HAMILTON Green, who is currently the mayor of Georgetown, Guyana and a former prime minister, has said that the level of corruption in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago is very deep.
Green, 78, was in Trinidad over the weekend at the invitation of the Guyanese club at the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) in Maracas Valley, St Joseph.
He has had a political career spanning more than 50 years and remembers the struggles, riots and strikes that were common in the run-up to Guyana's independence on May 26, 1966. He was a government official when former president Forbes Burnham led Guyana from independence until his death in 1985.
A father of 11 children, Green was prime minister of Guyana from 1985 to 1992.
He addressed an auditorium packed with young Guyanese nationals on Saturday night who regaled him with Guyanese folk songs before welcoming him to the podium. While he at times used humour as he gave anecdotes of his life in political office, the keynote address took on a more serious tone when Green made several references to corruption in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, which he said was "very deep". Green then issued a challenge to the students.
"The level of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana is deep, very deep. These two countries are rich in natural resources. There is no need for poverty. Why should there be this gap between the haves and the have-nots? We cannot afford to be silent. Young people have to start being proactive and stop being so polite. When people see wrongdoing, speak up," he said. Green told his young audience that they would be doing a disservice to their communities, if, in the face of "wicked, greedy and evil men", they remain silent and not speak out.
"As university students, it's your advocacy that would determine the road ahead for Trinidad and Guyana. You must push politicians to do what is right for the sake of your children and my grandchildren. Think of the role you would like to play to make Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the world a better place so that your children and grandchildren can look at your grave years later with pride," Green said.
Green also called on the students, many of whom come from small communities in Guyana, to give back to those very communities that nurtured them. He lamented that too many graduates have lost the zeal to return to their home country to help others who have not been as fortunate as they have.
"Go back into these communities and help save the young women and men used by the drug lords and who are tempted to see the wrong side of life. There is so much out there to be done but you must not be daunted, the longest road begins with a single step," Green told the audience.
Associate professor at the School of Social Sciences at the USC, Dr Letroy Cummings, said Green's call was well-timed.
"He was making a call for the students to eventually return home, give back and make a meaningful contribution to their home country. He's reminding the students that Guyana needs their skills. The Caribbean right now is suffering from a brain drain," Cummings said.