My wife and I got in to Enterprise around 5:30 PM, and we passed near the meeting area, which was now being set up - in the exact spot we had our AFC meeting
a little more than two weeks ago. We then waited near the main road to see who would have been bussed in as our activists have alleged. By 6 PM we did not notice any people being bussed and we went to the meeting area, given that it was supposed to start then.
At the meeting area, there was already a sizeable crowd. Not having thrown caution to the wind, we did not walk with a camera and quietly tried to make our way forward to better hear what was being said. In fact, that was our primary mission, since it is being constantly drawn to our attention that the PPP was uttering untruths about the AFC. And so we wanted to hear this for ourselves. As we got into the thickest part of the crowd, I was recognised and immediate shouts went up, the Key, the Key! Vote change! I was flabbergasted and asked those shouting not to get in to trouble and to give the PPP a chance to be heard. I could not believe I was uttering those words in PPP heartland...
Having made our way forward, not far from the stage area, was when I realised there were two distinct sections of the crowd. The one about 50 feet away to the south that I had just passed through, numbered around 50, and those in the immediate vicinity numbered around 40, including those who came with the speakers. In addition to the vehicles that the speakers came in, there was one mini-bus. About 45 minutes into the meeting another mini-bus turned up, adding about ten more PPP supporters to the 40 persons to the north. By that time the protest section had grown to around 60 persons.
The meeting got underway at 6:15 pm, and the first speaker, Neil Kumar, was heckled and booed and spoke for around ten minutes. Seeraj was also heckled, but not as much. He said that AFC stood for Alliance For Compromise/Confusion and that APNU meant A Parasite, Nasty and Ugly. He too spoke for about ten minutes.
At around 6:30 pm Anil Nandlall came on. He said Ramjattan was a racist, that he would take away jobs and seize lands from Indians if an AFC Gov't comes power, that he did not appreciate the qualified children of cane-cutters and rice farmers having jobs in the PPP Gov't. He also said that Ramjattan said he would shut down the sugar industry. For this he was roundly shouted down, Lie! Lie! In fact, I went into the protest section and asked them if they heard Ramjattan say that when he spoke at our meeting there. The sugar workers were very angry at this untruth. Not wanting to be accused of incitement, I went back to the front. At this time, I realised some of the persons I had earlier counted as PPP supporters were not, because they came up to me and voiced and nodded their disapproval of the PPP.
Nandlall continued his attacks on the AFC, tying Trotman to slow fiah, mo fiah, on the basis that Trotman was a member of the PNC at the time. Of course, he failed to mention that Trotman never took to the streets, and it was Trotman who asked the PNC to apologise for its past. He was booed while saying this. He went on to say the AFC was irresponsible and lacked experience. That only the PPP Gov't is in a position to pronounce on VAT, that the AFC is only making empty promises to reduce it. In effect he was saying that VAT would not be reduced under the PPP. At this point, someone shouted, Abee cyan eat road! Nandlall's speech focused otherwise on the difference in Guyana in 1964 to 1992, and said we have now levelled out, and will rise in the next 5 years, which again drew heckling.
Nandlall spoke for 45 minutes, with the protest crowd growing quiet toward the end - out of boredom my wife surmised. Buoyed by this, Nandlall told them that their silence meant that he was getting through to them, at which the very first set of applause from the PPP section was heard - this was some 10 minutes after the second mini-bus arrived, not having heard the loud protests from since the start. In response, Nandlall got the loudest shouts from the protest group, the PPP must go! We don't want to hear about 28 years! Tell us about the 19! Vote Key! Time for change! Thereafter he wrapped up and the meeting ended at 7:15 pm.
That was quite an experience for my wife and I, and she said had she not been there she would have found it hard to believe, even though she knows I would not have exaggerated. Had we known this would have happened we would have brought our camera. In fact my wife was insisting that we do, but I told her I didn't want to get into anything untoward, that we were there to listen and nothing else. No one in the AFC, including the leadership, knew of our mission tonight.