ROAR of Ravi Dev
Mr. Tacuma Ogunseye, pointed out that we have been grappling for decades with the ethnic insecurities that have stymied the progress of all our peoples. Before I answer the question he posed, I wish to place it in context. With oil revenues about to enter the economy, unless the African and Indian Guyanese major ethnic groups, who have been fighting for power since 1955, arrive at a modus vivendi very quickly, we stand in danger of losing “corn and husk” to the carpetbaggers who will be descending on Guyana like locusts. We should be reminded that locusts leave nothing for others in their wake.
Mr. Ogunseye wanted my opinion on the status of the Indian Ethnic Security Dilemma (IESD), which posits that even if their superior numbers used to deliver the government, they “would be in office but not in power” because of African Guyanese occupancy of the strategic institutions of the state, especially its coercive arms.” Mr. Ogunseye asks more specifically, “Has it (the IESD) been resolved with the PPP’s return to office with its strategic alliance with the US and Western powers which make African occupation (small numbers relative to the Burnham period) of the coercive arms of the state irrelevant?”
I would think that a perceptive observer, such as I know Mr. Ogunseye to be, would have seen that the IESD is alive and well as it rose to the fore over the last year.
For instance, even though GECOM is a nominally “autonomous” state institution, we saw some top officials in its Secretariat cleaving to the PNC after it became clear the coalition was losing the March 2nd elections. The Secretariat was dominated by African Guyanese, as was pointed out by the ERC, even as then Chair James Patterson, its HR manager and DCEO Roxanne Myers “deliberately and willfully” refused to give evidence on its hiring practices.
In the wake of the brutal murders of the Henry cousins, after Messrs. Granger and Harmon’s inflammatory rhetoric, we saw hundreds of Indian Guyanese flagrantly assaulted on the West Berbice Public Road, often in full view of the deployed policemen and soldiers. A strike by the GPSU against the PPPC government has been temporarily halted over grievances by nurses – but had been held in abeyance since April, when they were raised with the APNU/AFC.
As I have pointed out ad nauseum, it is not that Africans in state institutions are necessarily “racists” per se, but when placed in polarizing fields such as elections or riots, where they are forced to make a choice between “us and them”, they will at best equivocate and at worse, take a side. During the Buxton-based violence, soldiers refused to proceed in “hot pursuit” of gunmen who committed crimes in their presence.
In terms of the US and Western powers’ acceptance of democratic elections to choose our government, I am not sure this creates an “alliance” against African Guyanese interests, per se. CARICOM, the EU, the Commonwealth and so many others also spoke out against the PNC’s illegal grab for power. This is unlike, for example, the alliance that the West had with the PNC after 1964, to keep out the communist PPP, when they closed their eyes to the PNC electoral riggings.
In pursuing their strategic interests against Venezuela or towards their multinational oil company Exxon (with, ironically, its Chinese partner), the PNC had an advantage over the PPPC since, as was argued by Ivelaw Griffith, Nigel Westmaas et al, the former’s “Strategic Culture” was closer than the latter vis-a -vis the Americans. It cannot be gainsaid that in 2015 the PNC was assisted by the Americans to take the reins of power.
Very frankly, the PNC did not serve its African-Guyanese core constituency well post-2015, after the AESD was removed. They alienated African and Mixed-Guyanese voters, who would have gravitated to the WPA’s historical progressive line, and the AFC, which had brought in some alienated Indian-Guyanese. The PPPC was able to attract these crossover blocks and a majority of the Indigenous Peoples to take them over the line in 2020.
The PNC must return to its strategy of courting crossover voters.