Saving sugar

first_imgThe anguish of the 5700 sugar workers thrown into the breadlines in the last year has begun to inevitably manifest itself into social pathologies, such as suicide, domestic violence, divorce, depression, alcohol and drug abuse etc. The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has only now announced it will introduce counselling services to the fired workers and their families: but this is dealing with the symptom and not the disease.The disease denies a job to a demographic whose self-worth is intimately related to their ability to take care of their responsibilities, primarily supporting their families financially. Any effective and sustainable intervention to the sugar catastrophe must provide employment to the fired workers. But especially in Berbice and West Bank Demerara where 5000 of the 5700 fired workers are located, at the very best, it will take years to create new employment.What has made the recent posturing of the Government and GuySuCo even more callous is there has been no dearth of proposals to provide alternatives even before the imminent closure of Wales was exposed by this newspaper in December 2015. Speaking at the Indian Arrival Day commemoration in May 2015, Prime Minister Designate, Moses Nagamootoo, declared:“Our ancestors worked very hard and today we still have their descendants on the sugar estate working very hard and of course they deserve to reap the contributions made by their ancestors and they don’t need to be afraid that the factory may be closed and that they may be out of jobs. They need to be guaranteed that even if there is factory closure on the sugar estates that the land must first go to the sugar workers. Let them choose if they want to grow cane on it, let them choose if they want to rear fish on it or they want to rear cattle on it. The land belongs to the ancestors of our Indian foreparents who worked in the sugar industry…”This devolution of sugar lands to sugar workers had long been proposed to address the historic travails of sugar workers. In 1951, Arthur Lewis, who was to awarded the Nobel prize in Economics for his contribution to Developmental Economics, issued a pamphlet, “Issues in land Settlement”: New forms of organisation must be tried and tried urgently. In Puerto Rico, the Government has shown itself alive to the fact, and is greatly to be praised for taking the initiative in experimenting with the “Proportional Profit Farm”. In the British territories, on the other hand, governments are content to meet a succession of disturbances with a succession of commission of inquiries.This is not good enough… New forms must be created which will take the West Indian sugar industry “out of politics” in the sense of earning general acceptance, or the West Indian community will sooner or later simply tear itself into pieces and destroy the sugar industry in the process.”Lewis pointed to the experience of Fiji in organising a more viable sugar industry which was at the same time much more humane in its involvement of labour to ensure they received a better life, by facilitating the workers to become farmers: “Some people believe that this is the system which will eventually supply the West Indies with a solution to the problems of its sugar industry. A large-scale agency will plough the land, control irrigation, supply seedlings and fertilisers, organise harvesting, and operate factories while peasants (small farmers) will plant and cultivate the crop on their own account, subject to charges for services performed.The peasants (farmers) will have a representative Council, but this will not take over the functions of the agency. In Fiji and the Sudan, the agency has been a private company, but it might equally be a public corporation, as it is now to be in the Sudan.”In February 2016, after Government reneged on its pre-election promise on sugar, a symposium at Moray House proposed an identical model to the Lewis proposal. Yet the Government has remained silent. Why?last_img read more

