We dream of a truly democratic, just and prosperous Guyana....
The question is, do we as a nation have the courage to realize the dream?
PRESS RELEASE - March 7, 2020
OVP WITHDRAWS ALL SUPPORT FOR APNU+AFC
We in OVP are first and foremost truth warriors. We pledged from our inception to tell the people the truth, whether it is popular or not.
We have stated on many occasions that we would rather tell the truth and get 100 votes, than lie to the people to get 100,000 votes. We cannot join forces with any persons or organizations that spread deception and lies. We are leaders, not duped followers, no matter what the cost.
While understanding the many flaws and contradictions in the liberal democratic system and Guyana’s electoral system, OVP decided to participate in what we were told would be free and fair elections, and to abide by the rules laid out by GECOM. We are not primarily an electoral outfit, however, we entered into the electoral arena to let people know that there is an alternative to the current political and economic arrangement. We weathered the serious disadvantages experienced by small parties, and our members worked tirelessly to spread our message and campaign with very limited financial resources.
Despite everything being stacked in favour of the two major players, PPP/C and APNU+AFC, and despite the fact that the system is clearly engineered long before we even get to the polls, we took part in good faith. Sadly, today our members and supporters are left feeling angry and disillusioned. It is obvious for all to see that while we abided by the rules of this game called ‘electoral democracy’, others did not.
We witnessed, first hand, the rules of the game being flagrantly violated. Many of our members and supporters, especially young people who were voting for the first time, have informed us that they will never vote again, as it was a waste of time. They no longer see elections as a viable means of bringing about political change.
This does not bode well for Guyana. As John F. Kennedy observed: “Those who make peaceful change impossible will make violent change inevitable”.
The 2020 elections were, as usual, reduced to an ‘ethnic contest’. Racial division was dangerously and deceptively utilized by both major political formations. Conveniently, this once again distracted the electorate from the real contradictions which exist; oppressor and oppressed, exploiter and exploited, haves and have-nots.
When we reflect on our increasingly tragic political culture, it becomes clear that the trajectory that led us to this moment of crisis was inevitable. Following the close of polls on March 2, 2020, OVP first appeared on the results table as having 155 votes in Region 1, a region we did not contest. This then quickly disappeared and was replaced with an allocation of 250 votes in the General Election, although we only contested at the regional level, and only in Region 4.
The count for Region 4 was halted in the presence of our observers, when only a tiny fraction of the region’s votes had been counted and verified. We join with all patriotic forces to demand that the count in Region 4 be resumed and completed using the verification process prescribed by law.
In the 2015 and 2020 elections, OVP urged the electorate to give APNU+AFC their presidential vote, while giving us their regional vote. We pledged that an OVP-controlled regional council would act as a voice for the people, to keep central government in check.
Despite serious political and ideological differences with the ruling Coalition, we offered them critical support to prevent the return of a Jagdeo-led PPP/C regime. Following APNU+AFC’s crude attempts to rig this election, as personally witnessed by members of our present at the Ashmin’s Building during the vote counting, our National Directorate has now taken a decision to withdraw forthwith all support for APNU+AFC.
Gerald A. Perreira
On behalf of the National Directorate
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)
“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories...”
In the 2015 General and Regional Elections, OVP ran at the Regional level in the most populated and strategic Region 4. We knew that an APNU+AFC victory would be an exchange rather than a real change, and we ran at the Regional level with the aim of giving the people a voice to press the new government for the change they promised.
We knew that the PPP regime had become so corrupt and repressive that they had to be removed from office, and that APNU+AFC was the only political formation with the resources and support to unseat the PPP. The people were swept up in the nation-wide mood of hope and euphoria that existed in 2015 at the very thought of ending the long and unjust rule of the PPP.
Democracy is about much more than casting a vote every five years.
True democracy cannot exist where extreme poverty exists alongside extreme wealth.
True democracy must include the democratization of the economy so that the people have economic justice.
True democracy can only be realized when the wealth and resources of Guyana benefit all Guyanese and not a wealthy minority.
The very electoral system we have inherited obstructs democracy.
To compete in the elections across the 10 regions of Guyana, contenders must have substantial financial resources.
The politicians from the two major parties and most of the new parties are connected in one way or another to the business/corporate elite, and big business funds all sides. So, whoever comes to power, repays those that funded them by awarding them big contracts and lucrative concessions. That is why, under both the PPP and APNU, the same people get richer and the poor get poorer.
And that is why it is difficult for an organization or party that genuinely stands with the poor and marginalized to take part in the elections.
