BY: DR. LESLIE RAMSAMMY
This past week, we observed the birthday anniversaries of two of Guyana’s greatest heroes – Cheddi Jagan and Walter Rodney. On March 22, we observed the 102nd birthday of Cheddi Jagan. On March 23, we observed the 78th birthday of Walter Rodney. These two men were leaders in the fight against dictatorship, against rigged elections. Walter was assassinated by the riggers when he was still a youth. Cheddi lived long enough to lead the fight for the restoration of democracy on October 5, 1992.
He lived long enough to steer Guyana back onto the road of development and ensured Guyana stayed on the path of freedom and democracy. Moses Nagamootoo and [Khemraj Ramjattan were disciples of Cheddi Jagan. Clive Thomas, Rupert Roopnaraine, and David Hinds were leaders alongside Walter Rodney, not just his disciples.
Today, Cheddi’s country, Walter’s country is back where we started from – back to the days of rigged elections. The old People’s National Congress, in its first chance since 1992, is back to its evil ways. It hides its identity, calling itself APNU+AFC, but its DNA is still the same, its stripes still visible. But among the riggers are some who were nurtured in the bosoms of Guyana’s heroes, people who once promised that they will never betray the values and principles of their mentors, people who promised that they will never permit rigged elections in our country.
On Walter’s birthday, Rupert spoke out. This is a really good time for him to redeem himself. He betrayed his brother and his friend. He joined those who were responsible for the murder of his friend and leader, Walter Rodney. He found out early that they had not changed, that their stripes, their DNA were the same as in the 70s and 80s. But the allure of power seduced him and imprisoned him. Still, one would have hoped that there was a red line he would not cross – rigged elections. It is not that he does not know. He is an intelligent man. He must understand that all the shenanigans and machinations to hide the Statements of Poll (SoPs) and their morbid fear of counting the ballots in the box must be for a reason.
Who would not want to have it seen clearly if they won? Rupert remained silent for too long. I have heard Rupert often, passionately, talk about freedom. I have heard him say many times that evil does not manifest because of evil people, but because of the many good people who remain silent. This is Rupert’s time to speak up and speak out. I am glad he did. For all those who still believe in Walter Rodney’s dreams, Rupert’s speaking out brings hope.
But Clive Thomas is still screamingly silent. I have watched Clive Thomas betray his friend and leader. Like Rupert, he joined those who were responsible for the murder of Walter Rodney. I wanted to believe that both of them joined the party that murdered Walter, because they believe people change. But when Granger and APNU/AFC rejected the Commission of Inquiry into Walter’s assassination, I thought both Clive and Rupert would have spoken up.
When Granger and APNU/AFC terminated the CoI and when they would not release the report, I hoped against hope that they would speak out. Neither of them did. In fact, Rupert voted to not release the report. But I was still hoping that Clive, like Rupert, who were once freedom fighters alongside Walter Rodney, would never support rigging an election. Clive Thomas is an intelligent man. He knows the truth, that the PPP won the election and that APNU/AFC is using GECOM to thief the election. But he is quiet, choosing silence. I had hoped that Clive is an honourable man. I still want to believe that both Clive and Rupert are honourable men. But I regret that too many of Walter’s former brothers and sisters, too many of his disciples, one-time freedom fighters, have become part of the riggers. It is time Clive redeem himself.
Moses Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan are beyond redeemable. They are not just part of the rigging cabal. They have become ardent apologists for the riggers, hate-spouting riggers. Power has not only seduced them, power has totally enslaved them. To hold on to power, they are willing to be hatchet men. They have used their intelligence to find creative, even stupid ways to justify rigging. They even admit rigging, but justify it by insisting that it is GECOM doing the wickedness and that the law says they must accept what GECOM hands them.
David Hinds is nothing but a racist. His position is that Afro-Guyanese interest can only be protected by the PNC and that this justifies rigging the election. His position is that he sees the rigging, but can accept it because the PPP has no right to govern Guyana, even if the people chooses the PPP.
In a week when we remember our heroes, Cheddi and Walter, men who were by their sides have become a part of what both fought against. Guyana’s freedom, the dream and passion of Walter and Cheddi, is today the victim of their disciples.