Kaieteur News – This is the third installation of a series on the history of the PNC. For parts one and two, please see, Tuesday October 15, 2019 and Saturday November 23, 2019. We left off with the demise of Forbes Burnham. After his death, infighting began. It had to be because neither Jagan nor Burnham anointed a successor.
It has become a noted event in Guyanese politics that Moses Nagamootoo told the nation that Jagan had him in mind. The wife of the Guyanese icon, Janet, was livid because Cheddi did no such thing. In the PNC, Hamilton Green saw himself as the logical successor after Dr. Ptolemy Reid retired from active politics.
The death of Burnham marked the end of an era for the PNC. It marked one of the greatest ironies in Guyanese politics. Whereas, it led to the sidelining of the strongman, Hamilton Green, and a blossoming of democratic instincts in President Desmond Hoyte, it also brought about a colossal uncertainty about the future of the PNC.
Once Hoyte agreed to western pressure and embraced perestroika (political opening up) and abertura (economic opening up), it created a sea of contradictory possibilities. One of these was that democracy was bound to sweep the PNC off the stage for two reasons. First, Indians would rise to the surface in prodigious numbers because they felt their hero, Cheddi Jagan, was long denied his place in power. Secondly, sentiments would expand exponentially among the Guyanese people that it was time for a change.
Hoyte believed that both perestroika and abertura would have gotten him re-elected. Those hopes were indeed logical to understand. Under his presidency, a huge confusion crept into the minds of the PNC collective. Was the democratic wave after 1987 a PNC act or was it a case of a brand new man doing his own thing?
For many PNC supporters they couldn’t answer the question. They wanted it to be the act of the PNC. But in reality, it was governance stamped with the personality of the president. Hoyte de-burnhamised power and society in Guyana in far reaching ways after 1987. It was not the era of the PNC but Hoyte. Herein lay the irony I alluded to above. Once the PNC was degutted and Burnham’s sycophants, hooligans and ideologues were cast aside, Hoyte became the PNC and the PNC was Hoyte. In an election contest, this lopsidedness would have serious consequences. It did.
The period 1987 –to 1992 cannot be seen as a stellar achievement of the PNC when one will write the history of the PNC. The power establishment was not manned by the PNC but fresh faces that Hoyte brought in that hardly knew the leviathans that dominated the Burnham regime. The biggest casualty of Hoyte’s political fumigation was Elvin McDavid, a man who Burnham trusted the most after Ptolemy Reid.
Based on his superb transformation of politics and power after 1987, Hoyte felt that re-election was natural. But he suffered two rude awakenings. The long repressed feelings of the Indians would find expression in support for Jagan. There is a myth that Hoyte reached out to Indians earning him the sobriquet – Desmond Persaud. Hoyte did nothing of the sort. He embraced rich Indian businessmen who betrayed him. Hoyte did nothing for the majority of ordinary Indians.
The second awakening was personally cruel to Hoyte. He felt he had done enough to rekindle democratic culture in Guyana to be re-elected. The arrest and jailing of the murderous clan named the House of Israel won Hoyte’s admiration from the entire society. The economy was thriving. Imports resumed in Guyana after decades of decay. The man himself appeared in the eyes of Guyanese to be a decent leader.
But Hoyte got sadly sandwiched between two weird facts. One is that he was still seen as the frontman for the PNC. Secondly, people wanted a new set of leaders. Hoyte’s defeat in 1992 reminded me of the 2013 narrow defeat of Owen Arthur in Barbados. There was nothing bad that Arthur did that should have caused him to lose. But “Bajans” wanted a change.
In Guyana, people had enough of the PNC so they wanted fresh breeze. They saw Hoyte as the leader of the PNC even though that PNC as we knew it was long gone. Hoyte’s defeat in 1992 laid the basis for permanent confusion in the PNC. In part four, we will look at the PNC under Hoyte after 1992 then Corbin. Part five will analyse the failure of the politics and power of David Granger. In part one, it was stated that there would be five parts. There will be a sixth column. It will examine the PNC in 2021.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Sep 20, 2021Kaieteur News – The East Bank Football Association (EBFA), Academy Training Centre (ATC) has received a time boost with two corporate entities on the East Bank Corridor partnering with the...
Sep 20, 2021
Sep 20, 2021
Sep 19, 2021
Sep 19, 2021
Sep 19, 2021
Kaieteur News – There is a part of my theorising on the class structure in Guyana in this column that is going to be... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders The public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has rightly focused the attention and... 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]