Monday, August 31, 2009

More reasons for the liberalization of the Guyanese Telecommunication Sector!

Guyanese are familiar with the name Jeffrey Prosser who is a key figure in the ATN parent company of GT&T.

His name has come up in Belize where the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow was this week forced to take over the telecommunication company

What Mr. Barrow had to say on the issue makes instructive reading.

“…telecommunications – information and communications technology – is a critical part of the development apparatus of any modern society. Indeed, as has been officially recognized by our regional integration movement CARICOM, it is an indispensable tool in that restructuring of developing countries’ economies that, in the face of the global crisis, must begin to take place now. Accordingly, unregulated monopoly control and abuse of the sector cannot be permitted”, he said.

The Belize Government has acted against the moves by the powerful Michael Ashcroft who owned the telecommunications company there to retain control of the crucial sector and Prosser has also been named in the shady deals between the previous government and his company there.

Said Prime Minister Barrow: “let no one be in any doubt as to why we are doing what we are doing today. Let no one confuse or misunderstand our purpose. This is not ideology, this is not triumphalism. This is a country in particular circumstances reaching the end of its patience and doing a singular, necessary, righteous thing to protect its national interest. It is not part of any pattern, part of no new philosophy. It is plain and simple a special measure for a special case. We make no apologies for it, but we also do not seek to elevate it. As must be clear from the developments in even the global bastions of super capitalism and private property, this is what countries do to protect themselves. It is an article of faith and a cardinal rule of statecraft that a nation will act in any way necessary to preserve its national interest. That national interest, in these circumstances, now absolutely demands our present course of action.”

It would be interesting to hear the reaction of the PNCR and its cronies here on this situation as it related to their deals with Prosser and GT&T when they were in government.

LETTER BOX: Does the PNC/R and its affiliates hold a monopoly on the right to protest?

(Photo taken from Kaieteur News Sat 29th August 2009)

Aron Smith: On Friday last I happened to be passing in the vicinity of the PNC/R's Headquarters, Congress Place when I noticed a small group of placard-bearing picketers congregating in the vicinity of the said location, just in front of the Masjid.
A perusal of the messages contained on the placards revealed that their protestations were directed at the PNC/R and its leader.
However, what bothered me most was the way in which supporters and members of the PNC/R alike reacted to the peaceful and constitutionally guaranteed actions of this 'concerned' group of Guyanese, as they titled themselves, and the lack of public denunciations from those who present themselves as pagans of virtue and the 'guards' of the constitution.

Does the PNC/R and its affiliates hold a monopoly on the right to protest?
This was the question that solely came to my mind as I witnessed the abuse hurled at this group of mostly Guyanese of African descent. Is there anything in the law or otherwise that prevents persons or groups from venting their disapproval of the actions of those at Congress Place who purport to represent a sizable portion of the Guyanese populace? It is surely not allowed internally; just ask Van West Charles, Winston Murray, Vincent Alexander and company!

In spite of all that I have described above, to this date I have not heard one single word of condemnation from those that are usually vociferous in their chanting of "the right to freedom of expression". Maybe they are a bit slow on this one or it is possible that they might not have been aware of the actions of the PNC/R activists on Friday, but it was carried on NCN's 6 O'Clock News and MTV News Update on Friday night as well as the Kaieteur News and Guyana Chronicle on Saturday 29th of August last, hence, their silence is mind-boggling!

Van West Charles Describes What He Terms "The Worst Electoral Fraud In The PNC/R's History"!

Dr Van West Charles

The image of the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) has been seriously damaged by the worst electoral fraud in its history, according to a former challenger to party leader, Robert Corbin.

The charge came from Dr Richard Van West-Charles, a son-in-law and protégé of party founder-leader, the late President Forbes Burnham, who dropped out of the bid to unseat Corbin to back party stalwart, Winston Murray for the post at last weekend’s 16th biennial congress.

He claimed that once again, the party has been hijacked through an illegal process by personal agendas. “This debacle has damaged the image of our Party. We will not stand idly by and allow our Party to degrade over time because of reckless adventurism by a few. We recommit to our struggle to ensure democracy, fair play and justice in our Party. We will keep the flame of hope burning,” he declared.

Amid charges of endemic fraud at the party elections Saturday, the official results gave old-stager, Corbin, a wide victory margin over Murray, who accepted the results but is still open on his future role in the party. Corbin got 614 votes against 223 for Murray.

With Corbin still leading a seriously fractured party facing impending local government elections and general elections in 2011, Murray and Van West-Charles tried to be optimistic about change in a joint statement yesterday.

They thanked those “who were hopeful of change” at the congress, and said they are reflecting on the situation.

“…we wish to indicate our commitment to keep the flame of hope alive, so that change can be brought about to give Guyanese a true feeling and sense of a new beginning. At an appropriate time, and not too long from now, a public indication will be given of future intentions,” the two said.

But in a separate statement, Van West-Charles accused Corbin of taunting and gloating after a victory tainted by serious fraud accusations.

He argued that Corbin’s dismissal of irregularities at the elections “is an exhibition of a cavalier attitude, as the Party’s image is seriously damaged by the worst electoral fraud in its history.”

He added: “At the Congress, we objected to the distribution of wads of delegate cards by supporters of Mr. Corbin, who, in turn, were giving the cards to ineligible persons. Our strenuous objections did not deter these persons, who were operating with impunity. In one instance, a newly elected CEC member from Canada was caught red-handed with a bag full of delegate cards. Accreditation officials refused to confiscate the cards. “We wish to place on the public record that there was a breakdown of the voting process. The Returning Officer lost control of the process, and did not even establish the number of delegates present and entitled to vote. There was no effort by the Returning Officer to ensure a meticulous check of delegates entering the Hall. The roll call of delegates was so fast, that it resulted in mass entrance into the Hall. A number of persons not entitled to vote used this confusion to enter the Hall. “Our accredited scrutineers were prevented from monitoring the roll call and entrance of delegates into the voting arena by Mr. Corbin aides. “We are aware that scores of persons from Sophia, in Region No. Four, were bussed in to vote as delegates for another region. We also noted that the physical arrangements established for voting was not designed to prevent multiple voting. Hence, we affirm that there was massive multiple voting. A number of prominent members of the newly-elected executive were integrally involved in multiple voting.”
Van West-Charles said that the entire process was fraudulent, from membership registration to voting, and that a “fulsome report is being prepared for submission to the Party’s Secretariat, and it will also be available to all Party members.”

Corbin, 62, a PNCR stalwart, was elected party chairman in 2000, and retained in the role in 2002. He was chosen to lead the party in 2003, following the death of former President Desmond Hoyte.

