August 2, the first anniversary of the declaration of the outcome of the March 2 elections will long be remembered after that battle to have our votes counted. It was a relatively long struggle reminiscent of that 26 years battle to have our votes correctly counted in earlier elections held after independence in 1966 thru 1992. Peers of mine reminisced about that struggle by the diaspora against electoral frauds.
Some of the greatest personalities within Guyana fought for the right to the ballot that came in 1953. The struggle eventually resulted in independence in 1966. Then the country descended into a racist dictatorship holding power through electoral frauds and the barrel of a gun.
The rigging of elections in 1968,1973, 1978, 1980, etc. and the shooting of Dr. Joshua Ramsammy and Vincent Teekah, and the murder of Dr. Walter Rodney and Father Bernard Darke and so many others, all carried out by elements of the state, along with the control of the courts and the media, and the banning of foods, opened our eyes to the “urgency of the struggle against dictatorship and the imperative to reclaim our freedom. No one can “dismiss the significance” of the above events, and others, particularly Rodney’s assassination. Dr. Cheddi Jagan and his wife Janet and the PPP played critical role in the struggle against the dictatorship. Others, like Paul Tennassee and his DLM, Vishnu Bandhu and Lesley Ramsammy and his URP, Eusi Kwayana and his WPA, Mansur Nadir and his TUF, Llewelyn John and his PDM, among others, made significant contributions to free the nation.
The diaspora was also in the thick of the struggle against the dictatorship. In New York and elsewhere, after 1966, a handful of migrants from Guyana, led a struggle to free Guyana. I participated in that struggle in NY from 1977 onwards escaping Guyana where I also combated electoral fraud going back to 1968. The diaspora stood up with the Guyanese people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the near three decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by from the tragic grip of the authoritarian rulers. They made enormous sacrifices, even neglecting their family, education, material wealth, and happiness, etc., for the sake of country that became free after October 1992. The diaspora freedom fighters shed their time and resources for the welfare for their former homeland. Among them were Chuck Mohan, Arjune Karshan, Mel Carpen, Flattie Singh, Baytoram Ramharack, Vassan Ramracha, Ravi Dev, Ramesh Kalicharran, Pandit Ramlall, Yash Pal Soi, and myself, among others. These unsung heroes were motivated by a desire to liberate the nation from racism and an oppressive dictatorship. They made enormous sacrifices for Guyana. Yash Pal was not Guyanese. But he became a loyalist of Jagan and later Bharrat Jagdeo. Yash Pal fought for the restoration of democracy like few Guyanese did arranging meeting with President carter, engaging in fund raising for the PPP, etc.
Democracy was restored in 1992. The country returned to economic liberalism. Free and fair elections were held at regular intervals in 1997, 2001, 2006, 2011. Government changed in May 2015. But after the coalition government lost a no confidence vote in December 2018, it descended into authoritarianism, refusing to adhere to long established democratic principles and the constitution. Then came the attempt to rig the election in broad daylight on March 3 and thereafter. The opposition galvanized into action to save democracy. The diaspora was also there. Ramharack, Dev, Ramracha, Yash Pal Soi, and myself, along with some new forces from the diaspora, were there to combat the electoral fraud of 2020. Nadir, Tennassee, Bandhu, and Ramsammy from the pre-1992 freedom movement were also there combating the 2020 fraud.
It took five months and varied efforts including diplomatic power and international forces, not least being Caricom and ABCE diplomats posted in Guyana to remove the government. Social and traditional media exposed the fraud. Eventually, the power of the US with its sanctions against key figures forced the regime to throw in the towel to its bold-faced attempt to retain power through fraud. Democracy was saved. The nation ought to be thankful to all those who combated electoral fraud in 2020 and contributed to the restoration of democracy in 1992.