Boat gone ah falls


By Ryhaan Shah

No one is optimistic about Guyana’s future. The country has careened through 51 post-independence years, bouncing along and threading its way through a divide, with two large groups of citizens on opposite sides of the path that should have led us to peace and prosperity.

But poor political leadership is not the only reason for our despair and continued lack of progress. The will always belongs to the people, and we are the ones who continue to fail ourselves and our children’s future. We have not yet risen above party politics, nor have we graduated from drinking the partisan Kool- Aid that continues to kill us.

Many felt the PPP/C Administration was corrupt and arrogant, and should be let gone. Whatever machinations occurred in the 2015 elections to ensure this, the Coalition came in with great promises of positive change. We have watched it all come to naught as PNC authoritarianism moved in; and that without any effective protest or deterrence from any quarter.

The PNC has always had command of its thug element, along with its kith-and-kin support in the police and army, which are all part of its political arsenal. With these it had rammed its way into power in the 1960s with the full backing of the US and its allies. PNC attempts to do the same during the 23 years of PPP rule were destructive, but never achieved the desired goal.

The U.S. had invested too heavily in restoring Guyana to democratic rule; and, in a post-Cold War era, there was no good reason for political meddling. Then came oil, and everything changed. Securing an oil future is to everyone’s advantage — especially for the U.S. and its allies, with their manufacturing and industrial sectors to feed.

The PPP/C Administration’s insistence on respect for Guyana’s sovereignty and its infamous feral blast did not help its relationship with the diplomatic community. With Guyana still dependent on aid, we are not in a position to call the shots, and many continue to believe that the party’s uncouth conduct scuppered its chances of winning the 2015 elections.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is astute enough to understand the need to mend fences with our international partners, but this might be too little too late.

By all appearances, boat done gone ah falls, even if the PPP senses a 2020 victory because of the many corruptions and faux pas being committed by the Granger Administration. The economy is in free fall; the stink of Government’s corruption is high; democratic parliamentary processes are sidelined, as is the rule of law; and with Justice Franklyn Holder’s recusal from the Carvil Duncan case, the Judiciary appears compromised, whether through intimidation or because of party/racial solidarity.

These add up to the abuse of Executive powers that accompany authoritarianism, and President David Granger is still to name a successor to the GECOM chair — an absolutely crucial position if the PNC’s plan to stay in government come 2020 is to succeed. The pesky AFC 11% appendage will have to go; PNC rule will not be dependent on Indian Guyanese votes.

The moves to erode democratic processes should have set off alarms within the diplomatic circle, given their strident criticisms in regard to the PPP/C Administration’s alleged corruption. Instead, there are notably affable relations with what is an openly corrupt Government.

Granger was able to go and take a photograph with the Queen of England; and he appears quite delighted with the shiny objects being presented to him, including little Hess toy trucks and a presidential arch complete with the cacique crown, gifted by favoured Trinidadian business partner ANSA McAL, who is $605 million richer for the corrupt pharmaceutical supply deal it was handed.

If everything goes according to plan – the Nassau Plan? – the 2020 elections will be the last electoral manipulation the PNC might need. The openly racist policies that target Indian Guyanese economically and culturally will succeed in their goal. As Indians continue to flee, the demographics will shift and Africans will become the majority Guyanese people.

Guyana’s First Nations need to be vigilant about the fatuous claim being made about African indigeneity. If this claim gains any legitimacy, the First Nations could well find themselves disempowered and dispossessed.

Not everyone wants to see Guyana go down the road of PNC authoritarianism again; but, unfortunately, we have no best selves that will act for the common good and in our country’s interests. We prefer to watch the boat plunge headlong over the falls onto the rocks below.

Oil will not save us; neither will another PNC dictatorship. But is there any will and unity to turn the boat around?