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Visiting US Congressman hears of advancements in Mocha-Arcadia – Guyana Times

…meets with Pres Ali, visits Albouystown

Visiting United States (US) Congressman, Jonathan Jackson was on Tuesday given a tour of various areas in Georgetown and on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), where he met with residents of Mocha- Arcadia to hear their concerns.
The Illinois politician was accompanied by Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond; Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Kwame McCoy and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar.
Jackson, who visited the community at the request of President Dr Irfaan Ali, used his opening statements to reflect on the shared historical legacies of both the US and Guyana.
“I know our histories have so many parallels. I went by the statute of Emancipation, 1763, to see the abolitionist, Cuffy. It immediately shook my bones to think that it was 1963 that Reverend Martin Luther King gave that speech, “I Have A Dream”,” he said.
“The history of slavery that has separated our people, we are the people of the Diaspora. Be it from Brazil, the northern coast of America, throughout the Caribbean. We are one people that have been separated by one boat stop. I’m here as one of your brothers, one of your colleagues, one of your friends. And I want to hear from you.”

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Congressman Johnathan Jackson during their meeting on Tuesday

With a number of residents from Mocha-Arcadia complaining about last year’s eviction of squatters who refused to accept the compensation offered by the government and instead made “spurious and unreasonable” demands for compensation, including cash several times the value of the property they were illegally occupying. In fact, of the 34 residents who were required to move, only seven held out and refused to move. The remainder were moved to other areas and given titles and compensation.
Moreover, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Nima Flue-Bess, raised concerns about farmers’ leases in the community, claiming that there were delays with their renewals. She claimed that the lands are “ancestral lands.”
The Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) would have written to the government for assistance to have those lands sorted out,” Flue-Bess claimed, making an appeal for an intervention.

Interventions
However, a lot of the claims of discrimination was refuted by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councillor on the Mocha-Arcadia’s NDC, Renata Moore, who explained the various interventions the government has made, from rehabilitating infrastructure to direct donations of farming supplies and livestock to farmers.
“You know where we came from… over the past few years, the Mocha- Arcadia community has benefitted from several infrastructure development. Such as rehabilitation of the bridge at the head of Nelson Street, streets within the community of Mocha-Arcadia, such as Barnwell North and notwithstanding the historic Burnham Boulevard, just to name a few.”

Congressman Jackson and Minister Kwame McCoy during their meeting with Mocha residents

“In order to increase production, equipment was provisioned and the farmers of the community are using that equipment in any and every aspect of land preparation in the farmlands, such as doing raised beds for the rainy season, land clearing and land development,” she further said.
Mention was also made of the government’s robust skills training programmes, such as the Board of Industrial Training (BIT), which have made a difference among the youths of Mocha. There was also a recently concluded Information Communication Technology (ICT) programme that residents benefitted from.
“Provision of grants for the establishment of small businesses are also available and given to families. The final point I want to make is an indirect development that has a direct impact on the residents of Mocha Arcadia. I am referring to the new Heroes’ Highway. Though this highway is not within the boundary of Mocha Arcadia, since it has been developed the values of properties in the community has increased dramatically.”
“Like many other developments of this nature, there were many uncomfortable decisions made to relocate families. Nevertheless, these families are adequately compensated for their displacement,” Moore added.

Strides
Meanwhile, Minister McCoy spoke both of the strides the government has made in improving conditions in communities like Mocha Arcadia, but also acknowledged that more remains to be done. Nevertheless, he stressed that there is much to celebrate already.
“The partnership that has been extended by this village, especially over the last three years, as we work together to move the community forward, is one that is truly impressive and continues to enjoy our admiration and support as a government,” the Minister said.
“We have so much to celebrate in terms of our diversity, our ethnic diversity, (and) in terms of our progress and our development and of course the way we are maneuvering the challenges that exist amongst us as a country… the global challenges and our own internal challenges. Nevertheless, (we are) moving along in the way that many of our Guyanese brothers and sisters are proud of.”

Additionally, commitments were made by the government that they would return to hear the concerns of the residents and to act upon them. One promise made was that counseling would be offered to those who were affected by the eviction of the squatters last year.
Congressman Jackson, who is the son of US civil rights activist Reverand Jesse Jackson, first arrived at President Ali’s invitation to participate in Guyana’s 58th Independence Anniversary celebrations. During his visit in Guyana, he has met with the President and other government officials, as well as members of the opposition. (G3)

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