Assassination of Courtney Crum-Ewing – Guyana – March 10, 2015
Photo Credit: Kaieteur News
On March 10, 2015, Courtney Crum-Ewing was gunned down during his one-man crusade in his neighborhood, calling on residents with a bullhorn to vote out the current government in the upcoming May elections.
Growing up in Guyana during our struggle for independence from Britain and over subsequent years under an authoritarian government, I was not surprised by this brutal act against an unarmed, political activist. One of the advantages of growing up in the administrative capital of a small developing nation was the opportunity to get a close up view of politicians and government in action.
At a young age, I learned that the government was not some entity separate from we-the-people, but rather an integral and vital part of our daily lives. When a government is efficient and effective in executing its diverse functions, no one notices its existence. Not so in a small struggling young nation where bad roads took lives; where a movie at the cinema was cut short due to an unexpected blackout; where yards and streets flood during heavy rainfall; where tap water was red in color but declared safe to drink; where the importation of wheat flour was banned for lack of foreign currency… I could go on and on.
I learned that good governance depends upon politicians who place the needs of the people and nation before their personal gains. Corrupt politicians—those who receive kickbacks from local and foreign contractors and consultants, as well as pocket a percentage of foreign investment loans for their personal enrichment—bankrupt the nation, disrupt law and order, and foment moral decline.
I learned that political power in the hands of unscrupulous and narcissistic individuals lead to abuse of power and impunity. Such individuals have no qualms in silencing and executing those who threaten their authority.
I learned that control of the media, public and private, prevents the dissemination of information of vital importance to the population: poor governance, corrupt politicians, failures within the system, and abuses of power.
I learned that when politicians of opposition parties cannot work together in the interest of the nation, the entire system falls apart. With the collapse of law and order, the country becomes the playground of the world’s underworld and exploitative corporations.
I learned that when there is free and fair elections—without intimidation and with foreign oversight—our vote counts. When we fail to cast our vote, we empower those voters who have a personal stake in the current system of influence, abuse, and impunity.
Courtney Crum-Ewing was prepared to go it alone in protesting the abuse of political power and to wake up the population from their apathy. Honor his sacrifice by going out to vote on May 11, 2015. His life mattered. Your life matters. The lives of your children matter.