After the party’s defeat in the 2006 national elections, Corbin's leadership came under scrutiny, although ultimately, his two prospective challengers withdrew before a contest could be organised and his leadership was affirmed.

Challenges to Corbin’s leadership of the party led to infighting, which intensified late last year after stalwart, Mr. James McAllister was removed as a PNCR parliamentarian. This prompted strong protests from senior members, including Mr. Vincent Alexander, Registrar at the University of Guyana, who had previously attempted to challenge Corbin as leader.

In a statement then, the breakaway group, called ‘Team Alexander’, said it can no longer be of service to a party that “merely gives lip service to the ideals that inspired our continued service…”

Alexander resigned as the PNCR representative on the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform, and Ms. Julianne Gaul submitted her resignation from the Regional Development Council of Region Four.

Alexander was among those backing Murray against Corbin at the congress.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where is this creeping dictatorship that President Jagdeo is busily constructing?

Political mischief continues to drive lawlessness and irresponsibility in Guyana. The increasing use of mayhem to distort the work and achievements of the democratically-elected People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has long become the norm of politics in this country…’
By Prem Misir
‘Political mischief continues to drive lawlessness and irresponsibility in Guyana. The increasing use of mayhem to distort the work and achievements of the democratically-elected People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has long become the norm of politics in this country…’
POLITICAL MISCHIEF continues to drive lawlessness and irresponsibility in Guyana. The increasing use of mayhem to distort the work and achievements of the democratically-elected People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has long become the norm of politics in this country; and so, we would need to distinguish between politicians who ‘live off politics’ and politicians who ‘live for politics’. Those politicians who ‘live off politics’ are the prominent mischief-makers, heavily armed with promoting self-interests rather than the people’s interests.

And, indeed, politicians’ self-interests, not the people’s interests, have marred the political life of this nation: The constant humbug of unscrupulous demands for changes in electoral rules and systems; the relentless and selfish haggling over shared governance; the predictable election writs; unyielding bickering over constitutional reform; media distortions; the street protests; the race card, among others, are what we have come to expect during an election season. And clearly, the election season is now upon us.

‘It’s not surprising that these terms were excluded from the vernacular of the PNC regime when these very people worked within the PNC dictatorship; not unexpected, because they seem unable to distinguish between a dictatorship and a thriving democracy’

Let me say that use of the race card for some time now has turned out to be the mask for this unrelenting political mischief, especially articulated through the media. What is the reason for this mischief? Clearly, the raison d'être has to do with undermining this government and rewriting the political history of this country. But the people have the power to end this political nuisance, a political tragedy in some sense.

Dreariness, too, appears to punctuate the lives of many seeming politicians between elections; and perhaps, for them, this new emerging election season becomes the threshold for that much-needed excitement. Elections bouts are stirring times; moments when the elusive personal recognition becomes a glorious goal; and when opportunities abound for political muscle-flexing. And for what purposes? Certainly, this kind of continued political posturing can’t be good for consolidating a fragile democracy.

And we now hear from regular, or maybe ‘paid’ media letter-writers that President Bharrat Jagdeo is a ‘dictator’; that he’s busily constructing a ‘creeping dictatorship’ and an ‘elected dictatorship’, and may be ‘pleasing’ Indians. It’s not surprising that these terms were excluded from the vernacular of the PNC regime when these very people worked within the PNC dictatorship; not unexpected, because they seem unable to distinguish between a dictatorship and a thriving democracy.

The evidence clearly shows that Guyana has a parliamentary democracy in both form and content, albeit, a fragile one. This government has a built-in public opposition, presents itself for election every five years with multiparty involvement where there is an independent elections commission; where political power is not wielded by one person; where there are recognised limits to the Government’s authority; and where the government does not even come close to regulating all aspects of people’s lives. And since 1993, the U.S.-based Freedom House Survey has deemed Guyana as free, i.e., with political rights and civil liberties.

Advancing democracy requires expansion of inclusivity in governance. And constitutional amendments have now placed Guyana’s Constitution on the international stage as one of the most people-oriented in relation to inclusivity and Opposition involvement in governance.

Constitutional amendments also have furthered inclusivity, contrary to the erroneous view that this government has not amended the 1980 Constitution. Some of those amendments were:

The President’s powers were reduced, and his term of office is now limited to two. Note also the limits on the President’s powers through Articles 90, 180 and 182 of the Guyana Constitution.

And these Commissions are now in place: Ethnic Relations; Procurement; Rights of the Child; Women & Gender Equality; and Integrity. Parliamentary Sectoral Committees now review Government’s policy in the social, economic, foreign, and natural resources sectors. There are the Parliamentary Management Committee, and the Standing Committee on Constitutional Reform; this Parliamentary Committee System has membership drawn from both the Government and Opposition. Inclusivity in action; shared governance!

Earlier, inclusivity progressed through bi-partisan committees -- Local Government Reform; Border & National Security; Distribution of Land & House-lots; Resuscitation of the Bauxite Industry; Depressed Communities’ Needs; and Radio Monopoly and Non-partisan Boards. And the post of Head of the Public Service was distinguished from the post of Head of the Presidential Secretariat. In addition, PNCR, other Opposition representatives, and civil society are included on State Boards and Commissions.

This list is not exhaustive, but surely, this is a large arsenal of inclusivity; a huge reserve of shared governance in the making.

And then what is rather contemptuous, however, is the constant implied reference to the PPP/C Government as an Indian Government in quite a few of the commentaries; meaning that Africans and other ‘minority’ groups are marginalised.

These detractors never presented any evidence with scientific integrity of marginalisation of Africans or any other group. If marginalisation exists, it’s certainly not confined to only one ethnic group. And further, the claim of marginalisation sometimes is speciously equated with unemployment. I do not want to impale you with statistics here, showing that the claim of social marginalisation is dubious, as they could be easily referenced.

But both African and Indian working class people were victims of marginalisation during the PNC dictatorship (1968-1992), spouting high ethnic imbalances (see Debiprashad and Budhram’s study).

And since 1992, this perceived practice of marginalisation against Africans, if true, inevitably, would have placed them in the ranks of the social and economically-disadvantaged. People who are the victims of discrimination and marginalisation experience substantial deprivation in education, occupation, and income. But the social reality shows a different portrait for both Indians and Africans in this country. Both major ethnic groups seem to have comparable social and economic status (SES), a combined ranking on several dimensions of social inequality -- education, occupation, and income. But we need more research in this area to establish reliability.

The abundance of inclusivity certainly disavows the disingenuous arguments that Guyana’s social infrastructures execute dictatorial and racist practices. This government continues to deepen inclusivity, a process that is evolving. And the greater the inclusivity, the greater will be democracy and development. And so, where is this elected or creeping dictatorship that President Jagdeo is busily constructing?

