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Aubrey Norton underplayed his hand with Irfaan Ali on the Venezuela issue

Aubrey Norton underplayed his hand with Irfaan Ali on the Venezuela issue


Dear Editor,

The rejection of the Government of Venezuela to the recent sale of oil blocks by the Government of Guyana, coupled with the response by the Guyana Opposition are major issues of concern. Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton’s support in response to President Ali’s request for same though magnanimous, leaves much to be desired as it suggests the Leader of the Opposition seems not to know, understand or be able to use the power his office rightfully wields to effectively present himself as a major force to be reckoned with, not just a tool for People’s Progressive Party (PPP) convenience when it comes to defence of Guyana’s border.

Shame! how convenient the Jagdeo/Ali regime can be, after ignoring the constitutional mandate of the leader of the Opposition on matters of governance. Shame! how they have treated the African community and other citizens who express alternative views and pursue their right to freedom of association. The major Opposition, which the Jagdeo/Ali regime never treated as worthy of participating in the management and distribution of the resources of the state is now a desirable entity to help repel Venezuelan aggression.

Ali, Bharrat Jagdeo, Norton and citizens of this nation must be reminded, government and Opposition are not elected to only engage on issues they consider to be external threats but to protect and advance the constitutional and other rights of each citizen in an inclusionary, participatory democracy where each citizen, each group, can develop to their fullest potential, enjoy equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth, whilst living in peace and harmony with each other.

Norton’s response sought only to dutifully convey to Ali that the Opposition can be relied on. By being so simplistic Norton not only missed a valuable opportunity to show some mettle, he did not play well, the political ball thrown to him out of necessity by the PPP.  He missed an opportunity to demand a meeting to discuss Opposition support and pertinent issues in relation to such.  How did Norton, a political scientist, and long standing leader of the People’s National Congress (PNC), missed such an important opportunity is a matter that will be pondered on for a long time.  It’s disappointing, at the very least and brings into question whether he is consulting and the quality of advice, if any, he is receiving.

The caliber of his leadership becomes questionable to effectively deal with the vicious Ali/Jagdeo regime.  Ali needed a reminder about the importance of the people to share and participate equally in the economic gains of this country and not just as border defenders. Our men and women in uniform are workers, the majority are African Guyanese who Ali and Jagdeo, by their actions, do not consider important enough to share equitably in the wealth of this nation and treated equally with respect.

The daily well-being of all the people within the borders, the safety of our neglected, marginalised, demoralised people, to be placed in a state of defense readiness are matters of import for government and opposition discussion. Under the PNC Forbes Burnham administration, there was an effort to make every citizen a defender.  The PPP has not and does not have the capability for this as they have sought to create divisions rather than unity and national pride.

Many are today unhappy, cannot afford a daily proper meal, pay their rent or mortgage on the pittance they earn. Our military is under equipped and underfunded.  These are all issues pertinent to border defence and should not be treated lightly. At the very least they should be discussed even as support is given.

One would not expect Norton to refuse support because Guyana belongs to all of us, and the security of our borders are the responsibility of every citizen, regardless of which government is in power.  Ali can rest assured even the marginalised, Africans and others who are neglected by his government will defend it.  These very same people Ali and the devious Jagdeo will place on the border to risk and give their precious lives for this country and a government that demonstrates by policies and programmes they care nothing about them and their families.

I remind Ali and Norton of an incident in 1971 when Forbes Burnham wanted to change the constitution to effect the nationalisation of bauxite, he needed Cheddi Jagan’s support. This saw Burnham delivering to Cheddie, among other things, the recognition of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) in the sugar industry.

It was a period when there were engagements between the government and Opposition. In this instance, there is none making it better yet for Norton to demand a meeting to address matters of good governance as a necessary requirement for border defence at all times regardless of government in power.

The Opposition Leader is entitled to be briefed on all matters of import to national security, especially as it relates to the safety of our people and soldiers from external threats.  Further, Norton should not take the PPP, particularly the Jagdeo/Ali regime for granted as history has proven they have little care and consideration for some  and no good intention to the majority of those who will be our defenders, who historically built and defended this country.

Another insult that arose from Norton’s unconditional support is that Ali thanked all the regional and international institutions and countries but failed to acknowledge the support of the other half of society, via the Leader of the Opposition. This nation needs no further evidence of what the PPP means by ‘one Guyana.’


Lincoln Lewis