Racism And The Government
By John Da Silva
September 1, 2003
No allegations of racism were ever made against the People's Progressive Party (PPP) while they were in the Opposition for twenty-eight years.
However, after they won the locally and internationally certified free and fair elections on 5th October, 1992 allegations of racism, discrimination and marginalisation started to surface as time went on by the now main Opposition the People's National Congress (PNC) a spin-off and breakaway faction of the PPP through the personal ambitions of the Chairman of the PPP Mr. Forbes Burnham and others as documented by the 1962 Commission of Enquiry into the Disturbances of 16th February of that year.
The Opposition PNC alleged that the PPP/Civic Government - which is multi-racial multi-ethnic and cuts across all strata of society would not last - at first for six months then for one year, then for two years.
The assertions by the PNC (and they knew what a burdensome mess they had left behind after 28 years and the difficulty there would be in clearing it up) was because they could not be envisage anybody having the competence and ability to deal with the massive problems they had left.
Before the 1992 elections, the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan, leader of PPP from 1950 and in 1992 the first democratically-elected Executive President of Guyana and with a party slate that embraced all races, approached non-party Mr. Samuel Hinds and asked him to be a part of a PPP/Civic slate and should they win Mr. Hinds an Afro-Guyanese would become the Prime Minister.
Other non-party citizens of all races and classes were also invited to join the slated and the PPP/Civic won the election which were certified to be free and fair.
When Dr. Jagan died, Mr. Hinds the Prime Minister became the President for the remainder of the term. In subsequent elections, according to the agreement between the Party and the Civic component the Party would have the Presidency and the Civic group would hold the Office of Prime Minister.
As the policies, programmes and projects of the PPP/C Government started to show and record success attracting growing support, even from people and area formerly claimed by the PNC, we started to have charges of racism, discrimination and marginalization against the Government especially at elections time and when the results did not favour the PNC.
It was felt that these charges were mainly motivated by their desire to hold on to their supporters whom they were fearful of losing, as results of elections showed that the PPP/Civic were gaining inroads to their formerly claimed strongholds.
The PNC on the pretext that the local and internationally observed elections did not reflect the will of the people and that they had in fact won, contrary to all the evidence, held what they called peaceful protests in the streets, which resulted in many citizens especially Indo-Guyanaese being beaten, robbed and molested an businesses, mainly belonging to Indo-Guyanese being looted and burnt down while the perpetrators with their leaders among them chanted "slow fire, more fire".
It must be noted that there were no violent responses from this section of the population who relied on the mainly Afro-Guyanese Police Force to carry out their duties under the constitution to preserve law and order and prevent the society from sinking into anarchy for which they received high praise from President Bharrat Jagdeo and the population at large.
The Government over the last ten years has significantly increased allocations to the social sectors - health, education, water, roads, housing, social assistance and poverty alleviation from which all sections of the population benefit.
It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible for the Government to have embarked on any system of discrimination against any section of the population, especially Afro-Guyanese, many of whom held senior positions in the Government itself, and who are involved in the decision-making and administration of the various programmes and policies to dispense allocations for the benefit of all citizens. It simply would not have been possible to exclude Afro-Guyanese and is a ridiculous allegation, absolutely without foundation.
The charges are made by the Opposition simply to create racial disharmony and disquiet and protest and violence to disrupt and delay the obvious progress which the PPP/Civic Government has and is making visibly, verifiably and irreversibly.