What would elections in Guyana be without “foreign observers”? Can you have Christmas without Santa? A young generation knows nothing else and the older generation would have it no other way. They, of course, were traumatised by the PNC’s rigging between 1968 and 1985 when Guyanese actually died for their votes to be counted.
Burnham had the Brits and Yanks rig him into office in 1964. In 1968, it was ironic that when Burnham first tried his hand at rigging (having obtained permission from the Yanks) it was a British TV crew that exposed his rigging of the “overseas” vote. Just one technique that gave him a whopping “majority”.
By 1973, when the Opposition started demanding international observers, the PNC merely called in the GDF to handle the “logistics” of the elections. Observers observed the voting all right…but couldn’t get into Ayanganna to observe already filled out ballots being substituted.
They protested, but Burnham said, “So what?? You want those big, bad communists in the PPP to get in??” And that was that.
So the Opposition and “civil society” started demanding “counting votes at the place of poll”. But when the referendum for a new Constitution was called in 1978, the PNC blithely rigged and thumbed his nose at the observers. All sorts of human rights groups made noises.
More thumbing of the nose by Burnham. After the 1980 elections, which was dubbed “crooked like barbed wire” by international observers, Burnham became Executive President with more powers than the US President.
But Reagan was now in power and didn’t take too kindly at Burnham’s thumbing of the nose…but Burnham died before any action could be taken like in Grenada. Nowadays, his successor Hoyte has practically been beautified and turned into “Saint Desmond”… But let’s not forget that he rigged the 1985 election – giving him seven years at the helm – even more lopsidedly than Burnham ever did.
For all the carping about a “democratic opening”, Hoyte’s regime was condemned by international observers such as Lord Avebury and the House of Commons Human Rights group. They had to take evidence of the rigging in T&T – because Hoyte refused entry to them here.
Knowing how they’d rigged to seize power, the PNC accused the PPP of rigging every election after 1992 (1997, 2001, 2006 and 2011) which they lost. And this even with foreign observers and even “forensic audits” that showed everything was copacetic!
Anyhow, how no fear, there will be foreign observers on May 11. And after their sixth ignominious loss…we can expect the PNC (with their new sidekick AFC) to cry. “We wuz rigged!!!”
…ignorance being exploited
If it’s one thing folks from the Caribbean can count on is their compatriots in the US taking up “back home” causes. Especially when those compatriots – and even their descendants – get into official positions. But like in everything else, some of our own people don’t know when to stop…and they end up embarrassing well meaning compatriots.
Take the recent letter by two US Congressional Representatives, Yvette Clark and Hakeem Jeffries to Secretary of State John Kerry. Sold a bill of goods by PNC NY supporter Rickford Burke and his one-man “Democratic Institute” – that Presidential PROROGATION was somehow “anti-democracy”- the two Reps demanded Kerry take action against the present Government.
Unfortunately they’ve made absolute fools of themselves. Kerry will obviously be told by his staff that “prorogation” is a constitutional presidential power – just as the “No-Confidence” Motion is one of the majority Opposition.
Didn’t Canadian PM Harper use his power in an identical situation as President Ramotar?? Burke has embarrassed all Guyanese and their US friends.
While no one seems to be paying attention, the reverse “Cuban Missile” situation’s developing in the Ukraine. The West is arming the Ukraine and threatening Russia in their backyard. We hope that we don’t have to repeat that denouement!
…Lall on corruption
It’s easy to throw mud at others. Just ask Glenn Lall, owner of the Muckraker. He’s been doing it for years…and getting away with it. Hiding under the skirt of “press freedom” he libelled everyone and anyone who earned his ire.
And since he’s such a petty and envious fella, you didn’t even have to “do” Lall anything. Let’s say, you’re successful in business? That’s enough to make him foam at the mouth!
Everyone in Government was corrupt, if Lall was to be believed – especially if they had even the most tenuous connection with former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Claiming he was “a friend of Jagdeo”, he was rebuffed on a scheme to make a quick (but illegal) buck. He became an bitter enemy of Jagdeo. Going on seven years now, there isn’t a single edition of the Muckraker that doesn’t throw mud at Jagdeo.
