Government of Guyana responds to alarmingly inaccurate syndicated regional editorial
The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana notes an identical editorial appearing in the Sunday, November 17th 2019, editions of Barbados’ Nation Newspaper and the Trinidad Express, both part of the One Caribbean Media group.
The Government of Guyana is alarmed at the numerous inaccuracies contained in the editorial which forms part of an apparent Stabroek News campaign to resurrect, misrepresent and regionalise an issue which has no merit and which has been debunked and settled in Guyana.
The editorial states, inter alia, “[f]or more than three months, Stabroek News has received virtually zero advertising from government agencies in sharp contrast to other newspapers,” and that “the newspaper received not a single government ad in October.”
This is wholly false. In the month of October, 2019 Stabroek News received a total of 171 advertisements from 23 government ministries, departments and agencies. Kindly see list of government advertisements placed in Stabroek News for that month when Stabroek News falsely claims it received no government advertising. Kindly also see attached a sample of the clippings of such government advertising.
On the very day when the syndicated editorial appeared, a total of 23 government advertisements, including full page advertisements appeared in Stabroek News. Kindly see copies of all government advertisements placed in Stabroek News on Sunday, November 17th, 2019.
For the period January 1 to November 18, 2019 the Government, through the Department of Public Information, remitted to Stabroek News the sum of GY$51,975,704 as payment for advertisements placed in that newspaper. This amount is in addition to advertisements placed directly with the newspaper by various government ministries, agencies and departments. This amount is far in excess of the amounts for previous years.
STABROEK NEWS REFUSED TO TAKE GOVERNMENT ADVERTISEMENTS
There are two central elements to this issue about which Stabroek News has not been forthright.
The first is that it was Stabroek News that unnecessarily prejudiced itself when, on May 22nd, 2019, it instituted a bizarre and unprecedented blockade of government advertisements from the newspaper. Please see attached letter from the newspaper to the Department of Public Information informing of the blockade.
See the response of the Government of Guyana on September 30, 2019 when this matter first arose. The response thoroughly debunks Stabroek News’ malicious and false assertions and provides comprehensive evidence to the contrary. We invite scrutiny of same.
STABROEK NEWS HAS BECOME POLITICALLY PARTISAN
Secondly, it is true, as stated in the syndicated editorial, that Stabroek News is a “newspaper widely respected for its record of independent journalism.” This record however it being severely tarnished under the editorship of Mr. Anand Persaud who has taken the newspaper down a politically partisan path.
Stabroek News, once the leading credible, independent newspaper in Guyana, has become nakedly partisan and anti-government. The evidence is plentiful. We provide a sample .
Mr. Timothy Jonas, a leading member of the newly formed A New and United Guyana (ANUG) political party is a member of the Board of Directors of the publisher of Stabroek News.
Mr. Ralph Ramkarran SC, the ANUG presidential candidate, is a prominent weekly columnist in Stabroek News who comments ad nauseam on political matters and political competitors (Stabroek News does not avail other political parties of similar space in its pages).
Dr. Henry Jeffrey, a senior executive of ANUG, is also a prominent weekly columnist in Stabroek News. He too comments ad nauseam on political matters and political competitors (Stabroek News does not avail other political parties of similar space in its pages).
It is evident that Stabroek News has become the de facto mouth piece of the ANUG and is using this contrived matter of advertising placement to manufacture a controversy which does not exist. Stabroek News has now sunken to the level of misinforming its regional counterparts with a view of furthering this campaign against the government of Guyana. It is clear too, that Stabroek News has resorted to political blackmail, under the cover of its baseless complaint of getting no state advertisements.
PRESIDENT GRANGER HAS ACTED CONSTITUTIONALLY AND OBEYED ALL COURT RULINGS
The syndicated editorial further stated, “[s]ince the government lost a no-confidence vote in December, Stabroek News has been uncompromising in its position that the Granger government was in breach of the Constitution by failing to call an election within the stipulated period.”
This matter had engaged the local courts and was appealed at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Guyana’s highest court of appeal. In its final ruling the CCJ made no declaration that President David Granger acted in breach of Guyana’s Constitution with regard to the holding of elections.
In its consolidated judgment (available here), the CCJ ruled, that, “[i]t is not, for example, the role of the Court to establish a date on or by which the elections must be held, or to lay down timelines and deadlines that, in principle, are the preserve of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives.”
Contrary to what is being peddled by Stabroek News and the political opposition, President Granger has, at all times, acted in strict accordance with Guyana’s Constitution and the rulings of the court.
Further, on the matter of the holding of elections, it is constitutionally the Guyana Elections Commission, which must signal its readiness to hold elections. GECOM, on September 19th formally advised President Granger that it would be ready to hold elections by the end of February 2020. On September 25th, President Granger declared March 2, 2020 as elections day.
The Government of Guyana trusts that the foregoing explanations and elucidations will be of benefit to the decision-makers at the OCM group and that the inaccuracies and errors contained in the syndicated editorial will be corrected and not repeated.
Under the Granger Presidency, Guyana has been restored to the status of a full democracy, with respect for human rights, especially the right to a free press. Until the stop order from Stabroek News on state advertisements, there was no complaint about the status of the plural, open and free media in Guyana. It suits the political agenda of Stabroek News to use its own brazen refusal to publish state advertisements as a contrived prop to discredit the government. Responsible media in the Caribbean must not fall for this ploy.