Guyana’s controversial MP Bond in hot water
Guyana’s opposition MP James Bond is responsible for Legal Affairs including Constitutional Reform; Public Law; Justice Improvement; Criminal Justice System; Legal Aid; and Labour Relations. He is often referred to as a rising star in politics in Guyana. Although he had been a PNCR party member for some years, he burst onto the scene with his audacious primary bid as the PNCR’s presidential candidate in the Nov 2011 general elections. His failed bid netted him a paltry twenty votes, but his boldness would not go unnoticed. Shortly after, he threw his support [what little there was] behind Brig. David Granger, and soon took to the streets campaigning visibly for the APNU. Although APNU lost the cabinet, they along with the AFC opposition party claimed a one-seat majority in the Parliament. James Bond was then rewarded with one of the 26 PNCR MP seats under the current closed list system of representation which all the political parties in Guyana support.
Even then, Bond was no stranger to controversy. Before he became MP, he had already been involved in several questionable exploits, but shortly thereafter found himself before the courts for an alleged brutal assault on a local citizen over a disagreement about his wife. The case was later dismissed but Bond’s troubles didn’t end there.
Amidst [ongoing] rumors of gambling, wife beating, and associations with questionable characters in the drug trade in Guyana, he soon found himself in yet another controversy. In early August 2012, Bond publicly thanked the notorious Gerry Gouveia for a “wonderful” weekend spent at his holiday resort and nature reserve in Guyana. Although widely ignored by the local media in Guyana, online medium BenschopRadio.com picked up the story and exposed James Bond to rightful criticism. As Bond declared his desire to “reach across the aisle” and “build bridges” with the PPP, he was reminded of Gerry Gouveia’s widely known reputation for associating with drug baron Roger Khan [also reported in the Wikileaks cables], his widely publicised friendship with former President Jagdeo resulting in his acquisition of the assets [Duke Lodge] of the people of Guyana far below market prices. Gerry Gouveia’s characteristically highly publicised organization of a private military organization during the elections raised the ire of local citizens and the eyebrows of international media along with his seeming inability or unwillingness to put an end to the non-stop drug trafficking though the Cheddi Jagan International Airport where he holds the contract for baggage handling and airport operations.
Only three weeks later, one of Gerry Gouveia’s managers was busted for cocaine trafficking at the Cheddi Jagan airport. Alarmed at risk of being identified by US State Department as an entity porous to drug trafficking and potential terrorism into the United States, Gouveia sprang into action and created an internal commission of inquiry to investigate the incident, and naming James Bond as the chair of that commission. Gouveia wasted no time pointing out that Bond is an opposition MP, thus providing a level of credibility which Gouveia desperately needed to fend off the growing suspicions of a massive drug trafficking operation being run using his businesses.
So today, we have the crafty Bond – who should instead be spending his time advocating for the people of Guyana as he is paid by taxpayers to do – publicly accepting favours and freebies from one of the country’s most notorious and sleazy characters. This writer is not aware whether Bond’s shenanigans have risen to the attention of the leader of APNU, but under the current system Bond’s exploits certainly warrant closer scrutiny if not outright recall from his parliamentary seat. The problem is, the recall responsibility is ill-positioned. Like the closed list system which is a scourge to democracy in Guyana, the recall ability should lie with the citizens Bond purports to represent, and not with a party leader who may be pressured by others to sweep Bond’s activities ‘under the rug’.
The recent activities of James Bond signal loudly that it is high time for APNU MPs to be chosen by the people they supposedly represent. This move alone would make MPs more responsive to the suffering of the citizens, make them beholden to the people and not to their respective party leaders, and reward MPs for getting into the communities, for working for the citizens they are supposed to represent, and for standing up aggressively and vigilantly for their constituents in Parliament – very little of which is happening today.
Instead, today we find ourselves in yet another sordid situation involving James Bond, who was almost certainly chosen to be an MP because he was loyal to someone on the MP selection committee, if not the party leader himself, a loyalty that could possibly allow party leaders to turn a blind eye to his nefarious activities.
The question remains whether Bond can be trusted to continue to support the agenda and duties of APNU. Is he compromised by his association with Gerry Gouveia? We do not know. What we definitely know is that what we have witnessed is certainly far from ‘above board’. What if Bond is “unavailable” for the next critical vote in Parliament? Who will pay the price? Whom should we blame?
Political shenanigans in Guyana will end only when constitutional reform has been fully accomplished. Local government elections must soon be organized. NDCs must once again report to the RDCs. MPs must be chosen by ‘the people’ in fully transparent elections, and the power to recall must reside squarely with the citizens of Guyana. Only then will the power truly be returned to the people of Guyana, and only then will Guyana honestly be able to call herself a true democracy.