MY TURN GUYANA
By Moses V. Nagamootoo
REMEMBER CHEDDI JAGAN WITH INTEGRITY
It seemed like yesterday that I waved goodbye to my life-long political leader and dearest comrade, Cheddi Jagan, as he left Guyana for medical treatment in the USA. He died there on March 6, 1997. Twenty-four years have since passed.
As I remember him, I became very disappointed that President Ali has minted a “defenders of democracy order” (Dodo) for conferral on certain persons who were associated with the scandalous 2020 elections.
That “dodo” duck which could never fly, has been given many unflattering names; but it has since become extinct, and should not be recreated in any shape or form.
Here’s why: constitutional petitions are before the Courts into the legitimacy of those elections. It would therefore be highly prejudicial if not contemptuous of the process of the court to honour anyone, either inside or outside Guyana, who had played a role in the conduct or adjudication of those controversial elections.
Many of the so-called ‘defenders” and mini-party leaders have already been given sinecure appointments in the overcrowded bureaucracy. A joinder list from a group of mini-parties was assigned a single seat from left-over votes, but its MP was rewarded with the post of Deputy Speaker (as well as that of Ministerial Advisor). That was a vulgar demonstration of disproportionate representation in breach of Westminster parliamentary Convention.
Under this Convention, the major Opposition gets the Deputy Speakership. In the last parliament the post was never filled after the Opposition PPP refused to nominate one of its members for the position.
I am confident that a Congressional investigation into foreign involvement in the 2020 elections, whenever held, would place some so-called “defenders of democracy” among moles from the old dusty CIA playbook. Mike Pompeo, an arch-conservative and “sanction man” once headed the CIA. He spearheaded last year’s regime change operations in Guyana.
How such “defenders” overthrew the Cheddi Jagan government in the 60s has been well documented by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House), Philip Agee (Inside the Company: CIA Diary) Stephen Rabe (U.S Intervention in British Guiana: A Cold War Story), and many others.
Today, it seemed, the PPP is digging up the soul of Cheddi Jagan with its capitulation to the hordes that not only deposed him but kept him out of office for an unbroken 28 years.
For the PPP to sleep in bed with the rightwing and reactionary Washington clique, since ousted, would be a complete reversal of the guiding principles of the Jagan’s party and a treacherous sellout of nationalism and sovereignty for which it stood since its formation in 1950.
Cheddi Jagan never sold out his principles even as I re-tweaked his image and repackaged him as “a reformed communist” towards the end of the Cold War in a booklet titled “Retracing our Footsteps”. He saw himself as a quintessential democrat, as he put it, “more Gorbachev than Gorbachev” when the Soviet leader belatedly introduced “glasnost” and “perestroika” (openness and restructuring).
I was among reformists who convinced Comrade Cheddi to remove references to Marxism-Leninism in the party’s Programme, to portray the PPP as a national-democratic party committed to a multi-party government of national unity.
However, soon after his death Bharrat Jagdeo, then President and aspiring General Secretary, proclaimed in 2001 that the PPP was unwaveringly committed to Marxism-Leninism. And after the infamous video message of Janet Jagan at the 21st Congress, “we must fight fire with fire”, reformists like myself were sidelined, and later purged.
The surrender to foreign and anti-national vested interest must be a supine posture of recent vintage, and born from sheer desperation and naked opportunism by an entrenched PPP clique of returning to power by hook or crook – preferably the latter.
I feel that that development had struck a note of disquiet and disbelief among trustful Jaganites. One of them, former Prime Minister and President, Sam Hinds, tried to shift the PPP’s ideological/political somersault on “the dirty theatrics and undemocratic behavior of the APNU/AFC”. He surmised that the Coalition “pushed the PPP/C into the arms of the US”.
No one was ever worried over a close embrace with the United States. This we welcome; but we must avoid subservience and sellout.
Today as we remember Cheddi Jagan, we should do so with integrity. I agree that we cannot follow his ideas dogmatically. But we should not act in his name when we sell out, and kowtow to imperial geo-political dictates against the national interest.
March 6, 2021
(The author, a journalist and attorney, is the former Prime Minister of Guyana).
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