APRIL 4, 2013 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
There are three grave tragedies of the Guyanese condition created or magnified by our divisive politics since 1950. One is the scourge of racism and ethnic polarization. Another is moral and psychological degradation of the nation. The third is economic impoverishment.
The first and the last elements have always existed in this land since the events pre- and post-Emancipation reshaped this landscape. The moral and psychological degradation of the Guyanese people before the arrival of the bitter struggles of the PPP and the PNC was limited to the immoral domination by the bourgeoisie of the working class.
The working class majority itself was peaceful, hardworking and decent-minded people grounded in justice and fairness in a sharing and crime-free working class stratum despite their sufferings. That changed with the arrival of the PPP and the PNC. They introduced full-scale ethnic division and racial apartheid politics to Guyana.
They caused their constituencies who were 85% of the population to adopt morally fraudulent and catastrophic positions out of this racial division. It was no longer what was right, just or fair, but what was racially opportunistic.
Negative ethnic generalizations and stereotyping became full-blown diseases under their reigns. All Africans were the PNC and all Indians were the PPP.
Moral hypocrisy strutted supreme. A dictatorial PNC government was to be overthrown by a Stalinist PPP party that crushed democracy. PNC socialism injected with healthy communist action (see nationalization) was condemned by the PPP and its supporters who advocated in the same breath the replacement with a communist state. PNC supporters sinfully accepted the atrocities of the PNC government just like PPP supporters support the abominations of the PPP government today.
In the grand circle of irony, these two groups of supporters have become one and the same. This moral undermining of the nation that took place in the racial-political struggles of the fifties and sixties have left an indelible stain on this nation’s psyche and morality. Even today, there are calls for the repetition of these stereotypes as evidenced during the 2011 election campaign when Bharrat Jagdeo reminded those who endured the PNC struggles to recall those experiences for the youths of today.
The moral damage was not limited to the psychological operations of the PPP and PNC and their race-driven political orgy. It has to do with the economic woe the PPP and PNC left this nation. Both of these parties have been dismal economic managers. Despite its working class rhetoric, the PPP’s economic management from 1957 to 1964 was a failure that saw economic decline and hardship for the working class along with increasing corruption.
The PNC was handed an economy in gradual decline in 1964 and took it over the precipice with a reckless socialist policy accompanied by corruption and mismanagement. In 1992, the PPP got a destroyed economy that was beginning to grow again and has delivered modest growth in an era of the greatest worldwide economic growth. The modest gains the PPP achieved have been largely shifted by deliberative government policy into the hands of a new upper class who benefit from the largesse and corruption of the PPP.
All of this economic mismanagement has pushed the majority of this country to moral corruption in order to survive. Not only do they have to work for immoral government, they are constantly morally debasing themselves in order to obtain a basic modicum of decent living. Even worse, this is now instinctive and normal for many.
By allowing illegal activity like drug trafficking to flourish, the PPP has firmly destroyed the already wavering moral core of this country. Economic destitution leads to moral equivalency and Guyana since the fifties has been a prime example of this truism. We have people who condone or execute all manner of atrocity for fear of losing that laughable paycheque in a country of rampant unemployment.
In dictatorial governments, people become afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation and harm. The mind becomes Pavlovian, directed by the dictates of the regime. This is what has happened in Guyana since the fifties. Slavery was abolished some 175 years ago while Indentureship ended 96 years ago, yet this nation remains very much a plantation moved by race and economic survival. This gives us the constant moral massacre or the annihilation of the moral code of this nation.
Right and wrong is relative in this nation because there is no moral line left that cannot be crossed. Wrong is very right in Guyana and right is often wrong and illusory. We are a nation in a moral quagmire from which extraction requires sacrifice, which we lack.
In every country that has built itself from ruins, except Guyana, there is an unmissable connection between sacrifice and struggle and moral reclamation. In these countries, people struggle, scrimp, sacrifice and battle to improve their lot, but they also possess a powerful moral philosophy about it; that they will endorse those who will help them achieve their redemption and reject those who are morally abject.
In Guyana, we have a generally hardworking nation that somehow abandons that moral requirement that is vital to their ultimate advancement. If people refuse to attach moral expectations and demands to their struggles, they will inherit societies constantly derailed by the immoral leadership and political parties they refuse to change.
