On the 19th September 2019, Guyana’s past, present, and future flowed in perfect confluence; as we protested David Granger’s breach of our Constitution and his embrace of dictatorship, I could feel the presence of the Professor with the afro and the dentist with the common touch in our midst; that powerful energy surge I experienced running behind Dr. Walter Rodney being tempered by the wise, patient pragmatism of Dr. Cheddi Jagan. I walked into the protest with two comrades, Quacy and Karen, both in their thirties and full with the strength of conviction. The struggle of our past had become our present and with me were the leaders of our future.
The rain had delayed our arrival and as we arrived on the scene, the riot police were using their shields to push a group away from the entrance of the Pegasus parking lot, an activist lay on the ground after being pushed hard and he refused to move, the police were grabbing at him as he was shielded by other, I threw myself in the mix as the police dragged the activist aside and pushed at us with shields and poked at the women with batons. We offered measured resistance, up close I could see there was no ill-will borne by the forces, the men were embarrassed by the orders to suppress the protestors; there was no zeal to inflict bodily harm as we experienced with Burnham’s goon squads in the past.
Quacy had a different experience, as I splintered to join the small vocal group; he walked on to join the main group and was waylaid by members of the special branch who detained him out of our sight. “What was a young black man doing with ‘these people’?” he was asked, did he not have better things to do than protest a ‘black government’? The Special Branch picked on the wrong man, Quacy responded with his accustomed quiet, strong logical arguments that saw tension diffused and a new understanding reached by the inquisitors. I quoted Rodney for them Quacy said, “Because it is a system of class oppression, it only camouflages its class nature under a racial cover. And in the end, it will move against anyone irrespective of colour. In the end, they will move even against their own. Because, don’t believe if you are a member of that party today, that you will be protected tomorrow from the injustices. Because when a monster grows, it grows out of control. It eats up even those who created the monster. And it’s time that our people understood that.” Quacy was released and allowed to join the main protest group.
Karen is a member of the PPP and joined the protest without incident. Inside the venue, another leader, Bishop Juan Edghill led a courageous group that stood up to Granger; among them was Dave Danny, a longtime member of the People’s National Congress, who shouted across the lobby at a Granger. “You are destroying our country, you are stealing our democracy”, this at a man whom Danny worked with until earlier this year and whose (Granger’s) undemocratic actions forced him (Danny) to crossover to the People’s Progressive Party.
Irfaan Ali made an impassioned speech about the barriers that used to protect the people now being used to protect a fledgling Dictator as he pledged to fight with every bit of his strength to force a return of parliamentary democracy in our dear land of Guyana.
Late last week, I was contacted by another young man, he had gotten a job on the Liza Destiny and he wanted me to know of the conditions of his contract and work. While I was appalled to learn that he was expected to work twelve hours a day, twenty-eight days at a time, for seventy-two thousand dollars per month, I was heartened by his strong desire to represent the rights himself and his fellow workers, many of whom were scared to speak out. I secured legal representation for my young friend, whom I understand will be ‘helicoptered’ off the Liza D, after being labeled a ‘troublemaker’ for saying First lady Sandra Granger visited and did not even care to speak to any of the Guyanese working below deck, “they don’t care about us, only how they look in pictures”.
The spirits of our leaders departed must be resting easier with the knowledge that the people of the present, led by PPP presidential candidate Irfaan Ali and Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo are fighting for democracy; and the leaders of the future, Edghill, Quacy, et al. are enduring a baptism of fire that will sear their consciousness and guide their actions in pursuit and protection of democracy and our Constitution, well into the future. The crown of dictatorship will not be allowed to rest easily on Granger’s head. A luta continua; a vitória é certa!
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