We cannot ignore the class character and make up of the political parties. They areelites competing for a piece of the action and the new found oil wealth.
They appeal to us for our votes at election time, but inevitably after the elections they forget all the promises they made.
Instead, they strengthen their class interests, feather their own nests, and serve the so-called ABC countries.
They call themselves patriots, while trampling on our God-given right to determine our own destiny.
That is why for OVP, elections are only one part of the struggle. OVP is more than an electoral outfit.
We were born to build the new nation of Guyana, a nation, which in the words of L.F.S. Burnham, must be “shorn of its colonial attitudes, its snobberies and prejudices, its discriminatory practices and its poverty”
We continue this struggle on the shoulders of our ancestors.
WE KNEW IT WOULD BE AN EXCHANGE
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) did not share in the euphoria that was everywhere in the aftermath of the 2015 election results. We understood what many around us failed to understand, that is, the true nature and class character of the APNU+AFC coalition. At the time, some accused us of being pessimistic. Our aim was not to dampen the spirits of the people, we certainly did not want to rain on anyone’s parade. However, OVP is not in the business of telling people what they want to hear to win popularity or votes. We are committed to speaking the truth, no matter how bitter it is, and even if we lose support – so be it. Truth is the foundation of a principled politics that fosters genuine respect for the people. We would rather get 500 votes and tell the truth than 200,000 votes and lie to the people.
We were able to accurately predict the outcome we are faced with today because we knew that APNU+AFC’s failure to deliver real change was inevitable, precisely because of their bourgeois conception of politics. It is a politics that is elitist, unethical and that sees the masses of our people as mere numbers to be counted for electoral outcomes. Once they win the elections, the people, for whom they have little respect or meaningful connection with, are discarded, and their focus is solely on maintaining power at any cost. OVP never, at any time, equated the coalition with meaningful or radical change.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing."
See below the advertisement that OVP placed in the Kaieteur News in the run up to the 2015 General and Regional Elections:
There can be no denying that everything OVP’s leader said in that ad five years ago has come to pass.
After Experiencing Life Under The New Government, The People Have Now Realized That Ovp Was Right – Apnu+afc Was Not The Change We Were Longing For.
Having Said That, All Those Except For Staunch Ppp Supporters, Know That A Return To The Ppp Would Be A Disaster, And That At All Costs, Jagdeo And The Ppp Must Be Kept Out Of Office. That Is Why Ovp Is Not Contesting At The Presidential Level. Any Splitting Of The Vote Will Almost Surely Give The Ppp An Advantage And Those Of Us Who Remember What Happened When The Ppp Held Power Know That We Cannot Ever Return To That Sordid State Of Affairs. We Are Therefore Urging The People To Vote Tactically.
Give Apnu+afc Your Vote At The Top Of The Ballot Paper Because If You Give Your Vote To Any Other Party You Could Be Giving The Ppp A Majority. In Region 4, Give Your Vote At The Bottom Of The Ballot Paper To Ovp So We Can Put Pressure On The Central Government To Deliver On Their Election Promises This Time And Keep Them In Check.
Please Note: Gecom Has Officially Confirmed That You Can Vote For One Party At The Top Of The Ballot Paper And A Different Party At The Bottom Of The Ballot Paper And Your Vote Will Be Perfectly Valid. Voting For Apnu+afc At The Top Of The Ballot Paper And Ovp At The Bottom Does Not Split The Vote. We Will Work With Apnu+afc To Ensure That They Deliver This Time Round.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT IN THE 2020 ELECTIONS?
APNU+AFC have created a breathing space for other elites to form new parties – at last count, 20 parties will be competing in the 2020 elections.
All of Guyana’s political parties – old and new – are competing to manage the same failed system. PPP, APNU+AFC and all the new parties adhere to the same bankrupt neo-liberal economics and none of them have said a word about the external interference in our national affairs and the trampling of our sovereignty by the so-called ABC countries. The neo-liberal model has devastated countries worldwide – both in the so-called Developed World and throughout the Global South. This arrangement ensures that more and more wealth and power is given to a minority (the 1%) while the majority (the 99%) become poorer by the day. The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to widen under this corrupt system, despite all the talk by politicians about poverty alleviation and eradication. These are empty election promises. None of the existing parties in Guyana – old or new – will deliver any real change to the poor and oppressed people of this land – the 99%.
Don’t Make the Same Mistake in 2020
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket this time round…
Our Record Speaks for Itself...