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Parrot pees pon poor Freedie!

The Parrot: Freddie hates de song, “…yuh can’t get, yuh can’t get, yuh can’t get…”

The Parrot has squawked many a times about the bitterness a “karila-saturated” Freddie would discharge in the waters of the Waterfall paper. Over the years the bitterness turned “sour” (like milk does) and has gotten vile. From bile to vile. Always without a smile, a riled Freddie would miss the point by a mile when his rants are filed and piled in a style like chequered tiles. Here is a man, like “Ruff-fella”, the LeADer of the Alliance For Corbin, who hates Uncle Bharrat administration with more passion that is found in passion fruit.

Why so much hate, Freddie? Because yuh ain’t get a duty-free letter? Because yuh partner didn’t get the UG wuk? Because yuh house wasn’t built by dem guvment boys? Because yuh have to be loyal to dem who build de house? Everybody know de story Freddie. Because yuh “sour” at de boys fuh not doing de things yuh want, yuh bitter. Because yuh bitter, yuh hate. With this, how yuh expect people fuh tek yuh seriously? Yuh ain’t expect dem fuh believe that all dem plenty wrang-up tings and buse-up yuh does throw in de Waterfall is sheer “nancy stories”? No insult intended to Nancy.

Look how everyday yuh “busing”. Freedom sweet eh? Yuh meking up fuh all dem years when Uncle Forbes and Uncle Desi shushed yuh up. Yuh “busing” till yuh forget that Uncle Forbes did banish yuh from yuh homeland. Amnesia Freddie? How yuh forgetting so conveniently? I can’t believe that because you ain’t get a duty-free letter you doing loyal duties to the Place of CONgress and the All Freddie Colleagues party! Ow, is not only lil children does behave so? When dem ain’t get something dem cry and cry and cry and throw tantrums and say “Mummy bad. Daddy bad”. Grandfather would then come and give them what they want. They now sing and sing and sing, “Grandfather good. Grandfather good good”. See the similarities Freddie?

The “grandfathers” who contributed to the construction of your cosy abode are good simply because they contributed. If they didn’t you would have thrown tantrums just like how you are throwing at Uncle Bharrat. So Freddie, when you do these things, writing with bitterness, people know it is not the real story and the real reason why you have become a source of immense bile. The old cliché of “sour grapes” which I don’t like use, just pop out of my head. Oops! Last Tuesday, you come close close to being seditious (fancy word) when you discharged the bitters in the Waterfall. Is Henry from Eve Leary reading these stories? Last Wednesday, yuh sour sour because Uncle Bob from the Place of CONgress ain’t singing your song, “Mo Fyah, slow fyah”.

Why man? Is everybody must do what you want? When they don’t, you vex up and sour up. Because Uncle Bob, (to use your words from Wednesday, August 26, 2009), “…assumed the title of statesman…”, things became different. What you wanted? You wanted Uncle Bob’s followers to march and loot and burn and beat like what happened between 1997-2001? You want Guyana to be continuously gripped by these fears? According to you, because Uncle Bob did differently, he get “…conned…” as was your headline on the date mentioned. Bannas, you is something else. The Parrot wonder when you ain’t GET (if you know what I mean) if you does refer to her as being a “con”, “an elected dictator” “worse than Forbes’ and that a “polygraph” must be taken? Eh?

Boy I can imagine how you hate Dave Martins and the Tradewinds. Not he per say, but his song with the chorus, “…yuh can’t get, yuh can’t get, yuh can’t get…” The Parrot can imagine you shouting out from yuh house and RAV-4 winda at dem boys selling CDs with music carts when they pass near you and playing “…yuh can’t get, yuh can’t get, yuh can’t get…” Tantrums? Your shoes bill down by Bhena’s must be high with all the stamping when you hear that song. To make things worse, Dave come back to live here, so the song would be heard more often!

Poor Freddie. The old people does seh, “nah worry wid he, he tap side nah right”. “Tings nah regula up deh” to tek a few words from the late Lorrie. So dem music-cart boys will have to be aware of a bitter Freddie when he is close by and they playing the song. The same for his neighbours, music stores, mini-bus and taxis. If they do play it, they would end in the Waterfall drowning in “sour” and “bitters”! Yikes! Squawk! Squawk!


PSSSSTTTT! Can you keep a secret? Are you sure? Can I trust you?

All right, here’s the thing. But be very, very careful how you handle this bit of news or you could end up in a hospital bed or even worse.

The People’s National Congress Reform has a rig for hire and some big oil firms are interested.

All right – I know you are shocked, but be very, very careful. You know oil is big, big business and people with rigs can earn big, big money.

And you know you just don’t mess with people smelling big, big money. The smell of cash can drive some people crazy, right?

That’s why the folks in Congress Place in Sophia (PNCR headquarters) were not so happy when a band of `peaceful protesters’ tried to do their thing on the street outside the place this week.

A lot of people could not understand how a small band of PNCR leaders and supporters can be free to protest and sink to dirty name-calling outside the Office of the President and other places in the city and another group had to run for their lives when they tried to parade outside Congress Place.

If one group of people can protest under police protection, why can’t another do the same without having to run for their safety and lives?

It was very, very puzzling until I found out why the folks in Congress Place do not want any outsiders nosing around their base.

It’s the rig that the party has for hire. Trust me – I got it from very, very usually reliable sources who have requested anonymity to protect their safety and lives.

Anyone with a bit of knowledge about Guyana’s political history will know that the PNCR has an unenviable international reputation for its superb rigging machinery. That machinery was so perfected and its operators so clever, that it kept the party going smoothly for almost 30 years.

But then former United States President Jimmy Carter linked up with some forces here who were very suspicious about this superb PNCR rigging thing and after severe pressure in the right places, checks found that there were some serious flaws.

The PNCR leaders found themselves in a dilemma – their rig was serving them well but the party desperately needed vital aid from the West to keep it going. The rig, they found, was not like that Energizer battery in the TV ad that just keeps going and going and going.

The party needed saline and the rig had to undergo changes and it collapsed under the glare of international scrutiny.

The majority of Guyanese cheered lustily at the apparent demise of the PNCR rig in October 1992 and since then the rot seemed to have set in all across Congress Place and other party sanctuaries.

But now it seems that some of the old riggers who survived that sea change were simply biding their time and they are jumping for joy at the victory they produced last weekend.

The headlines in the newspapers didn’t shout it out and the TV stations probably had their reasons for trying to conceal the big news – but the PNCR rig was again in business and it can deliver!

That was heady tidings for the old faithful in Congress Place and they were dancing and jumping while proclaiming `Long live the Rig! The rig is big!’

And as fate would have fit, it was around the same time that the CGX oil company, which believes it has found huge deposits of oil offshore Guyana, announced that it was looking to hire a rig to drill.

