Guyana
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One thing you can’t get away from is the track-record of the PNC

Dear Editor

At yesterday’s PPPC press conference, General Secretary Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, in response to a mischievous editorial in the media, boldly stated that “the one thing you can’t get away from is the track record of the PNC.”

That basic track- record, and I add the most predictable thing about the PNC-APNU, is rigging elections. As Jagdeo said, “One million editorials cannot change that fact.”

While rigged elections are the most egregious of APNU behaviour, other kinds of conduct must never be forgotten. Chief among these is that during its 28 years of authoritarianism, the PNC made this country not only bankrupt, but also made us the object of derision throughout the Caribbean and the wider world. National bankruptcy is not just words. Those who had to endure it, meaning the entire population except for the family and friends of the PNC top brass, starved day and night for years.

Note that in 1980, our Gross domestic product (GDP) stood at US$600 million which then shrunk steadily from thereon to US$374 million in 1992. Effectively, in twelve years under the PNC, our GDP shrunk by US$226 million or by 38%. The total public debt in 1985 stood at $8.6 billion with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 438%. Guyana was the only country in the world that had a lower per capita income at the end of the 1980s compared to the end of the decade!

Economic data alone, however, cannot fully capture what the PNC (now head of APNU) did to this country. All food imports had to pass through government agencies staffed by PNC Comrades. Imagine for groceries you had to go to a place called Knowledge Sharing Institutes (KSI’s), most of them located in PNC-dominated localities.

With a PNC card, you were able to uplift your full shop list. Without a PNC card, you got a quarter pint of cooking oil, one pound of flour, one onion, and two “flegs” of garlic. Foreign missions had to come into to Guyana to share out milk and biscuits to starving school children.

Under the PNC dictatorship, no one who did not have a PNC party card could get a proper government job or get promoted. Those who were non-PNC comrades in the public service were usually deported to places far away from their homes and families. Teachers who spoke up against authoritarianism were deported to remote places in the interior, were denied leave, and instead of being promoted, were very often demoted.

I know some young people who did not have a PNC card but who had 6,7, and 8 GCE, or even A’ Levels, who had to cut cane or who had to become “smut hunters and cleaners.” Instead of working with chalk or pen, they worked with a bucket of soap water and a toothbrush.

Except for technical subjects, the University of Guyana was completely taken over by PNC and WPA activists. Those friendly to the PNC and WPA were immediately imported from abroad when they graduated. Others, even though not political in any way, had their application summarily rejected, or completely ignored, with no reply offered.

These days, the APNU has a new master trope. It is race, race, and more race. Everything is race, ranging from the defence of an “altar boy” motorcycle thief to the new PSA. If it rains Vincent Alexander could magically reduce that to race! If a vendor’s black pudding spoils, David Hinds in Arizona can link that to what happened in 1730.

If there is too much salt on your French Fries, Norton is quite capable of connecting that to racial oppression. If a man stumps his toe, Nigel Westmaas can explain that in terms of the historical dynamics of race and class.

You might not believe it, but the culture of rigging elections by the APNU (with slavish assistance from the AFC) is explained and defended on the grounds of race. In that narrative, it is suggested that rigged elections are justifiable because of “historical reasons.”

If that were a defensible position, most of the world would be rigging! In closing, I can say that the one thing the APNU does not want you to do, is to examine their track record.

Sincerely

Dr. Randolph Persaud