In the conversation between Anil Nandlall and Leonard Gildarie, Nandlall is heard telling Gildarie that Ramotar had a conversation with Glenn Lall’s wife, in which it was requested that the Kaieteur News stay away for one week from any condemnation of the Government. It appeared that Lall did not acquiesce and the President was mad. So far the President has not denied that specific reference to him in “Tapegate.” One can assume that it is true. If Lall didn’t give Ramotar his week, I will do so now.
I have resumed writing every day in the week. So for the next week, I will be offering the President not a week of abstention of condemnation, but a week of stepping up the tempo (remember the word “tempo” as used by the AG in that recording?). The increased tempo will take in both the style and political chemistry of Donald Ramotar and his do-nothing presidency.
And when he does offer something, it is self-destructive – the proroguing of Parliament. Mr. Ramotar is the weakest president ever in the history of the post-colonial CARICOM region. Disaster looms ahead for him; can his regime survive the coming baptism of fire?
In the seventies when the Burnham regime sank deeper in the authoritarian whirlpool, the PPP stepped up its activities against the government? First, there was the frequent arson on the sugar estates. The murder of Constable Henry and the wounding of his partner, Joaquin during a violent PPP attack on the Corentyne toll gate. The PPP also developed a closer working relation with the WPA.
The intensity of anti-dictatorship politics was inevitable given some terrible moments of authoritarian output by President Burnham. There was the 1973 rigged general election; the 1974 rejection of an appointment of Dr. Walter Rodney at UG; the fraudulent 1978 referendum. In 1980, the general election was rigged again. There was the murder of Father Bernard Darke.
From 1971 when there was an attempt on the life of UG professor Joshua Ramsammy to the 1980 murder of Walter Rodney, the Burnham Government had lost its legitimacy. This was a rich period of anti-dictatorship struggle and the praxis involved in it could only be rich and finely textured. Two PPP activists missed out on this seminal period of Guyana’s post-colonial stress – Donald Ramotar and Clement Rohee.
It explained why both men are manifestly insensitive to human rights issues, and have no overt guilt about the excesses of bad governance. Both men were dispatched by Janet and Cheddi Jagan to Czechoslovakia to live and work in Prague, helping to fill the contents of the journal of the international communist movement, World Marxist Review.
Both of these young PPP activists spent ten years in Prague. In those ten years in Guyana, the seeds of Burnham’s downfall were sown.
Rohee came from the lumpen-proletariat and made Metropole cinema his home. As was natural, he would skip across the road to lime at Freedom House. He hung around Freedom House doing menial tasks so often that he was noticed and drafted to do low level political work. I knew Rohee then when I was a sixteen-year-old employee in the Michael Forde Bookshop.
Taken in hand by Mrs. Jagan, Rohee was tutored at the Mirror newspaper by Mrs. Jagan, who sent him to communist countries to broaden his horizon. When the Prague opening came, he fitted the bill. The reason for sending Rohee to Czechoslovakia was essentially different from that of Ramotar. Sensitive about not having African youths in the party, Janet Jagan made sure that Rohee’s future was assured.
In the case of Ramotar, he had no productive years in the youth arm of the PPP, the PYO, and the PPP itself. He worked as a clerk in the PPP business arm, GIMPEX, then did a stint at GAWU, where he was a field officer. GAWU people felt he was not trade union material. It was then that the opportunity arose to send him to Prague for ten years.
When he came back from Czechoslovakia, there was no place for him in the hierarchy of the PPP. Strange that during the election campaign of 2011, Dr. Roopnaraine whipped up the crowd with the slogan, “No place for Donald.” Roopnaraine meant no Cabinet post since 1992, but in fact since the eighties there was “no place for Donald” in the PPP itself
When Ramotar came home, the PPP had a full quota of activists that formed the core of its line-up – Navin and Indra Chandarpal; Gail Teixeira; Moses Nagamootoo; Feroze Mohamed; Clinton Collymore; Komal Chand; Roger Luncheon; Boyo Ramsaroop; Reepu Daman Persaud, Isahak Bashir, among others. There was never any place for Donald. After 2015, they won’t be any.
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