Lindeners on the frontline of a battle for Guyana’s future
I refer to the letter to the editor written by Sharma Solomon [SN 13th August, 2012 “There was a military operation to pre-empt a reasonable outcome to the dilemma in Linden”]
It is clear to anyone paying attention that the people of Linden are deliberately being targeted by the current incarnation of the PPP Government. This became quite obvious since the Budget Debates when the NCN switched off transmission to Linden.
The deaths of three protesters on July 18th, 2012, and the subsequent actions of the Government, make it patently clear that negotiations in good faith are out of the question. So there is no point in expecting good faith. The leaders of the nation have no one to blame but themselves for lack of faith in them.
Upon the formation of the new government, people in this country gave the new president every opportunity to distinguish himself and his administration. Read every KN Editorial around that period for evidence of how much people hoped for consensus and for a break from the past. For him to reduce himself and his office to having to write open letters is an indication that he has lost the plot. There is a clear abdication of leadership, yet very menacing and threatening actions are being undertaken.
Under these circumstances, and with the very genuine concerns of Lindeners, what could be the best course of action? If the Government is seeking conflict, then the best course of action would appear to be not to give it to them. This has to be an unambiguous stance. To stand up to them while they are armed and dangerous, without weapons might not be the best course of action at this time. Go home and stay in your homes. They know that if they provoke the people enough, there will be protest. This is the predictability that makes the nation vulnerable.
If there is no protest action, then there can be no occasion for evil to exploit. The habit of protest is the occasion. So, don’t present the occasion by breaking the habit. Is this defeatist? It certainly is not. The absence of open conflict is where the success is to be found. For this is what is threatening the government. If there is no conflict, there is no divide.
When our actions become too predictable, then we become very vulnerable. For example, if anyone wants to distract the attention of the public from any contentious issue in a big city in the world, then simply orchestrate a situation where a white police officer murders a black man and a riot is bound to follow. It is almost causal. We have to show greater awareness and intelligence of the fact that there are people in the world who benefit from our suffering and not simply languish in it and see only it. The public is being manipulated – all over the world.
It is my understanding that the conflict in Linden in the 1960s was orchestrated by bigger powers – there were invisible external interests. What could motivate the PPP Government, or a subset of the Government, to be taking such desperate acts and decisions, the likes of which Guyana has never seen before? Who are the invisible interests? Nations all over the world are aligning themselves one way or the other, so who suffers if the PPP Government leaves office?
The citizens of the nation remain vulnerable to external interests as much as internal greed and corruption. It is this cycle that we have to break by bringing ethics into politics.
It is unclear what Sharma Solomon means by the following: “We urge you to safeguard your interest by ensuring that ours is satisfied by this government and that you do not allow the usual divide and rule practice by those who are responsible for denying Linden, and causing Lindeners to embark on a civil rights movement.”
Who in Guyana is being addressed here? Who in Guyana can ensure that this government does anything? Isn’t it clear that the government is disconnected from its supporters and is manipulating them and pursuing its own interests? Who in Guyana asked the PPP Government to impose austerities in Linden?
Let it be quite clear here that this government is not executing policies developed by its supporters. This kind of reasoning is what the PPP Government is hoping for. It is a threat against the citizens of the nation, not a threat against the government. This is rubbish thinking. The threat that Lindeners might have cause to embark on a civil rights movement is not even a threat. It is what they are hoping for. This kind of thinking is not reflecting an awareness that this problem is not about electricity rates. It’s a direct provocation.
There is no supporter of the PPP Government who can prevent the PPP from doing anything. Which PPP supporter wants conflict in Linden? Conflict sustains the PPP Government. And it sustains the PNCR as a party.
The people of Linden are on the frontlines of a great battle for the future of Guyana. There is no room for mistakes, because open conflict can and will be abused and then there will be absence of accountability and this is where we all lose. We have to rely on the law of the land and on the evolution of political representation, parliament and elections. We have to rely on creativity and not fall prey to habit. We must show greater awareness that conflict will not resolve conflict. There will be no progress in Guyana without goodwill.
“This is a people’s struggle for their civil rights. It encompasses persons from across the racial spectrum, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. It has within its midst those who are supporters of the APNU, AFC, PPP and the non-aligned. And we will keep it this way.”
As mature as this situation is, we need more. Sharma Solomon needs to add to this pledge the commitment to dialogue and political process and keeping people out of the line of fire. This commitment will save lives and ultimately even the nation.
I take this opportunity to join with those in Guyana mourning the loss of Mr. Hugh Cholmondeley. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to meet this gentleman and work and participate with him in activities geared toward improving social cohesion. His passion and dedication to Guyana is unquestionable. And his hopes for reconciliation and real progress now lie completely in our hands. May he rest in peace and may we do our best while we can.