La dolce vita starring Papa Cheddi’s protégés

January 18, 2013 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 



Last week, I mentioned to my daughter that Obama should have won the popular vote by a landslide. I said that I could not understand how ordinary Americans could have voted for a multi-millionaire like Romney who was unashamed in his support for wealthy Americans.
Then I turned to her and said; “How could poor, working class people vote for wealthy politicians who don’t care about them?” I ended that conversation with my daughter by telling her it is something about people I will never understand.
A month ago, there was a “house celebration” in Pradoville 2. An invitee told me about the guests and sent me a photograph of the cars parked outside. If you see the ambience outside that home on that night, and you didn’t know it was Guyana, you would have thought it was the party of a decadent, wealthy American or European whose fortune would feature in Forbes magazine.
The owner of that house has ambition of leading the PPP into an election and to become the President of Guyana. This wealthy individual belongs to a party whose constitution says that it is a Marxist-Leninist organization. Now if a Marxist-Leninist party can have one of its leaders throw a fantastic bourgeois party in one of the poorest countries in the world, then can some scholar out there tell me what exactly Marxism-Leninism is? How can people claim to be Marxist-Leninist and display ostentatious wealth that you expect to find among capitalists?
By the way – in 1992 just after the PPP came to power, one of the most ardent supporters of socialism in the PPP leadership at the time bought the latest model Mercedes Benz.
That house-owner in Pradoville 2, to be elected to the presidency would have to secure the votes of (not thousands but) hundreds of thousands of poor, ordinary and working class people. That of course didn’t happen in France. The incumbent known in the media as the bling, bling president lost to a more modest, humble opponent.
Nicolas Sarkozy didn’t even try to hide his infatuation with the famous and wealthy and obsession with la dolce vita. One wonders why Sarkozy even thought of running again. In Guyana, the voters are not as unforgiving as in France.
To see the gathering at that house party was to gaze at the most expensive vehicles on display in a Third World country. I guess some invitees turned up with their ordinary Toyotas and when they saw the richness and largeness of those SUVs, probably felt left out, so they turned back home. Maybe the owners of such cars were not invited in the first place.
These are the things that matter in an election campaign. I was on the campaign trail in 2011 and one of the sharpest moments in the rhetoric of both the AFC and APNU was in the juxtaposition of the houses of people like Bharrat Jagdeo and the ordinary folks who are trying to build a structure for their families. That image really aroused anger in the attendees.
Whenever the snap poll comes, I have the most definite feeling that the palatial outfits in Pradoville 2 will take up space on the opposition platform.
Papa Cheddi’s protégés live like Rolls Royce owners in a “dankey kyaart” economy. Papa Cheddi never intended for it to happen this way. Leonard Craig of the People’s Parliament explained to me that he found an item on You Tube in which a Canadian journalist interviewed President Cheddi Jagan one month after he became President in 1992. Craig said he has posted up the talk so the world can listen to what Jagan said.
Papa Cheddi most graphically spelt out a modest level of spending for his government and the need for persons not to ask for big salaries. Jagan went on to offer evidence of corruption his people found after they occupied the ministries.
Papa Cheddi must be turning in his grave. If he found corruption from the PNC days then what do you call what we have found since 1992 when the PNC lost power. Maybe, Dr. Samuel Johnson, the world famous 18th century lexicographer has to invent a word for it.  In the edited book, “The PPP of Guyana, 1950 -1992: An Oral History”, Caribbean icon Lloyd Best made a faulty mental profile of Forbes Burnham which I think cannot be supported in theoretical studies. Best, in comparing Jagan and Burnham, chose the latter, because he felt Burnham was a “sports” man that loved liquor and women. Best also made the point that Burnham could be seen late clubbing (my word) while Jagan would be at home.

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