That sent the old stagers in Congress Place into a frenzy and in their euphoria they contacted CGX saying their rig was the best in the world – it can deliver whatever the renter wants.

My understanding is that someone told them CGX may be interested and an emissary will visit Congress Place for talks.

They were waiting when the `peaceful protesters’ arrived to try to do their thing. This could jeopardize the big time for the party rig and that made the old stagers mad.

And you know what happened – the band had to flee.

You see why you have to be very, very cautious with this bit of news?

It’s hazardous trying to mess with some people’s rig when it’s their only means of survival.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hypocrisy abounds in the AFC

THE leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman, was forced out of the PNCR a few years ago. This was the result of internal wranglings within the Party’s leadership.

Following the 1997 General Elections, the PNC mounted massive protests through the streets of Georgetown to bring attention to what they perceived to be electoral discrepancies. These protests continued until elections in 2001. The setback this country suffered as a result is well documented.

A brief reminder will stir unpleasant memories of mayhem where people were beaten and robbed and businesses destroyed and looted. It was ugly. The populace was traumatised and the democracy which returned in 1992 was severely threatened by the irresponsible and unpatriotic actions of the PNC.

A CARICOM team of auditors audited the said elections and confirmed that it was free and fair. In an effort to appease the disgruntled PNC, the intervention of CARICOM led to another elections being held in 2001, just three years after. Our Constitution allows for elections every five years.

The PPP’s agreement for a truncated term in office, despite the findings of the audit, showed the magnanimity of that Party in the interest of prosperity and unification of country and people.

The results of the 1997 elections were never in doubt. Only the disoriented and politically ambitious section of the PNC felt otherwise. They maximised their skill of intimidation to drive fear into the hearts of peaceful and law abiding Guyanese.

Children, who are considered the leaders of tomorrow, were petrified to travel to attend school in Georgetown during that period. The PNC was relentless in their protest; protest aimed at undermining the government and to ascend to the seat of power through undemocratic means.

They showed no care and compassion for how their reckless actions were affecting the lives of their fellow countrymen and women. Their actions caused some countries to brand Guyana as being unstable and visitors were warned not to travel here.

The country was haemorrhaging much needed financial resources which become available as a result of tourism activities.

Foreign investors who were interested in investing in this young democracy were not too enthused to do so. Investments provide jobs; jobs that would have been available to the said PNC supporters.

The Party was not even interested in the welfare of their own much less that of the nation. Yet the said Party would criticise the government for not making more jobs available!

These protests mentioned were led by the then leader of the PNC, Desmond Hoyte, and his close cadres within.

One such militant cadre is the leader of the AFC, Raphael Trotman. The video and photographic archives of that period would bear this out. He was an integral part of these protests which affected the lives of thousands of innocent Guyanese.

I am sure that if Party loyalists who were involved and who may be willing to speak out will attest that he, Trotman, was probably an organiser and not just a participant.

One of the demands of the protesters including Raphael Trotman was transparency. This was in the context of their baseless accusations of electoral fraud. They demanded an audit. They were embarrassed at its findings.

Years after the death of Desmond Hoyte, Raphael Trotman having conveniently realised the trauma Guyanese experienced and endured during those seditious protests, urged the PNCR (which the PNC subsequently became) to apologise to the nation.

The Party refused and Trotman was seen as an upstart. This triggered a process of his alienation and his eventual departure from the Party. His parting was far from amicable following his challenge to Robert Corbin for the leadership. He was thrashed in the Party’s internal elections and vociferously made accusations of massive electoral malpractices which led to his ouster.

He openly questioned the Party’s electoral machinery and accused members including the leader of skulduggery.

He was integrally involved in the formation of the Alliance For Change which campaigned on the Obama-like message of change and accountability.

The PNCR leadership is still being accused of electoral malpractices following its August 2009 Congress.

Leading members who walked along with Raphael in the protests mentioned, made the accusations.

They have condemned the undemocratic practices they claim to be rampant within the PNCR.

What is clear is that despite Corbin’s victory, many who do not see themselves as sourpusses are unconvinced that the elections were transparent. Raphael shared these same sentiments when he was booted.

Many delegates at the recent PNCR Congress made public claims of being disenfranchised; being unable to cast a ballot despite their eligibility. Many provided examples of what they described as fraudulent electoral practices.

These are hard-core members of the PNCR; hard-core members like Raphael once was. Today, Raphael is in collusion with the said PNCR, the Party he and former colleagues have accused of hijacked elections. Today Raphael and members of the PNCR are marching hand-in-hand protesting against the administration.

Given the AFC’s position when they launched a few years back and their continuous call for transparency and accountability in government, how is it that its leader, Raphael Trotman, is providing tacit support to the PNCR?

Why is Raphael integrally associated with the PNCR which is being accused of a lack of transparency and unaccountability? Why is he condoning things the PNCR is being accused of; things he condemned the government for? The AFC membership must demand from their leader an explanation of his blatant hypocritical shift in condoning what the PNCR is being accused of.

Is Raphael’s position that of the AFC? If it is, then the Party itself has become hypocritical in its stance on accountability and transparency. If it’s not, then they must demand that he immediately desists from this alliance with the PNCR.

This alliance, if not sanctioned by the executives and members of the AFC, must be damaging to its credibility. Decency will demand that politicians, such as Raphael who insist on adherence to fundamental principles in a democratic society, cease their opportunistic escapades as in the case of the AFC leader. He must be made to answer why he is in bed with a Party which clearly is a far distant from democracy.

Guyanese must intensify their calls for Raphael to so explain. The AFC rank and file members must be shocked to see their leader in such an alliance.

They, who were so encouraged by the said Party to vote for change as it was so coined it, must be ruing the moment they associated themselves with the AFC.

They must be vociferous in their condemnation of their leader’s hypocritical manoeuvres. His current stance is clearly an act of hypocrisy.

If not challenged by the executives and members of the AFC, then the Party will further be classified as one that abounds with hypocrisy. Guyana is now a democracy.

The AFC has articulated that their members, which include some prominent professionals, are free to question its leadership.

This is the defining moment in putting to test this articulation. Let’s see how free the AFC membership really is in questioning and demanding an end to its leader’s hypocritical adventures. If they don’t, then it would be accurate to conclude that hypocrisy really does abound within the AFC.

What has race got to do with it?

Within the context of nationhood, race should not be an equation for any consideration, especially for leadership of the nation because in the final analysis we are a Guyanese people and this should be the defining factor that identifies us in any national dynamic.

However, the denuded leadership within the PNC structure has left serious roles to be filled, especially with the loss of leadership challenger and former chairman, Winston Murray.

