Miles Fitzpatrick died a year ago. In the1960s he and our father, David, set up a small law practice and devoted a large part of the next 50 years to defending the principles and practice of democratic rule in Guyana and the wider Caribbean. During the Burnham era, they faced censure, intimidation and many of the customary threats that are levelled at critical voices in transitional democracies. Nevertheless, they persisted. After the 1992 election, both men hoped that our fledgling democracy would take flight, delivering us from the viral political quarrels which had consumed us. These hopes outlasted the many imperfections of the governments that had a democratic mandate.
Miles and David stood shoulder to shoulder with many Guyanese who had no political ambition other than to live in a democracy, free from fear and confident in the rule of law. As we remember them today it is not difficult to imagine what they would make of the current impasse, nor of some of the responses it has produced. We cannot have a selective buy-in to the democratic process. That process is sacrosanct. If a democracy is to mean anything, every vote must count. It seems premature to call, at this stage, for a government of national unity. Nearly half of the electorate will see this, correctly, as a watering down of the democratic process. Both Miles and David advocated tirelessly for constitutional reform and inclusive governance. Those are prerequisites. But change cannot be brokered when an electoral process has been subverted. It must emerge under the auspices of a democratically elected government.
Brendan de Caires
Isabelle de Caires