The New York-based Guyana Democracy Project (GDP) issued a release Wednesday morning April 5 vehemently protesting the disinvite of prominent Guyanese community leaders to a meeting in Queens to engage New York State Attorney Hon. General Letitia James. The engagement stems from statement issued by the AG last October in Brooklyn relating to allegations of racism in Guyana.
Several members of the Indo-Guyanese community in Queens were invited to a session a few days ago with the AG in Queens. The invitation came through the office of Richmond Hill elected District Democratic Leader, Mr Richard David, an Indo-Guyanese American. No representative of the Guyanese government was invited for the discussion. The private meeting was slated for Wednesday 4:30pm at the Guyanese owned Starlite Pavilion, 101 Ave and 130 Street in Richmond Hill, Queens. But on Wednesday, several of them received a memo that they were disinvited.
The number of invitees is restricted to 25 and (and does not include) some of the most active and grounded leaders in the community. Lo and behold, several individuals who have their groundings (experience and track record) in the community in New York (as) well as about issues in Guyana learnt late Tuesday April 4th that the AG has disinvited them. They are: Pt Ram Hardowar, President of Federation of Hindu Mandirs; Fazal Yusuf, President of ICD; Dr Tara Singh, President of NYGM; and Dr Dhanpaul Narine, President of Trimurti Bhavan, among others. The disinvite also came through Mr. David. Those disinvited feel very dishonored and disrespected and a loss for words on why they were suddenly excluded from the meet. It appeared that the attendees to the meet were pre-selected and that the meet had a pre-determined agenda. The AG is not known as someone who fears engaging even her worst critics. She has had a long history of engaging Indian Guyanese and Indians in the diaspora when she was Brooklyn Councillor in the City Council. Thus, it is inexplicable why she would exclude some of most veteran Guyanese activists in the community.
In protest, the NY GDP says that “the action is extremely disrespectful to these authentic community leaders who have always had a strong abiding interest in our Queens community affairs as well as in Guyana”.
The agenda of the meet is not known. But there is speculation that it has to do with clarifying statements about the socio-politico situation in Guyana and to advise the AG accordingly.
The release states: “The Attorney General, who is close to a top Brooklyn-based opposition aligned operative in New York, does not have a favorable view of Guyana Government. We believe that the meeting is to clarify misconceptions. In addition, she needs to neutralize differences with Guyanese community leaders in Queens, since she recognizes that her margin of victory in the November 2022 election was narrow. It should be noted that the incumbent James was running against an unknown candidate who had no name recognition”.
The GDP statement adds: “We worry what such a meeting could accomplish when the most active and prominent Guyanese community leaders in Queens have been excluded. We do not wish to besmirch those Guyanese leaders who will attend the meet to engage the AG, but we are not confident in how they may present the socio-economic and political conditions in Guyana”.
Dr. Singh, one of NYGDP queries whether the participants would present evidence to the Attorney General debunking her claim that the PPPC government practices racism and marginalizing of Afro-Guyanese. The NY GDP statement says that “it is concerned that this meeting with the AG that excludes legitimate stakeholders could end up giving legitimacy to previous unsubstantiated statements attributed to the Attorney General on the Guyana situation”.
The NY GDP says it hopes that “the outreach with the small number of Queens-based Guyanese is not a publicity stunt to make the Attorney General look good in that she is reaching out to the Guyanese community in Queens. She knows of our (Queens-based) growing political strength where we can make a difference in statewide elections”.
The GDP asks rhetorically: “How a top Democrat, number three in statewide office, could embrace exclusion when she disinvited the main Guyanese community leaders in Queens”.
As a result of publicly launched pressure, it is learned that the planned meeting has been converted into a dinner so that the organizers now reserve the right to invite whoever they want.
However, says the GDP, “the goal remains the same with the AG not being able to get a true description of the factual situation in Guyana..