Guyana's Past Coming Back To Haunt It

I'm on my second day in Georgetown. Remarkable city; a national capital dominated by two story, peaked-roof wooden houses, many with ornate gingerbread trimming (the influence of Dutch and British colonialists), but up on stilts. Cars, trucks, scooters and the odd horse-drawn carriage clog the streets. The shops you pass range from internet cafes and cellular phone stores to stores selling mining equipment. Children play on open fields in the city center while cows and horses graze nearby. The clash of epochs here is disorienting.

The other thing that's remarkable is that there's no one here. Not literally, but the country's entire population is like 760,000 people, that's a medium-sized city in the states. As a local journalist here explained, that makes holding the goverment accountable difficult, because official entitites don't want to be seen as being critical of other official entitites. When I asked why, he answered "Because we're a village." And there's a lot of explaining to do. This country may be small, but there's a drama unfolding of epic proportions.

The community is dogged by lack of closure to allegations it was tacitly involved in a series of extra-judicial killings meant to clamp down on a percieved crime wave a few years ago. The repercussions, a criminal gang that has been attacking police stations and villages, might be the blowback from that period.

That said, people are unfailingly polite, which makes it easier to ask tough questions.