Guyana desperately needs another GUARD at this time
In a letter (KN 9 July 2012) Mr. Emile Mervin asks “Does anybody know whatever happened to the Civic group GUARD?” It is time to set the record straight.
The Guyanese Action for Reform and Democracy (GUARD) was formed early 1990 by a steering committee that comprised Mr. Nanda Gopaul, General Secretary of the trade union NAACIE; Mr. Mike Mc Cormack, General Secretary of the Guyana Human Rights Association; Sr. Doreen Rowtie, Ursuline nun; Mr. Albert Rodrigues, architect and Chairman of the Catholic Standard; and myself, at that time President of the NGO, Beacon Foundation. Bishop Randolph George and Mr. Yesu Persaud were GUARD’s mentors.
All of GUARD’s early rallies attracted large crowds with its call for electoral and moral reform while stressing that it was a purely civic, non-political organization. Within six weeks of its first rally, GUARD proposed the formation of an Interim Government for a two-year period, after which that government would administer truly free and fair elections. Supporters were asked to suggest names of suitable candidates to head this Interim Government. However the announcement of Mr. Ashton Chase as the consensus candidate met with considerable consternation among GUARD supporters, and attendance at subsequent rallies declined dramatically.
Previous to this development, I had already resigned from GUARD after I became convinced that senior members of the Steering Committee had decided, unknown to the rest of the Committee, to abandon GUARD’s primary objectives, and intended to go political. In Fr. Andrew Morrison’s book, “Justice”, he recorded that, “Others resigned or left at the political decision which they considered a betrayal of the people’s trust. Among these were Clairmont Lye and Albert Rodrigues.”
In the midst of all this, Mr. Samuel Hinds replaced Mr. Nanda Gopaul as Chairman of GUARD. But no sooner did he accept this position, he resigned after being enticed by Dr. Jagan to join the civic arm of the PPP. (It is a sad commentary on the vagaries of human nature when these gentlemen – who both avidly preached the GUARD message of democracy, of the reduction to the powers of the President, of freedom of the press, of the end to corruption by government officials, of the end to state monopoly of radio – should now be so silent in the face of far more egregious offences committed by the present government.)
So, Mr. Mervin, it is not that GUARD refuses to be revived. The truth is that GUARD committed political suicide twenty years ago. But yes, Guyana desperately needs another GUARD at this time.