Convenient moral blindness produces no economic profit or advancement out of poverty. You cannot expect less choke-and-rob of your earnings when you allow more choke-and-rob of your taxes by the rulers of the state. Choke-and-robbers at the top lead to choke-and-robbers at the bottom.
Moral hypocrisy allows crooks to bully a populace. Moral convenience leads to an immoral society where vagabonds thrive and in such a society only a handful of the depraved are enough to demonize and crush the rest.
The PPP and PNC have destroyed the morale of this nation and wrecked its psyche. Too many are worried about how those of another race or class are voting or how their own race or class are voting and not focused on what is important to them. That self-focus, which is evident in wealthy nations, and which allowed a White-dominated society like the USA to elect a Black President, is grounded in that element of morality that is missing in Guyana.
Bitten by one’s own bug
The daughter of the late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan leveled a blistering attack against the party her father founded and there has been nary a criticism of her comments. In fact, they passed almost unnoticed because in the first instance, the woman is not known as a public figure. In the second instance the children of former presidents who choose private lives are not really newsmakers.
That the woman chose the heart of the party to address the people is significant. She must have watched the shenanigans from her home and must have read the various media reports. She must have been shaken by the steady stream of reports on the criticisms.
Indeed, she saw the homes of people who worked for salaries and knowing that her parents were also salaried people who could only afford a modest home, she had to ask questions about these people. What is not known is whether she had held discussions with some of the targets of her criticisms and whether she got answers that she found disapproving. What is known is that she was angry and perhaps ashamed that the party her father founded is not what it was intended to be.
Kaieteur News was the first of the media outlets to target the corrupt actions of people in government office. It started to examine some of the contracts that were actually over-priced. In addition, the work was slipshod and the taxpayers were asked to foot the bill.
Investigations revealed that many of the contractors were required to pay graft to secure the contract. This meant that less money was available for the particular project. In the end a compromise was reached. The contractor was allowed to overbid so that the project would not suffer unduly and the person collecting the graft got his share from the top.
The next area of focus was on the acquisitions of certain people. Many of these appeared to be part of the noveau riche when by no stretch of imagination they should have been anything but comfortable. There has been a difficulty in tracking down the finances but there has been no difficulty in identifying the assets these people acquired.
Ms. Jagan-Brancier also saw these things and she was pained. She addressed people who have been with the party from the day they were born and told them of these things. There must have been a state media presence but they never reported a line because their controllers would not have been happy with the publication and because of the embarrassment.
It would have been easy to attack the critic, had he or she been someone somewhat removed from the party but to have the criticism coming from someone so close—Ms. Jagan-Brancier and her children made a public show of joining the party when her mother died—it must have been gut-wrenching.
Surely, the hierarchy of the government must have noticed the same things that Kaieteur News and Ms. Jagan-Brancier have been talking about for so long. There were also the reports by the office of the Auditor General. These highlighted so many irregularities that surely there should have been a revamping of the financial system. There were cases of unsupported expenditure and undocumented monies, unsupported cheque accounts reports of monies being paid to contractors in excess of what they should have earned.
There were also reports of senior officials making purchases with money that they could not have earned and while an investigation was promised nothing was done.
Ms. Jagan-Brancier would have been aware of the time her mother was invited to a house opening in what is now known as Pradoville and on reaching the location, refused to attend the function when she saw the house. Mrs. Janet Jagan was asked to ask how was it that one of her party members could own such a house. Since then Janet Jagan was aware that all was not right. Her successors never took note.
In the Forbes Burnham era no one could display unexplained wealth. There was the Remigrant officer who simply had a car that appeared to be beyond the pale. This man was investigated and prosecuted. He died before going to trial.
Despite the various exposures of obvious corruption nothing has been done. Ms. Jagan-Brancier has added her voice to this rampant irregularity. While the private media have reported her contention and the state media have remained silent, the authorities cannot escape the fact that there is rampant corruption in the highest circles. The public awaits action.
Cheddi and Janet Jagan must be turning in their graves – says daughter at memorial
“My parents were probably the most incorruptible people you would ever find; their honesty and integrity were of very high standards, but unfortunately do not exist or I don’t see it in many of the leaders of the party and government.”
The comments came from the daughter of the late Guyanese leaders Dr Cheddi Jagan and Mrs Janet Jagan. She said that the current leaders of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and government lack “the very, very, very high moral standards” which her parents embodied when they were alive.
Mrs Nadira Jagan-Brancier scolded the party for putting out platforms using her parents’ name— particularly her father’s— and not living up really and truly to what her parents had stood for. “It is not enough to go out there and make lovely speeches about who my parents were, what they did and the legacy that we’re carrying on”.
She said that her parents fought for sugar workers, the poor and down-trodden in Guyana and in the world. “That’s who they stood for, and again, I think the party has moved away— not the party but certain elements in the party— from these very, very important values that held the party together and what makes the PPP what it is and so for me, when I look at some of the things happening, my parents must be turning in their graves— but they must be churning up in the waters of the rivers (in which their ashes were sprinkled)”.
She said that if the PPP is saying that it is following Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan as a living guide, “the only way you can follow them is to return to basics, return to who this party is which is the working- class party, obviously you have to support other people, but the base of this party is a working- class party, get back to being a non- corruptible party, so people can’t point a finger and say ‘there is so much corruption, why should we worry?”
The daughter of the late leaders then pleaded with the PPP/C leaders and members to get back to the high and moral values. “If the leaders don’t show the moral values then people won’t do it, and you’re children won’t grow up with moral values. And if your families don’t show moral values, then society as a whole will lose that”.
“Their lives were involved in politics so their time for me and my brother was very limited…They weren’t there the amount of hours that most people would have their parents around, but the times that they were, it was what they called quality time, not quantity…so the times they spent with us— memories that I will have for the rest of my life”.
She noted that her parents were very normal, simple, and humble people and a “very, very loving couple”. She recalled sitting down for breakfast in the mornings around the family table and listening to the news from Guyana or the BBC “and you weren’t allowed to talk”.
She noted that they lived very simple lives and told the gathering that the house in which her parents once lived, is now open to the public. “The house is there and I really encourage people to use the opportunity to go in Bel Air and see the house where they lived…They lived a very simple life; they didn’t have big ostentatious homes that you see nowadays that government officials and party officials have, which is a very sad thing, personally”.
Ms Jagan- Brancier also encouraged persons to visit the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre in Kingston. “This was when my father was Premier from 1961 to 1964”.
“Most people think of my mom as only writing for the Mirror and other political things; my mom wrote a lot of children stories— I hope that people who have children would know this. She was also a poet and wrote some beautiful poems.”
Mrs Jagan’s prison diary, she said, are all important documents that Mrs Jagan-Brancier urged persons to read. The Cheddi Jagan website is also another feature that she urged the public to access information http://www.jagan.org “and on this website, you will find information”.
By STABROEK STAFF | LETTERS | MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2012
Freddie Kissoon is bang-on with his position that the PPP has and has always had an authoritarian culture. However, Mr Kissoon did not examine why. I must state that many features of the analysis below are applicable to that other political wrecker-in-chief, the PNC, now APNU. It starts with the fact that the PPP remains a communist party at heart. Communist parties are totalitarian in structure and practice. Nonsensical notions like democratic centralism are used only to hoodwink the followers. At the end of the day, a handful of men and women handpicked by the bigwigs have always controlled all the power within the PPP, excluding the rank and file. Ever since Balram Singh Rai challenged the Jagans, the PPP has centralised power in the hands of a few who make all the decisions for the hundreds of thousands who support the party. It is this travesty that saddled this nation with a neophyte like Mr Jagdeo who went on to rival Burnham for his authoritarian tendencies and currently Donald Ramotar, who had many questions surrounding his qualifications for the presidency. The autocracy started with the Jagans and has continued. Cheddi Jagan’s political skill and class made him an obvious choice for leader but there was nothing wrong in Cheddi being re-elected in a proper transparent democratic process.
