GECOM Commissioner recants “Massa” claims against PSC Chair
Coalition representative on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Desmond Trotman, has recanted racist statements made against Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Captain Gerry Gouveia, with a “Massa” tirade that he had publicly made against the PSC member.
The public spat which saw its genesis involving correspondence between Captain Gouveia and GECOM Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield had seen a swift condemnation by Trotman in a public missive, which had caught the attention of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC).
The body, however, on Wednesday reported that it had concluded its investigations and that the two public figures had come to an amicable settlement.
The complaints stemmed from a July 24, 2019, letter which was written by Trotman to Captain Gouveia, in his capacity as Chairman of the PSC.
The Commission subsequently appointed a special Sub-Committee to investigate the complaints and that was spearheaded by Retired Justice Stanley Moore.
As Chairman, the Sub-Committee was mandated to “establish the facts of what transpired and why”.
Following the announcement of an amicable settlement, Trotman in a statement on Wednesday said, “I erred in identifying Gouveia’s ancestry as one of Plantocracy and slave-owning class and, therefore, mistakenly attributed their traits to him”.
The coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Commissioner on GECOM said, given that at the time Lowenfield had already responded to the PSC representative over concerns raised at the time, “there was no need for a response from me, inclusive of the mistakenly attributed reference to him and his forebearers, which references offended him as if they were the Massa and all that is attributable to Massas…I therefore unreservedly withdraw all such assertions”.
Meanwhile, Gouveia in weighing in on the now-concluded racially-charged statements, said he respects the right for all and sundry to make their views known and that he accepts the withdrawal of the remarks by Trotman—“remarks associating me and my Portuguese forebearers with the misdoings of Massa during the period of slavery and indenture in British Guiana”.
The ERC had been called in to probe the matter after a formal complaint was lodged with the constitutional body after the letter surfaced from Trotman responding to one written by Captain Gouveia.
Among other things, the PSC Chair at that time had called for GECOM to suspend the then House-to-House Registration.
Trotman, in his response letter dated July 24, 2019, to the PSC Chair, argued that he felt that Gouveia’s letter was riddled with inaccuracies and moreover aimed at disgracing Lowenfield’s character.
Trotman further charged at the time, “what I found most disconcerting is the tone you adopted— a tone consistent with that of a white slave owner, who, in the presence of his overseers, is penalising a delinquent slave for failing to carry out the instructions of ‘Massa’. When I read that part of your letter I was filled with anger and I imagined the treatment of my forefathers by yours, as they were beaten…”
The PSC later condemned the racist attack of the Government-appointed GECOM Commissioner saying, “…this disgraceful, extremely offensive and defamatory behaviour has no place in GECOM or a democratic society”.