Reply to Mr Hamilton Green – Part 2

Dear Editor,
When the PNC lost those elections, he switched again. This time, he aligned himself with Bookers (Sir Anthony Tusker, who was the first person to call for Proportional Representation), the British, and by then the Americans. Those forces were determined not to grant real independence to Guyana. Any “independent” state had to be neo-colonial. Burnham was already working with the colonial power and the US to stop Independence.
At the talks in London, Burnham and the UF began to demand Proportional Representation, a campaign they began immediately after the 1961 polls.

Remember PR or CR?
According to Jane Sillery, who wrote her doctoral thesis on US foreign policy and B.G., Burnham was told by the Americans not to make any compromise with Jagan. They assured him that the British would have given him all he wanted. That is why he behaved the way he did, even rejecting Cheddi’s 50% offer of the cabinet.
Now Hamilton Green, like others, are criticising Dr. Jagan for signing the agreement to allow Sandys to arbitrate, because Burnham had refused to compromise then, he preferred working with US and the UK against the PPP. What is forgotten in all of this is that both Burnham and D’Aguiar signed the same document!
Green and some anti-Jaganites like to present this as Cheddi Jagan being outsmarted. This was not so. Cheddi Jagan was betrayed! What considerations Dr. Jagan must have had when he signed that document?
In 1962, when Trinidad and Tobago was going towards Independence, PR was proposed as the electoral system. The British rejected it. They agreed with Dr. Eric Williams that PR would balkanise T&T and entrench racism in the society.
The situation described by Mr. Green, i.e. the PPP had 20 of the 35 seats with less than 50% of the popular votes, was the same situation that existed in the UK in that period. The Conservative Party had the majority of seats with less than 50% of the votes. Moreover, the British rejected PR for all the colonies in the Commonwealth.
On the question of voting at 18, that was always the position of the PPP. Moreover, Barbados had passed a bill for voting at 18 in its colonial parliament, so it was reasonable for Dr. Jagan to assume that the British would grant that.
Dr. Jagan obviously thought that even if the British conceded PR to the Opposition, it would give him voting at 18. He did not expect such a great betrayal from the “honourable gentlemen”. He maybe did not want to believe that his once “Marxist” colleague, Burnham, would have descended so low as to rob the people of this country of real substance of independence.
Mr. Green then went on to deliberately and dishonestly misrepresent what Dr. Jagan said when he realised the extent of the betrayal. Green misquoted Jagan as saying that he would create a “hurricane of violence”. Totally untrue! What he did say was that he would have begun a “hurricane of protests”. This is totally different.
Mr. Green seem still to be in alliance with the colonial masters who used that statement to violently attack the PPP in 1964. It was an excuse they created to unleash violence against the PPP. Hammie is still steeped in the colonial version of events.
He then spoke about the PPP boycotting the 1965 Independence Conference. Well, it is important to understand why. Firstly, many PPP leaders were still in detention for almost two years without trial, and the colony was under a state of emergency. Secondly, the Burnham-led PNC Government, just at the time of the conference in 1965, arrested and detained other PPP leaders, including Comrade Cedric Vernon Nunes, former Minister of Education in the 1961 to 1964 PPP Government. They refused to release the political prisoners and to lift the state of emergency! The PNC, working in alliance with the colonial powers, were making it impossible for the PPP to attend.
The British and PNC refused to release them, or to end the state of emergency! Yet, the PPP did not oppose Independence; it welcomed it, but began to wage a fight for real freedom, which was won on October 5, 1992.
It is apposite to recall that Guyana was the only country in the Commonwealth which the British granted Independence with a state of emergency in place.
Finally, Mr. Green credited Mr. Burnham for granting Muslims and Hindus holidays in 1965. That is not the whole truth.
During the PPP term in office in 1964, a Select Committee of the Legislative Council was set up to look at holidays. Those holidays came as a recommendation of that body.
I suspect that even if Mr. Burnham wanted to reject them, the British would have overruled him to save their own faces, due to the racial division they encouraged and were being criticised for by many people in various parts of the world.
Mr. Green and other of his ilk have a habit of lifting dishonesty and treachery and trying to make them virtues! Instead of apologising for his role and that of his party in their betrayal of the Independence Movement in this country, he objectively continues to defend the colonialist role and his own party’s collaborationist position.
At this stage of our lives, it’s time to come clean, Hammie!

Donald Ramotar
– Former President
of Guyana