A couple of weeks ago, there were self-righteous denunciation of Bharrat Jagdeo for highlighting ethnic discrimination against Indo-Guyanese by the APNU/AFC Government in a speech made in Queens, New York. David Granger, in his role of BLOVIATOR–IN-CHIEF, told Jagdeo to “mind his words” and implied that Jagdeo was being a racist. Not to be outdone, bloviating with spittle, Prime Minister Nagamootoo desperately joined Granger in scurrilously condemning Jagdeo.
There were others that joined Granger and Nagamootoo in attacking the Leader of the Opposition. Even my good friend Ralph Ramkarran joined in the attack. But I know Ramkarran will not deny the facts – the fact that APNU/AFC has dismissed hundreds of public servants since May 2015 and that greater than 95 per cent of those dismissed are Indo-Guyanese and has acted with hostility to rice and sugar, economic areas dominated by the presence of Indo-Guyanese. There are Indo-Guyanese contractors that have been selectively marginalised and only those who fall in the category of political donors are favoured. Have we seen the make-up of State Boards and the political advisers who are paid salaries often in excess of $500,000 per month? These give the impression that Guyana is made up of a single race.
Jagdeo was stating the facts and called on the Guyanese Diaspora to work together so that the present Government can be voted out of office in the next election. He pointedly asserted that APNU/AFC ignores the imperative of national unity, refuses to disavow discrimination of all sorts, and only talk the talk of social cohesion, but actively promotes ethnic non-cohesion. He insisted that we must be prepared to “throw them out” in the next election.
Last week, MR BLOVIATOR, David Granger, addressed the need for his Government (APNU/AFC) to specifically heed the African-Guyanese interest in Guyana. To be fair, he also spoke of national unity. Dr Hinds and many other Afrocentric advocates insisted that African-Guyanese must hold the Government accountable and that Government must promote the interest of Afro-Guyanese since they overwhelmingly voted for APNU/AFC. These statements are by themselves not harmful and I expect that any government must address the special and particular vulnerabilities of all groups in a diverse country like Guyana. On Emancipation Day and in emancipation month, I accept the good intention of these statements.
But I do question the insensitivity and insincerity of those who attack the messengers that highlight the rampant discrimination that Indo-Guyanese are subjected to and how many of our citizens are being made to feel as though they do not belong to our country or being made to feel like second-class citizens. I find it reprehensible when someone is attacked because he dares to highlight the efforts of APNU/AFC to downgrade and destroy the sugar and rice industries, with the only plausible explanation being that these are economic foci for Indo-Guyanese.
In a diverse ethnic country like Guyana, it is admirable that there are groups like ACDA, IAC, APA and others that focus on the interest and benefits of specific ethnic groups and that advocate for greater resources of Government to be earmarked for development that will see the overall improvement in the lives of people and communities dominated by a particular race. This is not unlike Black Lives Matter in the USA. Where it becomes problematic is when we do so at the expense of national unity and social cohesion.
The truth is that presently it is acceptable to APNU/AFC for advocacy on behalf of Afro-Guyanese. There is recognition of poverty and underdevelopment among Afro-Guyanese. But this Government is overly sensitive to rebuke when it comes to the treatment of Indo-Guyanese and anyone who dares to address poverty and under-development in Indo-Guyanese communities is seen as racist and inciter of hate. It is the reason why Jagdeo was viciously attacked for inciting hate when all he was doing is highlighting the vulgarity of discrimination against Guyanese because they happen to be Indo-Guyanese.
For leaders like Nagamootoo and Ramjattan to acquiesce to those among them who see it as an imperative to advocate for Afro-Guyanese, while simultaneously attacking those who advocate for non-discrimination against Indo-Guyanese is not merely hypocrisy, it is abdicating their responsibility to speak out when obvious wrongs are perpetuated. Remember the words of Edmund Burke – the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stay silent and do nothing. But people like Nagamootoo and Ramjattan are not just complicit with the ugliness of open discrimination against their Indo-Guyanese sisters and brothers, they promote the ethnic malfeasance by not their silence but by attacking the messengers. (Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)