Check out this video – “Undiscovered Guyana”
Check out this video – “Undiscovered Guyana”
I thank Frank Parker, a former engineer and author of five self-published books who blogs from Ireland at http://franklparker.com/, for nominating me to take up the ‘Three Quotes for Three Days’ challenge.
The rules of the challenge are:
Due to time constraints, I will not be posting my quotes on three consecutive days, but rather one a week on Sunday. In keeping with the vision of my blog, I will share quotes from a Guyanese, Brazilian, and an American.
My first quote is taken from the 1969 poem, “A Mouth Is Always Muzzled,” by the social-political Guyanese poet Martin Carter (1927-1997).
But a mouth is always muzzled
by the food it eats to live.
The young Martin Carter came to maturity as a political activist during Guyana’s struggle for independence from Great Britain. While campaigning for the colony’s first mass-based, multi-ethnic, democratically-elected government, the young poet used his street corner meetings to educate his listeners about their social and economic condition and to bring together workers of different ethnicity. Continue reading
ExxonMobil Web of Climate Science Denial
Photo Credit: DeSmogBlog
In spite of scientific consensus worldwide that we must transition to cleaner forms of energy and to keep fossil fuel reserves in the ground, ExxonMobil shows no sign of winding down its oil and gas explorations. In May 2015, they announced a significant oil discovery in the Stabroek (Guyana) block about 120 miles (193 kms) offshore. What elation for the newly-elected Guyana government! For a poor developing country, the prospect of oil riches seems a lifeline.
This month, the great news circulated across the fossil fuel industry. “The United States Geological Survey ranks Guyana-Suriname as the world’s second-most prospective, underexplored offshore basin, with an estimated 13.6 Bbbl of oil and 32 tcf of natural gas yet to be discovered,” declared the Offshore Magazine on July 7, 2016.
The article further stated that: “ExxonMobil is reportedly moving Liza [exploration well on the Stabroek block] into the pre-front-end engineering and design phase. Despite low oil prices, analysts such as Douglas-Westwood agree a fasttrack development, while capital-intensive, could provide large potential returns on investment.”
ExxonMobil is by no means alone in its pursuit of more profits. While its affiliate Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Ltd. (USA) holds 45% interest, its partners Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. (USA) and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Ltd. (Canada/China) hold 30% and 25% interest, respectively.
Other players have also gotten on board. In January 2016, Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources signed a petroleum prospecting license and production-sharing agreement with the joint-venture team of Tullow Guyana BV (UK) and Eco (Atlantic) Guyana Inc. (Canada?) with 60% and 40% interest, respectively.
Commercial production is not expected to begin until another four years. That’s 2020. With continued record-breaking hot temperatures since 1880, Earth’s climate system already shows alarming changes. Rising sea levels, due to melting ice caps, is not good news for Guyana where the majority of the population lives along the low-lying coastal region. Will Guyana’s petrodollars come in time to relocate its capital and build a new port for the oil tankers?
While Guyana plans for its oil-rich future, ExxonMobil continues to fund climate science denial. Although they knew decades ago that carbon dioxide emissions from the use of their products could result in dangerous climate change impacts, ExxonMobil chose to deceive their shareholders and oil-addicted consumers.
During their presentation before the U.S. Senate on July 11 and 12, nineteen Senators repudiated the ways America’s largest oil and gas multinational corporation and others in the fossil fuel industry “developed a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that funded think tanks and front groups, and paid public relations firms to deny, counter, and obfuscate peer-reviewed [climate science] research.”
The degree of deception demonstrates the industry’s lack of moral values. To endanger the lives of millions of people across our planet is a crime against humanity. Could it be that ExxonMobil and its facilitators have become victims of their own deception?
What about the people of Guyana? What environmental risks do they face in the not too distant future?
May 26, 2016, marks fifty years since my native land of Guyana gained its independence from Great Britain. I was privileged to have witnessed the birth of our nation and to have shared the euphoria of a battle fought and won. As a teenager at the time, I also cherished the aspirations for our future, as expressed in the chorus of one of our patriotic songs of the sixties: “Guyana the Free” by Valerie Rodway.
All hail to Guyana, our country now free,
One people, one nation, one destiny,
We pledge every effort, we’ll cherish this earth
And make here a paradise – Land of our birth.
Guyana’s birth as a nation was fraught with racial enmity and violence between the two major ethnic groups: descendants of African slaves and East Indian indentured laborers. Members of the minority groups—Chinese, Portuguese, Amerindian, and people of mixed ethnicity (like my family)—were caught in the crossfire. Supporting one side made you an enemy of the other. Over the past fifty years, that racial enmity has continued to retard the realization of our national motto to become one people, one nation, one destiny.
