Ralph Ramkarran finally makes peace with me. Thanks, Ralph!
The outbreak of any form of protest, whether over the dismissal of a State employee, the charging of anti-government critics, condemnation of corruption, cries of discrimination, State media abuse or as we see the gunning down of protesters, the eventual form of the demonstration is the call for the replacement of the Government.
If there is no change in governance in the coming months, this pattern will continue, and for one fundamental reason. The people of Guyana, whether they voted for the PPP or whether they belong to the PPP-affiliated union, GAWU, believe that the Government is wrong-headed, corrupt, above the law, insensitive, bullying and does not care about what the population says about its unpopular rule.
I have been to every major outbreak of protest in Guyana since the November 28 elections, including all the strikes on the sugar estates (except Albion last week) and the consensus among every person you spoke to is that the PPP leaders do not listen, are not prepared to meet demands and remain hardened in their positions.
From the most recent member of the PPP hierarchy to the most diehard monarchs, the attitude is always one of arrogance and pompousness and non-response to calls for better governance, less use or arrogant power and the need for a conciliatory face. And it gets worse every day. Perhaps the defining moment for Guyanese on how they feel about the PPP came with the humiliation of the PPP stalwart, Ralph Ramkarran, at an internal meeting.
We do not know exactly what happened, but it would appear that when Mr. Ramkarran defended his demand for action against corruption he was met by abuse. Any sane mind had to be frightened at what Mr. Ramkarran endured. You would think, given his standing in the contemporary history of the PPP, there would be a subdued voice when responding to him.
It reminds me of how people feel about Eusi Kwayana in the wide opposition circles. There is no one in this country who would dare raise their voice in an insulting way to Kwayana, no matter how inelegant and wrong are his statements.
It would appear that Ramkarran was so incensed at the hubris and hauteur of his colleagues who have lost all contacts with the objective, real word in Guyana, that he made the final judgement to leave a political organization that he has given his whole life to. I was caught by extreme surprise by Mr. Ramkarran last Thursday in the picket line outside Minister Rohee’s office at Eve Leary on Camp Street.
I was next to Michael Carrington of the AFC and David Hinds of APNU when this car drove up and stopped at the traffic signal. I heard shouts of “Freddie, Freddie” and the tone was friendly. When I looked it was Mr. Ramkarran and he began to talk to me in a nice and friendly tone asking me with an oceanic smile on his face when I am going to write about him in my column. Before the light turned in his favour, he folded his hand and made the rebellious cuff that is associated with protesters and urged us to continue. Yes, Ralph Ramkarran said that, and all the picketers saw and heard.
All Guyanese must have asked themselves if Ramkarran can be shouted at and be abused, think of what the opposition will get. I will surmise that at that fateful meeting, Ramkarran was told that if he continues to publicly criticize the PPP Government he will weaken it. But this is where the humongous weakness of the PPP lies and this is where and how it will lose power. No doubt Ramkarran must have raised the monster of corruption at endless meetings and when he saw the continuing cover-up he blew his lid.
It never occurred to those people in the PPP leadership that their rule would be dissolved, not by the public castigation of their own dissenting colleagues, but the continuation of their shameless abuse of power. In his own way, Ramkarran was trying to save his colleagues by commonsensically telling them to mend their ways, to stop corruption and the abuse of power.
The Ramkarran debacle occurred more than a month before the Linden killings. The authoritarian train is out of control. Ramkarran knew it is heading for a destructive direction. He is gone and the train continues on its mindless journey. It is anyone’s guess on WHERE it will end up. What the entire country knows is HOW it will end up.
It is easy to predict how dictatorship ends up.