Troy Resources now stands as the latest poster child of rapacious foreign investment presences in Guyana. Like Exxon in the nascent oil sector, as in actual production, Troy Resources has taken its place in the still-developing gold industry, as just another big swinging corporate dic(tator) that holds this country to ransom, while it has its way with local riches; and for starters three hundred local workers.
Troy occupies the untouchable space of a golden child, another one promising so much and delivering so little. It takes away the gems of the Guyanese soil: its rick metals reaped to the satisfaction of the Australians.
The company from Down Under is not alone, for there are the Russians (through Rusal) in the bauxite segment, and the Americans (in the mighty embodiment of ExxonMobil) perched contentedly atop the oil floods readying to rain.
Whether gold or bauxite or oil, it has been the same story, of suitors holding all the cards and an impoverished host country, lacking in the basics, but abundant in the endowments that make up the mineral textures and contours of its physical geography.
Thus, the hills and valleys and rivers of Guyana are courted and conquered, dredged and drained, and with its lavish, exquisite beauties ravished and deformed. What does it have to show for it?
Jobs (now gone), some meager taxes paid in a haphazard and belated manner, some monies paid to some causes (some of them human, some of them not so well declared). And all the while the cunning, seducing Troy(s) that creep into Guyana’s political realm first, and then its social consciousness next, spirit away one lush, local Helen after another in their clawing, calculating embrace.
One government after another has assumed the reins of office, with the kind of swashbuckling rhetoric that would make Genghis Khan think twice and reset his marauding navigation system for another destination. And still they come, the outsiders with a measly dollar in extended hand, and many billions intended to be taken away in their hearts.
These are the kind of investors, the type of partners who, when they located a cow, would find a way to extract every last drop of its milk, every last microgram of its flesh, and every last potential of its lifeblood for profit, which may be marketed somehow and somewhere to someone from the global sticks.
The Troy(s) and Rusal(s) and ExxonMobil(s) that now run the cash cow that is Guyana, would capture and capitalize on its very essence, up to and including its moo.
Truth be told, successive governments here had their backs to the wall. There was the legacy of a good place to do business, as in the presence of influential politicians and cooperating senior bureaucrats. There was the awareness that the skills and technology and finances were just not present to any material degree, to make the field of negotiating a shade less unbalanced. This country’s economic ideology has never been fully or clearly committed to the free and open, and that brought its own sensitivities, as to foreign investment’s welcome and longevity.
In turn, these factors, when taken either individually or in sum (and there are so many left unmentioned), rendered this country hungry for any investment deal.
The people coming with their gifts knew this and they, also, knew not only how to deal, but those whom they were dealing with across the table at the local level.
The foreign investment community does not operate in uncommunicative silos, and word does get around of the real investment climate in the tropics. In most instances, this made for good business arrangements with the good people, who wring their hands and cry to the heavens, from their opposing political pews, as to who sins today, and who did so in the days gone by.
Regardless of which side is accurate (or innocent -and there is none), Guyanese governments were caught between a rock and a hard place: pony up the prizes or come up empty. It was that stark and final. Today, we lick our losses and rage at the unfairness of it all. It is the plight of poor Third World entities. Take it or leave it.