[Editor's Note: This speech, which remains one
of Dr. Rodney's most memorable and equally meaningful both in
1979 when it was made, as it is today, is being presented here
since it was discovered to be online already. Of course, another
reason for posting is that much of Dr. Rodney's work remains unknown
and unattainable to the Guyanese public, which serves only to
hamper the public's knowledge of him. Despite not being copyrighted,
credit is due to the WPA since this speech was originally published
in a booklet form as a "WPA publication" and sold for
a dollar. The image of the cover is from an original copy of this
booklet, as is that of a Smith "wanted" bulletin that
was in circulation. Newspaper clip by this site.]
cover of "The Struggle Goes On!" by Dr. Walter Rodney,
Brothers and sisters!
Many persons are coming forward and are bringing evidence and
information about what is going on. They tell about their own
particular experiences — as housewives, as taxi drivers
and so on. They all come and give information with the necessary
details, so that we can get a total picture of what the social,
economic and political life is like in this country today.
And there is not a group without some fundamental
grievance. What we would like to do in the Working People's Alliance
is to share with you some analysis of the facts before us. We
will concentrate on information as the basis of our analysis of
where we are, and more important still, of where we are going.
It is essential to carry out such a sober analysis. The idea being
not simply to rally our supporters, but to convince all Guyanese,
because we respect their intelligence. When you put sensible things
before the Guyanese population, they will respond; and that is
our task today.
I want to begin my reference to events by asking
you to think about some of the more recent statements which have
emerged from the ruling government since the murder of Father
Darke — for that murder was an important political event
in the event history of this country. Father Darke fell as the
first martyr of the present stage of the Guyanese revolution.
(Applause) We must understand the significance of his murder.
The W.P.A. has already publicly accused the P.N.C., as a party
and as the government of this country, of complicity in that murder.
And we have said that in any decent and civilised country, investigations
would have proceeded to find out who were the real authors and
instigators of the murder of Father Darke. (Someone shouts, "Rabbi".)
More than just the Rabbi. We must not be confused into thinking
that the Rabbi is an independent entity! The Rabbi is not independent.
The Rabbi himself is a stooge of other forces. (Laughter) We must
identify his masters — his paymasters. We must not be afraid
to say openly that the People's National Congress has been officially
involved in thuggery. Eventually it had to lead to murder as it
did on July the fourteenth. And what has occurred since convinces
us that the government, having got itself in that murder, is now
concentrating on the cover-up.
First they came out with ridiculous stories
about 'scuffling' that went on; then they refused to tell the
Guyanese and the international public that Father Darke was killed
while doing his duty as a journalist.
They never published any photographs of July
14 in the Chronicle. That was not because the Chronicle photographer
was not there. He was right there on the scene. He had the time
and the opportunity to photograph us when we were brought on a
ridiculous charge of arson, but they would not publish any photographs
of the violence. Photographs do exist. If you go to 'Freedom House'
in Robb Street, you will see the display of these photographs.
(Applause and comments). The brother says the photographs should
be carried to court. I agree, that's a logical statement. In a
normal, civilised, healthy country, it would have gone to the
courts. Instead, The Minister of Labour, Health and Housing, a
Minister who actually had the temerity to turn up at the funeral
of Father Darke, (derisive laughter), has now gone on record as
fabricating yet another dimension to the lie — coming up
with remarkable interpretation that the murder of Father Darke
was another Catholic priest whose name he cannot pronounce. (Shouts
The Chronicle of Lies
In one sense, we can dismiss this as nonsensical. In another sense,
however, it is a reminder of to all of us how much contempt the
government of this country has heaped upon the people of this
You have to be absolutely contemptuous of the people whom you
are addressing to tell them such foolishness and expect them to
believe. It is a total insult to anyone's intelligence to be given
such an interpretation when most Guyanese today and certainly
those of us who live in Georgetown, have by now gotten a clear
picture of what happened on that day. But the ruling class is
continually trying to tell us that whatever they say is the truth
— no matter what you see, no matter what you experience.
Even if you saw it with your own eyes and they print the opposite
in the Chronicle, you are supposed to say to yourself, "I
must have been dreaming when I thought I saw it that way."
(Laughter) They continually insult our intelligence and our capacity
to make independent decisions.
The Chronicle, of course as you realise, has
sunk to a new low. Part of their recent propaganda has to do with
the Bauxite strike, and it is not the first time that they have
concocted propaganda about the bauxite strike. I believe that
they work on the assumption that because Linden is separated from
Georgetown, or Kwakwani is separated from Georgetown, they can
tell us here in Georgetown and tell the people in Corentyne and
Essequibo anything about Linden, and people will believe. But
they publish so many contradictions in their own newspapers that
even the most uninformed reader must come to the conclusion that
they are reading a tissue of lies. A few days ago the Editorial
comment on page one of the Chronicle proved itself a most remarkable
document. I read it four or five times and still find it difficult
to understand. In an editorial which dealt with the question of
truth — they said they were searching for truth —
they themselves wanted to know where to find it. One day we hear
the strike is crumbling and the next day we hear the strike is
firm. One day we hear how everybody turned out to work. Next day
we understand it is only one man. (Laughter). And then they ask
the question in the end, "Where is the truth amidst all of
these confusing statements?"
The thing about that editorial is that the contradictory
statements to which they refer are all published in their own
newspaper. They were not taking these statements elsewhere —
they were using the information from the Chronicle to write an
editorial saying that "We ain't know wha is truth, because
every day we does print a different story." (Laughter). And
yet, spectators continue to buy it, and to read it, while the
P.N.C. expect us to believe anything that they present to us.