But there’s a saying that “those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. Or “mud”. Because everyone and their uncle know that Lall’s been swimming in corruption ever since he crawled out of Wakenaam years ago.
Name the hustle – and all hustles have to do with corruption – and Lall’s “been there; done that”. Smuggling goods?? There isn’t a Customs officer back in the day who hadn’t been bribed by Lall.
Even former Commissioner of Police Winston Felix was captured on tape, bemoaning Glenn Lall’s bribery of Police Officers. Backtracking made him infamous to ordinary Guyanese. They literally had to pawn their (female) firstborn (the demand was “cash or flesh”) to pay him for getting them past the US Homeland Security.
Even the US Embassy dubbed him a “sketchy character” in the WikiLeaks – which also showed him to be a snitch on fellas who thought he was their friend. Some friend!!
And it’s because of this hypocrisy that so many Guyanese are chortling and rubbing their hands in glee when they found out that Lall has been caught in the cross-hairs of the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with his most recent scam. This has to do with participating in the scheme to defraud the Government of $100 million through the remigrant duty-free car scam.
But even though he’s done the crime in Guyana, it doesn’t look like he’ll be doing the time here. However, like the old people say, “There is a God!” Because the fraud originated in the US, the documents Lall and his co-conspirers submitted to the locals clearly show – chapter and verse – how they defrauded the US Government.
And Uncle Sam ain’t so forgiving. They’re already preparing the orange jumpsuit!
…Moses Z on race
Because Moses Nagamootoo’s a zero and was on some zero Radio Station, he probably thought he could get away with this piece of hypocrisy: “We are Guyanese and we are not Indo-Guyanese (or) Afro-Guyanese”. This from a man whose single bargaining card in negotiations with PNC/APNU was that he would deliver “11,000 Indian votes” to the PNC!!
He didn’t realise that now he’s officially in bed with the PNC their PR people will write it up so that your trusty Eyewitness can catch his arse in his prevarication! He probably uttered the politically correct sound-bite to catch the ears of the Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) that’s now been launched to catch race-baiting politicians – among other sins.
But that raises the prior issue – evoking the “fruit of the poisoned tree” doctrine, doesn’t it? If AFC’s campaign will be based on “securing Indian votes”, isn’t whatever they say on the hustings, pandering to “race”??
Disqualify the wankers!!
…Lalloo gets “larwah”
If there’s one man – albeit a very, very old man who needs suspenders to keep his pants up – who really knocked himself out to get an Opposition political position, it’s Chris “Lalloo” Ram.
But in the AFC/PNC/APNU he got LARWAH!!
Up north in the late summer, when their legislatures are recessed, it’s called the “silly season”. The real, solid, substantive news slows down to a trickle and to keep the presses humming, all sorts of ridiculous things suddenly become “news”!! Two-headed calves being born and aliens landing from Alpha Centurai.
In Guyana, some of the same flightiness breaks out when our legislature is “dissolved” and General Elections are scheduled. It’s supposed to be politics, politics, politics… but most of it ends up as puff, fluff and stuff.
Take the last event before Prezzie pulled the plug on Parliament – the unveiling of the PPP/C’s Prime Ministerial Candidate. That the PPP/C chose Elizabeth Harper – an individual the Opposition had no clue was even in the running – just shows that the APNU-AFC Opposition’s political antenna’s need some tuning.
The PPP/C pulled a classic case of “misdirection” – announcing early on that old stalwart Sam Hinds was not interested. The Opposition, locked in their racial calculus when it comes to politics, bet the house on Carolyn Rodrigues as the “logical” choice.
But logic only works if the premises of the argument are sound. Fact of the matter is the PPP/C doesn’t have “race” on their brain like the Opposition, nor do they think that Guyanese citizens are so Neanderthal in their political choices.
It’s clear from the choice of their Prime Ministerial candidate, they believe Amerindians will vote for them because of their unparalleled record of bringing them out of the PNC dystopia called “the hinterland”. No need to pander to them like the Opposition’s doing.
But what the PPP’s doing – as opposed to the Opposition – is stressing a more fundamental cleavage – sex. How long hasn’t there been the cry for women to be represented in the corridors of power? Why’s the Opposition surprised by the PPP/C listening to this cry?
But no…in this “silly season” imagine the best they can do is Mrs Harper participating in protesting the Opposition illegally slashing the budget! This of course, moves her from the ranks of “civil society” into a die-hard” unreconstructed PPPite!! So a person from “civil society” can’t disagree with the Opposition?? Imagine what’ll happen if they ever get into power!
And then we hear about Ms Harper sitting quietly through the press conference introducing her candidacy means “she can’t speak”!
What we won’t hear about is that the PPP/C’s picked a self-confident professional woman who’s successfully run a large institution most competently for the longest while.
And that when it comes right down to it…nothing beats success like success!
…to downplay Mash?
The consensus is: this year’s Mash wasn’t “as big” as last year’s. The number of floats was down…and most significantly so were the number of private sponsors. And that’s something that deserves analysis. When Mash was launched back in 1970, down in Linden, it was an overt imitation of the Trini Carnival. In fact, it was called “carnival”.
Political types then jumped on board to connect it with the fledgling “Republic Day”. Point of the matter is that since then, the Government’s been the driving force behind Mash, even though as Minister Anthony bemoaned, the private companies are exhorted every year to get aboard.
A big part of the problem is the original conflation of a “cultural” event and a “historic commemoration” of our Republican status. There’s nothing wrong about folks wanting to let off steam and have a good time. If they feel they want to do it by imitating the Trinis – so be it!! We see even J’Ouvert is being imported.
But the Government should stick to commemorating our Republic. And leave the “sporting” to private initiative. Maybe on another day.
APNU politicians should really take up PPP/C’s Rohee’s invitation for them to have a chat with the Rodney COI. Confession’s always good for the soul.
…a hero Malcolm X
Last Saturday, February 21 was the 15th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination. We wonder why there wasn’t any event organised in Guyana to mark the occasion. While Cuffy’s contribution to our independence struggle had to be taught to us in the schools – for those struggling for our independence, Malcolm was a living lesson!
Sure he was fighting for the rights of African-Americans in the US…but like all just struggles, it reverberated wherever there was oppression. Like in colonial British Guiana.
Malcolm X first and foremost rebelled against a system that oppressed him, but which insisted on telling him how to conduct his struggle. And this was his most important contribution to the eternal struggle for justice.
If you’re being oppressed by a system you have to be very leery of those defending the system…no matter how well meaning they sound. It’s not that Malcolm X, for instance, doubted Martin Luther King’s intentions – he just distrusted real change coming with the help of the establishment.
Back in the Caribbean, Malxolm X (and his mother was WI!) was a hero in the fledgling movement for Black pride here. Our own Dr Walter Rodney wrote perceptively on Malcolm’s contribution to the struggle of oppressed people everywhere – and adopted the slogan, “By any means necessary”, from him.
Malcolm was a threat to the powers that be so 50 years after his death, the facts of his assassination are still shrouded in secrecy. What’s known is that unlike theories about JFK’s assassination, it’s proven that others were involved in Malcolm’s death – but the NY Police still refuse to open their files.
But Malcolm’s relevance in the US is even higher today than 50 years ago. He shot to fame when he protested the shooting of an unarmed Black man in Harlem back in 1957. What’s so different with the shootings in Ferguson Missouri or New York City this year??
Well, for one, it wasn’t just one man protesting – and that’s part of the legacy of Malcolm X.
But Malcolm also demonstrated that ordinary folks have to be very leery of leaders who practice “do as I say but not as I do”. Just before he was assassinated – and this was the reason he was assassinated – Malcolm X denounced the leader of his organisation for betraying the principles of the organisation.
