrest.

The magistrate also placed the 14 year old in the custody of her uncle a Community Police Officer. He is to report all activities to his superiors on a daily basis until the suspect is in custody. The young lady will still live with her grandmother and father. She is to attend school everyday and complete all assigned tasks. In as much as she is a victim in this situation, the magistrate reiterated that she must include all of her family members in her life so as to create a ring of protection.

Will the little scoundrel come out of hiding to inflict harm on his victim? Will this family be able to give protection? Will the police be able to capture this menace to society? How many more little girls’ innocence must be taken before society puts a stop to this? No one sees, no one hears, no one acts. Where are the morals of a community? Do not blame the government, blame yourselves for letting this happen to your children. Get up, stand up, band together, and create an iron circle to protect the young and innocent so this does not happen ever again to anyone.

We hold our breaths while he is still at large.

We are too busy with administrative functions!

Riding on a bicycle along the #78 Village public road on the second day of my vacation to Guyana I noticed a sign that said “Help Center” where used to be Melrose Bar. Naturally, this sparked my interest. When I lived there, 21 years ago, nothing of this nature existed. This space served as a gathering place for us kids on Sunday after lunch to party and dance the weekend away. 

So I went in to check the place out. I entered a sparse space with partitioned areas and a few people milling around. There were a couple of people in the entrance area, all stunned by my entrance. No one offered a welcome, so I initiated conversation with the closest person and asked to speak to someone in charge. The first question was, “Wa u want?” After indicating that I was visiting from the US and very interested in what “Help” they offered the community, the lady conferred with the other ladies present. Eventually, a younger woman approached me and asked specifically, “What  I wanted to know.” Again, I reiterated that I was interested in what they had to offer here.

She walked around and sat behind a huge desk stacked with papers and told me that they are a non-profit organization that helps people with HIV/AIDS, children of HIV/AIDS parents, sex workers, and children in need. I asked if I could sit, she obliged. I inquired about funding for such a place. She expressed that they get help from private donors, Non Governmental Organizations (NGO), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). I suggested that I may know a US based organization that may be interested in helping their cause, New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission. The young lady got a little more comfortable, then replied that they are willing to work with anyone who is willing to help. A young man came over my shoulder and got the young lady’s attention, she indicated that she was late for a session. I politely asked if we could continue this conversation some other time. She said, “Come back anytime, we always open.” With that I left.

After being knocked over by the rampant drug use, careless regard for society, kids not interested in going to school and a host of other issues that affect Corriverton I decided to return and continue my inquiry. Upon attempting to walk in the door a middle aged woman approached me and asked, “Wa u want?” I politely smiled and indicated that I would like to continue my conversation with the young lady who was sitting at her desk. The middle aged woman positioned herself in front of the door as if to block my entrance and said, “She busy with paper work, we just finish a meeting with USAID and we very busy with a lot of administrative things.” I asked if I could come back the next day. She said, “We busy, tomorrow.” I asked about the next day. Same answer. So I asked if I could make an appointment, the answer, you guessed it, “We don’t have time, we busy.” The young lady looked at me from her desk helpless, as if say, “Sorry”. I turned and walked out disappointed.

Wait. Did this place have a sign that said “Help Center”? Who were they helping and how? I have more questions now than answers. Why could I not get a straight answer, on what they did? Why would they not speak with me? Why did the young lady sat silently? Why did the middle aged woman block my entry? Where were the people they were helping? And how? If they are helping people with funding from USAID, do we not have a right to know how our money is being used?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Look at my Brother.

