I write regarding Hamilton Green’s letter, `We are all victims of the divide and rule policy’, Stabroek News, March 11/21, which is his response to my letter of March 9/21. Instead of addressing the points raised in my letter, he has detoured into irrelevancies about imperial history of divide and rule.
Guyana gained independence from Britain in 1966. Declassified documents from the US and British government archives show that the leader of Mr. Green’s party was a willing participant in the divide and rule policy of these imperial powers. In the early years of independence, the US aided rigged elections in Guyana then later remained silent to keep his party in power. All along he was a minister, then a vice-president, and finally Prime Minister of that government, enjoying the perks and benefits of government office. In 1992, he objected to US President Jimmy Carter’s proposals for free and fair elections. The question is why his objection? The answer is obvious – he wanted to hold on to power to continue to enjoy the perks of office. Now he has the audacity to claim that he was not a beneficiary but a victim of the divide and rule policy.
Not surprising that in late July 2020, in a radio interview, he advised then caretaker President David Granger who was refusing to concede defeat at the March 2020 elections “… for the sake of your children, and our children and their children, do what is necessary. Put aside the constitution, put aside the laws. You are at this moment, and we hope for a long time, Commander-in-Chief”. This was a recommendation made in 2020 to Mr. Granger to hold on to power at all cost, consistent with what he wanted in 1992 when he advised President Hoyte against agreeing to US President Carter’s proposal for free and fair elections.
After the statement was heavily criticized, he claimed “a slip of the tongue” and that he never meant for Mr Granger to disregard the constitution and laws of Guyana. However, one cannot help but wonder if that slip of the tongue explanation came about after he realized that the US Secretary of State was looking into sanctions, including visa restrictions on members and supporters of the APNU+AFC coalition. Without retraction of his statement, his frequent visits to the US could have been in jeopardy.
I refer to the statement “Hergash has drifted like an Easter kite in our tropical winds and has lost touch with reality”. Indeed, I may have drifted in but a pertinent question is why was I out and had to drift in? I and thousands like me had to move out, leaving the land of our birth to seek safety and security in foreign lands because of being marginalized and discriminated against by the government during the years Hamilton Green was enjoying the good life as minister/vice-president/prime minister in our former homeland. And then as the economy tanked, food and gas lines became a daily ritual, and life on the whole became unbearable, many high ranking individuals who had worked to put his party in power in 1964 followed us.
Regarding his claim “I understood the importance of harmony of all races and classes”. That may be so, however when Indo-Guyanese were being beaten and robbed in Georgetown as former President Jagdeo’s office was invaded, or when they were being murdered after the 2002 jail break, where was the voice of Mr Green. In 2002 Dr. David Hinds and Mr. Eusi Kwayana denounced the killings but I am not aware of any statement from him. And more recently when Indo-Guyanese were subjected to robbery and violence in West Coast Berbice following the murders of the Henry cousins, there was silence from him. So understanding without action to remedy a situation is meaningless.
The matter about a bloated electoral list will be adjudicated by the courts. No need to pursue that. Sooner or later we will know the truth. As for his offer to help to arrange lectures for me in Guyana, I was educated by some of Guyana’s best and brightest – in person by Professors Harold Drayton and Bobby Moore and Dr. Joshua Ramsammy, and by the books of Dr Walter Rodney, all names Green will recognize. In case he needs a reminder, Harold Drayton was the person who worked to establish the University of Guyana (UG) in 1963. In his autobiography, An Accidental Life, he writes that at a meeting in the Prime Minister’s office in in May 1971 in the presence of three other named individuals, then Prime Minister, Mr. Burnham, threatened him saying “he had means of dealing with persons like me”. In October 1971, Drayton’s dear friend and colleague, Joshua Ramsammy, a critic of the Government was the victim of an assassination attempt in broad daylight next to the fire station in Georgetown. He took three bullets and nearly died. No one was ever held despite eyewitness description of the perpetrators and the vehicle they drove. Drayton left Guyana shortly thereafter and Ramsammy took over a year to recover. Bobby Moore was Walter Rodney’s history teacher at Queen’s College. Rodney’s story is well known. Stabroek News of February 20, 2016, in an article captioned, Rodney was a victim of state-organised killing, PM Burnham had to have known – CoI finds, states “Historian Dr Walter Rodney was the victim of a State-organised assassination on June 13th, 1980 and this could only have been possible with the knowledge of then PNC Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into his death has found”. A reasonable person may ask why did Hamilton Green, a Vice President from those years, not testify at the COI.
Green’s role at the University of Guyana (UG) is very interesting. According to Drayton, in 1971 “the Administration (government) radically changed the membership of the UG Board of Governors by adding many senior PNC supporters, including for the very first time an Officer of the Guyana Defence Force, Dr. Walter Chin, and Mrs Viola Burnham – wife of the Prime Minister … At every opportunity, contracts of UG Lecturers who were thus categorized (‘enemies of the State’) were not renewed; and in the case of persons like Kathleen (Drayton’s wife) whose contract renewal had already been approved by the Appointments Committee, the PNC dominated Board of Governors led by Hamilton Green reversed that decision”. Decades later, in a letter in the Stabroek News of March 15, 2016, Tacuma Ogunseye, a long standing WPA activist and then staff member in the Office of President Granger would write “Hamilton Green’s role in forcing the University of Guyana Council to rescind Rodney’s appointment to the History Department was one of the issues that shaped Rodney’s evolution in Guyanese politics”.
Ogunseye’s assessment of Hamilton Green, as stated in the above referenced letter is telling: “This so-called ‘honourable’ citizen (Hamilton Green) has no sense of shame. In spite of his avowed spiritual renewal and his claim to be a born-again devotee, it is clear that he lacks objectivity and is a stranger to the truth when it comes to certain political matters… I have great difficulty with public personalities who show contempt for the citizens of this country and think that they can always get away with falsehoods in public”. Enough said.