In a surprise move, Corbin reached beyond strong and able allies, including Basil Williams and Volda Lawrence, to appoint one-time minister in the former PNC administration, Cammie Ramsaroop, as Party chairman in an obvious attempt to balance the racial equation within the Party’s leadership structure and to counter the loss of Murray, whom it is said is of part Indian ancestry.

Which begs the question: What has race got to do with it?

In the first PPP structure, founded by Dr. Jagan, everyone stood on a common platform presenting a united front against the oppressive and suppressive forces.

When Burnham forced a split in the Party, race had nothing to do with the support provided the leaders of the split factions of the PPP – Burnham and Jagan, and one only has to study the history of this country to realize (what) became a factor long after, when divisive agents deliberately created distrust between the major races in this country in order to support their own nefarious agenda.

For the purpose of this Pandora column, I will not expand upon this, nor will I cast blame on any particular individual, because everyone has their own peculiar perception of our past and even our present political configurations.

What is important, however, is the perception that no one race will accept a member of another race as leader of this country unless there is a lieutenant of the other race to balance the leadership equation.

And that is wrong because, as was posited by Ralph Gonsalves, Head-of-State of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, there is a dearth of good leadership material in the region and we should appreciate and utilize to the optimum the leadership skills of proven leaders.

Within this context race should not be an equation, only consideration of what can be achieved by the leaders that we have, especially leaders who have proven themselves of exceptional merit.

With great respect to the gentleman, Cammie Ramsaroop is obsolete in the political framework and the leadership structure of the PNC, because either Volda Lawrence or Basil Williams would have proven better leadership material to take the PNC forward to the next general elections.

Neither discarding Murray nor recalling Ramsaroop would have any impact in attracting new voters, because Guyanese are not easily fooled. They are aware that no matter how reasonable and decent Murray and Ramsaroop may appear to be, they were both party to PNC policies of rigging and “more fire, slow fire” strategies; and they both enjoyed comfortable lifestyles while every citizen in the land who bought foodstuff and other basic commodities on the blackmarket were criminalized by a ruthless regime of which they were integral and in which they were pivotal.

Even as Van West-Charles expounds platitudes and Raphael Trotman pretends to be the soul of honour and conscience they also were quintessential to the PNC’s destructive configurations that sent this nation into almost-irretrievable infrastructural, financial, social, and moral decay.

And race has nothing to do with it – rascality is the face of shameful, dishonourable and discredited actions, not of one’s race; so leaders should not be chosen in this nation on the basis of their race, but only on their competence, their commitment to national welfare, their caring for humanity, and their proven ability to take this nation and its people out of poverty and into prosperity; and from the utter devastation pre-1992 to our slow but sure emergence into the sphere of socio-economic progress it is a nation that has been on the move – and race had nothing to do with it.


A post-PNCR congress analysis by RICKEY SINGH

RICKEY SINGH: This past weekend in Guyana, Robert Corbin, a 62-year-old lawyer, was thanking God and party loyalists for re-electing him leader of the People's National Congress Reform (PNCR), the country's major parliamentary opposition.

But his challengers for leadership and others who want to see him replaced at the helm were singing from a different hymn sheet with claims of electoral irregularities and concerns over the party's future, having suffered defeat at four successive general elections since 1992.

The official announcement declared him a convincing victor with more than double the votes polled by his lone challenger, Winston Murray (also a lawyer), after four other nominated contestants had withdrawn from the race earlier in the week in a determined bid to ensure his defeat.

The staunch backers of Murray, former chairman of the party who was profiled as a suitable comprise by the other nominated challengers to Corbin, had included Dr Richard Van West-Charles, a former Health Minister and son-in-law of the late President Forbes Burnham.

However, when the official results were declared--amid claims of falsification of membership applications, misuse of delegates badges and protests over electoral procedures--Corbin had polled 614 votes to Murray's 223 of the total 1,175 seated delegates who chose to cast their ballots.

Murray did not conceal his disappointment, noting with characteristic calm and political maturity, as reported in the media, that he accepted the results, given the margin of Corbin's declared victory and despite the flawed electoral process and procedural irregularities.

Since he remains a PNCR parliamentarian, he would not rush into making a decision at this stage about his personal future with the PNCR or in the country's party politics, he said.

Nevertheless, Van West-Charles was not to be counted among other nominated challengers for the leadership who were still keeping their silence at the time of writing.

He maintains his position during the campaign for leadership change and has catalogued cases of what he claims to be "systematic centralised falsification" of membership applications in the compilation of the register of eligible voting delegates for last week's (August 21-22) 16th Biennial Congress.

The convenor of the accreditation committee for the congress, Lance Carberry, has dismissed all allegations of improprieties in arrangements for the election of the party's leader and others who comprise the Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Challenges ahead
The reality, as third-term leader Corbin would be quite aware, even though reluctant to publicly express it, is that the PNCR's serious internal conflicts have not ended with his retention of the leadership and the election of his loyalists to positions of chairman and vice-chairmen.

Indeed, the divisions may well have been exacerbated by occurrences at the 16th Biennial Congress to further affect the PNCR's quest to defeat the People's Progressive Party at new presidential and parliamentary elections due by August 2011.

Corbin's immediate challenge, therefore, must be to heal wounds and unite the disparate factions, the sooner the better, even as the governing PPP focuses on coming local government elections, likely in early 2010, and plans ahead to remain in government for a fifth consecutive term at the 2011 national poll..

It is going to be a very hard row for him to hoe, and though his opponents and detractors would understandably withhold credits, Corbin has demonstrated his capacity for political survival that also includes the art of winning controversial elections.

He has accumulated much experience in party and national politics since he first became a parliamentarian in 1973 and rose through the leadership ranks of his party.

Over the years, he has held various party positions---vice-chairman, general secretary, chairman---and finally leader, since 2003, with the passing of former Executive President and PNCR leader Hugh Desmond Hoyte.

His identification with divisive and controversial 'street politics' in opposition to administrations of the PPP would certainly not be among his pluses for those across the national political divide who are anxious for the politics of consultation and reconciliation that requires matured responses on the part of both the governing and parliamentary opposition parties.

Police Force must be cleansed of rogue cops or potential rogue elements.

Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, yesterday said the Police Force must be cleansed of rogue cops or potential rogue elements and warned that those caught in illegal acts will suffer the full consequences.

Declaring that he felt let down by the involvement of rogue cops following the robbery and murder of a Bartica businessman by Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard soldiers in the Essequibo River last week, he said the Police Force has to work harder at ridding itself of rogue elements.

Several cops have been charged with stealing some of the $17M in cash the soldiers robbed the Bartica resident of after the booty was recovered.

Addressing ranks at the formal handing over of more vehicles to the Police Force, Rohee encouraged those “who do not allow themselves to be led into the quagmire of temptation to continue standing firm and to set the example at all times.”

