I listened to tapes of the speeches given at the meeting in Buxton called by the WPA last week, and I really did not believe what I was hearing. It’s like the WPA has learned nothing from past experience. They have proved once again that they are political opportunists and adventurers, just as they were when they pursued their misguided counter-revolutionary campaign against the government of Forbes Burnham which was pursuing a non-capitalist and anti-imperialist path.
From May 2015 to August 2020, they were part of the APNU+AFC Government that signed the treasonous oil deal. During that time, they never said one thing about international capital manipulating the APNU+AFC regime, or about resisting the many reactionary moves made by the APNU+AFC regime. In fact, they joined with right-wing reactionary elements in the coalition. It was reported to me by a reliable source who was present at a meeting of coalition partners, that it was a WPA big-wig who objected to OVP being part of the coalition. According to this prominent WPA member, the CIA and FBI were watching OVP and therefore APNU should have nothing to do with us. Our response was that we are not troubled at all by these assumptions, since as Sekou Toure said, “If the enemy is not watching you, then it means you are doing nothing and are no threat to them”.
Burnham was so right when he referred to the WPA as the “Worst Possible Alternative”. Essentially a middle-class political formation, with a few exceptions such as Tacuma Ogunseye, the WPA has always been a contradiction. In the late 70s, I wrote an article in the New Nation titled, ‘WPA, Left in Form, Right in Essence’, and their political maneuvering over the years simply proves my point. One thing I know from experience, is that these same people destroy anything they are a part of by virtue of the fact that there is such a large disconnect between them and the working poor and destitute in this country, and therein lies the contradiction.
Despite the fact that in today’s Guyana they have close to no support on the ground, they attract unwarranted attention because their leadership is mostly comprised and driven by middle-class academics who are prolific writers and know how to use propaganda effectively. This is how they operated against Burnham. Burnham had his own plants inside the WPA and knew they had plans to kill him. He could have got them- then and there – with that seditious information but did not bother because he was not threatened by them. I say categorically that he did not order Rodney’s assassination. In fact, the WPA’s behaviour not only put their own leader in jeopardy, but served the imperialists by character assassinating Forbes Burnham at the same time.
The masses of African and Indian people who constitute the downtrodden of this land are right now being bombarded by the bourgeois elites of both major parties. Essentially their message is the same – entirely race-based. From the APNU corner, we hear that the entire mess we are in is caused by Indians, all of whom are bad and evil, and from the PPP corner the idea that Africans are bad and evil is spoken behind closed doors, while in the open they chant the empty slogan “One Guyana” and post photos with African children all over the place. I spend most of my time, not with the middle-chattering-classes, but grounding with the people, and I can tell you the people are sick and tired of this nonsense that is grinding us all into the gutter.
Why did the WPA remain silent when the government they were part of was selling our country’s oil wealth to ExxonMobil for a pittance? Where was the resistance then to Exxon’s destruction of our environment right down to the very air that we breathe. Where were Tacuma Ogunseye and David Hinds? Tacuma was in an office in Main St., working with State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU). SARU was wasting taxpayer’s money renting that large building from one of the richest Indian families in Guyana, despite the fact that there were many government-owned buildings that could have housed them. After five years and close to $1 billion spent on salaries, rent and operating costs, what state property did they recover? They never prosecuted one PPP official. WPA executive, David Hinds, then and now, resides and works in Arizona, USA. Even when he was removed as a columnist at the Guyana Chronicle, he continued to bat for the APNU+AFC regime despite their transgressions. And now they are talking about ‘resistance’? Had APNU+AFC been returned to office in 2020, they would have almost certainly continued to be stooges of white monopoly capital and would not have been in Buxton calling for resistance.
If poor African Guyanese are prepared to fall for the false narratives of these misleaders yet again, then we deserve to be right where we are – poor, oppressed and dispossessed. These were the guys who had a plan to seize Burnham, and move him to a point where they were going to hang him. We have been to this rodeo before. They have all had a chance – the PPP, PNCR and WPA – we know them by their works. All three of them have betrayed the masses of Indigenous, African and Indian Guyanese, who remain poor and dispossessed after years of their race-based politricks, lust for power at any cost and dysfunctional governance.
Our struggle in Guyana is essentially a class struggle – between those who control the national wealth (the political elites of both parties and the business elites of all races) and those of all races who have to work for them and receive a pittance. Race is used as a camouflage to hide the class struggle. Of course, no one can deny that race is a powerful dynamic in Guyana and globally, and that racism is systemic in Guyana, but this issue cannot be addressed by mobilizing along racial lines. Racism is perpetuated and linked to the neo-colonial arrangement and the capitalist system that both parties subscribe to. As Malcolm X rightly stated: “You can’t have capitalism without racism”. We face a web of oppressions, all intricately interconnected, and we must address their root causes if we are to ever eradicate them. Therefore, political leaders have the responsibility to lead with vision, critical analysis and strategic thinking, rather than rabble rousing and race-baiting which is detrimental to our just and righteous struggle for the total emancipation of Africans and all oppressed Guyanese.
What would Tacuma Ogunseye, David Hinds and Aubrey Norton have us fight for? What exactly are we resisting? Because from where I am standing they all look the same once they assume office. Are we being asked to fight and risk lives even, so that one neo-colonial political party led by Indians can be replaced by another neo-colonial party led by Africans? Not in our name. OVP is fighting to end all forms of oppression and to dismantle the neo-colonial arrangement once and for all, so that every Guyanese of every race can benefit from the wealth of this nation. Fact is, APNU or PPP – either way we’re screwed.
There is no easy solution. The only way forward for those who are serious about real change lies in popular education, consciousness-raising, organizing and mobilizing for a national revolution. This is a painstaking process because revolutions cannot be willed into being with a few passionate speeches and some Tik Toks here and there. There can be no revolution without a revolutionary theory and a revolutionary movement. That is our mission. It’s important to note that every rebellion or resistance is not necessarily a revolutionary one.
I agree with Tacuma on one point– this “will all be over soon”. Tacuma is well aware that Guyana does not exist in a vacuum on this planet. He understands what is going on in the world as a whole, and therefore he knows what lies ahead for all humanity. For this reason, it is more crucial than ever that we come together and build a broad-based national movement. That cannot be done by the organization Tacuma is a part of, or the existing main parties, since they have, by their actions, lost all credibility.
If we the people are serious, we must put our differences aside, racial and otherwise, and find commonality around fundamental issues, such as recapturing our sovereignty, democratization of the economy to deliver economic justice to all Guyanese, free quality education and healthcare, affordable housing and our democratic right to participate in shaping the decisions that impact our lives. We must find the courage to pursue the truth and complete our national liberation struggle, as opposed to fighting each other for power at any cost, while the architects of this “divide and ruin” strategy, the agencies and forces of white supremacy, plunder our wealth. I close with the famous and profound words of the great African freedom fighter, Amilcar Cabral, “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes or failures. Claim no easy victories.”
Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)