John W. Kennedy, associate news editor, recently traveled to Guyana, which relief experts fear might become another Haiti with chronic problems that could mushroom into crises.
The smells of poverty in Georgetown, Guyana, on the Atlantic coast of South America, waft 25 miles out of town to the international airport, where we arrive around midnight on a steamy Wednesday. The odor of sewage and rubbish is a constant companion on the bus ride from the airport into Georgetown.
Oddly enough, apparently not all businesses are failing to thrive in Guyana. The most modern-looking building visible on the route to Guyana's capital city is a large brewery.
Guyana's unfortunate claim to international notoriety came as a result of the horrific mass suicide-execution led by cultist Jim Jones in November 1978. In all, 911 died at the People's Temple's remote jungle site. Today, Guyana and its people are among the forgotten working poor of the world: not poor enough to draw the international news media as in Haiti, Bosnia, or Rwanda, and not resourceful enough to pull their country up by its own bootstraps.
Thirty years ago, civil war between blacks and East Indians put Guyana on the edge of economic collapse. Little has been accomplished to maintain the country's infrastructure since England granted the former colony independence in 1966.
For its first quarter-century, independent Guyana, the size of the state of Idaho, was governed according to Marxist economics, with disastrous results. In recent years, the transition to a free market has been rocky at best. Guyana rivals Haiti as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Public streets are piled high with garbage. The government does not have enough money to pay sanitation workers or ...1
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