He also moved beyond defining the Africa-American struggle purely in racial terms. It’s very sad that 60 years after his death, local leaders from the AFC-APNU are stuck on “race”.
… a traitor Moses Z (for Zero)
Malcolm Little dropped the “Little” because he noted this was the name of some old slave owner – and adopted the marker for the unknown “X”. In Guyana, Moses Nagamootoo should drop his name and call himself “Moses Z – for Zero” – because he’s proven to be just that: a bit, fat, nothing!
Imagine this louse…errr..lush, claiming that TVG 28/12 was purchased “under highly controversial circumstances”!! What the heck’s “controversial” about Bobby Ramroop plunking down millions of US greenbacks to Tony Vieira to buy the station?
This is still a free-enterprise economy, no?? Nagamootoo might be confused since he usually picks up the “large” he consumes daily, on “trust”. And doesn’t pay. Now that’s controversial!!
And that’s a laugh – placing “trust” and “Nagamootoo” in the same sentence! Then there’s his nonsense about the radio licences the Ramroop Media Group received.
Nagamootoo would know – as one who Dr Jagan gave a squeeze in the media – that with his purchase of Vieira’s VCT…Ramroop obtained his radio licences when he pursued Vieira’s suit against the Government!
Magamootoo should build a shrine to Ramroop for breaking the state radio monopoly in Guyana!!
Forget the Mash revellers forgetting Cuffy’s heroic actions in 1763. Even the writer the Culture Ministry brought in to offer an “intellectual” take on the event, forgot our National Hero!!
Ralph Ramkarran’s most recent betrayal of Dr Cheddi Jagan’s legacy is even more ironic in the face of his rejection by Moses Nagamootoo as the “consensus candidate” of the APNU/AFC coalition. But it’s possible he doesn’t know Nagamootoo only stepped aside for Granger…when the alternative became Ramkarran as the Presidential Candidate.
Ramkarran claims the coalition’s right out of Cheddi’s playbook based on PPP’s efforts to form “National Front” Governments in 1977 and 1985. This is a standing libel on all that Dr Jagan ever stood for.
Jagan never attempted to equate “national unity” with the crass horse trading for positions that characterized the recent “secret negotiations” between APNU and AFC. Jagan insisted on ideological consistence guiding a programme of action before positions were discussed.
For instance in 1977, he elaborated 17 points that undergirded his proposal for a National Patriotic Front Government (NPFG)…all based on a Marxist analysis of the situation. He’d determined that faced with pressures from the “imperialist West”, the PNC was being forced to take an “anti-imperialist” stance that the PPP could support.
Jagan insisted, for instance: “The NFPG must include all parties and groups which are progressive, anti-imperialist and wish to see Guyana take a socialist-oriented or non-capitalist path of development.”
It was Forbes Burnham who rejected the proposal by making the ridiculous equation with Russia’s historical development: “If the Bolsheviks had sought unity with the Mensheviks on coalition terms, the history of the Soviet Union would have been differently written.”
Becoming President was never on Jagan’s agenda and this Eyewitness dares Ramkarran, who was around at the time, to produce evidence to the contrary.
On the 1985 talks on “unity”, again this has to be seen against the ideological ratcheting up of hostilities against “global communism” by Ronald Reagan, who’d invaded tiny Grenada in 1983. Burnham was convinced he was next on Reagan’s list – whether through invasion or tightening of the screws by the IMF.
Much of the background was recounted by former PYO Chairman Halim Majeed, who defected to the PNC and became a personal assistant to Burnham. In case Ramkarran’s memory’s fading, he should read Majeed’s booklet – Forbes Burnham: National Reconciliation and National Unity 1984-1985.
What’s sickening is that when they were both in the PPP Ex-Co, Ramkarran was always scathing of Nagamootoo’s drive for “leader or nothing” approach.
What does he gain by now absolving Nagamootoo through traducing Jagan’s legacy?
