Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Michael Rudder
The following was first submitted as a letter in May 2014. Has anything been done or changed?
Have you ever had a dream so big you could not imagine it coming into being in your lifetime? Many years ago – late 70’s – I had such a dream for Guyana. I was attending a UNESCO/Guyana sponsored conference in Georgetown. That government was represented by the affable minister Shirley Field Ridley Green and her staff.
Part of the schedule was a trip by air to Kaieteur Falls and to Kimbia then the main compound for the
As we flew over swathes of Guyana, I had a dream of one day being on a flight over that country and as we gained height and left one city the lights of another would be reflected in the distant skyline.
I also had a dream that the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean could collectively lease and populate, by strict means, one hundred square miles of land– to start with – for the purposes of proper ecological development; of course, now made much easier with access to solar and wind energy and soon other means.
Indeed, the land of Guyana could easily be populated by all the people of the Caribbean and would not be overcrowded, but that is not what my dream was all about, neither was it to be a Jones Town situation with a Cat
named “Fat” in charge.
How can I even think about sending people to that South American country when we recognize that we are an aging population here?
You ask. Well, we had no problem sending people out in droves in 2008 whether they were artisans, labourers, nurses or other professionals, now six years later calling for “more babies.”
Unlike some people who have no problem with Bajans taking up citizenship in any other country but resist the reverse prospect of others coming here to settle, I see us as an international immigrant hub.
In addition to proper ecological development in the leased area in Guyana I suspect that some may want to challenge the land in some get-rich quick activity like gold mining.
We need to remember, however, that artisanal and small-scale gold mining – gold mining without industrial equipment – is one of the largest sectors for mercury use globally.
At least 13 million people worldwide, including children, work in artisanal gold mining and use mercury to extract gold from the ore. Children as young as six work with mercury on a regular basis, with little or no knowledge
of its health effects.
Mercury attacks the central nervous system, causing tremors and twitching, memory loss, brain damage, or other neurological and behavioral disorders. It can also damage the kidneys and the lungs.
Mercury is particularly harmful to children and can cause developmental problems and irreversible brain damage. Under international human rights law, work with hazardous substances and processes is classified among the worst forms of child labour.
This we should avoid. It means that those who would sub-lease must be properly evaluated for frontier living with a willingness to learn from the indigenous peoples.
Those many years ago I saw you, me but not a Cat named “Fat” taking up the Guyana challenge. Now, I guess it’s just you. Are you willing? More to the point, however, we wonder if politicians could ever agree to a lease and work to bring it to fruition? That might take you, me AND a Cat named “Fat.”