PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, March 16, 2006 In the Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.




SUMMARY:
• The US State Department Report confirms what the PNCR already knows - that 50% to 60% of the economy is based on money emanating from drug activity and related illegitimate enterprises;
• The Act was amended to empower GECOM to use the 2001 OLE as the basis for Continuous Registration and to undertake the verification of the existence and residence of the persons appearing on that List.

JAGDEO PRESIDING NONCHALANTLY OVER GUYANA'S DESCENT INTO NARCO-STATEHOOD AND ANARCHY

Make no mistake; the recently published US Government Narcotic Control Report clearly states that Guyana has, in recent years, become a haven for drug lords. It has become a haven because the Jagdeo PPP/C Government, rather than maintain an arms length relationship with the drug barons, is facilitating their penetration of all sectors of the economy.

The US Drug Report specifically mentions the construction, distribution and forest-based industries as sectors receiving major investment and activity from known drug interests. This is so because the Jagdeo PPP/C Government consistently turns a blind eye and, in some instances, actively encourages the investment of millions of dollars made from drug trafficking activity and the proceeds of crime

The US State Department Report confirms what the PNCR already knows - that 50% to 60% of the economy is based on money emanating from drug activity and related illegitimate enterprises. It has now been firmly established that the legitimate economy is being increasingly displaced by drug money, while the Jagdeo Government sits idly by, reaping their own rewards from narco-criminality.

The fact that the State Department has found it necessary to publish a Drug Report, which implies that the Jagdeo Government is complicit in the expansion of the interests of drug lords, is a very significant development. Such a damning Report will form part of the Guyana Country Economic Profile and will inform foreign investors and all international and regional bodies. It is well known that foreign investors turn away from increasing insecurity, corruption and illegitimacy, particularly where fragile economies like Guyana's are concerned. Eventually the drug contagion could spread throughout Guyana. As inward investors stay away and legitimate local businesses become unable to compete with drug investments, Guyana will face not merely an economic downturn, but recession and financial calamity. In other words, our fledgling economy will implode under the weight of narco-activity.

The backwash - in terms of lost jobs, greater unemployment, bankruptcies, falling share and property prices - will be matched only by the upsurge in crime. Anarchy will follow as different drug lords vie for control, perhaps, using a strategy of "divide and rule" to incite ethnic discord, corruption and eventual control of the State.

The US State Department understands these trends much more than we do, based on situations that have already played out right here in South America, as well as other parts of the world. Their Drug Report is most compelling in its affirmation that "the drug trade generates violent armed groups who act as if they are above the law and threaten Guyana's fragile democracy....” The Report also states that "drug traffickers may be using their ill-gotten gains to acquire political influence...."

As is to be expected, the Jagdeo regime’s spin doctors, located in GINA and Freedom House, have mounted their damage control campaign, starting with a pathetic one page ad, in the daily newspapers of March 12, 2006, to counter the damning US State Department Report. The expensive one-page ad has a decidedly hollow ring to it, especially when the Governmental propagandists deliberately try to misrepresent and rationalize important elements of the Drug Report.

The Jagdeo Government's many failures originate in the conception and practice of serving self rather than meeting their public obligations and responsibility to the Guyanese people. No account of their membership of International Organisations, or being a Party to Conventions related to narcotic drugs, or their participation in bilateral/multilateral agreements or initiatives, can convince the Guyanese public that the PPP/C Government does not enjoy an intimate, some would claim symbiotic, working relationship with narco-criminals and that members of the Jagdeo clique are not beneficiaries from their expansion into every important sector of the country's economy.

Yet, while newspapers ads can protest that every accusation of inaction, cover-up, obfuscation and failure to cooperate with agencies like the DEA, is in itself defensible, each is framed by the same weakness: counter narcotics efforts hampered and hamstrung by the Jagdeo Government's self interest. This explains the commitment of the US Government to channel future assistance only to initiatives that demonstrate success in interdicting drug flows and prosecuting drug traffickers.

The Government's efforts, to date, at containing drug crime have been spectacularly poor and ineffectual. It is now international knowledge that, due to the PPP/C Government’s mal-administration and insatiable corruption, Guyana now finds itself in a spiral of insecurity. With drug lords expanding their economic base and armed presence, the national security capacity has been eroded and will continue to be eroded, thereby attracting further interest and investment from the drug trade.

The evil and corrupt Jagdeo PPP/C Government is singularly to blame for this state of affairs and no protestations of innocence, using newspaper ads and ministerial confessions, will explain away the greed and hypocrisy that define its 14 years in government.

The agonising experience of living through our own dear Guyana's physical collapse must be brought to an end by the Guyanese electorate at the 2006 Elections.

ELECTIONS UPDATE

The day of reckoning is upon us. As the PNCR has been saying for the longest while, any election to be held must be of acceptable international standards.

On every occasion when the GECOM technical staff was asked to make proposals for the preparation for Elections, they proposed verification as an integral part of the process. And, on each of those occasions the Chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally sought to jettison discussions on those proposals or to ignore them all together. This attitude has been the complete opposite to undertakings that Surujbally has given to the Joint Parliamentary Opposition. For example, he gave an undertaking at the time of the introduction of the amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act that verification would be undertaken. That was the context in which the Act was amended to empower GECOM to use the 2001 Official List of Electors (OLE) as the basis for Continuous Registration and to undertake the verification of the existence and residence of the persons appearing on that List.

There are those who wish to subvert the holding of an Election that is transparently Free and Fair. Those are the interests who would wish to confuse verification with the identification of Voters on Elections Day. There is a reservoir of names of persons on the 2001 OLE who are not verified to be in existence or to have exhibited an interest to be on the New Voters` List. This provides an opportunity for mischief on Elections Day and it is that kind of mischief that some seem to be bent on protecting. It is exactly that sort of mischief that the PNCR will not countenance. The battle is truly on, therefore, for a Voters` List that guarantees an Election that is transparently Free and Fair.

The PNCR will not flinch from this demand!


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, March 16, 2006