Turning the page on Guyana politics

By Gerald V. Paul

Eyes spent the weekend doing a re-read: The West on Trial, My Fight for Guyana’s Freedom by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, a founding member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Morning After by Eusi Kwayana, a leader – he prefers elder- of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), both from my library’s Caribbean section.

Meanwhile, in Berbice, Guyana, thousands gathered at Babu John, the memorial site for Jagan and wife Janet, former presidents who spent their lives in service to others and the world.

Cheddi Jagan, the first democratic president of Guyana, was the recipient of South Africa’s Tambo Award and was mentioned in A Thousand Day, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s memoir of the J.F. Kennedy White House.

“I went to see President Kennedy to seek the help of the United States, and to seek his support for our independence,” Jagan said then. A question was “whether he and his nation of 600,000 represented a threat to the United States?” Classified documents indicated a direct order from a Kennedy- C.I.A. plot to unseat Jagan in 1961.

Fast track to outside political agitation and disturbance in 1962 and 1963: The British, at the suggestion of the Kennedy administration, delayed their colony’s scheduled independence and changed its electoral system in October 1963. The electorate had to vote for parties instead of people. And so it goes.

With the People’s National Congres (PNC) coming out of the PPP, Guyana experienced 28 years of rigged elections and dictatorship. Today, the PNC has morphed into A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), then into Alliance For Change (AFC), the latest acquisition.

The question is: Who will submit one leader of the list; which position determines who goes to Parliament? The PNC / APNU’s David Granger is expected to head the list.

The AFC lost the trust of those who voted for them because they were supposed to be the alternative to the PPP or the PNC and decided to seek power through the back door. At least they are not “kick down the door” peeps, right?

Kwayana wrote in his book, “A lot of what we men call “feminine” is highly rational and intellectual whereas we dismiss it as emotional: women allow themselves to see with more than their eyes, whereas we, the male leadership, think it is unmanly to deal with people’s emotions or even to take them seriously into account.”

Ah! Could a prophetic Kwayana pontificate now on former director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elizabeth Harper, recently nominated to run for prime minister, as she was welcomed by thousands assembled at the Babu John?

“She has served our nation with distinction – not partisan but a patriot who for her entire career as an outstanding diplomat has dedicated her service to ensuring our great land remains united and prosperous,” President Donald Ramotar said.

Harper used the occasion of International Women’s Day to salute the contributions women have made towards the building of families, communities and the nation.

“It is an honour for me to be standing here in the capacity of prime ministerial candidate for the PPP/C. I believe in Guyana, I believe in service to Guyana. Let us put Guyana first as we work together to build this beautiful land of ours.”

Methinks Robert Pine summed it up beautifully: “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul