I am asked the same question over and over – why in the campaign the PPP leaders keep returning to the seventies and eighties which have long gone and a long, long time ago? It is like campaigning for office and reminding citizens of what your party did in the anti-colonial days which are blank pages for young Guyanese.
Here is something I saw on a secondary school quiz programme hosted by Dr. Rovin Deodat.
Dr. Deodat asked what Guyana’s name was before it became independent. None of the students knew it was British Guiana. I saw the pungent look of disbelief on the face of Deodat. The PPP’s posture in the present situation could be likened to an election campaign in Germany in 2011 where the politicians remind the voters that Hitler was a bad man in 1933. Young people in Guyana don’t know or want to know about PPP’s struggle in the seventies.
Of course that is history and the young citizens of this land ought to know what the PPP, WPA, Catholic Church, the GHRA and other organizations did to bring freedom and liberty to post-Independent Guyana. The trouble is, while the WPA would love to extol its anti-dictatorship record in the seventies and eighties, the PPP is physically, morally and politically restrained from doing so.
When they go to their constituencies, unlike the WPA, they have to explain 20 years of their practice of the same immoralities and depravities they struggled against in the seventies.
Editorials in the two independent dailies and commentators have all dealt with this eerie pathway that the PPP has taken in the election season. How do you explain it? Really! Why go back forty years ago? One can offer three reasons. Depending on your perspective on the PPP, you can prioritize them.
First, in invoking the bad days of the seventies, the PPP knows it is keeping the “race thing” alive and the “race thing” is the only game in town for the PPP. Right up to the end of the campaign on November 26, there will be subtle and not so subtle references to the seventies and eighties to preserve the symbols of ethnic awareness and ethnic memory.
Secondly, lacking a solid foundation of achievements, the PPP seeks to obfuscate its non-accomplishments by focusing on the absence of flour and spilt peas that occurred more than thirty-five years ago under the PNC. This is a compulsive stratagem. There is no alternative.
How can PPP personnel go to Berbice and tell them about development when poor people cannot cycle across the ugly bridge they built, lovers cannot stroll across the ugly bridge they built and to cross the ugly bridge they built costs a motorist $2200. The strategy then is to stay away from the twenty years of PPP rule and paint a picture of life under the PNC forty years ago.
Someone has to tell the PPP that over seventy-five percent of the population is under thirty-five.
The third reason is not listed here as number three because it is of less importance. In fact, for this writer, it has the same theoretical value when assessing the nature of the PPP. If one listens carefully to every PPP member of the campaign, you will hear stories of the PPP in struggle in the seventies and eighties.
What is actually playing out here is the need to tell Indians in Guyana that the PPP are heroic people; that they struggled for justice and liberation. In other words, the PPP speakers want to come over as heroes, because if the other side of the coin is shown to the listeners, then disaster is in the making.
Take Gail Teixeira. Addressing a campaign meeting in Moruca, she described to her audience how in the eighties, the PPP campaigners couldn’t get in to Moruca, and that one night they had to fly in secretly. Ms. Teixeira wants to remind the people that she was involved in struggle in those days. She would not want the audience to know that since she has been in power the past 20 years, she spoke to the US Embassy about her Government’s involvement with drug traffickers.
Ms. Teixeira would not want her audience to know that last month she marched into UG, and in the presence of this writer, demanded the immediate dismissal of lecturers the Government doesn’t want to see teach at UG. The same hide-and-seek game Rohee is playing. He goes back forty years ago. He doesn’t want to talk about his twenty years in power. The visa scandal may come up.
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