East Indian Cane cutter – Guyana
Photo by John Gimlette (2013)
In honor of Guyana’s fiftieth Independence anniversary on May 26th, my Poetry Corner April 2016 features an excerpt from the poem “Sugar” by Guyanese poet and award-winning short story writer Ruel Johnson. His work largely focuses on social and political issues facing Guyana. In the long, multi-sectional featured poem, he addresses the legacy of colonialism on the enduring divide between the two major ethnic populations: the descendants of African slaves and East Indian indentured laborers.
In section 1—stalk, Johnson recalls his boyhood days growing up in the capital. Sugarcane was a sweet treat. His imagery of his mother whacking the stalk along the joints with her best knife takes us into the canefields. The sweet juice comes at a great price. Continue reading
Poison preferred method of suicide in Guyana
Photo Credit: Guyana Chronicle
In his article, “Guyana’s breakdown is connected to our high suicide rate,” published in Kaieteur News on February 6, 2016, Freddie Kissoon posits that an underlying cause of Guyana’s alarming suicide rate is “the political pessimism that has dogged this country since Independence.” Bear in mind that the controversial columnist, a former social science university lecturer, has been highly critical of the former ruling East Indian left-wing political party (1992-2015).
A small developing Caribbean nation with a declining population of less than 750,000 people (Census 2012), Guyana topped the chart of the World Health Organization’s 2014 report on suicide worldwide, based on data for the year 2012. With a suicide rate of 44.2 per 100,000 persons, Guyana beat South Korea (28.9) and Sri Lanka (28.8). At the time, Guyana’s health authority claimed a much lower rate of 34.7. The nation’s record represented almost four times the global average of 11.4 and over seven times the average of 6.1 for Latin American and the Caribbean. By gender, Guyanese men are much more prone to taking their lives than women with rates of 70.8 and 22.1, respectively. Continue reading
Cover of A New Look at Jonestown: Dimensions from a Guyanese Perspective
by Eusi Kwayana
November 18 marked the thirty-seventh anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. On that fatal Saturday in 1978, over nine hundred members of the Peoples Temple died from ingestion of cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid. Their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, died from gunshot wounds. Seven miles away, American Congressman Leo Ryan and four members of his party lay dead on the Port Kaituma airstrip.
After all these years, several questions about the tragedy remain unanswered. The then Guyanese Prime Minister of the socialist cooperative ruling party, declared the Jonestown Massacre “an American problem.” No Guyanese investigation was ever conducted. To fill this void, A New Look at Jonestown: Dimensions from a Guyanese Perspective by Eusi Kwayana will soon be released (see below for details of ordering copies). Continue reading
Blue Sky over the Georgetown Seawall and Shore – Guyana
Photo Credit: Joel Oleson /Traveling Epic! Blog
Growing up in pre- and post-independent Guyana, I had a tough mother with a vision of a better future for me and my four siblings. Without inherited wealth or property, her hope for securing our future lay in a good education. To achieve her goal, she worked long hours at home as a seamstress. No sacrifice was too great.
My mother was not unique. The majority of poor working class parents shared her vision. United in their determination to free themselves from British exploitation and rule, they were prepared to risk their lives by taking part in street demonstrations and workers’ strikes.
But the British were no fools. On granting us independence, they not only ensured that our young nation would remain tied to their navel-string, but they also set us up to fail. You see, we fell for their bait of racial divisiveness. Up to today, the descendants of African slaves and East Indian indentured laborers still harbor mistrust, hatred, and fear of the other. Continue reading
Map of Guyana: “Disputed Territory” (salmon-pink) claimed by Venezuela
Source: Caracas Chronicles
Guyana struck black gold in May 2015! American oil giant ExxonMobil estimates that their find amounts to at least 700 million barrels of crude oil, valued at US$40 billion, over ten times Guyana’s entire economy (GDP). The elation of Guyana’s newly-elected government was short-lived. Within weeks, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued a decree claiming sovereignty over the ExxonMobil’s drill site along with the rest of Guyana’s territorial waters off the Essequibo region. [That Guyana should keep it in the ground is another story.]
Venezuela persists in a belief that the entire region west of the Essequibo River, including the islands in the river, is rightfully theirs. With over 50,000 square miles of savanna and forest cover, the Essequibo Region makes up about two-thirds of Guyana’s total territory. Continue reading
Caution! Writer at Work
On Friday evenings when I draft my Sunday’s blog post, I usually don’t have trouble switching from writing fiction to non-fiction. This weekend was different. I had originally planned to write an article on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s official visit to the United States on June 29-30, 2015, but my head was in another place and time. Continue reading