What …Independence?

We’re commemorating the 58th Anniversary of our Independence from Britain today!! Imagine that!! Babies born in that year are approaching retirement!! But these anniversaries force us to think about what it must’ve been back then; so, here goes! And it ain’t just a matter of nostalgia, cause no matter how hard we try, we cannot totally escape being influenced by changes that might’ve survived to confront us in the present. For instance, we know now, from declassified files from Britain and the US, that our “independence” was a sham – since it was granted to a PNC/UF Government that was installed after widespread racial bloodshed in our land.
Independence had been promised for 1962 to the party that won the 1961 elections. If that promise had been kept, we would’ve attained independence along with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago!! But even though the PPP won the 1961 elections, the US – convinced that Cheddi Jagan was a “fellow traveller” of Moscow – opposed independence under him. Their CIA-fostered riots in Georgetown on Feb 16, 1962 – Black Friday – halted independence and offered them the pretext for changing the electoral system from the constituency-based First Past the Post (FPTP) to Proportional Representation. This almost unique electoral system in the British Commonwealth was introduced, along with forging a coalition between the PNC and United Forces (UF), to oust the PPP.
“Independence” under the PNC then evolved into a farce, as far as democracy was concerned. We, the Guyanese people, knew it was a sham; the furriners knew it was a sham – but we all were told to play “make believe”!! And with the PNC going along with the US and UK’s game, how could they tell him anything when Burnham started to rig elections in 1968?? In fact, the CIA put Fat Boy on their payroll, and told him to save their blushes and not to rig too blatantly!! Burnham, however, had them by the shorts, and merrily had horses in England give him a majority from “overseas voting”!!
So, “Independence” gave us a PNC that ruled for 28 years, so that their authoritarian and kleptomaniacal modus operandi became settled in their bones. So why should anyone – including the Yanks and Brits – be surprised that Granger – who was groomed into the “system” by Burnham, attempted such a blatant rig in 2020??!! Independence for Granger meant that the PNC expanded its “Disciplined Forces” – of which he was a head – into one of the highest armed forces-civilian ratios in the world. They would “discipline” us for our own good!!
And this is why we have to be careful to ensure that the PNC accept democratic norms before we trust them to be anywhere near power in Guyana!!

…is ahead?
Economically, Burnham plunged our country from being one of the top economies in the British Caribbean to its worst – hovering precariously above perennially poor Haiti. This was after the PNC promised to “feed, house, and clothe” the nation, and nationalised 80% of the economy. They were so inept that they even wrecked the bauxite industry that gave their supporters in Linden the highest salaries in Guyana!! They destroyed the independence of the Trade Union Movement by seizing control through a welter of underhand stratagems – just to stymie the PPP.
Socially, the country was torn apart because of the racist policies of the PNC, that exacerbated the divisions created by the racial riots which got them power. They doled out jobs in the 80% nationalized economy to its base – specifically to those who had “party cards”. Crime stalked the land as the “choke and rob” phenomenon of Georgetown segued into “kick down the door” banditry that terrorized rural residents.
Guyanese must ensure we never return to those days!

Today, unfortunately, many of the debased features of PNC rule remain entrenched systemically in our politics, economy, and society. Between 2015 and 2020, we saw they were unrepentant!
The struggle continues to return democratic praxis to Guyana.