February 28 ,2021
– Shameless conduct of PPP black leaders
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is not defending its racist treatment of the African community but has outsourced the task to some black people who are placed as window dressing to give the impression of inclusivity. Whereas they have slipped through the cracks or allowed in the government they are by no means a symbol of PPP tolerance to black people, black accession and black empowerment. We must not be fooled.
It is disturbing and disgusting witnessing them shamelessly succumb to what appears to be a historic party standard that requires they be the attack dogs fronting the denigration of their race. We saw this again last week in the National Assembly with Ministers Oneidge Walrond and Hugh Todd.
Minister Walrond, apparently without an ounce of decency, shamelessly allowed the stifling of her conscience and morality to make declarations covering up and excusing the Irfaan Ali regime attacks on African labour. Without an ounce of evidence, she was allowed to defend the discriminatory policy and justify the termination of these workers because they were considered “obstructive,” which shamefully went unchallenged by the Opposition.
This is a person whose profession would allow her to review, ponder and seek evidence before making such a charge, but she was apparently prepared to put these sacred tenets under her feet to please her political bosses. Then there is Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd. I would like to think he is fully aware that race is a matter of grave import as enshrined and factored by international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), International Labour Organisation, World Bank etc., yet he is telling Guyanese that conversation on race is “divisive,” hence should not be addressed.
Todd cannot be serious neither is he that naïve unless this is another strategy to subvert honest discussion on race in order to prevent meaningful attention to issues that affect groups. Even as efforts are being made to foist the deceptions on society, the UN has in place a programme to address racial problems by upholding human rights and the need for affirmative actions to redress historical discrimination.
Presently we are in the UN ‘International Decade for People of African Descent’ (2015-2024) that aims “to emphasise the important contribution made by people of African descent to every society, and promote concrete measures to stop discrimination and promote their full inclusion.” Is the minister sending a signal to Guyanese, the UN, et al, that the regime will not be addressing these issues because race is divisive? I hope not.
Parliamentary immunity does not permit this level of dishonesty, yet it is being allowed free rein in the name of partisanship and promoting a politics of lies, hate and division. The ministers, reckless statements would not only be recorded in the Hansard for posterity and seen by future generations as truth but also by less critical thinkers if not challenged.
Heightened racial tension, attacks on black labour and capital
It is a fact since the PPP came to office their actions have led to heightened racial tension. It is a fact African Guyanese have been disproportionately targeted for termination in the public sector and their reputation assaulted without evidence under the Ali/Jagdeo regime. It is a fact African workers have been harassed by the police and their fundamental rights denied.
It is fact the Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton (another African) is now threatening to go after defunct co-operative societies to close them rather than help to launch an investigation into the reason(s) for their non-functioning. Any caring government, recognising this sector has been the major pillar of African empowerment, would seek to render assistance to resuscitate not close them. This is an effort, once again, to go after black capital. The co-ops are worth more than three billion dollars in savings which are in the commercial banks. Money accumulated belongs to the co-op members and their heirs.
It is fact the PPP government broke up the bauxite workers’ pension plan, which was worth in excess of $2.5 billion, even as they simultaneously injected money to save the sugar workers’ pension plan. The co-op is presently the single largest pool of money owned by the African community.
It is a fact the government is going after black businesses. Morse Archer, the owner of Cevon Waste Management, is presently being harassed by the government to remove from land he legitimately acquired from the state under the deception that the land is owned by one department of the state which did not sell it to him. All state lands are ultimately owned by the state regardless of which agency they are assigned to and only the state can legitimately sell them.
It is fact the government has targeted dismissal of African workers, the persecution and excess detention of public servants and GECOM employees (all black), as they ignore those election workers responsible and associated with 47 boxes with identified gross and blatant electoral irregularities on the lower East Coast of Demerara, which is their stronghold in Region Four. It is also true the kerfuffling of justice for Joel and Isaiah Henry; and the refusal to address the miscalculation of termination benefits and outstanding grievances through arbitration for workers employed by Bauxite Company Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) while the company remains a legal entity.
Black Lives Matter
The above are irrefutable facts. For the peace, tranquility, and wellbeing of Guyana it is important for us to recognise that the wellbeing and security of African welfare must not be undermined and destroyed. One cannot help but note the exacerbated concerns of racial attacks, intolerance and marginalisation that have become customary under successive PPP regimes and in contemporary times most significant under Bharrat Jagdeo leadership and influence.
Whilst the well-being of all Guyanese is important, the preponderance of attacks on the black community stands as a major issue requiring corrective action immediately and the recognition akin to the experience of African Americans, that span from the anti-slavery movement to the civil rights movement to the recognition that Black Lives Matter. The struggle for black lives, black rights in the USA notably included many with a conscience who recognise the mistreatment meted to black people.
Society will have the racists and anti-truthers, but they must not be allowed to dominate the narrative and society. We see them in high offices around the world and their consequences to security and peace as evident in the January 6th riot on the USA Capital. Any country that continues to ignore and support systemic transgression against any section of its society, and treating another section as privileged, will subsequently find itself challenged to contain the absurdities of the privileged.
As the USA is now recognising at this juncture that it cannot exist in peace by suppressing the truths, achievements, and the violation of black lives, so too must we. Guyana must demand similar recognition and pursue similar justice. All Guyanese, in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, must recognise the insidious nature of racism and come together.