In Guyana the night belongs to the generals

March 7, 2013 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 

They don’t come worse than this; maybe in civil wars where no side is in control but surely not in a modern Caribbean country.
Speaking to the media in justification of his entry into NCN studios to get a calypso taken off the airways, Minister of Works and Transport, Robeson Benn, had this to say when asked why he went into the station; “I hold it as my right to go into the station to intervene in an activity which I think impacted me as a citizen.”
For those who study political theory and political behaviour, this is called fascist power. Politics professors in Latin American studies would refer to this as banana republic style.
Benn is saying in the most unambiguous way that if as a citizen he feels that his interpretation is superior to other persons, he will walk into a public office and act against the prevailing situation that he finds is not to his liking.
Have you ever seen a fantastic movie about fascist power called, “Night of the Generals?”
In that film, a Nazi general went about killing women. An ordinary German police inspector connected him to the crimes. The general shot and killed the policeman when he was told by the inspector that he will be questioned. The general felt that it was presumptuous of the policeman to even approach him.
The parallel with Benn’s action is dangerously frightening. What Benn is pellucid about is that he will be the judge of art forms in Guyana and art that he finds unpleasant he will intervene.
But more than this, Benn is saying that whatever impacts negatively on him he will intervene. Let anyone who studied political behaviour tell me this is not fascism.
In erasing the jurisdictional lines in the demarcation of power, Robeson Benn has taken Guyana further down the chasm of nihilism. For Robeson Benn the calypsonian has no right to have his song played on a station that is funded by money that comes from the public purse because he, Benn, judged it to be in bad taste.
But who is Benn to determine what distasteful art form is? He has absolutely no training in philosophy, art or cultural studies to decide if a calypso is sordid. But he will get away with his banana republic style because our opposition parties that are so obsessed with Clement Rohee will enter Parliament this week and watch for Rohee instead of now focusing their attention on Robeson Benn.
If as Benn clams that as a citizen he has a right to enter a public office to remove something he finds negatively impacting his life then, I ask all Guyanese to tell me as a citizen what I should do with the Guyana Chronicle. For more than eight years the Chronicle has been churning out three letters a week on me, making that about two hundred letters a year.
These missives describe me in the most scandalous ways that make that calypso that Benn objected to look like a religious verse. Using Benn’s methodology I am now entitled to enter the Chronicle and order the editor to stop his cesspool behaviour.
The night belongs to Clement Rohee too. Speaking on NCN television (which Benn has arrogated to himself the right to dictate to) Rohee in clear language announced that his power as a Minister is backed by the votes his party received (his words). This statement, like Benn’s NCN incident, puts the two opposition parties in a quandary.
Rohee is simply saying that his party has power because it was elected. Rohee’s party in turn is saying to the AFC and APNU we don’t recognize your role in Parliament to delimit the power of the PPP Government because our votes are more important than the ones you received.
In other words, based on Rohee’s interpretation, votes only count when the PPP says so. It is the same with Benn. A calypso is clean or dirty based on Benn’s interpretation. Where does this leave the opposition in Parliament? Was there a national election in 2011? Who won what? Rohee and his PPP party have an unambiguous answer. The votes they got entitled him to be a Minister.
The votes the two opposition parties got do not translate into any kind of power.
This columnist has contended since the general elections in 2011 that if the PPP does not concede the constitutional power invested in Parliament, then the AFC and APNU should officially declare that they are not recognizing the minority status of the Executive. There is still time left to do this. It is called practical politics.

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