As new parties spring up almost daily, the people are asking, where were these new self-proclaimed saviours when Phantom Death Squads were stalking this land? When the PPP was building an ethnocratic state and hundreds of African youth were executed, some in their yards and bed. Were any of these new leaders on the frontlines with us? Were any of them present at the protests we called outside then President Jagdeo and Minister Ghajraj’s offices, demanding an end to the terror? They were not.
WE WHO CONSTITUTE OVP STOOD WITH THE PEOPLE BACK THEN, DESPITE THE THREAT TO OUR LIVES (REMEMBER OUR MARTYRED BROTHER RONALD WADDELL), WE HAVE STOOD WITH THE PEOPLE IN THE YEARS SINCE, SO ONE THING YOU CAN BE SURE OF, IF ELECTED, WE WILL CONTINUE TO STAND WITH THE PEOPLE.
If OVP wins the Region 4 Democratic Council, we pledge to:
POWER & WEALTH IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE
Establish people’s committees, giving power back to the community, so that the people can actively participate in the decisions that affect their lives. These committees will advise the Regional Council on the specific needs of their community, and participate in the day to day administration of their own community.
Ensure that the funds allocated for Region 4, are used to benefit all residents of the region, and not a select few. There will be zero tolorance for corruption and misuse of funds. We must protect the region’s natural environment, while also utilizing the Region’s resources to develop our trade, manufacturing and industrial sectors. We pledge to apply pressure from Region 4, ag-ainst the plunder of our natural resources nationwide by foreign corporate predators,who have been allowed to take what they want and give us little or nothing in return. We will begin to put in place measures that prevent, where possible, the export of raw materials, emphasizing a value added, ‘made in Guyana’ approach.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE & EMPLOYMENT
Create employment through infrastructure spending, development of manufacturing and industry, and promotion and assistance for small businesses and co-operatives. The list of products that Guyana could offer the world is endless. After years of mismanagement, we have been reduced to an absurd state of affairs, where we are importing plantain chips and coconut water, rather than encouraging and promoting local production. Developing a strong manufacturing sector throughout Region 4 will be a priority for an OVP Regional Council.
LAND IS FREEDOM – LAND TO THE TILLER
Land is freedom and too many Guyanese throughout Region 4 have been waiting for more than 10 years for land applied for, while foreigners and local elites are being granted land within weeks and months. This must come to an end and OVP will apply the pressure needed to ensure that land applications are processed..
SOCIAL SERVICES & WELFARE
OVP will implement a holistic and culturally responsive programme to deal with the range of serious issues that are sadly all too prevalent throughout Region 4, and indeed throughout the country. These include inter-generational abandonment, sexual abuse of children and young adults, teenage suicide, teenage pregnancy, Teenage alcohol and drug abuse, teenage and adult homelessness, children abandoned by the State foster care system, and people with mental health issues. This programme will provide psychotherapy, psycho-social and educational intervention and prevention. All residents of Region 4 must have equitable access to social services.
As part of our holistic social services framework, we will support initiatives to assist families in crisis. Too many Guyanese children are malnourished. We must put in place a plan to fight poverty at the regional level while applying pressure at the national level. We will implement support initiatives for people on low and moderate incomes to have access to affordable housing. A large number of Guyanese in Region 4 live in substandard housing, many in shacks that have no electricity and often no running water. Again Region 4 must demand action from central government.
DRAINAGE & INFRASTRUCTURE
Overhaul and repair Region 4’s drainage system – we already have a team of specialists ready to start this urgent project. We must eliminate, once and for all the flooding that occurs every time there is a few hours of rainfall. The problem of flooding has definitely improved under the present government compared to what it was under the PPP, however it is still not resolved in many areas.
We will work closely and collaboratively with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to repair roads, public walkways, markets, malls, gardens and parks throughout the region. We will raise funds to build adventure playgrounds with picnic areas – public areas where families can enjoy leisure time together. In the same spaces we can build bike tracks and erect basketball hoops and other outdoor activities for the older children and young teens. Strong and functional families are the bedrock of a healthy society.
SPORTS & RECREATION
We will fight for funds to Invest in and promote sporting activity, ensuring that all youngsters throughout the region have access to sports amenities and the sporting equipment they need. Support and assistance must be given to local coaches and all sports grounds must be maintained.
