Condemning attack on Gouveia & Portuguese

Dear Editor,
GECOM Commissioner Desmond Trotman viciously attacked the PSC’s Gerry Gouveia for pointing out a technical (and judicial) problem with GECOM undertaking new house-to-house (HTH) registration. Trotman is incorrect in his history of slavery and indentureship, while the PCS is right in its interpretation of the court’s ruling. Trotman is plain wrong, and must be condemned for his racist ranting against Gouveia and Portuguese.
If anyone’s ancestors whipped Africans and people of other ethnicities, it was Trotman’s and not Gouveia’s. Trotman should consult with his WPA colleagues Drs. Nigel Westmaas, David Hinds, and Wazir Mohamed on whose ancestors whipped who.
Trotman should apologise, on behalf of his ancestors, for whipping my ancestors, and the victims should be offered reparations.
Gouveia, writing on behalf of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), pointed out that HTH would not be completed in time for elections to be held by September 18, as instructed by the CCJ. He cautioned against this exercise. Trotman, a member of the WPA (once claimed to be a multi-racial, non-racist party, but now admits it is an African party), delivered a blistering attack on Gouveia, calling the latter a racist. Trotman penned that Gouveia’s ancestors used to whip African slaves. Flatly incorrect! Gouveia is of Portuguese and Amerindian ancestry, neither of whom practised slavery (against Africans) in Guyana, and neither group is known to have whipped African slaves.
Anyone who studied (studies) history would know that Portuguese did not practise or engage in slavery in Guyana. Portuguese came as indentured labourers (akin to slaves themselves) like the Indians and Chinese and some black West Indians. Some Portuguese themselves may have been whipped by Anglo Saxon slave owners, because indentured labourers (Indians in particular) and slaves were whipped; Portuguese were persecuted and segregated from Anglos. The Portuguese who came to Guyana as indentured labourers were so poor that even after receiving their compensation for indentureship, they could not afford to buy a whip, much less to whip any slave or ex-slave. When Gouveia’s ancestors came, they were so poor they did not even have money to buy a whip. And certainly the Portuguese were so emaciated, like Indians, after the journey from their homeland that they were in no physical condition to whip anyone.
There was intermittent racial violence between Portuguese and Africans, but these took place post-slavery, after whipping had long ceased. There were African anti-Portuguese riots in the 1840s, 1856 and 1888. The record would also show that the death rate of Portuguese immigrants (as indeed that of Indians), due to harsh working conditions, was higher than even during slavery. Portuguese, Indians, Africans, Chinese and Amerindians were all victims of slavery and the British.
The only whipping that took place post slavery was against Indians, and it was carried out by whites and security forces not of Indian origin. (Trotman would be shocked to know who did the whipping of Indians).
Trotman should read the history books to get “the whipping aspect” of history right. And he should ask David Hinds and Westmaas who the British did hire to whip the Indians. I can feel the pain on the backs of my Indian ancestors as the whippings were carried out by Trotman’s ancestors.
It is noted that Trotman attacked Gouveia, who was merely a messenger of the PSC. What if the messenger were a Chinese, or Indian, or a Mixed-race, or say Norman McLean? Would Trotman have engaged the same rant? I also note that the white diplomats of the ABCE countries also urged GECOM to prepare for early elections and honour the CCJ’s ruling. Trotman did not attack those whites, whose ancestors may also have whipped African slaves. Why pick on Gouveia?
Separately, I remember Trotman well, when I used to regularly visit Rodney House at Croal Street during my teaching holidays (in the 1980s and mid 1990s) to engage with Eusi Kwayana, Rupert Roopnaraine, Nigel Westmaas, Ameer and Wazir Mohammed, and others. Trotman was not known to be friendly; he looked at Indians suspiciously. I could sense in his body language and facial expression that he must have been asking why was this Indian (meaning me) or other Indians coming to Rodney House. I bought WPA publications and made financial contributions to the party as my offer of support for the party. I know Rodney well; I met him several times during our school struggle on the Corentyne in 1976 and 1977. I struggled alongside him against Burnhamism. Rodney was no racist; he embraced Indians and people of all ethnicities. He must have been turning in his grave that the party he founded would be racist and would have several racists in it.
In spite of the Trotmans, the anti-racist struggle continues in the persons of Ravi Dev, Freddie Kissoon, Wazir Mohammed, Eusi Kwayana and Vishnu Bisram, among others.
By the way, aren’t Trotman’s ancestors partly white (who owned slaves), unlike Gouveia’s, whose ancestors never owned slaves? So whose ancestors did the whipping of the slaves?

Yours truly,
Dr Vishnu Bisram