…his words – Ramjattan
Doing an absolute about face from his warning that the AFC’d be “dead meat” if they coalesce with PNC/APNU – Khemraj Ramjattan made what he called a “non-negotiable” demand that his party MUST be given the Presidential Candidacy. His rationale wasn’t hard to see. It was clear the AFC’d picked up its 2011 votes in Berbice (the majority of their total overall) through an out-and-out racial campaign.
Why else would they feel their Berbice Indian supporters would desert them en masse (and leave them as “dead meat”) if they hitched up with APNU? The latter had accepted it had a predominantly African Guyanese base, through its leader David Granger.
So the “Presidential demand” was to assuage their supporters’ fears of whatever they’d warned them about APNU. The Indian “President” – and this was why Ramjattan abandoned the AFC’s “ethnic rotation principle” and handpicked his buddy Nagamootoo over Nigel Hughes – would “protect” them.
Their Berbice base has evaporated now that the “non-negotiable” demand has been negotiated away.
With Granger retaining the Presidential spot, if APNU were to win by some miracle, as President Donald Ramotar had told him, Nagamootoo will get “larwah”!!
A PNC supporter wrote that “the dregs of the PNC are within the ranks of the PPP/C”. This Eyewitness doesn’t know about that. But what do you call ex-PPPites Nagamootoo and Ramjattan who’re within the ranks of the PNC?? “Dutty dregs”??
If there’s anything that’s gonna convince folks “the times are a changin’” it’s the news that Sam Hinds isn’t going to be our next Prime Minister. There’s a whole generation out there who probably think to be Prime Minister of Guyana, your name has to be “Sam Hinds”. His successor is going to be a newcomer to politics – Elisabeth Harper, a career diplomat.
Now the Opposition’s already bleating about Harper’s “inexperience” but isn’t it the same charge they made back in 1992 when Dr Jagan picked Sam Hinds? And look how well that choice of a “dark horse” turned out!! But then the Opposition are terrified that the PPP/C stuck to Jagan’s winning script and chose a real “Civic” candidate.
And that means choosing someone outside of the political circles that have such a negatively stereotype – because of the Opposition gymnastics – and some imitators in the ruling party circles, of course. This was a masterstroke from Dr Jagan…and it’s great that the PPP/C stuck to it.
If there’s one adjective that everyone would agree fits Sam Hinds, it would be “decent”. In the 23 years that Sam’s been PM…there hasn’t been a single whiff of impropriety emanating from his direction.
And it would appear that this is the quality the PPP/C wants to replicate with their new choice. When Sam was chosen, he was just a well meaning chemical engineer from the bauxite industry who’d become Chair of the Civil Society grouping-GUARD. They’d been agitating for “free and fair” elections, pulling huge crowds at their meetings. The attractiveness being due to the same quality the present Opposition are deriding – being outside of politics.
The Opposition’s dirty tricks department went into overdrive to promote the idea that former President Bharat Jagdeo and PPP/C General Secretary were lining up for the PM position. Their not-so-subtle subtext, of course, being that these gentlemen would be looking over the shoulders of President Ramotar. The other top name touted by the Opposition was that of Carolyn Rodrigues – interestingly the line-Minister of Elisabeth Harper.
As was evident from their own cynical coalition negotiations, the Opposition sees Guyana’s politics totally through racial lens. Just as Nagamootoo got their PM candidacy nod because he’s supposed to bring in “Indian” votes, Rodrigues was supposed to do the same for Amerindian votes. In rejecting this crass pandering to racial sentiments, the PPP/C has done a yeoman task for this country’s political culture.
In the meantime, there should be some special occasion organised to honour Sam Hinds who showed that with hard work, commitment and modesty, greatness can be achieved.
While we’re still a cash-based economy, most folks are familiar enough with banks to know that you can’t cash the same cheque twice. But in politics, the Opposition still haven’t learnt the equivalent lesson: how many times are they going to play the “race card”?? But we guess “race” is in their genes and they just can’t help themselves. Nature will out, no?