Authoritarianism thrived in the PPP because of several factors. Firstly, the PPP inner circle fooled its membership into believing that internal dictatorship was necessary for the survival of the PPP in order to prevent Western intrusion. Secondly, this argument was extended to the claim that PPP’s internal dictatorship was necessary to fight the PNC dictatorship. Thirdly, the PPP inserted serious anti-dissent clauses in its communist constitution to keep the membership in line. Fourthly, totalitarian concepts like democratic centralism were masqueraded as democracy when they were nothing but rank autocracy. Fifthly, the PPP exploited the lack of education about democracy among its supporters. Sixthly, the PPP exploited ethnic insecurity and promoted the concept that democracy within the party was expendable in order to maintain the PPP’s standing as the provider of security for Indians. The PPP blurred the lines between ethnic affinity and party fairness. Ethnic security or insecurity is no barrier to internal party democracy. In fact, the PNC has just demonstrated that fact. Democratic elections within the PPP would have still delivered Cheddi and Janet Jagan as leaders, but likely not Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.
Ninth, the PPP practised blame transference by focusing on the PNC’s dictatorship to deflect its own internal autocracy. Tenth, the PPP congresses were carefully managed, controlled and influenced events which led to the same set of people getting selected again and again to the prime positions within the PPP. Eleventh, the PPP centralised power to small groups such as its Executive Committee, a group of 15 that directs and controls the party. Twelfth, the PPP fosters functional superiority where an incompetent who is loyal must be put on a pedestal by the general membership simply because he has ingratiated himself with those who were handpicked for power. The incompetent serving as a minister or as a party executive must not be questioned and must be embraced at all costs. This is classic functional superiority and leads to party totalitarianism. Mr Jagdeo who could not hold a candle to men like Mr Nagamootoo and Mr Ramkarran within the PPP obtained functional superiority over these giants by an innately undemocratic selection process led by Janet Jagan. The same could be said for Donald Ramotar’s selection as the PPP’s presidential candidate. Thirteenth, the PPP has planted some fears in its supporters such as don’t-split-the-vote and unity-at-all-costs to detract PPP supporters from the real problem of internal dictatorship.
There is nothing wrong in the PPP having an internal revolution akin to what occurred in the PNC after its 2006 election debacle. Despite its continuing flaws, the PNC has become more democratic than the PPP and has elected its presidential candidate in a far more transparent process than the PPP. It is quite ironic that PPP supporters who complained bitterly about the PNC dictatorship had nothing to say about the PPP’s own internal dictatorship. The PPP supporters must demand democracy within the PPP before it wrecks itself. It is not only the loss of Indian support that internal authoritarianism brings, it is the loss of ethnic crossover voters who are necessary for the PPP to win a majority.
DECEMBER 30, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
Dear Mr. Editor,
From the presidencies of Mr. C. B Jagan to Mr. B. Jagdeo, the PPP had numerous opportunities to change the Burnhamite constitution. Every PPP President has exercised the power and dictatorial impositions afforded by the Burnhamite constitution on every government related entity.
Most PPPites do not think that this rule of dictatorial impositions is against the will of the Guyanese people when their PPP Government exercised the powers and abuses afforded by the Burnhamite constitution. They (PPPites) now regularly rehash the PNC past with absolute disconnection from realities of the present.
Despite all the evidence of the harm inflicted on Guyana, there is no talk of changing the Burnhamite constitution, at least from the PPP and its Presidential candidate to reflect the will of the Guyanese people.
As a result of the current PPP and past PNC continuous and ingrained dictatorial governances, we have arrived at several positions of no return which if allowed to proceed in the PPP fashion, will probably make our chances of having an economic and feasible future of Guyanese society out of reach.
There are numerous positions or existing conditions to dwell, elaborate and write about— from corruption, crime, education, narco-state and failed state, to a ruling class of Guyanese connected to the PPP who have a greater chance to accumulate more personal wealth at the expense of the country.
If Mr. Donald Ramotar and Dr. Nanda Gopaul were elusive in protecting workers rights and economic interests then it is puzzling to understand what Mr. Navin Chandarpaul and Mr. Komal Chand stand and/or stood for.
Workers rights and economic livelihoods have deteriorated during their watch.
Through these same four gentlemen of the ruling PPP, sugar workers have less, earn less and have less to look forward to and their children have lost most of the possibilities to higher education and better futures. With a failing sugar industry there are chances sooner rather later they will descend in a deeper state of poverty.