The PPP and its leader, President Jagdeo, have raised the question of race ahead of the coming election. They have made it crystal clear that this is going to be their battle cry going forward. Through Commissioner Robeson Benn, they have charged that GECOM, the elections body, is overpopulated by African Guyanese, the ethnic group that is most opposed to the PPP.
They first said that 90 percent of the employees there are African Guyanese. But when it was revealed that African Guyanese actually make up less than 50 percent of GECOM’s workforce, the changed their tune—they started to say that it’s the senior staff that they were talking about.
The PPP has planted the word in the Indian Guyanese community that the closure of some sugar estates as part of GuySuCo’s rightsizing is ethnically motivated—that it is meant to strangle Indian Guyanese economically. Not so long ago, at an Indian Arrival event held at the Cultural Centre, some panelists charged the government with ethnic cleansing—they cited the removal of Indian Guyanese from top positions and they accused the government of going after Indian Guyanese businesses.
So confident is the PPP of the merit of these charges, Mr. Jagdeo actually challenged the president to a debate on race relations. Note, he wants a debate — not a discussion about race with the aim of reaching a resolution about what is indeed a troubling issue. Troubling not because the PPP charges are grounded in truth, but because all ethnic groups do feel a sense of insecurity in this our ethnically divided and charged society. That much we must admit.
I have since volunteered to debate Mr. Jagdeo on the issue. My aim is not to score points, but to begin a serious discussion about ethnicity and race. Unlike some analysts, I do not dismiss Mr. Jagdeo as some insignificant leader. He is the most popular PPP leader among Indian Guyanese, because since Dr. Jagan’s passing, he has transformed the PPP into an overtly aggressive advocate and facilitator of Indian Guyanese empowerment. Indian Guyanese know that, and no Third Term ruling is going to change that perception and reality anytime soon.
What must be immediately established and what the PPP wants to hide from public scrutiny is that the party used its tenure in office to establish, in a systematic way, the institutionalization of Indian Guyanese dominance of Guyanese political economy.
This was done primarily through a massive transfer of common economic resources into Indian Guyanese hands and the facilitation of control of major national institutions to persons of that ethnic group. True, that Indian Guyanese empowerment is of course uneven, with the bulk of the transfer of economic resources going to the Indian elites.
This government has been finding out the hard way, that almost every area of public life is dominated by persons of one ethnic group. Since the government has not in any systematic and consistent way tried to dismantle that dominance, it cannot be charged with attacks against Indian Guyanese.
In fact, if the government is guilty in this regard, it is for its less than aggressive attempt to correct things by seeking to ethnically balance control of the political economy and control of national institutions. It is no secret that in many instances the government is doing business with many of those who have benefited and endorsed the PPP’s ethnic domination scheme and marginalizing those who helped to weaken the PPP regime so that it could be electorally defeated.
One area in which this domination I am talking about is most evident is cricket—our national sport. Cricket administration in Guyana has been completely racialized in favour of one ethnic group – Indian Guyanese.
What does this mean? It essentially means that the monies that go to the respective governing groups are controlled by members of one ethnic group. It also means that this group controls all decision making in relation to national cricket, including how and where the money is spent and who gets selected to represent Guyana.
This statistic would shock Guyanese. The 14-man squad that represented Guyana at the Regional Under-15 tournament in Jamaica earlier this year included 11 Indian Guyanese and three African Guyanese players.
What all of this tells us is that ether African Guyanese are not interested in cricket management or they are marginalized from participating. Further, the statistic on the youth team suggests that only Indian Guyanese boys are interested in cricket, or are good enough to represent the nation – or that other ethnic groups are marginalized.
The latter seems to be the case. For example, member boards and associations which are more ethnically balanced have, for the most part, been marginalized from participating at the higher levels of administration. Challenges in the courts have highlighted the various issues in this regard.
Representatives of these boards and associations have been working tirelessly to educate Guyanese on what is happening and to get government to intervene to change the situation. They have been dubbed trouble makers. As a consequence, the areas where African Guyanese boys live, and clubs that they belong to, are deliberately starved of resources, and they are often overlooked for national selection.
The dictatorship in Guyana’s cricket administration was institutionalized under the PPP as part of their ethno-racial domination of Guyana. Of that, I am certain.
So, Mr. Jagdeo, this is one area of race relations I would love to discuss with you with the aim of changing it.
More of Dr. Hinds’ writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news. Send comments to [email protected]
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