According to the editorial below, Guyanese are leaving Guyana in drove. In the past people blamed Burham and the PNC government for the hardship. But we got a new and improved government, what is the problem. Why can we remain home and build our country. These foreign countries did not get where they are overnight. They made sacrifices and so should we. We come to these foreign shores with our qualifications and have to use it to wash dishes or look after old people in nursing homes. What the heck. What kind of life is this. Money is not everything.
Worrying migration trends
Almost every flight out of Guyana is full and this is a remarkable thing for a country that has few people and is reputed to have no money. The cost of an airline ticket is the equivalent of three months’ salary for a trained teacher just out of the Cyril Potter College of Education.
If measured across the board one would find that the very ticket costs more than three times what a police corporal earns. About seven times what a security guard earns in a month and the comparison can go on.
But for all this the planes are full and no less than ten planes leave the Cheddi Jagan International Airport each day. One would have been tempted to argue that there is a steady influx of visitors but the occupancy rates of the hotels do not reflect this. We may be tempted that investors are pouring into the country but this is not reflected in the pace of economic activity.
We may argue that the full planes are the result of people passing through Guyana from foreign lands, people who were forced to in transit. However, Guyana is not an in transit destination because not many international carriers pass through the airport.
The answer may rest in the number of overseas-based Guyanese who return to connect with their homeland. And there is word that as many Guyanese who live in the country live abroad. Since we do believe that is the case we can appreciate that Guyanese, no matter where they go, would always maintain a connection with their relatives who remain behind.
At the end of their visit, they leave their relatives slightly better financially, clothing that they could ill-afford to buy in the various boutiques, and of course, with dreams of how good it is to be overseas. The truth may be vastly different from what is touted but every time the overseas-based relatives leave, they leave something that would encourage their Guyana bound relatives to long to wipe the dust from their feet.
Before 1992, the People’s Progressive Party contended that the people of Guyana were running from a repressive People’s National Congress regime; that they were voting with their feet. The reason, according to the PPP, was that there were no jobs, poor pay, declining education; and no hope.
Last month, the United States embassy in Georgetown released some startling figures. They revealed that Guyanese are leaving at an alarming rate, even faster than they did in the Burnham years. Basic calculation showed that about fourteen Guyanese were leaving the country every day for the United States. And this does include the few businessmen or the rich who could afford a vacation. The figures are for people heading to take up residence in the United States. They do not include those seeking self-sponsorship to Canada or jobs in Barbados, Trinidad and Antigua.
This is most alarming when one considers that Guyana, with so much potential, seems to be heading into the wilderness. The level of illiteracy is growing and with it the crime rate, certain diseases, and unwanted pregnancies that could continue the vicious circle of poverty.
There was a time when Guyana was noted for its high level of academia and for the quality of people it produced. It was a country to which regional people flooded because conditions were so different from what operated in their homelands. Guyana offered them a new life; today it is a different kettle of fish. It is as if Guyanese are heading to the land of these Caribbean people in search of a better life.
Something has to be terribly wrong. The government says that the country is experiencing the pull factor; that those who fled during the Burnham years are now fulfilling their pledge to send for the set that remained.
But the analysts are noting that this could not be the case because the new government has been in place for nearly eighteen years—enough time to correct whatever factor caused the people to vote with their feet.
The heightened crime wave caused people to flee; the inability of the qualified to secure a job that paid commensurate with their qualification; and of course the declining academic standards have combined to chase people.
One would have expected an analysis of this situation but the government seems content to ignore it, to the detriment of the country. These are sad days.