Headlines      Issue Released May 21 2003

Disapproval: This group of protesters from ROAR Toronto carried out a picketing exercise at the location of the Guyana Festival last Saturday while the “Flag Raising Ceremony” was on. The picketers sought to focus on the ongoing crimes that have enveloped Guyana over the past year

 

Heydorn heads for the Festival

 

By Bernard Heydorn

 

Toronto This past weekend I attended the Guyana Independence Festival in Toronto which is always a gala event. May 26 this year marks the 37th year of Guyana’s independence.

There was an Awards Dinner and Dance on May 16. Receiving awards were: Mr. Justice Vibert Lampkin, an old boy and former teacher of St. Stanislaus College; the Ramblers (Serrao brothers Bing, Bernie and Maurice), Guyana’s longest standing band playing music for over 50 years; Norman Sue of Norman Sue Bakery, pioneer in Guyanese and West Indian baked products in Canada (over 25 years); Jennifer Sohan, a singer, originally from Port Mourant, Berbice; and Guyanese Christian Charities, long standing stalwarts in their contribution to many needy causes in Guyana.

Thousands attended the show and display at L’Amoreux Community Centre on May 17-18. For many, it was an opportunity to lime, meet old friends and acquaintances, and talk ol’ time story. During my display and sale of books, I had some interesting conversations and requests. Like the elderly gentleman who asked me to name the B.G. Cricket team of 1937. Man, I wasn’t even born then – my parents were barely married and I was a long way down the tube.

Or the lady who asked me to sing the tune that accompanied the death announcements on Radio Demerara. Who do these people think I am?

Then there was the guy whose eyes lit up when he saw my books with my name. As he got out his wallet, I thought, “A-ha! At last, a sale.” Instead, he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper, a cut out article from Indo Caribbean World that I had written several years ago about the musicians Los Indios Tabajaras. He had been carrying this article around with him all this time, with the odd chance of running into me, so he could ask me some questions about Los Indios.

Many Guyanese of all ethnicities and backgrounds were there, many bringing their children and grandchildren along, as they seek to connect and reconnect with the past and present.

I ran into a lady from New Amsterdam where I grew up, who remembered me as a small boy walking up and down Main Street like “a lost soul.”

One man asked me to send him a copy of all the articles I had written in Indo Caribbean World over the last 8 years! I had to disappoint him.

I met Guyanese residents from England, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New York, Guyana, and all across the diaspora – a truly exciting and enjoyable experience. With all the attention I was getting, a guy standing next to me said, “Man, you have a lot of fans.” “Fans, but no funds,” I mused.

Even though the cricket was cancelled because of ground conditions, folks stood around gaffing, liming, drinking, eating up the tasty food, and soaking up the music.

Luther Hansraj’s Cultural Extravaganza ‘All Hell Bruk Loose’ was a knockout and patrons got more than their money’s worth.

The Arts and Crafts caught my attention as usual. I ended up shopping an outboard motor boat made out of corkwood that they say floats on water but I cannot sit in it, not even in the bathtub. Also an indigenous CD by the Couchman Family – great music. I bought an authentic, one of a kind, hand-made electric violin, designed and crafted by Clarence Shuman of Guyana Native Craft. When I presented it to my wife, I said, “Now, you have to learn to play this violin, the way you play me, soft and sweet.”

She smiled and said, “Boy, you know how to sweet talk a woman.”

 

 

Kidnapped man found in Buxton

Georgetown — Viticharan Singh, a De Hoop, Mahaica businessman who was kidnapped from his home by a gang of four armed bandits was last Saturday rescued from a house in Buxton. Reports say that Singh looked “gaunt and weak” after the rescue operation carried out by the GDF.

Singh is one of a series of persons who have been kidnapped in the recent past all of whom always seemed to end up in the village of Buxton where the criminals appear to have a free hand in carrying on their gruesome occupations.

No one has been prosecuted in any of these kidnappings so far even though the FBI was in Guyana to investigate the abduction of a high profile US embassy official.

Singh, who operates a liquor and grocery store at De Hoop, was grabbed from his home at around 6 p.m. on May 13 and bundled into a dark Marino car. A GDF patrol intercepted the
 

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US Embassy mulls staff reduction

Georgetown — Impotence in the response capability of the Guyana security forces in the face of rising violent crimes has led the US Embassy here to consider reducing its complement of diplomatic personnel in the country.

U.S Ambassador to Guyana, Ronald Godard, made this disclosure at a press conference last Friday stating that the inability of the law enforcement agencies to offer adequate protection would result in his office cutting back on its staff.

The Ambassador was discussing the Embassy’s updated Consular Information Sheet, which informed American citizens of the increase in Guyana’s crime rate. “US Citizens should avoid stopping or travelling to the village of Buxton...as it is known as a base for criminal activity,” the report urged.

On April 12, 2003 US Diplomat Stephen Lesniak was kidnapped by two armed teenagers while playing golf at Lusignan. Lesniak was taken to Buxton and released after a ransom of $12 million was paid.

This, according to the Ambassador, was alarming and, taken with other kidnappings, has caused a shock to the international community in Georgetown.
The Consular Information Sheet warned that there is an increased threat of kidnapping for ransom and that foreigners, who are seen as “wealthy targets of opportunity,” are subject to random targetting. It pointed out that “Guyanese authorities lack the capability and resources to effectively deter or investigate these crimes.”

   

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