Kaieteur News – Here are the words of Mr. Ralph Ramkarran in his last Sunday column, “The political gridlock that has existed for over fifty years, over every issue of contention, intensified by the struggle for ethnic dominance, has eliminated every single source of independent opinion in Guyana, because such opinion will fall on one side or the other of the political divide.”
Here are my words in my column of two Fridays ago, “No one is going to beat your drum for you if you decide not to beat it.” In Guyana, this is a cardinal rule. Whatever has become of this society, you have to go out there and say what you have done and prove it factually. And you must continue to remind this young nation that you have not been sleeping and you have not been insensitive and you have used your voice and pen.
It was Dr. Henry Jeffrey who wrote and cited his column where he called for cash grants from oil revenue long before Dr. Clive Thomas did so. I received a telephone call from the leader of a small party named Organization for the Victory of the People headed by a gentleman with whom I have been friends since we were 18 years of age.
His name is Gerald Pereira. His outfit has been contesting elections for the past 15 years. Gerald called to inform me that he saw that I cited Jeffrey as informing Guyanese that he, Jeffrey, made the suggestion before Clive Thomas. Gerald said that he, Gerald Pereira, birthed that suggestion on the campaign trail before Jeffrey and Thomas and only one person has acknowledged it – Ramon Gaskin. I am glad that Gerald called so I could publish that information. People have to beat their own drum in this sadistic society that Guyana has become.
Mr. Ramkarran used definitive language that does not reflect facts in recent Guyanese political history. Mr. Ramkarran wrote, “… has eliminated every single source of independent opinion in Guyana….” That is not factual. Mr. Ramkarran bypassed huge chunks of conspicuous facts on independent minds. The Kaieteur News headed by an Indian publisher was fiercely independent during the reign of the PPP. It was in that period, the publisher, Mr. Glenn Lall, became widely known throughout Guyana.
The Stabroek News, whose ownership and management are in Indian hands showed a large measure of independent thinking during the long tenure of the PPP. Surely, one cannot overlook the consistent activism of Mr. Christopher Ram in that period.
The PPP lost the 2011 and 2015 elections because of the crucial activism of several Indians who helped to expand the strength of the Alliance for Change. Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Gerhard Ramsaroop, Dr. Ramaya and Rajendra Bissessar were particularly strong in their advocacy. These men were able to secure the embrace of several high-placed Indians in Guyana.
I remember lawyers, Rajendra Poonai, Joel Edmond and his wife Gita Chandan and the late Imran Khan. Prominent city doctor, Surrendra Persaud was there so were man and wife, Christian preachers – the husband and wife team of Dr. and Mrs. Punilall My election campaign in 2011 for the AFC brought me into contact with countless independent Indians some of whom were people with resources. The election results of 2011 were shaped by the independent minds of these Indians. One should not forget, Ravi Dev. On his entry into politics, he did not take sides. He was an Indian rights activist alright but he did not take a pro-PPP position.
If history is to be recorded then I cannot omit publication of my independent activism. Yes, I have no hesitation in recording my praxis which has been deeply and philosophically independent. I have no restraint and should have no restraint in informing the young population of this country of what I have penned twice before on this page.
Here it is. Outside of Walter Rodney who lost his life, I have been the most oppressed political activist since Independence. The victimisation and repression have been relentless. I did not take sides. I spoke out and fought against governments in Guyana that I thought needed to be criticised. I was never driven by pro-Indian instincts and pro PPP feelings.
Mr. Ramkarran would know this with vivid memory. In the 1990s, when he was one of the top leaders in the PPP, I wrote a critical column of the PPP government in which I named him and he sued me for libel. If I did not have an independent mind, and was inclined to take sides then I would have been a party colleague of Mr. Ramkarran. To conclude, I hope Mr. Ramkarran acknowledge the gaping holes in his analysis and fill them ASAP.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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