“…we cannot give up. The efforts at police reform and transformation will continue. We have to work harder to cleanse the force of rogue or potentially rogue elements. We have to work harder to ensure that from the point of recruitment, intensive character assessment is done and to imbue new recruits to the force with high values and standards”, the minister said.

He said the example for the force is being set from the top, declaring that as the minister responsible for the actions of the Guyana Police Force, “I don’t take and since I don’t take then those below me should not do so. And if they do and are caught they should be made to suffer the consequences.”

“Since that incident on the Essequibo River, I have been asked several times how I feel about the matter…I feel let down, a sense of disappointment. After all, when you take into account all the hard work currently being done to transform the Guyana Police Force so that the force can be more effective in fighting crime and to improve more and more their relations with people…these sporadic but high profile criminal activities…blemish the good name and standing of the Police Force in the eyes of the public.”

“I know there are many ranks who feel the same way. I have spoken to several of them unofficially and they too feel disappointed by the actions of their colleagues”, he said.

Rohee was firm that vehicles allocated to the force are to be used for duties consistent with policing.

The vehicles, he declared, are not be used “to go to the market, or for dropping children to school, or for partying or any other activity that can bring the force into disrepute.”

“I want to warn Police ranks to whom these resources are entrusted to don’t even think about engaging in such deeds or misdeeds.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Human Rights in All its Glory

“They wait until we dead - how yoh goh get rights when yoh dead?”, asked 24-year-old Nicky Marshall, the official spokesperson for a group of protesters who gathered outside the Guyana Human Rights Centre on Hadfield Street Georgetown yesterday afternoon to protest inaction by the Association.
The protesters, coming from various communities, were young, – ranging in age from mid-teens to mid-twenties. Asked what led to the protest, they described themselves as just a group of young people with similar interests.
One youth commented, “The people in GHRA need to “step down” and another youth chimed in, disagreeing, “They need to step up”. One protester stated that he was from the ghetto and people from the ghetto are abused all the time.
The youths carried placards bearing slogans such as: “GHRA Protectors of Criminals” , “ GHRA is a farce for a human rights body”, “Where is the democracy in the GHRA? Is Mike Mc Cormack President for Life?”, and “ When will the GHRA focus their attention on the rights of victims”.
The group stated that they would continue picketing, “… as long as it

These young people had all right to protest where was the GHRA when all of this was going on? Dale Moore was gunned down and they want an investigation. These people are demented as it gets.

That who the Gods want to destroy, they first make mad.

Dr Randy Persaud: The Alliance for Change (AFC) is in big trouble because its main partner, the PNCR, now has a leader who was ‘elected’ in a deeply flawed process.
No one is hiding behind curtains making these claims. To date, all reports on the 16th Biennial Congress where Mr. Corbin was ‘elected’ have shown that, among other transgressions, dead people casted ballots.

My ‘friend’ Freddie Kissoon even predicted that Mr. Corbin would walk away (my words) with the election because there was no chance that there would be a free vote.

So what do we have here? We have the AFC sitting pretty with Mr. Corbin at various ‘protest opportunities’, photographs and all. But the AFC must realise that Guyanese have long memories.
I know the number 28 is not appreciated in some quarters, but the Guyanese people have not forgotten the nearly three decades of Knowledge Sharing Institute governance offered by the PNC.
The AFC must stand up and let this nation know how it is possible to sit in a joint opposition with a party that just had another flawed election. Does the culture of the AFC condone rigging?

We want a yes or no answer! Are we to understand that the AFC is demanding good governance from the current administration voted in by 54% of the electorate, while sitting at a table with a party that cheats itself?
Mr. Trotman and Mr. Ramjattan must clarify where they stand on rigged elections.
If they remain silent on this, they must themselves heed the adage – “That who the Gods want to destroy, they first make mad.”

Coast Guards Charged With Bartician's Murder!

The three Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guards who were slapped with a murder charge yesterday appeared before Magistrate Judy Latchman at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara.

With them were their three alleged accomplices who were charged with ‘accessory after the fact of murder.’

The GDF soldiers, Sherwin Hart, 24, of 123 Eccles, East Bank Demerara; Deon Greenidge, 20, of 166 Middle Road, La Penitence; and Devon Gordon, 21, of 108 ‘C’ Field, Sophia, Greater Georgetown, were not required to plead to the capital offence.

Particulars of the charge said, on August 20, at Bonasika Creek, Essequibo River, they murdered Dweive Kant Ramdass.

The other accused, Shawn Ajeda, 22, of 123 Block ‘C’ Eccles; Viola Adolphus, 32, of 108 ‘C’ Field, Sophia; and Yvonne Beckles, 49, of 166 Middle Road, La Penitence, were also not required to plead to a joint charge.

It is alleged that, on August 20, they received, relieved, comforted, harboured, assisted and maintained Hart, Greenidge and Gordon who were wanted by Police in connection with the murder of Ramdass.

Attorney-at-law Mr. Hukumchand appeared for Adolphus and made a failed bail application for her.

Magistrate Latchman remanded all six accused and the case was transferred to Leonora Magistrate’s court for September 24.

Ramdass is the victim of a robbery by the three GDF soldiers who have since confessed to his murder.

The two Privates and a Lance Corporal who were manning the Coast Guard RC 12 motor boat in the Essequibo River, made off with $17M in cash which Ramdass was carrying in a box to Bartica for his employer, Baksh, who is based in the city and operates a gold and diamond business.

The three soldiers told investigators shortly after their arrest that they strangled Ramdass, took the money he was carrying and threw his body overboard in the vicinity of Bonasika Creek.

Ramdass, 24, of 95 Third Avenue, Bartica, realised he was in danger and attempted to solicit help by using his cellular phone. He was however prevented from doing so by the killers.

The GDF members took away Ramdass in their boat, relieved him of the cash, murdered him and returned to the Parika Stelling, where one of their female accomplices was waiting for them.

She is the sister of one of the officers and was given $5.7M in cash to hold.

According to reports, another portion of the money was recovered by the police during a roadblock exercise.

The three soldiers reportedly split the money in three after they killed Ramdass.

The GDF said it condemns in the strongest possible terms the criminal action of its Coast Guards stationed at Fort Island.

“It is reprehensible and will be met with the full force of the law. At present the ranks implicated are in Police custody,” a GDF press statement said.

It added that it is clear from initial reports that there was a breakdown in the command and leadership structure at this unit, for which strong administrative action will be taken.

The GDF said it wishes to assure citizens, the fishing community, fishermen, small boat and other vessel operators that the Defence Force subscribes to the highest of professional standards and will continue to discharge its mandate notwithstanding this unsavory incident.

