Rapid cash

A one-time cash grant to fishermen solves nothing

Dear Editor,

On May 12, the UK Guardian published an article titled ‘We can’t eat a new road’, in which fishermen spoke about the drying up of their livelihoods and linked it to Guyana’s oil and gas sector. which functions and develops with blessings and total immunity and impunity. This link between oil and declining fish stocks was echoed by fishers in seven communities in Regions 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8, where grassroots Red Thread women work and live.

The government’s response to this increasingly public concern was to announce, to much fanfare, that fishermen will receive a one-time cash grant of $150,000, just over twice the monthly public sector salary. Line up with your bowls for alms, as Guyanese resources, our resources, are depleted, mined, destroyed, washed away and the rich get richer. When the one-time grant has been exhausted, what then? It doesn’t bring the fish back. The government “quoted” an FAO study to argue that the decline in fish stocks was not due to oil, but pending the release of the report, the FAO itself later described it as a ” rapid study” based on “available data” between 2020-2021. In other words, no definitive conclusion on a matter of such magnitude can be drawn from such a limited investigation.

A one-time cash grant to buy the silence of fishermen. Are we grateful? Meanwhile, the government continues to give the oil industry a free pass. To whom are they really responsible? What interests are they really protecting? Peter Tosh’s Downpressor Man is an apt anthem to what is happening, to the growing rift between our political leaders and the people, between rich and poor (one line says “you drink your big champagne and laugh”), at this time of climate change. The second and third verses in particular are what the fishermen told us.

Downpresser man – where are you going to run?

Downpresser man – where are you going to run?

Downpresser man – where are you going to run?

Throughout this day.

You will run to the sea

But the sea will boil

When you run to the sea

The sea will boil

You will run towards the rocks

The rocks will melt

When you run to the rocks

The rocks will melt

When are we going to listen and finally wake up? It’s not a question of if, but when. As the song says, “You can run, but you can’t hide.”


Alissa Trotz