Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) fully endorses the sentiments expressed in the letter by Calvin Braithwaite (SN, 19/5/22) regarding the urgent need for a ‘Third Force’. We have been promoting the idea of a Third Force for many years – see our website www.ovpguyana.org. After giving APNU+AFC a chance, surely Guyanese can see with their own eyes that neither of these two ‘behemoths’, as Braithwaite calls them, can take us anywhere. This is because they are not committed to a transformational politics. Rather, both are contented to compete with each other over who can best manage the neo-plantation that we call Guyana on behalf of their imperial masters. We keep voting them in only to see the same old corrupt, deceptive, nepotistic, crony capitalism surface and resurface. They just can’t help themselves.
On August 22nd, 2019, OVP called a meeting to discuss a type of Third Force that would have changed the outcome of the 2020 elections for sure. We invited all the small parties to the meeting. Political commentators, Christopher Ram and Ramon Gaskin were also present as observers. OVP proposed the idea of a ‘Big Tent’ formation, something that had worked in other countries, where all the small parties come together and run on one ticket in the upcoming elections, thereby disrupting the two dominant parties grip on power. At that meeting OVP proposed six principles that we could agree on:
1. Protect Guyana’s sovereignty.
2. Initiate Constitutional and Electoral Reform to end ‘winner takes all’ politics and monopoly of the two leviathans.
3. Reintroduce free education from nursery to tertiary level.
4. Establish quality healthcare for all – modernize Georgetown and other hospitals, and place emphasis on high quality community and preventive health care services.
5. Revisit Guyana’s immigration and citizenship policies.
6. Renegotiate Exxon-Mobil contract.
In principle, representatives of the parties present had no difficulty agreeing on the six points above. The challenge arose because many of the players in the small parties had no prior political experience. They sprang up overnight and most of them had little or no real understanding of Guyana’s political landscape. I think some of them actually thought they were going to win the election on their own! Of course they were in for a big shock but sadly, they had to see for themselves. Although there were many genuine players, there were of course a great many inflated egos and a lot of opportunism, as has now been exposed following the election. For these reasons we failed to form a united front. Had we done so, a simple addition of the combined votes of all the small parties shows that we would have won two seats in parliament, depriving both major parties of a majority. In other words, we would have taken a first step towards breaking the stranglehold that these two parties enjoy.
It was an historic opportunity lost, but the struggle continues. We most definitely need to form a united and powerful Third Force that genuinely represents all sectors of Guyanese society. It is time for a National Front for the Salvation of Guyana. It will take courage and compromise and the setting aside of egos. There are genuine and sincere players in both the PPP/C and APNU that need to walk away from those parties and join us. There are members of small parties and stakeholders in civil society that need to come on board. We must never fall into despair, believing that a different society is not possible. With the will of courageous and patriotic Guyanese, anything is possible.
Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)