Without getting too detailed in this look back at origin, the PNC, under Forbes Burnham, with the adoption of its socialist platform, complete with paramilitaries and slogans like ‘every citizen a soldier’, all after hosting the 1972 Non Alignment Conference which pledged commitment to the underpinnings of the Bandung Conference, embarked upon Party Paramountcy…a system that effectively subordinated the elected instruments of Government to Party control.
It was a decision that was decried by many, not the least of whom was Cheddi Jagan, who called the system of governance tyrannical dictatorship.
And like everything about Burnham’s dictatorship and tyranny that Cheddi and his wife scorned and pledged to revoke, they kept; not only because they were both as dictatorial and tyrannical as they labelled him but because they saw the perverse utility in embracing these levers of control to contain their own Party and to, simultaneously, exact a vengeful pound of flesh from a Party and a people they have been conditioned to hate-the PNC founded on a predominantly African base.
In 1992 when Cheddi ascended to office, he wasted no time in demonstrating that he was what the British always saw him as, exposing his hypocrisy in his pledge for healing and a commitment to free press/ commentary.
The ‘Declaration of Sophia’, Burnham’s crown jewel, was delivered from Congress Place which was erected on land that was owned by Guysuco, now under PPP control.
Seemingly one of his first acts of official business, Cheddi’s conversation with Desmond Hoyte included a terse reminder that Congress Place was on government land acquired under the doctrine of Party Paramountcy… with a hanging hint that Hoyte’s Party was no longer paramount but the PPP’s generosity was willing to work something out. PNC’s New Nation, apparently presented a more urgent threat. The press it was being printed on belonged to Lithographic which Cheddi said was government property that he wanted back, forthwith…a claculated strike….Headquarters and New Nation…all in one blow.
Some political truths, unfortunately, can no longer be found in print…having suffered the fate of the entire Hoyte tenure- ‘accidentally disappeared’ , or selectively removed by the political entity with official access to and/or ownership of the sources that once held these slices of our national history.
Oral History, though, is the forerunner to its documented relative. So we’ll rely on living story tellers and the reporting work of some who once had a reputation for not shading political truth, to assess the cultural foundation and lens through which the PPP views the Afro population, that seems, by design, not to enjoy any part of any of its national policies…as if they are excluded from the term, national.
Congress Place was subsequently “bought the proper way before Burnham’s death”…says our source, a treasure trove on many of the details that have been ‘disappeared’.
We’ve long heard of the UN’s ‘eyes and ears’ as overseers of human rights violations in countries, as we’ve heard of sanctions against governments that are violators of internationally established human rights.
We also know that unless a country deteriorates to the level of a Haiti which has a tenuous US presence, as evidenced by its auction to sell off embassy furniture, resident diplomats will call violations “domestic political issues outside of our purview”, for the convenience of executing their agenda.
The use of the police for property demolitions and to effect arrests while the displaced try to grab their possessions, is intended to promote dread…a violation of the quiet enjoyment of life and living the Constitution, even with its amendments, still guarantees (pg. 32/204)
And it was this same form of domestic terrorism, implemented by Government through its use of national security forces to intimidate people because of color associated with assumed political preference, is part of why South Africa was suspended from the UN in 1974 until 1994…with the act of forcible removal remaining a UN Human Rights violation and the oversight of assisting agencies, like Human Rights Watch, today.
The PNC headquarters in Lethem, occupied since 1976, that survived existence under 3 previous PPP governments – 1992 to 2015- for a total of 23 years- now being deemed an occupancy infraction that warrants demolition in the middle of the night, is the structural violence of terrorism…but in a country that still has a constitutional democracy and a resident Western Foreign Community to bolster its democratic claims.
The intent to instill fear and trembling is demonstrated by a vice president in a 4th presidential term, citing issuance of a notice to vacate after 47 years of occupancy and a notice to reapply for tenancy simultaneously in a choreographed presentation, is a demonstration of the power they can exert over the people they’ve chosen to be their enemy.
It’s clearly not that the property blocked some ‘imminent domain’ or that the alleged illegal occupancy was egregious enough for a night time raid to demolish and evict after 47 years of ‘illegal’ occupancy.
It’s the terrorism that’s the point.
And this is not arbitrary speculation. The PPP is the longest serving ruling Party and all of the vengeance politics, the retribution fearmongering, the ethnic decimation, the slaughtering of targets from its Ministry of Home Affairs are public records and notations made by resident diplomats documenting the civc mayhem during the aggregate years of its of political existence.
But, this recent campaign of displacement is an intensification to decimate by a ruling arm of government that is untethered by the constitutional check and balance – the Opposition- that has refused to employ the protocols of an Opposition that knows its function.
Together, they form the Government with a collective Constitutional obligation to protect human rights.
A review of domestic human rights violations by the UN and Human Rights Watch shows that governments that fail to protect human rights contribute to general instability. It also shows that when governments are left unchecked their abuses intensify all along the governing spectrum from police brutality to political censorship- the demolition of dwelling spaces and offices of political rivals… giving the false takeaway that the corruption, censorship, impunity, and violence cannot be stopped.
The Opposition –THE CHECK– is yet to step in to its elected position. So the current Government is constitutionally short one Party which has embarked on a self-defeating crusade of self-serving populous politics that is hurting the electorate which needs its service as delineated/ or implied by the Constitution… now under threat by the PPP…which will reform the nation to a virtual dictatorship within the ambit of the constitution…if unopposed by crafted methods.
Political petulance is not a strategy. Norton’s constant name calling and lambasting of the character of PPP politicians is a shameful failure to fulfill the obligations of his office. That might work for Party politicking but he has been elevated to the national stage and continues to show his discomfort with the decorum and expansive outreach demanded of his national portfolio.
Calling a politician a “Goebbellian Hitlerite liar”…for real??….intended for the people you claim don’t need a line -item budget because it is numbers and terms they won’t relate to…intellectual disrespect to cover up gross ineptitude? Nowhere is a philosoph’ a substitute for a budget. Philosphies are interpretations. Numbers are hard fixed calculates…which require a line item analysis.
It is this singular decision to refuse to engage – as Oppositions in the past have done, Oppositions in democracies generally do, understanding that conversation and negotiation are the tools of leadership- that has emboldened this Demolition Crew.
And to those whose position is that the Ruling Arm has a duty to approach the Opposition…we’ll withhold comment… in observation of Lent.
If that’s the advice the Opposition fed in to, then it should evaluate how effective that has been by measuring what it has accomplished for the 50% of governance that is its responsibility…on the national stage which is never to be conflated with Party Leadership, ever.
As long as we are a functioning democracy it is not too late to do the job undertaken when the designation of Opposition Leader was accepted.
An advantage is that Guyana is still a member of the UN and a signatory to the Human Rights mandates. There is still a resident Western Foreign Community and benefits from USAID which are pledged on requirement for Guyana to stay in compliance with Rights as dictated by the agency. And this would include other programs like the Small Grants Program which lists as a Priority Program Area: Strengthen Democracy and Civil Society…none of which can coexist with the systemic violation of human rights baked into the current governing platform.
These are just a few of the leverage points that a functional Opposition can assemble to present to the foreign community that remains quiet in the face of violations that counter why they are actually resident in Guyana. Add to this its duty and its right to engage the foreign community as 50% of Governance in the event of a domestic impasse that runs counter to aid given to promote peaceful coexistence and domestic democracy.
And while we’re here, we’ll suggest that it reviews who its presenter should be. The deployment of Kofi Anan and Condoleezza Rice to Kenya in 2008 is the classic reference to the right mix of tone and grit needed when diplomacy must work.
‘Goebbellian Hitlerite liar’ takes more time to say than “can we talk” which could go a long way to serving the people who entrusted their vote to this side of the aisle.
Claiming victimhood amidst a volley of invectives, when that time could be used to reach out as an elected arm of government in times that are becoming strategically unsettled, are the notes the Resident Western Foreign Community will make, as the PPP constructs its eviction of the Opposition, both literally and figuratively, with a constitution reform that they alone are participating in.
Civil unrest, as any sort of response, will be met with the swift extraction of working foreign conglomerates, like Exxon and the Western Diplomatic Community…for those proposing that as a solution to the Opposition Leader exercising the emotional intelligence that defines leadership in the face of adversity.
We know that there’s a remnant of Guyanese who see way past Party politics that can shape the ground of Opposition political thought.
You’ve mumbled amongst yourselves long enough.
Stop pretending this is the best you “got”.
Save the country.