“Everyday me look at him, me a cry blood. Dis ting a hut me. Look wa me do to me own flesh and blood, me brother. Me chop am up real bad,” said the tear stricken man. Wa, de man chop up he own brother! Yes!
Boats at the #78 Village Market Koker.During the late 70s and 80s, there was the contraband trade between Guyana and Suriname. Anything that could fit in a Guyanese style fishing boat was fair game. This was mostly dry goods including flour, peas, and sardines. The boats were made of wood and powered by an outboard motor. These little floating coffins could out run and out smart the not so well equipped Guyana Police Force. Boat engineMost of these smugglers were initially poor fishermen trying to make ends meet. Eventually this little side business became the driving force behind an economic revival in Berbice and the country as a whole. More people got involved and the smuggling business took off. Shady characters of all forms spun their web of deceit and treachery. A lot of these people are now prominent honest, clean businessmen. Others continue in one form or the other in illegal smuggling. Though I am told these days the cargo is people, guns, ammunition, and drugs.  Either legal or illegal, the smuggler’s haven of Springlands, Skeldon, Line Path, and Crabwood Creek that was once after thought villages is now a very vibrant destination with brand spanking new shinny houses, restaurants, shops, hotels and drugs.
The contraband trade also bread a new type of person. The type of person would do what the nice business men would not dare do with their churches, mosques, and mandirs looking on. This is the modern day version of a river pirate. This person did as the old time European pirates. He was the captain of a similar Guyanese style fishing vessel but was armed with cutlasses, pitch forks, shovels, axes, and knives. He lead a small band of similar minded thugs. These guys had one thing on their minds, hijack a loaded boat and take the cargo. Some sold to the highest bidder others to their masters. It was the darkest of men who were pirates. The masterminds behind the piracy got richer and the pirates,  who were not caught and convicted, stayed poor and helpless. One such person was the teary eyed sad man in front of me crying about what he did to his brother.
One night during a drunken brawl the big time river pirate got so angry and unforgiving of his younger brother that he drew the shinny pirate cutlass and chopped him half to death. Literally! Look at the cuts on his armsOne of his legs was hanging by the skin, before medical aid could get to him he lost the leg. His arms were severely chopped with bone deep cuts. His back and ass were severely cut. Look at that cut on his back
He laided months in a hospital bed never expecting to live. Now, by a miracle he is still alive. He walks on crutches and has nagging pains all the time. Of course, alcohol is his pain killer. Whenever, the pain comes he drinks it away.
While he was in the hospital his wife left him and their little daughter. As time when on and he healed physically there remained that mental image of his own brother chopping him mercilessly. There have been several drunken outbursts from both brothers who just can’t get over this dreadful situation. The little girl is now 14 years old and still holds a grudge against her uncle for making her father unable to provide for her. At the judicial hearing the younger brother dropped all charges letting his older brother return to providing for his family. The older brother has since turned his life around and gotten a regular job that provides honest income for his family.
These two brothers have not spoken directly to each other since the incident. At a recent family function the younger brother asked his older brother to have a drink with him. The older brother looked at him and with shame in his voice said that he was not drinking, yet. Later that evening, sitting across from me with bloody tears in his eyes the big bad pirate pledged to always look out for his younger brother even though they do not talk. He is stunned that his brother can find forgiveness in his heart. “Look at what me do to me brother and he still want to talk to me,” said the stone cold pirate, soften with age and mercy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Update—Crack, Sex, and High School Dropout, Now Girl School—Corrected.

I apologize for my sources in the previous post for giving me incorrect information. The 14 year old is not in “girl school”.

Days prior to the last foreigner leaving, the young drug pusher confronted the 14 year old somewhere outside of her high school with a knife. She screamed and ran between her friends to hide. Her attacker ran away.

The last foreigner left at noon, in the evening the 14 year old never came home. Three days later her father hobbled on his one remaining leg to the local police station to file a missing persons report. The 14 year old’s family lead the police to the young drug pusher’s family home where they suspected all along that the young girl was being kept. Female ranks went in and rescued the juvenile.

She recounted that the drug pusher threatened her with violence against her family so she went with him. The police took her to the hospital for a medical examination. Doctors reported that the young lady has been sexual active since around age 12 and evidence are consistent with rape.

The young girl is being kept in personal protection by the police at an undisclosed location with access by her family for food and clothes. The local magistrate issued a warrant for arresting the young drug pusher on charges of rape and kidnapping of a minor. There is a sentencing hearing next Thursday pending the fugitive arrest.

We hold our breaths and pray to our divine ones that justice is served and this young lady can try to put the pieces of her fragile life together. Here is hoping that cooler heads and kinder hearts do the right thing and take this situation seriously so that this does not happen to another young lady. This is a opportunity for the justice system to shine. For the humanitarian community to reach out and envelope a hopeless child and for all of us to open our eyes and find a way to prevent this from happening again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Update--Crack, sex, and high school dropout, Now Girl School

Finally all the foreigners left #78 Village. That afternoon the little 14 year old went missing. She was missing for 3 days until found by the police at the young drug pusher's house. Her family agreed to send her to Correctional School for Girls.