News Americas, BRONX, NY, Weds. Sept. 9, 2015: He flew high, feeling unencumbered by the travails and battering of more ordinary folks. And somewhere between the acquisition of millions and the hobnobbing with VIPs he forgot that the law has a way of clipping wings sprung on illegality and taking advantage of the voiceless and powerless.
His name is Ed Ahmad and he was once majesty of all that he surveyed. Today he is forced to snitch on his former associates in the good life as he contemplates many years as a ‘guest’ of the government and an accompanying hefty fine.
But Ed Ahmad is only one of many in our community who have risen to power and influence though wealth acquired in a variety of ways, some of them bordering on the criminal, some of them downright criminal and some of them at the expense of the voiceless and powerless, those who hustle to survive and often work two or more menial jobs in the process.
The list includes real estate moguls – agents, brokers, mortgage banks, lawyers, business persons and myriad others, many of whom were mentioned in an article by Guyanese journalist, Paul Sanders a few months ago. Indeed this ‘impressive’ list of Guyanese -Americans have placed Guyanese, Guyana and the Caribbean on the map in a manner that rivals the impact of those who have accomplished through dint of honest hard work, driven by determination and perseverance within the legal confines of society.
But what are the lessons to be inferred from this saga? Firstly there is the attitude that being engaged in criminal enterprises is ok if those ‘served’ benefit in some way for such undertakings. For example, a defense often offered by some in the real estate world is that without the efforts of the ‘criminals’ many would not have been able to own homes. But this reality is only a part of the picture.
Conveniently left out are the facts that the vast majority of those home owners, whose homes were acquired by bending the rules, eventually lost their homes, were left with damaged credit and ended up being worse off than they were before acquiring their homes. On the other hand most of those who got fat off this rule bending did not lose much even after the long arm of the law grabbed them.
Lesson number two relates to the fact that far too often too many Guyanese are too willing to justify wrong doing either foe self benefit or because the wrong doers have gained status because of their ill gotten wealth. In fact, even religious and community leader often sing the praises of these criminals because they and/or causes and institutions they support have materially benefitted from the generosity of those individuals. And so those who preach ethics and righteousness have often ended up sanctioning the opposite, seemingly comfortable with this obvious contradiction. In effected God and religion are often prostituted to wealth.
Thirdly, there is the emphatic fact that those who become rich by ill-gotten means have no qualms whatever in exploiting the voiceless, powerless and those who can least afford to be taken advantage of. And in this process they employ half-truths, pseudo logics and fuzzy math to persuade their victims into believing that their investments are safe, payments are affordable and the benefits are fabulous. Sadly when these victims do find out the truth they have very little scope for or zeal to engage in the struggle for justice and many of them struggle to recover from their loss.
In effect, given the level of tolerance, acceptance and defence of the practices that are illegal, unprincipled and unethical and of those who engage in such practices, one may ne tempted to say that a community deserves what/who it gets. However, the stark reality is that who tolerate, accept and defend such practices are usually not the victims, who, more often than not, do not fully understand that they are being taken and that their investments were risky. In the end, however, the simple fact remains that if one is not always guided by ethics, principles and morality then one has no one to blame but himself/herself, when one ends up being victimized.
And the final lesson, of course, is that honesty is a rare quality as it relates to a significant segment of the business and professional world so those would be clients must firstly do their research, know exactly what they are getting into and be in a position to understand the implications of any and all actions.
On that basis one can then decide whether one is willing to live with the any risks that may a part of any deal.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Annan Boodram is founder of The Caribbean Voice and is ardently putting the spotlight on suicide in Guyana. For more join the conversation atwww.facebook.com/groups/suicideepidemic/ or CHECK by IntelliTerm”” style=”width:7.5pt; height:7.5pt;visibility:visible;mso-wrap-style:square” o:button=”t”> out the group’s YouTube page.