Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Opposition/Media Complex

DR RANDY PERSAUD: Even a cursory observer of Guyana today would be able to see that the opposition elements have embarked on a new strategy to ruin the image of this country.

Let us examine some of the tactics employed to defame Guyana and simultaneously, to push for political power. You do not have to have a doctorate in political science to figure out that there is an Opposition/Media Complex in Guyana. This should be pretty straight forward.


The columnists, letter writers, and TV personalities have been busy reinventing Guyanese history. The PNC years are now constructed as a period of mild discomfort, and some go so far as to say life was much better then than now.

Two decades of election rigging by the PNC is (re)presented to us as a little unfortunate, but not so bad. The transparent electoral victories of the PPP are dismissed as the result of ‘bottom house’ conspiracies and the ignorance of the electorate. A democratically elected president – President Jagdeo – is called all kinds of names, and a real dictator, Mr. Burnham, is now being absolved by columnists and letter writers.

The columnists have forgotten that you needed a KSI card to get salt and rice from the Knowledge Sharing Institute store; that the store did not have salt and rice; and when it did have, you had to present a party card to ‘GET THROUGH’.

Instead of writing about the critical shortages that dogged Guyanese for years, the columnists are busy reinventing the past. Incidentally, some of these same writers have been cussing all those overseas Guyanese who once sent the barrels during those years of PNC induced economics of scarcity.

Tactic No. 2 – SHIFT THE BLAME.

This, as the British would say, is a splendid new tactic of the opposition. Simply put, the tactic is intended to create confusion. This is achieved through a number of sophisticated techniques, one of which is to shift the blame. We saw evidence of this in the immediate aftermath of the Ministry of Health fire.

Before daybreak on the vile morning, the opposition media operatives were already pushing out stories that the fire was an internal act. That lie was itself bolstered by situating the MoH fire within a new historiography of burning – i.e., that all fires in Guyana are started by the PPP. By the end of the afternoon of July 17th – the intended outcome had been achieved – viz- the blame for the fire had been shifted.

The exact tactic was used immediately after the Lindo Creek massacre. Within twenty four hours, the highly respected Caribbean Net News was reporting that the macabre incident may have been carried out by the GDF. I phoned CNN and spoke to the editor about the source. I know the source but I am afraid I can’t divulge it. He is a well known media figure with political connections.


After a tragic event the opposition would come out quickly and do the following (1) express regret and condolences; (2) make some kind remarks about the victims; (3) declare some outrage and associated emotions; (4) call for more cooperation.

That would be the first ‘Take.’ Almost immediately afterwards – i.e. Take 2 – the opposition would use the same tragedy to kick the government and the victims. The victims are blamed for going to bottom house meetings and mindlessly voting for the PPP. A number of demands are then issued. These invariably end up with the Mother of All Demands – Power Sharing and Shared Governance.

The AFC has become quite good at this ploy. For the opposition, a tragedy is a great opportunity to get the message out.

These tactics cannot work if there is not very close cooperation between the opposition parties/elements and the press/media (hereafter media).

The media must therefore take responsibility for the consequences of opposition activities. The Guyana scene is not like those in North America and Europe – i.e. where there is a truly independent media.

Some newspapers in Guyana work hand-in-hand with the opposition to the point where the two sectors are really within the same ‘correlation of forces’.

Incidentally, these same media outlets take in huge amount of revenues from the GoG.

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