More Kaieteur News Dishonesty Revealed!

The Agriculture Ministry has accused the Kaieteur News of a smear campaign intended to bring it into disrepute.

Reacting to another front page photograph in the newspaper yesterday suggesting corruption in building bridges in farming districts, the ministry charged that it was part of a dishonest campaign by the media house.

The photograph of an obviously old bridge was accompanied by a caption claiming it was built at a cost of $26.3M.

Mr. Frederick Flatts, Senior Civil Engineer in the ministry’s Agricultural Sector Development Unit charged that this was “a clear act of callous reporting and mischief to manufacture a perception of over-priced projects and wastage”.

He added that it was a dishonest campaign intended to discredit the hard work of the sector to bring improvements to farming conditions.

“We wish to recall that the projects executed are supported by our international partners and all activities received no objections, are externally supervised and even audited by a professional accounting firm”, Flatts said.

The official said the Agricultural Support Services Project has not constructed any bridge at Ruby Back, East Bank Essequibo as claimed by the Kaieteur News.

He explained that the ministry, through this project, is constructing two new bridges at Barnwell Cross Dam, on the East Bank Essequibo, one of which was visited by Kaieteur News reporters on August 14, 2009 during a site inspection organized by the Ministry of Agriculture.

They declined an invitation to visit the other bridge, he said.

According to Flatts, the bridge photographed in yesterday’s Kaieteur News was built more than a decade ago under the East Bank Essequibo Development Project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“As a matter of fact, anyone who looks at the photograph of the bridge published would recognize that this is not a recently constructed bridge, nor is it under construction”, he noted.

He said it was important to note that the timber bearing piles of both bridges under construction at Barnwell Cross Dam are encased in concrete - thereby making the timber piles invisible.

“The wooden piles shown on the photographed bridge in Kaieteur News are clearly visible making the new engineering design absent, thus confirming that this bridge was/is not part of the existing project”, Flatts said.

He said representatives of other media houses who were on the site visit on August 14, 2009 can easily verify that no bridge in the Ruby Backdam was identified as complete or under construction, nor was any cost mentioned.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Army slaps down KN Lindo Creek report

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) last evening refuted a report in the Kaieteur News (KN) yesterday which said that one of the coast guard ranks implicated in the murder of Bartician Dweive Kant Ramdass, was stationed at Lindo Creek last year where eight miners were killed and their bodies burnt.

“…the Guyana Defence Force wishes to categorically state that, the allegation made by one of the arrested Coast Guard ratings, that he was involved in (a) Joint Services operation at Lindo Creek, (is) false and without substance,” the army said in a statement.

The report under the headline, ‘Army Chief, Coast Guard rank differ on Lindo Creek’ said that one of the arrested ranks told the newspaper on video tape that he was one among the joint services ranks who was stationed at Lindo Creek. The report also said that Commodore Gary Best told the newspaper that the rank was not a part of the military group that was stationed in the area.

The report said in the video recording made by the newspaper the rank reaffirmed that he was at Lindo Creek but when asked to “divulge what had happened there, the soldier told this newspaper to speak with the hierarchy of the army.”

“The GDF wishes to state that the Rank who is being quoted by KN was never involved in any activities of the Joint Services Operations Group (JSOG),” the army reiterated.

It said that in the past the newspaper had “printed and circulated information which sought to link the Joint Services to the occurrences at Lindo Creek. This was done, despite the lack of evidence to support their reportage. Though requested, there was no retraction of those reports.”

Stating that yesterday’s report was devoid of any evidence, the army called on the newspaper to print a “full retraction of the scurrilous information in the article.”

Where is Lincoln Lewis on this one? So much for FREE PRESS!

(Barbados Nation) Editor of the Sunday Sun, Carol Martindale, on Saturday received the threat “to do the right thing” or have her reputation destroyed.

The threat came from Hartley Henry, senior political advisor to Prime Minister David Thompson.

Just before 2 p.m. Henry called Martindale to warn her that the results of the poll conducted for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and released on Saturday get the same Front Page treatment as polls done on behalf of this newspaper.

Henry expressed annoyance with the publication of the past several SUNDAY SUN editions, charging they were geared towards publicising and enhancing the image of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley.

He said: “For the last couple of months the SUNDAY SUN has become the mouthpiece of Mia Mottley. If the story [referring to reports of the CARDES Poll] is not played the right way, I would turn Barbados against you,” he told a shocked Martindale.

He also mentioned to her about “doing the right thing”. Read more....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are all 'Black' people 'Thugs' Ramjattan?

With the heat on his ass, AFC Co-leader Khemraj Ramjattan, yesterday during an interview aired on MTV 65 News Update described the group of protesters that descended on his North Road office as "a bunch of thugs mostly from America street"!

Ramjattan needs to urgently clarify his statement! He needs to say for instance what caused him to describe the protesters as a 'bunch of thugs'? Was it the colour of their skin since it was noticeable that all the protesters were of one particular ethnic grouping? Was it the fact that the group consisted of four persons sporting dreadlocks? Or did Ramjattan know these people before-hand as he proclaimed that they were not PPP people?

In a time gone by, particularly before Ramjattan's expulsion from the PPP, PNC protesters were labeled 'thugs' by many PPP speakers and Ramjattan's continued stance is indicative of his inability to rid himself of his PPP tendencies even whilst he proclaims himself and party to be proponents of 'CHANGE'!

Where is Eric Phillips on this? Where is ACDA?

More Protests!

Protesters again turned up outside the office of AFC co- leader Khemraj Ramjattan!

Scenes from today's protest action by a group of "Concerned Guyanese" outside Ramjattan's office!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The hypocrisy of some sections of the local media!

A group of people turned up outside the office of AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan picketing and calling themselves "Concerned Guyanese" today! The media turned up in their numbers as usual! Amazingly, the first question posed by Capitol News, Kaieteur News and Prime News was "Who's funding this exercise?"

Apparently that was all that mattered to Gordon and Co! I find it very funny that similar questions are not asked in relation to Enrico's numerous visits and prolonged stay in the U.S in an effort to cover the Roger Khan trial. Similar questions should've been asked by Gordon and Co in relation to the services provided by Dick Morris to the AFC during the elections campaign of 2006. Similar questions should've been asked in relation to the AFC's placing of a very costly full page ad in several T&T newspapers during Trinidad's hosting of the OAS Summit!

The protesters were bombarded with this particular question even as they were being escorted to the station by police!

Ramjattan's office picketed by group of concerned Guyanese!

A group of persons calling themselves "Concerned Guyanese" today picketed the office of AFC co-leader Khemraj Ramjattan on North Road and King street in the capital city.
Numbering around 40 persons the group called on the AFC leader to explain among other things his reasons for selling duty free concessions granted to him as a member of parliament whilst accusing the ruling administration of corrupt practices.

