I know that I have had cause to express my curious appreciation of those columnists and dedicated letter writers – based in Georgetown and overseas – who, virtually, daily, lambaste Bharrat Jagdeo, his heirs and wannabes, most relentlessly with a view to regime change.
(I wouldn’t know how to do it with such pointed frequency, even though I have nothing against those gentlemen’s ultimate success.)
Incidentally “when yuh own louse bite yuh…” Research how many of today’s harshest, most strident critics were once in the same room with the matured Donald and young Bharrat. And silly me! Why do I keep wondering what would have been happening today if Moses or Ralph Hari Narayen had secured the PPP/C vote for Presidential nominee?
Perhaps my latter personal puzzle is the motivation for returning to what was, by around 1995, the Bharrat Jagdeo enigma. Along with the phenomenon of how, with electric swiftness, to the chagrin of his comradely seniors, the relative enigma became profound reality! With indelible consequences for his own party and our own country. (Recall too my sustained wonderment with regard to normally upright persons of ability, values and integrity, serving a regime who stole the people’s will for years.)
Young Bright Burnham returned to British Guiana just in time to be embraced by Young Cheddi Jagan, only to swiftly become Jagan’s relentless nemesis. Old PPP knowledgeables still around would recall Burnham’s political acumen, inclusive of the “race-card” dealt to him, between ’53, ’55 and ’57. Fast-forward to ’92, ’95, ’97.
Out of the political blue arrived a young Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) East Coast Demerara member; briefly a school teacher who went to Moscow to become an economist, returned to work with the PNC’s Haslyn Parris at the State Planning Secretariat, then emerged after the PPP/C returned to government near the end of 1992.
Like Cheddi his mentor, he had a rustic charm, deceptive smile and, privately, vast ambition. The latter fuelled by the Jagans – especially Comrade Janet.
Travelling with Cheddi and Senior Finance Minister Asgar Ally, young Soviet-trained Bharrat enjoyed a relatively brief apprenticeship before becoming full Finance Minister after the 1997 elections. Cheddi had passed on months before in ’97. But young Bharrat was moving forward. Like lightning!
I could not agree with the nastiness on the streets when Comrade Joe Hamilton, Aubrey and other PNC “militants” demonized Janet Jagan after the 1997 Elections. Say what you like she was a political Amazon.
Like Comrade Carberry I didn’t care about her being my President. She succumbed to the pressure of the streets and law courts and failing health.
Recall, then the unprecedented, governmental musical chairs organized by Comrade Janet: Young Jagdeo was made Prime Minister, President Jagan resigned. Prime Minister Jagdeo became President and re-appointed Samuel Hinds as P.M. all in four or five days! All politically vulgar, but constitutionally acceptable.
President Jagdeo, role and legacies
Manufactured and Readymade! Made in Janetland! My Guyana had her Bharrat as President of our Republic. I understood the hurt of such loyal “Cheddi Children” as Reepu, Moses, Navin, Clement, Ralph, even Roger and Robeson.
Look, even I, who had grown weary of my erstwhile PNC strategies and excesses, looked forward to what this baggage-less new Kid-on-the Political Block (literally a “kid”!) would offer.
I wrote about the “new Bharrat” as, mistakenly, many thought Cheddi was “a Bharrat” once. I did a whole newspaper supplement on his first 100 days. Such hope as he posed with Linden’s Afro-Girl students! Swiftly, President Jagdeo shed his masks and, Putin-like, even did some Forbes Burnham-like things. He seemingly made his Party secondary. He grasped Presidential and Constitutional authority. At his swearing-in he said Cde Janet would “always be (his) President”. Later he would describe her as “an ordinary citizen sharing her views”. There was venomous aggression against both Party and external critics. Old Cheddi stalwarts were immobilized, co-opted, hushed or evicted.
Enter the Real Jagdeo!
Unlike other more hostile commentators and political analysts, I can’t ignore the strengths and positives of leaders. However temporary, strategic or meant to deceive.
Mr Jagdeo did steady and sustain an erratic exchange rate – – even if his parallel market had something to do with that; he did seek out a more robust continental foreign initiative with Venezuela (Chavez), Brazil (Lula) and Suriname (the Doubtful Desi); Jagdeo did attempt massive infrastructural works – – even if many contractors never built dreams before; he withstood a five-year crime wave, eventually getting the murderous gang; he catapulted Guyana onto the Global Climate Change/Forest Preservation Map and he was a Master of Showpieces – ICC World Cup at new Stadium, Carifesta 10 and Jamzones many.
His loyalists of the current new PPP recently responded to a litany of his failed Presidency by presenting their own Super List of his Achievements – from the Law-of-the-Sea triumph over Suriname’s claim to his weathering the international financial meltdown. Good for them. But really, how will Bharrat be remembered? Not because of what people write and assess, but by the thousands of poverty-challenged citizens of this Blighted Land?
A powerful, petulant,
President’s (PPP) Legacy?
Jagdeo was masterful in having the selected Ramotar declare that, as President, he (Ramotar) would “continue” the policies of Jagdeo. Great for Bharrat, Catastrophe for our poor and powerless.
Frankly Speaking, to me, this lad from the fishing village of Unity, now known by the UN, Caricom, South America and the world, succumbed to the virus of unmitigated power, power that immobilised even successive bright intellectual opposition(s).
From Virgin Lands, Guysuco’s retired acreages; the so-called “Commanding Heights of the Economy”, the Private Sector, Investment Opportunities and Parliament, to even the electronic spectrum, Jagdeo channelled to his buddies. Using from nepotism, new legal entities, fronts, sleight-of-hand to retroactive legislation.
Frankly Speaking, young Bharrat made young Black Professional Persons seem like either an endangered species – or extinct. His is a powerful “legacy” of Indo-names in every sphere of authority, power, status and public life.
Sadly, even if not of his doing, under his watch sugar collapsed, crime and cocaine reigned, extra-judicial killings soared, greed submerged even sport, institutions were compromised and national morality plummeted as thousands fled and his own folks also suffered. And still suffer. Now add your List.
What is to be done?
The perennial question! What have been the Opposition responses to the Jagdeo legacy since he departed from Office but not from influence?
Unfortunately I’ll have to return to this as time and space shackle me here. (Just don’t ask Chris Ram that question). To me the Ramotar fellows – and Madame Gail – have done a fine job to stymie any effective measures the Brigadier’s Opposition have mounted. The Administration has used judicial challenges and delays to a fine art.
Budget challenges are by-passed, contracts are awarded like ice-cream and the PPP/C boys are rewarding themselves for any eventualities. Hail now the AFC’s No-Confidence motion! But wait! What’s in store for the Opposition? Stay connected.
*1) Old PPP fellows tell me they get Bharrat livid by telling him that – “is you mansion and pension mek we lose de majority. What America, Britain and de PNC fail at you manage to do!”
Til next week!