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
“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...”
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 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 in general, and Guyana’s electoral system in particular, 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 an electoral outfit, however, we entered into the electoral arena to inform people that there is an alternative to the current oppressive 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 rigged long before we even get to the polls, we participated tactically.
We witnessed, first hand, the rules of the game being flagrantly violated.
The 2020 elections were, as usual, reduced to an ‘ethnic contest’. Racial division was dangerously and deceptively utilized by both major parties. 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. This was a first for Guyana because no party had ever contested at the regional level only. We pledged that an OVP-controlled regional council would act as a voice for the people, to keep central government in check. We contended with the dirty tricks employed by APNU+AFC, who warned their supporters that a vote for OVP at the regional level would nullify their ballot – a claim that was of course false.
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 the election, as personally witnessed by members of our team present 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)
OVP advertisement in the run up to the 2015 Elections
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing."
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 promise of giving the people a voice to press the new government for the change they pledged during their election campaign.
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 to unseat them.
To compete in the elections across the 10 regions of Guyana, contenders must have a huge financial war chest.
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 with big contracts, lucrative concessions and anything else they might request. That is why, under both the PPP and APNU+AFC, the same people get richer and the poor get poorer.
It is therefore problematic for a party that stands for the poor and dispossessed to even take part in the elections.
In 2015, the people were swept up in the nation-wide mood of hope and euphoria at the very thought of ending the long and unjust rule of the PPP . All their hope lay in APNU+AFC.
They would soon learn the hard way that democracy is about much more than casting a vote every five years. It cannot be realized where extreme poverty exists alongside extreme wealth. And this is the inevitable outcome of the capitalist system, which is in fact incompatible with democracy.
Democratization of the economy is an essential component of democracy – otherwise there can be no economic justice. Democracy demands that the wealth and resources of Guyana benefit all Guyanese and not a wealthy minority.
Sadly, both parties as usual, cunningly manipulated the people using the racial division to achieve their own narrow partisan ends. In doing so, they sacrificed national unity, despite the fact that without national cohesion we can never develop Guyana’s full potential.
The People’s National Congress (PNC), has historically enjoyed the African vote, but when they won the 2015 election and were in office for 5 years, they did nothing to empower Africans. This was a bitter lesson for the believing electorate. Except for the period 1970 – 1985, under the revolutionary and visionary leadership of Forbes Burnham, the PNC has done nothing to raise the standard of living for African Guyanese. Following Burnham’s death, reactionary, opportunistic elements hijacked the party, ridding it of its revolutionary ideology, and renaming it PNCR – the R standing for Reform – some say Deform!
The liberation of African Guyanese can never be realized under the present day mentally-incarcerated Anglophiles that currently constitute the leadership of the PNCR. They are simply not up to the task of carrying out the necessary radical transformation required to put power and wealth into 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, leaving the vast majority of Indians 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. Still deceiving many sections of the global progressive community that they remain loyal to the socialist and anti-imperialist aspirations of their founder-leader, Cheddi Jagan, when in reality they have adopted the Washington consensus, with a strict adherence to neo-liberal economics.
Both major parties have abandoned the progressive and socialist ideas of their respective founder-leaders, Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan. The reality, witnessed by Guyanese of every race over the years, is that regardless of which party is in office, the capitalist class (the 1%) accumulates more wealth and power, while the poor masses (the 99%), of every race, remain impoverished and dispossessed.
We cannot ignore the class character and make up of the political parties. They are elites competing for a piece of the action and the new found oil wealth.
They appeal to the people for their votes at election time, but inevitably after the elections they forget all the promises they made.
Instead, they further their class interests, feather their own nests and serve their foreign masters. They call themselves patriots, while allowing the wholesale plunder of our natural resources. They trample on our God-given right to determine our own destiny.
The reality is that the liberal democratic system is one of the greatest cons ever devised and thrust upon us. This system, inherited from the British colonizers, coupled with the continued neo-colonial arrangement, actually prevents the realization of true democracy and our God-given right to self-determination.
Emma Goldman’s (1869-1940) observation has certainly been proven correct, “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”.
Even though we know that real change cannot be achieved via the electoral process, we participated in order to enter the debate and inform the people that an alternative vision for Guyana exists.
OVP is much more than an electoral outfit. We were born to build the new nation of Guyana within the old, so that when the old inevitably crumbles around us, as it is, the new nation is ready to step into action. A nation, which in the words of Forbes Burnham, must be “shorn of its colonial attitudes, its snobberies and prejudices, its discriminatory practices and its poverty”.
Real power lies with the people, on the ground. A party could be in office and have no power, because all major decisions are being made in boardrooms in London, Brussels and Washington. We continue this struggle on the shoulders of our ancestors.
“The members of parliament represent their respective parties and not the people…under such systems, the people are the victims. Their votes are vied for by exploitative competing factions who dupe the people into political circuses that are outwardly noisy and frantic, but inwardly powerless and irrelevant…the people are seduced into standing in long, apathetic, silent queues to cast their ballots in the same way they throw wastepaper into dustbins.”
from The Green Book
OVP's PLEDGE TO THE PEOPLE OF REGION 4
POWER & WEALTH IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE
We will 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.
We will 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 tolerance for corruption and misuse of funds.
We will 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, against 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 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 initiatives to support people on low incomes to ensure they 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 running water. We will 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.
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 young people 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
We will 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. The large amount of arable land in Guyana is a most valuable asset. Quality, non-GMO, organic food is in high demand globally, and that demand is set to increase in the future. We have the capacity to produce large quantities of 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 will 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. 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.
We will 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 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, by improving 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 will work to improve young people’s health by promoting primary, preventive, 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.
EDUCATION & CULTURE
At the regional level we will work to improve every student’s ability to gain access to education. Our current education system, while presenting itself as a fair system that offers all children an equal opportunity, is really an extremely unfair system. 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. As Richie Spice laments, ‘If education is the key, then why they make it so expensive for we?’
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. In addition, we will campaign at the national level to end the National Grade 6 Assessment, formerly know as Common Entrance, and the absurd notion of “good” and “bad” schools. This system fosters social prejudice and reinforces class division. All schools must be “good” schools.
The importance of educational opportunity for our children and young people cannot be emphasized enough. Education is a right not a privilege and is a fundamental cornerstone for the advancement of any society. We will invest in literacy, numeracy and after school homework programs to assist those students in need. We must reduce the high level of illiteracy throughout the region. In the parenting groups advocated above, we will assist parents to develop their children’s literacy and numeracy skills at a very early age.
We will 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 attitudes that hold us back. For example, in Guyana we don’t appreciate ourselves or the blessed environment we live in, but rather are encouraged to aspire to all things foreign. 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. We must invest in providing knowledge of self and culture to our youth because self-knowledge is the basis of all knowledge.
SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS
Support the Arts! It is a sad fact that the arts receive little or no support in Guyana. 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 Region 4’s multi-talented youth. It is time to unleash the creative genius of all Region 4’s youth and youth across the country – 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
We will 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 grams of this local herb.
To work with organizations in Guyana, 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 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 two existing major parties, all simply competing to manage the same failed neo-colonial, capitalist system. An authentic ‘third force’ must offer a revolutionary alternative that rejects both market fundamentalism (neo-liberal capitalism) and State absolutism (Soviet-style communism).
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 for foreign masters.
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 imprisons 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” would be a political formation committed to an ideology and political philosophy that advances a politics that is ethical, people-centered and spiritually infused as opposed to the materialist and anti-spiritual ideologies of Capitalism and Marxism.
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) is the Third Force.