In declassified US Government documents, there is this hidden piece of information that goes directly and brutally to the PNC’s DNA of corruption. The papers refer to a flour mill established in Guyana in 1967 by Seaboards, an American company with flour mills in several Latin American countries. Apparently, Burnham and the PNC Government were ripping off the company of US$28,000 annually. This was revealed in US Government records from June 1969. The PNC’s involvement in corruption is as old as the party itself. During the PNC-led coalition Government of 2015 to 2020 under President David Granger, the former PNC leader, corruption surpassed anything that its predecessor PNC Governments of 1964 to 1992 were accused of, and for which evidence has emerged.
It was painful and disgusting to watch Aubrey Norton trying to defend himself and the PNC against Bharrat Jagdeo, who spoke last week of the cluelessness, incompetence and corruption which characterise the PNC of old and the PNC of today. In trying to respond, Norton further adds to the evidence of incompetence and corruption of the PNC. Norton continues to disregard advice from old people and the philosophers that some things are better left unsaid. His party has a track record that he should try very hard to keep out of the news and out of the minds of Guyanese. In the next election, youths would dominate the electorate. The less they know of the PNC history the better for Norton and the PNC. In fact, Norton should try the Herculean task of having people forget the track record, not only of Burnham’s and Hoyte’s PNC of the period between 1964 and 1992, but also of David Granger’s PNC, which led the APNU/AFC coalition Government of 2015 to 2020. He needs to convince young people to disregard the PNC’s sordid past and focus on a new PNC.
Norton tried desperately to justify Forbes Burnham and the PNC being paid servants of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of America. The American Government, through the CIA, in covert activities in Guyana from early 1962, had bankrolled Burnham and the PNC for the 1962, 1964 and 1968 elections. The CIA continued the bankrolling of Burnham and the PNC after the 1968 elections. After the 1968 elections, Burnham requested further support and demanded a sum of US$10,000 per month. The CIA agreed to continue the support, but reduced the sum to US$5,000 per month. This was continued until 1972. Once the support was stopped, Burnham tried to get the Chinese to grant him a sum of US$1M to support him for the 1974 elections, according to declassified papers from the US Government. These are not suspicions and allegations; the people who paid the money admitted through declassified records that we all have access to today. For those who are interested in seeing these records, simply go to https://jagan.org/Links/declassified_documents_1969.htm
The truth is hard sometimes for us to swallow, but the PNC’s founder-leader that the PNC want to this year rehabilitate during his 100th birth anniversary was paid by the CIA for the purpose of keeping Cheddi Jagan out of Government. The US Government officials, in secret records at the time, admitted that Burnham on his own could not win an election in Guyana, and since rigging was the only way to keep Cheddi Jagan out of Government, the criminal act of rigging elections was an acceptable modus operandi for US Government support. It is in this context that the PNC-led APNU/AFC’s brazen and shameful attempt to rig the 2020 elections must be seen.
The PNC has never depended on winning an election in any free and fair manner. The truth is that the manner of rigging elections was always transparent and incompetent. Those old PNC leaders who participated in election rigging pre-1992, as much as they were incompetent, are horrified by the incompetence of those PNC leaders and activists who led the 2020 version of rigging.
There are gems of information hidden in the declassified US Government documents. In those documents are hidden evidence of the corruption DNA of the PNC. Brief references have been made above to the US$28,000 annually siphoned off from a flour mill in the 1960s, and the attempt to have the Chinese give them US$1M after 1972. But also hidden in these declassified papers are things we have come to know well from our own experiences. One is that PNC leaders are deeply rooted in the DNA of dictatorship. Norton today has been accused by his own staunch PNC supporters, MPs, and even executive members of being one who does his own thing. He is a person whom few dare advise or disagree with.
Interestingly, the declassified documents from the US Government described Burnham as follows: “ Few dare advise him or disagree with him…He does not take advise easily, even from those close to him. On several occasions recently, he has overridden members of his cabinet, or acted contrary to their advice. But none dares approach him to argue.” Fast-forward to today and a new PNC leader, these words applied to Burnham by the Americans in 1969 fully apply to Aubrey Norton today.
The PNC and their leaders cannot change stripes, cannot escape their DNA. A makeover with new DNA is needed.