A few days ago I viewed the Youtube video, https://www.pupia.tv – President Irfaan Ali – Commemoration of the Enmore Martyrs (17.06.22) and I wish to offer a few comments on the proceedings at the event.
It is commendable that priests of the three major religions offered prayers at the commencement. However, the Pandit (Hindu priest), unlike the Imam (Muslim priest), did not offer an English translation of his prayer. This was unfortunate as I am positive that the majority of the immediate audience, as well as those countrywide, did not understand what he recited. In order to promote multiculturalism and greater understanding, perhaps it is time that protocol is instituted to require the translation of such prayers at all official functions.
The Enmore Martyrs, as has been noted, had a tremendous impact on political development in the country, and in my view, transcend partisan politics. Dr Jagan has written that their martyrdom caused him to dedicate his life to the cause of the sugar workers, hence the emergence of the original PPP in 1953 with him as a leader and Mr Burnham as chairman. In 1977 the monument to these martyrs was erected by the PNC government headed by Mr Burnham and unveiled by him in his capacity as then Prime Minister. It is disappointing that at the commemoration there was no recognition of Mr Burnham’s role in erecting the Enmore Martyr’s monument.
In relation to the speech by Mr Carvil Duncan, President of FITUG, I believe he misspoke when he mentioned the causes of the 1948 strike during which the five workers were killed. He said, “They (the sugar workers) were accustomed to cut-and-load…”. In fact, ‘cut-and-load’ was a new imposition and the major cause of the strike. In his book, The West on Trial, Dr Jagan states “ Without consulting even their (management) company-dominated Man-Power Citizens’ Association, they (management) changed the system of work from cut-and-drop to cut-and-load. This was in effect an attempt to speed up the cane cutters and make redundant the punt loaders”.
My final point relates to what I saw as a public spat between President Ali and Mr Narine, President of the GAWU. In his speech, Mr Narine criticized GuySuCo’s management and called for the removal of the top leadership of the company. When his turn came, an irate President Ali called Mr Narine to the stage and proceeded to give him (what I consider to be) a ‘public dressing down’. Needless to say, this public display of disagreement between two leaders of the governing party reflects poorly on the administration and detracted from the solemnity of the occasion.