Democracy and development in 2021

At this festive season, we take the opportunity to wish our readers a happy and prosperous New Year. Our traditional New Year greeting is now reinforced, in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, with our sincere prayers that you and your families stay safe.
As the old year moves into the new on 1st January, like the Roman deity after whom January is named, we look back and learn from the lessons the past year has taught us, and look forward to meet the challenges the New Year will bring.
The past year, 2020, is unique in Guyanese History: there was never one of its kind in the past, and we trust there will never be one in the future.
Since the birth of Guyana as an independent nation, there has been the clash between the forces of dictatorship and democracy. This clash has rarely been perceived, but it has manifested itself in a macro way in the social, political and economic life of the nation, which in turn has manifested itself in a plethora of divisive issues, such as race, racialism, partisan employment practices, rigging of elections, nepotism, inefficient governance, corruption, and theft of state property. All these divisive and negative social, political and economic issues have obfuscated, and continue to obfuscate, the central clash between undemocratic forces and democracy.
This clash, unexpectedly and suddenly, became a final battle for which no one was prepared. It begun in December 2018 with Mr Charrandas Persaud’s No Confidence vote which brought down the then APNU/AFC Government. The APNU/AFC Coalition refused to honour the successful passage of the motion, and this opened up the struggle between democracy and undemocratic forces.
This struggle lasted for almost a year, because the undemocratic forces used every weapon in their armoury which they had used with success over the last 50 years. Those weapons include rigging of elections; violence and threats of violence; sinking the State into debt, and hampering the functionality of governance; misinformation; and, more recently, the misuse of the Law Courts.
In this last-ditch struggle, it sometimes appeared that the undemocratic forces would have prevailed, but the forces of democracy – which included the Commonwealth, Caricom, OAS, the EU, the ABCE countries and the local political actors – regrouped for the final assault.
After being left with no other option, the forces of dictatorship were finally routed after many months, and it was felt that they would never again resurge in Guyana. Among the heroes of Democracy were the US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, the Representative of the European Community, former Canadian High Commissioner Lillian Chatterjee, former UK High Commissioner Gregg Quinn; several Caricom Heads, including Mia Mottley and Bruce Golding, and many others who have stood boldly on the side of what is right, and who will be proudly recorded in the history books.
We had said many times before that dictatorship and undemocratic forces will never prevail in Guyana once citizens are vigilant and governments govern democratically, with the citizens’ welfare at heart.
The new PPP/C Government, which has been in office for close to five months, has started brilliantly, and is determined never to allow dictatorship to return. It has engaged international experts to advise, so that Guyana and its citizens could enjoy a fair return from the oil resources, and is already taking measures against the ‘Dutch Disease’. It is also providing relief to households affected by the health crisis, stimulating small businesses, negotiating with large foreign investors, and developing the agricultural industries, including sugar and rice. The forestry and mining sectors are also being stimulated.
Additionally, the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic compares with the best in the world. Guyana will get its supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and once the rollout begins, we are certain that the country will begin to take-off in ways that we have never experienced.
The present political milieu in Guyana clearly indicates that democracy and development go hand in hand, and that Guyana is embarking on a period of development which would transform the country into one of the wealthiest, best-governed and most democratic countries in the world. We are very hopeful that 2021 would be a year of great things.