Home Letters Guyana is on the move: just tell the truth
After meeting several Heads of Government in New York City during (September 21-23, 2021) the 76th Session of UN General Assembly, President Dr Irfaan Ali, and Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo squeezed in time to meet with several diaspora groups, including at the Hilton Hotel in Jamaica, Queens on Friday September 24, 2021.
All the interactive meetings were fully attended. A major theme of the sessions was the dire need to tell the truth about Guyana’s progress. In the first session of September 24th, President Dr Irfaan Ali and Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, along with Foreign Secretary Robert M Persaud met with business leaders; at the second session, they met with religious leaders of the Hindu, Muslim, and Christian faiths; and at the third session, they met with political enthusiasts and commentators.
The PPPC leadership team also emphasised the need for Guyanese to be involved in the shaping of a new Guyana. Those with skills-set, those with financial resources, as well as others (retirees) were exhorted to return to Guyana to become part of the country’s development thrust.
The leadership was pellucid: Guyana’s future development does not depend on oil alone. “We are pushing aggressively for a diversified economy with oil revenues helping to facilitate this process. The non-oil sectors’ growth has been good so far at 7%,” said President Ali.
The Head of State also stated that Guyana’s position on food security has been restored after languishing from 2015 to 2020, and that agriculture expansion is not only generating exciting economic activities, but also improving confidence in food security.
The President said that Caricom has determined to reduce food imports by 25%, and that Guyana could play a key role to offset the reduction.
The Vice President touched upon the lies, contrived information, and deception being spewed by Opposition elements, whose most powerful tool of political mobilisation is racism. Dr Jagdeo said that when the Guyana Government required visas for Haitians entering the country, such a policy was deemed racist by the Opposition, notwithstanding that other CARICOM countries have a similar visa requirement for Haitians. He then asked rhetorically, “Would they deem President Biden’s deportation of hundreds of Haitians as racist?”
The Vice President insisted that available data does not support any of the Opposition’s outlandish claims. “Afro-Guyanese have made the greatest progress under the PPPC governance,” explained the VP. The evidence is reflected in the allocation of jobs, housing, scholarships, house lots, housing, land, etc. As an example, in the housing sector, the VP pointed out that in Linden (Region 10, a PNCR stronghold), the two major housing projects there were accomplished under the PPPC’s governance.
Dr Jagdeo beseeched Guyanese to tell and report the truth. “We are not asking you to support or to defend the PPPC, but to speak the truth.”
When asked about the controversy with Venezuela, President Ali said there is no controversy. It is Venezuela which has raised a claim that was already settled. He stated that the matter is before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for consideration. On this issue, Dr Jagdeo raised an important point of historical significance. When he, as Guyana’s President, decided to take the maritime dispute between Guyana and Suriname to the ICJ for adjudication, the Opposition PNCR leader joined with the Surinamese Opposition Leader to denounce that move. The VP emphatically stated that the PPPC, whether in Government or in Opposition, always support and defend a unified policy on Guyana’s territorial integrity.
When asked about electoral reforms in the wake of the daring attempt to stage an electoral coup d’état in 2020, the VP explained that it is difficult to legislate behaviour. It was the technical professional staff at GECOM that were key players in the attempted electoral heist.
He also cited the PNCR’s ignoring of important constitutional provisions (such as illegally appointing a GECOM Chair and the PNCR’s refusal to adhere to the No Confidence Motion) as examples of a concerted effort to rig the 2020 elections. Nevertheless, the PPPC will propose legislation in the hope of blocking loopholes and preventing further electoral mischief.
On the issue of crime, Dr Ali emphasized, “One crime committed is one crime too much.” As part of the Government’s efforts to improve policing, it will also install cameras on streets as well as body cameras on Police officers, among other measures.
Dr Vishnu Bisram drew the attention of the Guyana leadership team and the audience to the case of popular singer Rita Persaud who was killed in a car crash, but the assailant could not be traced for over 9 months. In the audience were the two NYPD officers who made the arrest of the suspect on Thursday November 23, 2021.
Jennifer Rajkumar, the first Asian to be elected to the New York State Assembly (representing NYC Assembly District 38), showered praises on the two officers and colleagues of NYPD for their good detective work in apprehending the suspect.
President Ali also commended the NYPD for bringing the suspect to justice, and further suggested a collaboration between the NYPD and the Guyana Police Force.
The audience was happy with the outcome of the meetings, and showed their deep appreciation by giving citations to the President, the VP, and the Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud.
Citations were also given to Foreign Minister Hugh Todd and Guyana’s Ambassador to the UN, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett.
Dr Tara Singh