Dear Editor,

The sunken barge that overturned and leaked petroleum products into the ocean off the coast of Tobago is not named ‘Coolie Boy’ and was never named ‘Coolie Boy’. Watchdog website painstakingly chronicles the history of the barge which was known as ‘Gulfstream’ and then ‘Sea Marlin’, there are pictures of the barge in dock and at sea over the last five years. If my cynicism prevented me from accepting that Trinidadian Lawyer Nyree Alfonso inserted herself into the incident with ‘unsolicited’ research, then the new findings compel me to ask Alfonso her source of the name ‘Coolie Boy’.

The racial coding in the name certainly acted as a ‘dog whistle’ and barking has been heard from those who would gladly apportion blame to Guyanese for the oil spill. Guyana has enough homegrown ‘whistlers’ and we can certainly do without the efforts of outsiders playing on our perceived weaknesses. I would ask the Ethnic Relations Commission and the Guyana Bar Association to make inquiries into the use of this racial code by Nyree Alfonso and take appropriate action (Alfonso is currently admitted to practice in Guyana).

There are daily lessons to be learned in Guyana, we can discern the true intentions of those who have jumped on the oil spill to condemn the incident and demand those responsible be held accountable and see how they differ from those who are quick to blame it on Guyanese and Guyana for personal attacks and political gain. Even if the oil was headed to Guyana, the vessels involved are not owned or operated by Guyanese or Guyanese entities, but Nyree would have us believe the ‘Coolie Boy’ is at fault… I think not! And I strongly believe there should be a consequence to making that spurious claim.

Robin Singh


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