Nobody can say with any confidence when and how Guyana’s current political impasse would end. This is partly because we have not been down this road before and partly because the final outcome is linked to factors that are not electoral in nature. I have argued all along that this election is the occasion for the settling of other non-electoral scores, some old and others new. It is, therefore, not accidental that after almost four months, the imminent end may not be that imminent. It is also not surprising that external forces have become more embroiled than normal in the situation.
But the greatest rupture has occurred among Guyanese. We have in the last four months deteriorated into two separate and hostile countries. One just has to check the letter pages of the newspapers or worse peruse social media. The divide is frightening. Not simply because people have competing views of reality, but because those views seem immovable. There is little or no space to speak across the political aisle except to abuse the other. A country that was always divided is now being sensationally ripped apart.
This election has destroyed friendships, institutions, organizations, and trust among the citizenry at large. Our fragile ethnic relations have taken a beating to the point that one worries whether they can be mended when this is all over. It is difficult to watch and listen to what passes for commentary and analysis. In all of my almost five decades of observing Guyanese politics, I have never seen the level of hypocrisy that is currently on display. The ease with which persons and institutions ignore the narrative of the other side is at best shattering.
Yet we press on. The matter is now before the CCJ. That institution which has not earned the trust of two-thirds of the CARICOM member of states is itself on trial. Those member states have chosen to retain the Privy Council as their court of last resort while some of their leaders are urging acceptance of the rulings from the CCJ. Those countries have stayed away from the CCJ because they fear the court would be subjected to political interference. I reject that position. But these Guyanese elections have raised that question anew within the integration movement. One must speculate whether CARICOM would be the same when these Guyanese elections are over.
Character assassination in the media has become the preferred mode of discourse. I have always felt that that form of discourse is dangerous to the health of the country. These elections have normalized it. I have respect for the media’s right to take partisan political positions. The media are owned and operated by real people with real biases. To expect the media not to reflect these biases is to be naïve. But the depth of the bias shocks even realists like myself. I struggle to read the papers these days because I have never been turned on by uniformity and willful exclusion in media content. The concourse of ideas in the media has gone on vacation. Media houses which yesterday cherished my commentary shun me today because that commentary does not validate their current narrative. To paraphrase Bob Marley, we are what we are and that is the way it’s going be.
What would Guyana look like when all of this is over? Will we be able to look one another in the eye and say, “hello sister, hello brother”? As much as I would like to be hopeful and positive, something tells me I am fooling myself. We have entered the phase of a new Guyana which we have crafted with our very actions. Our penchant for fooling ourselves that we are doing noble work even as we turn our country into an ignoble place is palpable. But elections must be won, and scores must be settled. Everything else matters little. This election has changed Guyana for the worse.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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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