Sep 20, 2020 Letters
Regarding your several news items (KN Sept 18 and 19), if there is one thing one can learn from Guyana’s relations with the US, it is that America is the guarantor of democracy and change of governments thru the ballot box. The US determined change of governments in Guyana in 1953, 1957, 1964, 1992, 2015, and 2020. Without US active intervention in March thru August 1, Guyana would have become a dictatorship. Clearly, without US involvement, democracy is insecure in Guyana. Thus, some kind of US-Guyana pact is needed for protection of the peoples’ democratic rights.
After WWII the US implored Britain to grant independence to the colonies as a reward for fighting on the side of the allies against the fascists. But no sooner had some of the independent countries became friendly with the Soviet Union, the US developed a change in attitude, particularly as it related to British Guiana where Cheddi Jagan erred in fraternizing with the Soviet Union. That relationship sealed the fate of British Guiana and the supporters of the PPP. First, the Eisenhower administration urged the toppling of Jagan in 1953 and nudged Britain to encourage a split in the PPP into a pro-western faction and a pro-Soviet faction. Democracy was restored in Guyana in 1957 with the expectation that the political parties moderate their left wing ideology. Burnham played his card right ‘sucking up’ to Washington and London. Jagan became anti-western. And as Jagan sought closer relations with the Soviets, the US did all it could to oust the PPP from office between 1957 and 1964. A dictatorship followed from 1965 to 1992. This resulted in the PPP and its supporters, a majority of the population, being kept out of government. Had the PPP pursued a pro-America stance in the 1950s, Guyana would have been a democratic nation and the country would probably have never experienced the kind of racial inferno of the 1960s and the hate that followed ever since.
When England granted Guyana independence in 1966, no one would have thought that the country would descend into a fascist-cum communist dictatorship. And while the US propped up the pro-America dictatorship in the early years, the US changed course when Forbes Burnham began tilting eastward. America gradually withdrew assistance to Guyana in the 1970s and when communism collapsed in 1989, the US urged the restoration of democratic governance. This led to the return of Cheddi Jagan who had moderated his socialist ideology embracing a ‘democratic humane capitalism’ or liberalism. Close relations were developed between Guyana and the US thru the Jagdeo presidency. For some inexplicable reason, Jagdeo’s successor drifted away from Washington; worse, America was attacked, sealing the fate of Donald Ramotar who was cleverly engineered out of office by Barack Obama. Ivelaw Griffith and a team of PNC political strategists developed a position paper that the PNC could be trusted with power, as an ally of Washington resulting in an alliance between PNC (APNU) and AFC that was installed in government replacing Ramotar’s administration. If Ramotar had not irked the US, he may well have been allowed to complete his first term in office and won a second a term.
David Granger had an historic opportunity to unite the country but instead was driven by a narrow agenda of racial exclusion sealing his fate early in his tenure. Drug trafficking, corruption, and racial insecurity in Guyana worsened. Meanwhile Bharrat Jagdeo assumed control over the leadership of the PPP and, at the nudging of Guyanese American supporters of his party, wisely signaled his intent of closer relations with Washington, a reversal of Ramotar’s position. Jagdeo smartly hired a lobbyist and PR firm to convince Washington that the PPP can be trusted as a reliable ally. This move made it possible for the US to support free and fair elections in Guyana. Jagdeo recognized that once free and fair elections were held in Guyana, PPP would win. It had built in numbers though they have been in decline since 2006.
As the above examples illustrated, US is key to the survival of democracy and change of administrations in Guyana. The same is largely true of other countries in the Americas that pursued friendly or fraternal relations with eastern powers. Hadn’t the US intervened in Guyana in 1992 and 2020 to secure the right of the will of the electorate, there would not have been a change in administration and the return of PPP governments. Unlike previous PPP leaders, Jagdeo understands the power of Washington and significance of maintaining good relations with America who is guarantor of democracy in the region. The President Ali administration should give serious thought to develop some kind of security alliance with America that would help to protect our democracy. Guyanese Americans are probably larger than the population of Guyana. They endorse a pact with Guyana that would protect democratic gains.
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