REVIVING THE REGION’S AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
Support farmers throughout the region in an effort to revive the region’s agricultural sector. We will ensure that the central government upholds the constitutionally guaranteed right – land to the tiller! In full consultation with all farmers and major stakeholders, Region 4 can lead the way in moving Guyana’s agricultural sector forward. We must open up new markets for our farmers and assist them to get their produce to those markets. Trenches must be cleared and roads properly built and repaired. In the world we now live in, the large amount of arable land in Guyana is a most valuable asset. Quality, non-GMO, organic food production is in high demand globally, and that demand is set to increase in the future. We have the capacity to produce large quantities of organic food to not only sustain the needs of our own population, but to export in the form of produce and related manufactured goods. An OVP Regional Council would encourage organic farming, providing assistance, incentives and education to our farmers. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is causing serious health problems, including high cancer rates amongst our people. We will also urge the national government to join those nations worldwide that have banned genetically modified seeds and take urgent measures to protect our indigenous seeds. Our indigenous seed pool can only increase in value to us and to the world as a whole, as the issue of food insecurity becomes a threat. If we do not take these steps now we will lose our food sovereignty and security, becoming completely dependent on international corporate criminals, such as Monsanto, and only able to produce genetically modified crops.
Select a team of Guyanese doctors and healthcare professionals to advise on ways to improve the health of residents throughout the region. Our public healthcare system remains a national disgrace, evidenced by the fact that past and present presidents and government ministers seek medical attention abroad. We must invest in the health of our people, improving every resident’s access to existing health services throughout the region, and applying pressure at the national level, to demand improved healthcare services. It is a moral obligation of government at the national level to ensure quality healthcare for all Guyanese. We must reduce our maternal/infant mortality rate, which is one of the highest in the Caribbean, working to improve our pre and postnatal care. An OVP Regional Council will set up Parenting Groups, where young mothers and mothers to be can get assistance with problems they are experiencing and learn about health, healing, parenting, and nutrition. We must work to improve young people’s health by promoting preventive and holistic healthcare, covering physical, mental and sexual well-being, and improve services for the elderly and disabled. Of course, we cannot remedy all the ills at the regional level, however we will use our power at the regional level to mobilize and organize together, and with one voice, put our clear and urgent demands to the central government. Region 4 is a very strategic region.
EDUCATION & CULTURE
At the regional level we must work to improve every student’s ability to gain access to education. We must acknowledge that our current education system, while presenting itself as a fair system that offers all children an equal opportunity, is really a very unfair system. The way the present system operates, children from poor families do not stand the same chance as children from wealthy homes. This is one of the cruelest aspects of our society, an education system where so many of the nation’s children are doomed to failure, without access to books, computers, printing etc. We believe that regardless of the financial position of parents, every Guyanese child has the right to reach their full potential, in a system that assists families with challenges, rather than punishing them. The importance of educational opportunity for our children and young people cannot be emphasized enough, for it is a fundamental cornerstone for the advancement of any society. We must invest in literacy and numeracy programs and after school homework programs to assist those students in need and reduce the high level of illiteracy throughout the region. In the Parenting groups advocated above, we will initiate programs that assist parents to develop their children’s literacy and numeracy skills at a very early age. We believe that education is a right not a privilege.
Invest in and promote educational and cultural activities, offering a range of workshops for youth and adult learners, giving them the opportunity to gain important life skills, learn about their history and culture, and access education which will help them with employment and self-employment. An adult learner is defined as anyone who has left school and is 16 years of age and over. These workshops will also raise awareness about the things that hold us back. For example, in Guyana, and all over the Caribbean, we don’t appreciate ourselves or the blessed environment we live in, but rather are looking to all things foreign. The strange thing is that foreign people are mad over what we have got, and are taking it from right under our nose! This foreign minded attitude is encouraged by those that want to keep us right where we are. It is responsible for so many of our young people suffering from low self-esteem and lack of confidence. No love of self. We must invest in providing knowledge of self to our youth because knowledge is power. As the Richie Spice laments, ‘If education is the key, then why they make it so expensive for we?’
SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS
Support the Arts! It is a sad fact that the arts receive little or no support from the past PPP regime and the current government. OVP will fight for funds to build an Arts Center like no other in Region 4. The Center will contain a recording studio, a fine arts gallery and a theater and will be managed by Regin 4’s multi-talented youth. It is time to unleash the creative genius of all Region 4’s youth – a genius that has been neglected for too long. The artistes involved in the Center will have the opportunity to earn a living from their art by running classes, selling their works, staging plays and the promotion of local music. In this way the Center will be self-sustaining.
DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA
Support initiatives to legalize marijuana for personal use. Not because we want the ‘Rasta vote’, although of course we do! But rather out of respect for the many Rastafari members and supporters of OVP, and all Rastafari in Region 4. OVP acknowledges the liberation theology of Rastafari, and the Black consciousness and spiritual wisdom it has brought to the entire Caribbean. Marijuana is part of Rastafari religious practice. The current laws are absurd. Regardless of your views on stimulants, it is ludicrous that tobacco and alcohol, two drugs responsible for millions of serious illnesses and deaths worldwide are legal, while this local herb is illegal. It doesn’t make sense for our young people to be serving long prison sentences, enduring experiences that will affect them for their entire life, for being in possession of a few buds of this local herb.
To work with organizations in the region and globally, in the fight for reparations to the descendants of captured Africans in Guyana, the Caribbean and elsewhere. We believe that this is both a historical and moral right due to all the descendants of African slaves.
PROMOTING GENUINE MULTI-CULTURALISM
Promote authentic multiculturalism, based upon knowledge of a shared heritage, and a genuine respect for, and understanding of the valuable contributions made by each of the diverse cultures that make up Region 4. Multiculturalism has failed dismally worldwide, because wherever it exists, one group has become dominant at the expense of the others. We can only claim a truly multicultural region and nation, when every ethnic group’s contribution to Guyana is recognized, and when racial justice and equality of opportunity exist for all.
What is an Authentic Third Force?
Over the years, and especially in the lead up to the 2020 general elections, political commentators have talked about the need for a ‘third force’ in Guyanese politics.
The ‘third force’ that we have heard so much about, is not a third political party with the same ideology as the other two dinosaurs, all competing to manage the same failed system. An authentic ‘third force’ must offer a revolutionary alternative that rejects both Market Fundamentalism (Neo-liberal Capitalism) and State Absolutism (Soviet-style Communism).
Any new party is a complete waste of time if that “third party” simply mimics the existing two parties, promoting neo-liberal economics and managing the captured state for external players.
This highlights the illusion of so-called liberal democracy. Whether we have two parties or one hundred parties makes little difference, if all they are doing is competing to see who can best manage the existing dysfunctional neo-colonial arrangement that imprisons us.
In such a “multi-party” scenario, when we go to the polls we are not able to vote for a different system – we are not able to vote for an end to neo-colonialism and the neo-liberal agenda that is strangling us. No, we are simply voting for a different manager of the same old tired system which is why, no matter who is elected, we see little or no change.
An authentic “Third Force” on Guyana’s political landscape would mean a political formation that rejects the materialist and anti-spiritual ideologies of neo-liberal capitalism and Marxism.
The establishment of a ‘Third Force’ requires a formation with the political courage to advocate a different ideological position than the one that exists and dominates the political landscape currently.
Any party advocating the same ideology as the existing political parties cannot be described as a “third force”.
An authentic “third force” would unapologetically advocate for the poor and marginalized sectors of our society, rather than being an instrument of big business and imperial interests.
That is why Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) can be said to be a genuine third force. Our ideology is different from all other existing political formations. We are a revolutionary democratic formation, born out of the fight for the rights of African people, and evolved into a force that advocates and fights for the human rights and dignity of all of Guyana’s oppressed and exploited masses, irrespective of their race.
The People’s National Congress (PNC), has historically enjoyed the African vote, but did nothing of significance to empower Africans, except for the period 1970 – 1985 under the revolutionary and visionary leadership of Forbes Burnham. Following Burnham’s death, the right wing elements in the party took control, renaming the party PNCR – the R standing for Reform – some say deformed!
The liberation of African Guyanese can never be realized under the present day middle-class Anglophiles that currently constitute the leadership of the PNCR. They are not up to the task of initiating radical and revolutionary transformation that would put political and economic power in the hands of the people.
Likewise, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), has historically enjoyed the Indian vote, while in fact, after decades of political power they only ever empowered a minority of wealthy Indians, while the vast majority of Indians remain in poverty. They too changed their name along the way to PPP/C – the C standing for Civic, a reference to a mythical engagement with civic society.
Come 2020, Guyanese, especially the youth, irrespective of their race, need to take a bold step for real liberation and identify with the Panther. This would give a rude awakening to all those political formations who have taken the Guyanese people for granted for so long.
If we were to have the opportunity to form the entire regional council in Region 4, the most populated and strategic region in Guyana, we pledge to work tirelessly to uplift not only poor and struggling Africans, but all oppressed and marginalized citizens in Region 4, regardless of race.
Every Guyanese must prosper under the banner of the Panther because our ideology demands nothing less. When we achieve a Guyana based on justice for all, we will have truly established a ‘third force’ – a genuine alternative to the two or one hundred parties that advocate an ideology that can, by its very definition, never deliver justice.