A New Domestic Spying Unit?—Dr. David Hinds
Whenever a government acts in such a secretive manner as the Guyana government has done in this instance, it is not accidental. It is quite striking that the government came to the National Assembly with a done deal. What is even more striking is that the opposition seems to have been taken by complete surprise. Often the opposition would have been tipped off in advance by some informer on a matter like this. The extreme secrecy therefore suggests that this is a particularly sensitive operation that appears to have larger political implications and that is part of a larger scheme than meets the eye.
I don’t buy the government’s explanation that this is a routine crime-fighting initiative. Is the government saying that the regular police force is incapable of effectively fighting crime? Then, why not invest in upscaling or updating that capacity? Why form a new outfit?
I think this is part of the governments new strategy to ensure that it gets control of the country’s security apparatus. The PPP has historically been paranoid about its inability t command the loyalty of the predominantly African Guyanese armed forces. When it returned to power in 1992, it attempted without much success to encourage Indian Guyanese to join the police and army. It then transitioned to a strategy of co-opting sections of the top leadership—a strategy that from all appearances that was more successful. But given the fact that favored officers have retired, it now has decided on a new strategy of creating new structures
It should be remembered that during the budget debate, the government announced that it is drafting legislation to create a new border patrol unit ostensibly to supplement the GDF and the GPF.I think this new Regional Joint Support Team is part of that larger initiative to create parallel security units to the established ones. This is taking the criminalization of the State to a higher level —a case of the formal fusion of the outlaw elements into the legal security architecture.
I think it is an attempt aimed at transforming the paramilitary (phantom) forces from the previous PPP government into formal institutions—a case of bringing the phantoms out of the shadows into the formal State Apparatus. Note that the unit is located in the regions. That is quite significant.
I am willing to speculate with some confidence that this is a new domestic Spying Unit that is aimed ultimately at curbing political dissent under the guise of crimefighting. This is a very worrying development for two reasons. First, it broadens the government domination praxis beyond the political executive to the armed forces. Second, it is the beginning of a new over-militarized State and Society. Guyana has been down this road before. But now in the era of Oil in the context of a new domestic and geo-politics and economic dispensation we are seeing the rise of enforcer-institutions aimed at facilitating and enforcing the misappropriation of our oil-wealth and at frustrating and putting down dissent.
The government’s virtual closing down of the National Assembly and only opening it to rubber-stamp the administration’s nefarious initiatives are now being seen for what they are. These are dangerous times for our country.