Jan 06, 2021 Letters
In his response to my letter, Lincoln Lewis’ claims to be the “same progressive from the 1980s” (Jan. 3) is disputed by workers and trade unionists. He is plain wrong on several issues and is too preoccupied with race. There have been several instances when workers’ rights were not enforced and when race of workers determined Lewis’ action, as he self-confessed in his writings. Lewis’ position on issues is simply too emotional and self-centered and therefore lacks objectivity.
On the question of ‘why my insertion in his exchange with Freddie Kissoon,’ aspects of Lewis’ comments against Freddie were disrespectful and distasteful and deficient in civility. As someone in the media for some 45 years, I tried to redirect the exchange towards issues rather on personality. My involvement has not helped as Lewis has dug deeper into personality. Today’s working class describes Lewis’ trade union activism as embracing elements of Burnhamism including his obsession with “race,” unlike his illustrious predecessor Joseph Pollydore who focused on issues. Lewis’ entire response is reduced to “race” and personality and ignored the issues Freddie raised.
Lewis described me as seeking to become an “agent provocateur” or “inciting agent”. It is French for someone who acts to entice another to commit an illegal or rash act or falsely implicate them in partaking in an illegal act, so as to ruin a reputation. I am not hired by anyone and not enticing either Lewis or Freddie to commit illegal acts. However, union leaders must uphold ethical standards among some trade unionists.
Freddie says he briefly served in union leadership; not even a Toyota Cressida or race could compromise his activism. I too led my teachers union for nearly two decades without compromising my integrity. I sacrificed my promotion so workers can rise. I allowed the staff of hundreds to choose the union leadership. I was re-elected several times as leader in democratic elections. For years, unions and workers have been calling for democratic elections in TUC and in bauxite and other unions. When will they be held? Democratic elections will determine credibility of leaders.
Overall, workers in Guyana feel let down by TUC claiming that they are in dire need of better contracts and benefits. TUC did not defend earn then sufficient gains. Coincidentally, some brought up issues or raised questions about Guyana’s (TUC) representatives at the Caribbean Congress of Labour. Was there proper accountability? Was anyone’s finger caught in the till?
On labour activism, during the 1980s there was a principled labour position against electoral fraud and support for workers among the big four – GAWU, NAACIE, CCWU, UGWU (led by Fr. Malcolm Rodrigues). Bauxite union leadership was pushed by militant workers to join the movement after they were tear gassed by the Burnham regime. Desmond Moffett and Malcolm Thompson were considered as workers’ heroes. When Hoyte shut down bauxite, workers complained that the union let them down. Militancy was missing then but Lewis was very militant against PPP government that tried to assist bauxite workers. He became an inciter against Indians, accusing the PPP of committing “economic genocide against Black bauxite workers and favouring Indian sugar workers” when it wasn’t even PPP that shut down the bauxite operations. He never used that term genocide against the coalition that fired over 7000 Indian sugar workers and when Hoyte’s PNC government shut down bauxite.
It was Jagan and Jagdeo that injected money to help bauxite workers; they were not influenced by race but by humanitarian principles. Also, Lewis supported the rigging of the March elections and condemned those who sought to protect democracy. He couched his undemocratic position as “defending black rights”. No party or race or person must have a right to rig elections. He asked the President to cancel the 2020 elections, but only when he realized that the PNC/R had lost the elections.
Racial superiority or defending fraud on account of race is abominable. One can be proud of one’s race or ethnicity without putting down others. We must never be so obsessed with our own race like Lewis. I don’t hear Whites, Turks, Indians, and Chinese, who discover vaccine for Covid-19 say they do it in the name of their race. African and Latin countries are also working on vaccine development and with time may also get there. They all couch their achievements in the name of humanity. We must be proud of achievements, efforts and contributions to humanity of all peoples regardless of ethnicity.
I was not the one who played down the role of Kamala Harris’ father in her life. It is a fact that Kamala’s father is a Mixed race Jamaican who for whatever reasons left his family. Kamala ran for several offices in California and the Presidency and Vice Presidency of America. In all of her speeches, she did not mention her father. Even in her victory speech for the Vice Presidency, she only paid tribute to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan. Kamala and sister Maya grew up with their mother and mother’s siblings, the Gopalan’s who were there helping the mother with the kids. Kamala praised her mom for being an inspiration during very difficult times and of sending the kids to spend time in India. Siring a woman to produce children does not make one a father; anyone can do that. Being there for one’s kids is fatherhood. (Lewis, should go and read or listen to Kamala’s speeches).
Lewis engages in self adulation for his work in trade unionism and for championing the rights of Blacks. One must also praise the work of people of other races. Workers are not happy with Lewis’s trade union activism and lack of support for democracy. Too many of them lost their jobs under his tenure including the 300 Rusal workers who were slaughtered as a result of an inflexible Lewis’ position.
Freddie’s record in championing the rights for others and democracy speaks for itself; it is public knowledge and not duplicitous. My record for championing democracy in Guyana is well known and documented going back to the late 1960s. It’s for others to judge my contribution. I will continue to fight for racial equality, fair play, marginalization and workers’ empowerment.
Sep 18, 2021Kaieteur News – His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali says investment in sports must have a ‘bottom up’ approach for positive results to be achieved in the sector. President Ali made the...
Sep 18, 2021
Sep 18, 2021
Sep 17, 2021
Sep 17, 2021
Sep 17, 2021
Kaieteur News – His head swollen by the new direction in mental thinking of White Americans, Donald Trump felt comfortable... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – It was predictable that, in an attempt to show that they are capable of collaboration,... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]