However, all did not go as planned for the protesters as they were promptly rounded-up by police officers and hauled to the Brickdam police station after a complaint was made by Ramjattan who had earlier been championing the right to protest by the Benschop, Whitter and Lewis trio!

How hypocritical of Ramjattan!

More fraud unearthed on PNC membership roll!

Tensions are rising over likely fraud in elections for top positions in this weekend’s biennial congress of the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), well-placed sources said yesterday.

A key strategist for former Health Minister, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles, among those challenging incumbent leader Robert Corbin, has alleged that the voters list has been padded to favour Corbin.

The party has denied that its electoral machinery is geared to see Corbin returned as PNCR leader but the allegations persist.

Van West-Charles had earlier raised questions about the transparency and fairness of the electoral system to be used at the August 21-22 biennial congress.

He is a son-in-law of the late President and founder-leader of the PNCR, Forbes Burnham, and returned here from overseas to join the leadership race against Corbin who has survived previous bids to unseat him.

Others nominated for the post of party leader are Dr. Aubrey Armstrong, Winston Murray, Aubrey Norton and Basil Williams.

In a note circulated to the media earlier this week, the strategist for Van West-Charles claimed that “desperate moves” were underway following a newspaper report that the PNCR was investigating claims that the names of dead persons were among those on the electoral register.

He alleged that a senior party functionary in Region Three was taking membership forms to supposed party members “to have them signed and secretly returned to Congress Place” (PNCR headquarters).

“We have unearthed many instances where the names on the PNCR membership roll were disputed by people we had contacted”, he stated.

“…we entered the villages and identified people whose names were on the list; a significant number of persons claimed that they are not members of the PNC and never signed any membership form so they do not know why their names are on a PNC list”, he said.

The PNCR has said that with regard to the verification of membership, a list of financial members, as of May 31, 2009, was circulated by General Secretary Oscar Clarke.

It said these lists were to be on display from July 19 to August 9 at the meeting places of the group so that they could be inspected by members who could raise any queries or objections with the party group officers.

“All such queries and objections should have been sent to the party secretariat and to the accreditation committee for investigation and appropriate action as required”, it said.

The PNCR said that in addition, the list of members for each party group was made available for inspection by members of the Central Executive Committee of the party, regional party officers and persons who have been nominated as candidates for the elections at Congress Place.

It added that all party groups have submitted their list of delegates for the congress based on their qualified membership.

It said these measures were instituted to remove the basis of previous claims of weaknesses in the system and to ensure greater transparency in the party processes.

“Similar procedures are being implemented for the election process, which will include the involvement of invited observers”, the PNCR said.

Corbin has been dogged by leadership in-fighting and charges of rigging party elections with Norton claiming he was last month manoeuvred out of the post as Chairman of the Georgetown district, a charge Corbin has denied.

The Biennial Delegates Congress is the highest decision making forum of the party and the theme is “People’s Victory Through Local Democracy.”

The PNCR said more than 1800 delegates and observers from 217 party groups, nine overseas groups and 27 youth groups are expected to participate.

Claims of Marginalizaion Debunked

Empty argumentation on marginalisation
MARGINALISATION today is the talk of the town. The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) believes that its street protestors have had demonstrations because they are marginalized, among other things. Let’s not sweep under the rug the fact the PNC/R marginalized both the African and East Indian working class in the infamous ’28 years’ of the Burnham/Hoyte rule. Also, let it be known that today while some Africans experience poverty in the urban areas, some East Indians, Amerindians, and Africans, in that order, confront poverty in the rural locales. Poverty, in itself, though, is not sufficient to marginalize any population group. Over the period 1968 through 1992, the PNC victimized and marginalized its own working-class supporters and others, as attested by what now follows.
While working at the University of Guyana, I observed the socialist transformation process, as articulated by the PNC administration. It soon became clear to me that the Government’s public policies were dissonant to its actual policies. This dissonance meant that while socialism was projected as its public ideology, state monopoly capitalism was the actual economic ideology earnestly pursued.
The PNC Government throughout its rule, defiantly and falsely paraded cooperative socialism as its governance framework. This framework, albeit false, publicly targeted education and other social institutions for implementing the socialist transformation process. Education and the economy were specially beleaguered for participation in this charade; and with education especially manipulated as a buffer to provide legitimacy to an illegal regime.
Today, I wish the critics can present appropriate evidence that Africans are marginalized, so that we can have a healthy debate; and apply corrective policy action where necessary.
The critics continue to engage in polemics, or mere empty argumentation. And if they continue to talk about African marginalization, by definition they should demonstrate how Africans experience a structure of double ambivalence.
The critics have not presented any reliable and valid evidence of African marginalization, be it at the individual or institutional level. What we have in all their responses are mere arbitrary examples, empty rhetoric, and impressionistic statements.
And so in Guyana, we can ask these questions: Is there nationwide race-ethnic conflict in Guyana? Is Guyana a deeply divided society? When is a society considered to be deeply divided? Is ethnic conflict happening because it’s in the blood? Is ethnic conflict behavior learned? Is race-ethnic conflict socially constructed and reconstructed? Are ethnic extremists perfecting the construction of race-ethnic conflict? Is the explanation of race-ethnic conflict not devoid of a class analysis? Do we have a dominant ethnic group? Is there ethnic insecurity and ethnic mistrust? Are some politicians and the mass media not influencing the formation of a false reality of ethnic conflict among the masses? Does Guyana have characteristics of race-ethnic conflict similar to Bosnia, Rwanda, and ‘Apartheid’ South Africa? Is the Government delivering goods and services to all Guyanese? Is there evidence of social marginalization? Only the Guyanese people can genuinely answer these questions.

People in an intensely divided society identify themselves by their ethnic group; where people in those societies experience inequality and discrimination based on ethnicity; those societies have the capacity to explode in hostility and violence.
In a multiethnic society like Guyana, what we need to do, among other things, is to evaluate the impact of the government’s policies on all ethnic groups, to establish whether or not, there is marginalization/discrimination. We need concrete evidence on these matters and not rhetoric.
At any rate, what yardsticks or what measures do the critics apply to determine their conclusion that Africans are marginalized, or that Africans are in office and not in power. Again, what yardsticks are the critics applying to conclude that there is marginalization of institutions?
However, in a multiethnic society wherever marginalisation may prevail, there is a strong probability that it would tend to touch all ethnic groups, not one group. Give us specific evidence of marginalization, so that we can apply corrective action. And, incidentally, a disadvantage is not necessarily marginalization. And consider, too, the motives of these people shouting on rooftops about African marginalization; let these people provide the evidence.