Guyana: Dirty Laundry?

The new President of the United States is the Caribbean‘s darling, but the President of Guyana is having a tougher time of it. Ridiculed for asking the police to track down the creators of a false Facebook page that bears his name and criticized for his government's poor response to the country's recent floods, the latest controversy to plague him comes in the form of his ex-wife spilling the beans about their stormy personal relationship and Mr. Jagdeo's alleged failure to provide her with a divorce settlement. Bloggers, of course, are all over the story…

Living Guyana was first on the ball, republishing the entire text of Varshnie Singh's press conference statement, the contents of which left him feeling “conflicted”:

The day after the Obama inauguration: on the one hand the world seems on the right path…and what a lovely family, with that adorable Sasha. Then our heart is weighed down by the revelations of domestic abuse by our own President and we feel there is no hope for this country when the person in charge can be allegedly so petty, so vindictive, so cheap and hard hearted to a woman whom he promised to care for through thick and thin.

What hope then for us his subjects whom he does not even know?

The blogger was unimpressed with the official response from the Office of the President, but seemed more concerned about the fallout that he anticipates from the women of Guyana:

The pity is that we can already feel the backlash coming..not from the President whose press release spoke volumes with its silence over the private matters, but rather from women in Guyana who will now rally like a hundred mindless concubines around Jagdeo, while casting this woman as some outsider who came from England and did not ‘know how to look after she man’.

For the most part, bloggers appear to be empathetic towards the former first lady. Living Guyana, for instance, calls the mainstream media's reaction to the story “tame”:

It plays down the substantive issues Varshnie Singh-Jagdeo raised yesterday. It almost completely ignores the progressive marital neglect and domestic abused the woman suffered at the hands of President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Additionally it carries President Jagdeo's response in full. Very, very suspicious and we also notice the deliberate move to exclude this matter from the front page but overplaying the Barack Obama inauguration.

Perhaps some enterprising reporter should investigate why this article almost did not even make it into Kaieteur News as Mr. Harris, the editor-in-chief argued that it was a ‘private matter’. He was forced to include it after there was major uproar in the newsroom last night with reporters forced to issue threats of resignation if the article was not carried.

The blogger then publishes a series of posts ruminating on specific details of Singh's statement, culminating in a post that details the former first lady's twelve demands.

Meanwhile, diaspora blogger Signifying Guyana offers a female perspective:

Why should you care? Because she knows about your greater pain.

Varshnie Singh is a former First Lady who has unquestionably volunteered her services to the sick and infirm in Guyana. She has spent time with them and their families, and she has been a part of their lives. She has to be very knowledgeable about the lives of the disadvantaged and the abused in Guyana.

She has spoken bravely because you can't. She has gotten people to listen because you can't. She can get this message to a larger audience: If the President of Guyana can treat his wife with such private and then public contempt, by not seeing it fit to address her accusations of neglect and abuse in their marriage, then how can he be expected to care about abused women in Guyana?

She has done this because she knows you can't.

Guyana 911, however, tries to look at the situation from the President's point of view:

This is what I have concluded in a few words:

It's unfair of anyone to classify Mr. Jagdeo as a monster based on allegations. Some things can be classified as either true or false rather easily. Other things are allegations and should be treated with an open mind. So what if Jagdeo is accused of being mean and not speaking to her? This could be as true, or inversely, false or an emotional exaggeration. Whichever you prefer.

We are glad she has a big dream to help and such. But she was impractical in her approach to it and Mr. Jagdeo failed to give her the informed memo. Just because she has a dream of doing something good doesn't mean everyone should jump onto her bandwagon to make it possible. We all have dreams.

Government isn't supposed to jump on board and provide vehicular resources. Government is not required to provide an office in the Office of the President. Government is not supposed to sponsor her charity related over seas trips. Government is not required to provide a location for her fund raiser. There isn't land in the interior waiting for someone with a vision to do something with it. Her being allowed to stay in State House after the separation is at Mr. Jagdeo's discretion.

The debate rages on in the Guyanese blogosphere: private or public matter? A woman scorned or an unfeeling husband? As is the case with the presidency of Barack Obama, only time will answer the lingering questions.


  • It is unfortunate that such issues dog Jagdeo. However, after 10 years in office it is almost inevitable that personal issues will be publicised. Nonetheless, private matters shouldn’t distract the Guyanese from the leadership abilities of Jagdeo (his anti-corruption drive and vocal opposition to CARIFORUM are two recent examples).

    Craig Dylan

  • rick

    jagdeo is doing a good jod .there is no douth about that .
    but there are people out there who wana put you down .and for them there is nothing but feiler.

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