We brothers and sisters of African descent have noted a press release purportedly coming from the Guyana Reparations Committee dated June 11, 2020 and has its signature bloc Commissioners of the Guyana Reparations Committee.
This missive comes at a time when, as a nation, we have just successfully completed the recount of ALL ballots cast at the March 2nd General and Regional Elections.
Guyana now awaits the declaration from GECOM of the winner of these elections; a process which is constitutionally enshrined and publically accepted by all contesting political parties prior to, during, and subsequent to the events that led to the National Recount.
As responsible and informed citizens we wish to reject the intent and content of this press release. We view it as ill-advised and self-serving.
Certainly, whoever the Commissioners of this Committee are, they do not speak for, nor represent the views of the majority of Guyanese, especially Afro-Guyanese.
The view expressed – that “It is time to draw up plans to separate” – is premised on a jaundice view that there was “…organized rigging of the 2020 National and General Elections”. The listing of nine complaints, exactly mirroring the views of the APNU+AFC Coalition is not surprising, but is a clear display of the incestuous relationship that exists among the two and whose interest will be served by this diatribe.
The repetition of factual inaccuracies and twisted facts will never constitute the truth and can never be a process that will lead to the liberation of our people. Endless repetition of untruths does not make something true.
Further, the now fashionable bashing of the Diplomatic community and our International Development Partners, including those of Afro-Caribbean origin who dare say that ‘a wrong was committed’ when Clairmont Mingo declared fraudulent results for District 4 in favour of the Granger-led APNU+AFC Coalition, is not surprising.
We call upon those associated with such behaviour to consider how counterproductive their statements and actions are, since we live in a global village wherein sovereignty in best preserved in our interdependence.
We regret the unethical, mischievous and down-right race hate and race baiting that has been prevalent on social media, emanating from all sides of the political, cultural and ethnic divide.
This is unacceptable and no one should be selective in their condemnation.
That said, we offer a view that may help us all to find our way in these muddled waters:
1. We all must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge how we have been abused, misused and participated in actions that have led to our current dilemma. Blaming others will never liberate us. The historical fact is the oppression of any race group around the world has never succeeded without the participation of self-serving members of that group. A dispassionate and rational analysis of Guyana will show that Afro-Guyanese suffered more economically, politically and mentally under administrations that Afro-Guyanese largely participated in their election.
Guyana’s noble son Walter Rodney was assassinated while those who held political power were the urban-middle class Afro-Guyanese elites. We do not need to list and mention the names of all those who were silenced, denied employment, forced to migrate, suffered physical injury and mental anguish because they dared to disagree with the establishment.
2. The urban and rural Guyanese of African ancestry while living in an environment of political non-cooperation from the then opposition PNC/R during the successive democratically elected Governments of the PPP/C (1992-2015) became the owners of land (house lots); mining claims; agricultural and farm lands; received scholarships from the public service – through bilateral cooperation were sent to varying destinations for educational advancement; contractors upgraded from small scale to large and medium-size operations; many became owners of their own cars; felt respected and dignified in their profession; barbershops and hairdressing salons moved from pavement setups to air conditioned modern facilities; not forgetting those who now own and operate their own taxis and transportation services because of the economic opportunities that became available and were utilized. Everything was not perfect but significant progress was made.
3. The PPP/C acknowledges that its win at the 2020 elections was as a result of support from Afro-Guyanese who campaigned with and voted for them. We have publicly stated and reiterated that we will be a Government for all the people of Guyana founded on the principles of equal opportunity and equal access. We will be working towards making Guyana a more cohesive country instead of fueling fires of racism, classism and bigotry as seen in the release from the Reparations Committee.
4. When Guyana, under the PPP/C administration named Afro-Guyanese leaders to be a part of the Caribbean reparations movement and openly facilitated discussions on the issue of reparations. It was a clear acknowledgement that we believe an injustice was done both as an account of slavery and indentureship.
The reality is we are here, we must move forward together. Let’s climb over the obstacles and forcefully confront the challenges and in the spirit of cooperation build a united and prosperous Guyana.
The generations behind us are depending on us to direct our collective efforts to the task at hand.
Brigadier (rtd) Mark Phillips
Bishop Juan Edghill and many others