“If they want to label us, call us revolutionaries because that is who we are.”
The words of Linden teacher Jason Figuero, as he delivered an emotional address to thousands of Lindeners at a rally on Saturday night.
“It angers me that in our time of struggle and hardship, in our time of mourning the death of innocent protestors, the government propaganda machine NCN is labeling us as APNU and AFC supporters….We are first and foremost Lindeners…..Lindeners of all different races, religious grouping and political persuasion.”
Vanessa Kissoon, A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Member of Parliament, ably led the rally, the first after the killing of the three Lindeners.
That rally heard prolific charges from the likes of Doctors Rupert Roopnarine and David Hinds, the two most senior ranking officials of the Working Peoples’ Alliance, as well as Trade Unionist Lincoln Lewis and Alliance for Change (AFC) Cathy Hughes, among others.
Kissoon warned the Lindeners not to become their own enemies and to remain focused, saying “this is a people’s struggle…we are not here to break into anybody’s stores, or anything like that….we do not condone those types of action.”
Kissoon was at the time making reference to the fact that during the course of Saturday evening, miscreants broke into the Digicel Store and it was looted.
Kissoon reported to the rally that the perpetrators were caught by Lindeners and handed over to the police
“We were very much pleased about that…It was our own people who were vigilant on the ground,” said Kissoon, who warned that such actions will not be condoned by the movement.
The gathering was treated to an inspirational song title “don’t give up.”
As the gathering prepared to listen to the young teacher Figuero, Kissoon used the opportunity to send a direct message to Head of State Donald Ramotar.
This message she emphasized, is from the elected representative of the people of Linden in Parliament.
“Let me tell you how they disrespectful,” Kissoon told the large crowd. “I want this message to get to him….Tell the President that the female representative in Parliament says, if he does not contact the Regional Chairman and let him know that he is coming to the Region…don’t come.”
Reference was made to what was described as a “disrespectful act” perpetrated on the Regional Chairman by the Office of the President.
According to reports there were attempts to arrange a meeting through a party supporter, “to pass a message to the Regional Chairman…that is disrespectful….that is total eye-pass,” lamented Kissoon.
The Regional Chairman himself, no doubt left an impact on Lindeners at the culmination of the event but it was the young teacher who moved many to tears when he was given the opportunity to speak.
“I stand here saddened but resolute in our struggle,” articulated Figuero as he declared that they were mourning the loss of their loved ones who were murdered by servants of the state.
He said that he was pleased to see that all were united by a common vision in the struggle which is for a “better life for us in this Region…a Region that has been denied by this apartheid government for too long.”
The teacher said that the struggle “has been strengthened,” which is evident in the thousands that are taking to the streets and that the killing has only made the people more resolute in their demand.
“It is symbolic…it symbolizes that we are standing up for ourselves,” said Figuero, adding that “the elected servants of government are not doing that for us…it symbolizes that we had enough.”
The young man related in his message that the community is fed up of being marginalized and denied opportunities.
The young man said that at the November 28 election, Linden voted for the leaders that they wanted but to date the ruling administration has demonstrated “that it is only interested in playing politics with the Region.”
“This is our lives and our future,” said Figuero who was also adamant that “as a unified people we can demand from these elected servants…. I said servants’ because that is who they are…their fundamental role and responsibility is to give service to the people.”
The teacher from the mining town reminded of a quote by a former US President Thomas Jefferson who had declared that “when the people fear their government there is tyranny but when the government fear the people there is liberty.”
The message was well received, evidenced by the vociferous chants of support as the teacher continued his clarion call “we are standing up for our rights…we are standing up against injustice, against this oppression and this tyrannical rule of government….against this miscarriage of justice.”
The young man affirmed that the Linden Struggle has reached a decisive point, saying that the solutions required have to be delivered “rapidly and uninterrupted.”
He warned that Lindeners cannot afford to continue to be mistreated, and reminded that “freedom is never voluntarily granted by the oppressor, but must be demanded by the oppressed…today we continue to say, no more.”
In another well received charge, the young teacher declared that Linden was tired of waiting on “this selfish government…..now is the time to intensify this struggle on all fronts.”
He said that it would be a mistake to let up in the struggle and warned that the ‘generations to come would never forgive Lindeners for giving up the struggle’ and allowing the three dead persons to have their blood spilled in vain.
“The eyes of the entire nation and the world are watching us…it is because we are the cradle of the revolution for this country.”
Fiquero was adamant that Linden was too important a community to be continued to be denied.
“Let me remind you that the innocent lives that were lost for us in this struggle for our rights, let us not let it fall in vain….let us not forget, for they deserve for us not to relent.”
At this point in time another reference was made to the government and police’s reaction to protest action in Tain, Berbice.
“I call on my Indian families, my brothers and sisters and co-workers to stand up and say with us, ‘no more’….Today you must say with us, ‘no more’.” The cry of “no more” continued for some time.
He said that injustice anywhere in Guyana is a threat to justice everywhere.
Each speaker for the night insisted that there was no racial component to their movement.
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