What we commemorated this past Tuesday, May 26th, 2020, was ‘formal independence’. A shell without any substance, what Ugandan revolutionary activist and writer, Chango Machyow’Obanda refers to as ‘sham independence’. In 1966, after years of struggle, we obtained our own flag and national anthem, but little else. Forbes Burnham, like Kwame Nkrumah before him, realized that flag-and-anthem independence, devoid of political and economic independence, was meaningless, and was determined to set Guyana on a different path. However, that vision died with Burnham, and to this day, our political system is manipulated and our economy is controlled by external forces. These external forces include the ABCE countries, and their Trojan horses such as the IMF/World Bank, USAID, and the International Republican Institute (IRI) to name a few. The same IRI that was behind the #VOTELIKEABOSS campaign in the 2015 elections. Then US Charge d’affaires, Bryan Hunt, worked along with the IRI and others, providing assistance, both covertly and overtly. This was clearly outside of his mandate as a diplomat.
At the time, Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)condemned Bryan Hunt’s meddling in our domestic affairs. In fact, on July 12th, 2015, a letter I wrote, titled, Is Bryan Hunt overstepping the boundary of his role as a foreign diplomat in Guyana, was published in the Guyana Chronicle, The very next day, then editor of the Chronicle, Mark Ramotar, published a lengthy disclaimer, apologizing profusely for having published the letter. He told me he was severely reprimanded for carrying the letter and was ordered to carry the apology by a key figure in the APNU+AFC regime. At the time, no other political party or civic organization saw it fit and proper to condemn this confounded nonsense. During their first term in office, the victorious APNU+AFC regime continued to welcome ABCE interference in our national affairs, showing us that they were prepared to go to any lengths to please their masters. They even broke ranks with CARICOM and joined the renegade Lima Group, described by Christopher Black of the Center for Research on Globalization as “international outlaws and regime change conspirators”. They assumed that because they toed the line so diligently, they would remain Empire’s permanent friend, and in their bid to remain so, they sold us out at every turn. OVP has repeatedly denounced APNU+AFC’s surrender of Guyana’s sovereignty.
Since I was 16 years of age I have consistently and publicly repudiated all outside interference in Guyana’s national affairs. I have fought the imperialists both at home and abroad, and I shall go to my grave doing so. I can assure the nation that if the PPP, with assistance from the ABCE countries, had in fact attempted to rig or in any way illegally alter the outcome of the March 2020 general and regional elections, I, as leader of OVP would have been at the forefront of exposing and condemning such actions. Those pushing this false narrative should know better than to fly such nonsense in the face of seasoned anti-imperialists both at home and abroad. As the British political writer, Samuel Johnson said in 1775, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. OVP was so intent on ensuring that a Jagdeo-led PPP did not return to office, that despite our major political and ideological differences with APNU+AFC we were prepared to give them critical support. However, the events following the March 2nd elections forced us to re-evaluate our position and denounce both major political parties as unfit to govern this nation.
Although the ABCE countries frequently interfere in elections, especially when there is a frontrunner that is anti-Empire, for example, in the cases of Evo Morales’ political formation, Movement Toward Socialism in Bolivia, and Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua, this definitely was not the case in Guyana in March 2020. Truth is that the ABCE countries would be happy with either of these two major parties forming the next government. Neither APNU+AFC nor PPP pose any threat to the Empire. Long ago, under the leadership of Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, their anti-imperialist positions raised eyebrows. But those days are gone. There is no doubt that in 2015, after the infamous ‘feral blast’ by then PPP Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, and a few rebellious foreign policy utterances, the PPP had fallen from grace. However, with the help of professional lobbyists in the US, they once again made their peace with the imperialists, reassuring them that the PPP does not intend to rock the boat. I can say with certainty that like APNU+AFC, the PPP will never renegotiate the ExxonMobil contract. The plain truth is that the leadership of both parties are prepared to sell out the Guyanese people in return for political power and all its accompanying privileges and opportunities for personal enrichment, and as such, the ABCE countries can happily live with either one of them. The PPP and APNU+AFC have clearly demonstrated that they are not prepared to put the nation in front of their narrow partisan interests, and that they will battle each other till the bitter end, even if it means taking the entire nation along a destructive and pointless trajectory.
The truth can be very hard to hear and very painful, but we must confront it head on if we are to have any hope of moving forward as a nation. Only when there is a national awakening, where the dispossessed and poverty stricken supporters of both political parties realize that they are being taken for a ride, will the game change.
Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)