The Alliance For Change (AFC) held a press conference yesterday during which it accused the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government of taking a series of racist actions, discriminating against Afro-Guyanese and pandering to its Indo-Guyanese support base. Yet, when asked whether the party has made a representation to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), former Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes cast aspersions on the ability of the Commission to produce results, and only offered that the AFC will be participating in the ERC’s announced Virtual National Conversation on improving ethnic relations.
“With regard to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC),” she said, “I think the media would know that they are planning an intervention, a forum, a virtual forum and there are members of the AFC that will be participating in that forum. However, I would like to say that in our estimation, a lot of the ERC’s current operations could probably best be described as procedural, and I say that because the coalition had written to them on some infringements within the first few days post March 2. We got a response and acknowledgement of receipt, and absolutely nothing else since then. We have seen on television, but mostly on social media, the vilest of remarks and responses.”
She went on to describe one individual about whom the ERC received complaints for statements interpreted to be racially decisive, whose home was protested. The home of the Guyanese Critic (Mikhail Rodrigues) was protested for statements, which he made on his Facebook live.
Hughes said, “the ERC literally asked him to apologise and within 48 hours later, he was back to the old form.”
She even pointed to recent complaints about posts made by ERC Commission Roshan Khan on his Facebook page, which were interpreted by many social media users to be decisive.
“So the ERC has a lot of work [which] it needs to do,” she added.
The list of complaints being made against the new government include the reopening of the sugar estates, pandering to its Indian support based.
The party said this is occurring “in the face of cogent and compelling evidence that this will result in a massive misspending of the country’s monies…”
The party insists that the sugar industry will not be profitable.
The AFC also said that it sees the firings of a series of public servants “substantially of one ethnicity” as provoking trouble.
“This is an exercise of executive lawlessness.” The AFC said. “This makes a mockery of the insulation created by the various constitutional service commissions, Public, Police, Teacher and Judicial, set up to prevent the politicisation of appointments and dismissals. A cycle of hatred can be created from this uncalled for development which can segregate our Community further. The rule of law must govern such a policy which affects the employ of so many and on whom thousands depend on.”
The party also pointed to the issue of the squatters at Success, East Coast Demerara who were squatting on land belonging to Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), who were flooded out by the organization. It said that Afro-Guyanese formed part of this lot.
On the other hand, it said, “the AFC has noticed the regularisation of squatters at Conservancy Dam Canal No. 1 with provisioning of lights and water and the several at West Demerara from Ruimzeight to Mary, Zeelugt, and Parika where East Indians are predominant.”
Lastly, the AFC condemned the announcement by the Government that it is considering instituting visa requirements for entry of Haitians.
“It is anti-regional integration, it is against the principles of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and shows total disregard and contempt for the valiant struggle of those who fought to unite the peoples of the Caribbean.” AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan said. “The AFC wishes to remind the PPP Government that the free movement of people has long been viewed by all Governments of the Region as critical to regional integration and to be mindful that the CSME abolishes discrimination on grounds of nationality in all member states.”
It said that the situation is further exacerbated by the arrest and detention of Haitians entering Guyana, and called on the international community to condemn the PPP/C’s actions.
“Right thinking Guyanese of all ethnicities must condemn this destructive polarising development. It is provoking an explosion in an already tense national situation,” the AFC said.