Area rep vows friendship

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson As politicians scramble to distance themselves from Abramoff – who pleaded guilty last week to charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and wire fraud in a sweeping influence-peddling case – Rohrabacher, a Republican, remains unwaveringly loyal to his pal of 25 years. But that loyalty is raising eyebrows among his political detractors, who question Rohrabacher’s relationship with Abramoff and plan to make it a campaign issue. “A lot of us are scratching our heads as to why Rohrabacher has become the chief defender of Abramoff,” said Frank Barbarao, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party. Still, it remains unclear whether any guilt-by-association concerns will stick in Rohrabacher’s heavily Republican 46th District, which spans Huntington Beach and Long Beach. Constituents re-elected Rohrabacher in 2004 with 62 percent of the vote. And political analysts said they doubt voters will abandon Rohrabacher if fidelity to Abramoff is his only taint in the federal investigation into public corruption in Washington, D.C. Some predicted voters may even like it. “It says that at least the guy has a sense of loyalty. He isn’t being disingenuous, and people appreciate that,” said University of Southern California political scientist Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. Abramoff had friends aplenty when he was a high-flying power broker, wining and dining politicians at his downtown D.C. restaurant Signatures, where the slow-roasted rack of lamb simmered in Japanese eggplant went for $32 and the goat cheese beignets for $11. He paid for golf outings and arranged overseas trips for Congress members and their wives, while stuffing their campaign coffers with hefty donations. But when a Senate committee in 2004 began investigating the excessive fees Abramoff charged American Indian tribes by trading off his GOP ties, friendships dissolved. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – who once referred to Abramoff as one of his “closest and dearest friends” – told reporters: “If anyone is trading on my name to get clients or make money, that is wrong.” Montana’s Burns, who accepted $150,000 from Abramoff and his clients, fumed to a home-state television station that he wished the lobbyist “had never been born.” Only Rohrabacher consistently maintained Abramoff’s innocence. He told one newspaper that Abramoff was a “fine man,” another that the lobbyist was getting a “raw deal” from a vicious press. Now that Abramoff has pleaded guilty and faces a lengthy prison term and payment of $25 million in restitution to former clients, Rohrabacher allows that Abramoff made “mistakes.” Still, he said, it has no bearing on their relationship. “He’s made some serious mistakes and some bad decisions. Now he’s going to have to pay the price. That doesn’t make him not my friend,” Rohrabacher said. The two met in the 1980s when Rohrabacher was working for President Reagan as a speechwriter and Abramoff was president of the College Republicans. “He was very active for us in the Reagan White House, and I was very involved in supporting those efforts,” Rohrabacher said. “He was also very active in helping those groups that were involved with fighting the communist troops.” Over the years, the two became close. Rohrabacher accepted $7,500 in campaign contributions from Abramoff dating back to 1996, according to federal campaign records. In 2000, the congressman provided a personal reference for Abramoff when the lobbyist was seeking financing to purchase the SunCruz Casino line. In December, Rohrabacher said he called Abramoff at home to offer moral support. He said they did not discuss the case or the likelihood of Abramoff offering a plea agreement, which by then was being widely discussed in the media. “I called him during the holiday season to try to bolster his spirits a bit, and they needed bolstering,” Rohrabacher said. Veteran political analyst Norman Ornstein praised Rohrabacher for refusing to distance himself from Abramoff even as the evidence against him mounted. “With Dana Rohrabacher, what you see is what you get. This is not somebody who is going to say, `I’m shocked, shocked,’ as so many members have – none of which passes any smell test. “Frankly,” Ornstein added, “Dana was bilked in the sense that he genuinely believed that Jack Abramoff was a good guy.” Claremont-McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney likened the situation to President Harry Truman of Missouri attending the funeral of Kansas City mob boss Tom Pendergast despite the howling of critics, out of a “sense of personal loyalty.” Rohrabacher declined to comment on the analogy but, he said, the newfound distance of Abramoff’s former friends has not escaped his notice. “It’s human for people,” he said. “And maybe it’s a sad commentary on the human condition that people desert their friends when they’re in trouble, especially if the trouble is caused by bad decisions. “I’m saddened by this whole thing, that a friend of mine has made very serious mistakes and bad decisions that now caused his life to be totally turned upside down.” Rohrabacher said he is returning Abramoff’s political donations but will “continue to be a friend with a friend who is in trouble.” Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush calls disgraced Capitol Hill superlobbyist Jack Abramoff “outrageous.” Montana Sen. Conrad Burns calls him “a bad guy.” Thousand Oaks Rep. Elton Gallegly calls him a “scoundrel.” Orange County Rep. Dana Rohrabacher calls him “friend.” last_img