But what’s very troubling is not just their racial orientation – but their math. We know that our kids don’t do very well at CXC math…but how the heck does 10 + 40 = 100???!!! But this is the Math the Opposition’s been using to justify their unholy union. They say the can now form a “Government of National Unity”. Now the last time we looked, “national” meant “all” or “most” of a country – 100 per cent.
So once again this Eyewitness asks – how does (as Nagamootoo and Granger claimed) 10 per cent Indian Guyanese + 40 per cent African Guyanese = 100 per cent Guyanese ???
How can folks who can’t cooperate on finding a common name for their union, cooperate to improve Guyana?? Citizens want Granger to reconsider Ramjattan’s proposal – “Partnership Alliance for National Trust – Yes!”. Or “PANTY!” for short.
The problem of a common symbol is thus also solved. PANTY!
…with the good and the bad
Well, the choices in front of the electorate on May 11 are becoming clearer by the day. On Saturday, anticipating his re-election, President Ramotar created a “New Economic Council” (NEC) and placed former President Jagdeo in charge.
While the exact details haven’t been released yet, the former President will “assist in conceptualising and crafting economic strategies and initiatives as well as support in the oversight in the implementation of various projects and strategic interventions.”
We rather suspect the Council will be composed like – and perform along the lines of - similar institutions in modern economies. As such, we should see along with Jagdeo, some other high level economists, statisticians and analysts providing “sophisticated guidance to the President”.
In this globalised world that’s still being integrated under all sorts of liberalising regimes, there’s no economic decision that can be taken in isolation any longer – even in a small economy like Guyana’s.
And who’s better to fill this role than the former President who began his stint in government as a Junior and then a Senior Minister of Finance?? It’s said that you can’t teach success – it can only be achieved through a confluence of personal characteristics, training and experience. And once you’ve achieved success, it becomes part of the architect’s “gut reactions” which can’t be duplicated.
But what do we have on the other side – the PNC which became PNCR then PNC R1G then APNU and now APNU-AFC – for guidance on matters economic? Carl Greenidge, that’s who!! A man who was Burnham’s and Hoyte’s Finance Minister who presided over their bankrupted economy so far into the hole that even the IMF refused to deal with them!
The point is you have no one in the PNC/APNU/AFC coalition who can inspire any confidence in economic development, the way Jagdeo can. Clive Thomas?? Well, he complained that APNU wasn’t meeting with him and WPA even once a month! We wonder about the Donkey Cart Economist Khemraj, who jumped ship from AFC to APNU as a Granger acolyte. Has he slunk back to Florida?
Thing is, just as success breeds success, failure breeds failure. There’s no one in the new coalition who really know the difference between “Moutar” and “guitar”. As such they just make sounds that have no meaning – especially when it comes to economic matters. If folks like Nagamootoo and Ramjattan stay true to form, we can expect them to start undermining any Granger administration.
Jagdeo, on the other hand, has every incentive to ensure that his legacy of high level growth in the Guyanese economy continues uninterruptedly. Go with winners!!
…and with the ugly
Meanwhile, over in the Opposition, more dirt’s emerging on the mountain of labour that produced a mouse – APNU-AFC. And a dirty, stinking mouse it is. This Eyewitness has spent an awful lot of time exposing the hypocrisy of the AFC – but mainly as political pimps who sold their supporters for a mess of pottage to the PNC. And a mess is what it’ll be!
But out of the mouth of one former fervent supporter, immigration lawyer Balwant Persaud, he’s revealed that in addition to there being a “Gang of five” who’re totally controlling the AFC – there has been some serious financial hanky panky going on in that den of inequity. But then can you expect better for their rogue’s gallery of leaders??
According to Persaud – who’s singing like a twa-twa because the Gang of Five broke their foundational principle not to merge with either the PNC or PPP – tens of millions of dollars are missing from the AFC’s kitty.
This might call for jail time even BEFORE the elections!!
…and the West Indies team
We know “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”. But you gotta admit…that overwhelming victory over Pakistan did feel good, no?? How sweet it is!!