A US-Guyana pact to protect democracy

Dear Editor,
Some kind of US-Guyana pact is needed for protection and guarantee of democracy and change of Governments. The US determined change of Governments in Guyana in 1953, 1957, 1964, 1992, 2015, and 2020. Without US active intervention in March thru August 1, Guyana would have become a dictatorship. Clearly, without US involvement, democracy is insecure in Guyana.
After WWII, the US implored Britain to grant independence to the colonies as a reward for fighting on the side of the allies against the fascists. But no sooner had some of the independent countries became friendly with the Soviet Union, the US developed a change in attitude, particularly as it related to British Guiana where Cheddi Jagan erred in fraternising with the Soviet Union. That relationship sealed the fate of Guiana and the supporters of the PPP. The Eisenhower Administration urged the toppling of Jagan in 1953 and nudged Britain to encourage a split in the PPP into a pro-western faction and a pro-Soviet faction. Democracy was restored in Guyana in 1957 with the expectation that the political parties would moderate their left-wing ideology. Burnham played his card right by ‘sucking up’ to Washington and London. Jagan became anti-western sealing his fate and that of his supporters. And as Jagan sought closer relations with the Soviets, the US did all it could to oust the PPP from office between 1957 and 1964. A dictatorship followed from 1965 to 1992. This resulted in the PPP and its supporters, a majority of the population, being kept out of Government. Had the PPP pursued a pro-America stance in the 1950s, Guyana would have been a democratic nation and the country would probably have never experienced the kind of racial inferno of the 1960s and the hate that followed ever since. PPP supporters would not have experienced that 28 years of repression. Jagan misunderstood the power of the US.
When England granted Guyana independence in 1966, no one would have thought that the country would descend into a fascist communist dictatorship. And while the US propped up the pro-America dictatorship in the early years, the US changed course when Forbes Burnham began tilting eastward. America gradually withdrew assistance to Guyana in the 1970s and when communism collapsed in 1989, the US urged the restoration of democratic governance. This led to the return of Cheddi Jagan who had moderated his socialist ideology embracing a ‘democratic humane capitalism’ or liberalism. Close relations were developed between Guyana and the US thru the Jagdeo presidency. For some inexplicable reason, Jagdeo’s successor drifted away from Washington; worse, America was attacked, sealing the fate of Donald Ramotar, who was cleverly engineered out of office by Barack Obama. Ivelaw Griffith and a team of PNC political strategists developed a position paper that the PNC could be trusted with power doing as an ally of Washington resulting in an alliance between PNC (APNU) and AFC that was installed in Government, replacing Ramotar’s Administration. If Ramotar had not irked the US, he may well have been allowed to complete his first term in office and won a second a term.
David Granger had a historic opportunity to unite the country but instead was driven by a narrow agenda of racial exclusion sealing his fate early in his tenure. Drug trafficking, corruption, and racial insecurity in Guyana worsened. Meanwhile, Bharrat Jagdeo assumed control over the leadership of the PPP and at the nudging of Guyanese American supporters of his party, wisely signalled his intent of closer relations with Washington, a reversal of Ramotar’s position. Jagdeo smartly hired a lobbyist and PR firm to convince Washington that the PPP can be trusted as a reliable ally. This move made it possible for the US to support free and fair elections in Guyana. Jagdeo recognised that once free and fair elections were held in Guyana, PPP would win. It had built in numbers though they have been in decline since 2006.
As the above examples illustrate, the US is key to the survival of democracy and change of Administrations in Guyana. The same is largely true of other countries in the Americas that pursued friendly or fraternal relations with eastern powers. Hadn’t the US intervened in Guyana in 1992 and 2020 to secure the right of the will of the electorate, there would not have been a change in Administration and the return of PPP Governments. Unlike previous PPP leaders, Jagdeo understands the power of Washington and the significance of maintaining good relations with America, who is the guarantor of democracy in the region. The President Ali Administration should give serious thought to develop some kind of security alliance with America that would help to protect our democracy. Guyanese Americans are probably larger than the population of Guyana. They endorse a pact with Guyana that would protect democratic gains. Without the US, democracy in Guyana is threatened.

Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram