By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 3, 2018: The New York Times is standing by its man Clifford Krauss, or at least his story, “The $20 Billion Question for Guyana,” despite the condemnation it continues to elicit in Guyana, in its US Diaspora and globally.
On Thursday, a spokesperson from The Times told News Americas: “We are confident in the accuracy of our story, which was rigorously reported.”
The spokesperson also added: “We have also seen a positive response to the article from various sectors of Guyanese society and are proud that it has spurred a healthy debate.”
The comment contrasts to the many commentaries, letters and tweets, including the Guyana Private Sector Commission (PSC)’s response to the publisher of the New York Times about the article this week. The outrage continues to grow over the description of Guyana as a “watery wilderness” with “musty clapboard towns,” “only three paved highways” and “a few dirt roads between villages” and where “children in remote areas go to school in dugout canoes and play naked in the muggy heat.”
Krauss, the Times’ national energy business correspondent based in Houston, Texas, also angered many by writing that: “A vast majority of college-educated youths emigrate to the United States or Canada, while those who stay behind experience high rates of H.I.V. infection, crime and suicide.”
The PSC slammed the description as “an indictment of the young people of Guyana” and in its letter to the Times’ publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, called the article: a “rare diversion from your publication’s well- established tradition of unbiased reporting.”
The PSC said, “even if Stevie Wonder were to visit Guyana he would see many more than three paved highways.”
“We are baffled as to how the writer could have concluded that Guyana has only three paved highways,” the PSC letter added.
The organization also criticized Krauss’ depiction of Georgetown, the country’s capital, as a clapboard city, pointing to the fact that many buildings in the city are considered historic wooden structures, including the historic St. George’s Cathedral, reputedly the tallest wooden building in the world.
Meanwhile, a senior executive at Invest Caribbean, the global private sector investment agency of the Caribbean which is developing investment opportunities throughout the region, told News Americas: “The New York Times is out of touch with reality. Guyana is a perfect example of a Caribbean nation with vast potential here in the 21st century.”
The organization said its founder and CEO, Guyanese born journalist and U.S. citizen entrepreneur, Felicia J. Persaud, also wrote the Times to lament the “disparaging” article.
“It is obvious from the first line in this article, that Mr. Krauss, unlike a real journalist, went to Guyana to cover this story with the preconceived colonialist notions most Americans hold of nations dubbed as ‘Third World,’” Persaud wrote, according to ICN, while adding that it is “nothing short of Fake News.”
“It’s almost as if he took Donald Trump’s alleged ‘S-Hole’ comment and applied it to Guyana as well,” the ICN CEO added. “His description is equivalent to visiting rural Alaska, Apache County, Arizona or some areas in the Appalachian Mountains in the US and then reporting that most Americans have out houses, no running water and struggle to eat.”
Guyana daily newspaper, the Stabroek News, also criticized the article, stating that Krauss’ piece reminds us that the ‘old order’ persists, particularly “doctrines fashioned in the womb of deep-seated prejudice.”
“Krauss, it seems, is a disciple of that enduring doctrine,” the paper added. “It is their way of continually re-marking an ingrained line between ‘First World’ and ‘Third World’ countries, between development and decadence. It is a behavioral ‘culture’ that is driven by a logic of its own and one which we on this side of the divide have always struggled to come to terms with.”
“Misrepresenting Guyana as ‘a place forgotten by time’ where ‘children play naked in the muggy heat’ denies its complexity,” Oneka LaBenette, Associate Professor at Cornell University, wrote on Twitter according to News Room GY.
Even as Guyana Chronicle columnist, Ronald Austin Jr., tweeted: “I can say as a graduate from the University of Guyana, I have not migrated and I [am] not infected with any disease. Just to make that clear.”
On Twitter, the hashtag, #LifeInTheWateryWilderness, continues to draw many critical comments on the article with Harold Bascom tweeting: “Why do you find it so easy to disparage Guyana?” while Cassie Chu used humor to respond to the article, posting a photo of her and a friend in a canoe at a resort with the comment: “Just another day in #LifeInTheWateryWilderness ?”
Krauss for his part has responded to Ronald Austin Jr., tweet by posting: “Stay in Guyana, your country can surely use your skill,” while tweeting letters from the Guyana Kaieteur Newspaper on July 27 from writers who seemed to support the article, with the tweet: “And still more thoughtful commentary from Guyana.”