It is ultimately, as I said, apart from comedy, an insult to the
Guyanese people, and we have to say that we will put an end to
those in power who have such a low estimation of our abilities.
(Applause). Not only are they insulting us. but in the real sense,
it seems as if they have taken leave of all sanity.
With Burnham, Lunacy Prevails
The W.P.A. has asked people to comment on this before, and I want
to put it forward very seriously because when you accuse people
of acting as if they were mad or acting as madmen or madwomen
you're making a serious accusation. It should not be put forward
lightly as though it were a mere joke, because in normal circumstances,
the mentally ill person is just like any one else who is physically
ill and we should be sympathetic. But when the ruling class is
characterized by elements of insanity, it is another matter altogether,
because those who are insane must be given proper medical treatment.
They must be removed from normal processes of work while that
treatment is going on. (Laughter). So we don't expect our rulers
to be plagued by insanity, and yet it is difficult sometimes to
find any explanation of their conduct which can be given in normal
terms of an individual or individuals who are sane. Time and again
you come up against the only possible conclusion — that
we are ruled by people who have departed from their insanity in
the literal sense of the word, because you have become insane
when you have lost touch with reality. If you move down the road
shadowboxing, someone might imagine you are a boxer practising.
'So you alright — you practising.' But if you do this every
day and people realize that you are not really shadowboxing, 'you
genuinely believe you fightin' somebody else, then they say you
mad.' (Laughter). Because you have departed from reality; you've
lost touch with reality. They seem to think that they are all-powerful.
Whoever accumulated power to themselves in such
a way that they want to make every single decision in the state
a personal decision, is being taken over by insanity, and it is
not surprising, because no one man or handful of men even in their
own interests should conduct the affairs of state as their personal
business. So that when some sister 'have to get wuk as a washer-woman,
he gat to intervene to decide whether or not she gon' get dat
wuk.' And when so-and-so got to get a promotion or a scholarship,
'all a' dis thing gat to be done by certain telephones."
Now when you reduce yourself to government by telephones, it means
you've got to jump everytime the telephone rings. (Laughter).
So they're very jumpy. More than that, they can't sleep because
when you dedicate yourself to oppressing others, you cannot sleep.
You have to spend all night planning how you will oppress the
next day and then you've got to spend all the next day oppressing.
You have no sleep day or night. So that is why this ruling class
is being plagued now by symptoms of lunacy — losing touch
with reality — they haven't a clue what is going on. They're
living in a world of their own and they're trying to reduce the
rest of us to the same condition of losing touch with reality.
What is it when the news media continually comes
out to tell you that you did not see what you saw. (Laughter).
They tell you that they saw what you didn't see — this is
a way of making you lose touch with reality. (Laughter).
(Sound of a helicopter overhead). Brother and Sisters, I am aware
of the preferred mode of transportation of King Kong. (Laughter).
Nevertheless, we have to proceed with what is going on down there
and we want to show that the ruling class has clearly lost touch
with reality in a way that is absolutely frightening. Think about
the story of the palace that they were about to build. In the
midst of the most desperate economic crisis that has ever hit
this nation, (let us forget for a moment who brought on the crisis,
we know they brought it on, but forget that for a moment), any
sane government would not think about building a palace. But you
see King Kong had decided he wanted to build a palace to his ego
(laughter), and a monument to his own stupidity — so that
he could sit inside and be a monument inside a monument. (Laughter
One of the brothers in the audience, when we
were at Grove yesterday, suggested
to us that what was required was to extend the zoo to take in
the Residence (laughter) and then we would have one of the most
prized exhibits of any zoo in the world. (Laughter). People would
come from all over the world and pay to see King Kong.
the house in Tucville frequented by Sgt. Gregory Smith.
The Burnham Touch
When one is searching for words to describe what is going on,
it is very difficult to find the appropriate terms. Personally
as the days go by, I find it difficult to describe the reality
around us. Although I would modestly say that my vocabulary is
not limited, I find my choice of words limited to those which
describe excrement, words which have to do with the faeces and
defecation. One has to come down to speak of it in a way that
reflects and captures the reality of the time and the mood of
the people. The other evening, speaking at another site, I had
to draw the analogy, to say what if there ever was such a thing
called the Midas touch, which was the touch that made everything
turn into gold, then we will have a new creation in this society
— the Burnham touch where everything he touches turns to
shit. (Prolonged laughter). One has to put it in these brutal
terms because the situation in which we are is a brutal situation.
One has to put it in even these crude terms because they have
reduced us in such a way that even those terms do not fully capture
reality. Whatever they touch, even if they touch a policeman in
uniform — that is the Burnham touch. (Laughter). And that
is why we speak to our brothers in uniform and we have to greet
them roughly, not because we do not understand they are brothers
and sisters in uniform, but because we have to point out to them
the way in which they have been touched, and that they're covered
with filth because of this regime. (Laughter). They continually
have to go out and do all manner of dirty work.
Now I will give you a typical example: In recent
searchings in the country, one of the persons who has just been
searched in Linden is Brother Yearwood, better known as Brother
Jomo. Now Jomo is an individual who, during the referendum, personally
walked the whole distance from Linden to Georgetown as a mark
of his own moral and political protest. (Applause). Brother Jomo
was in the crowd on Saturday July 14, when he was attacked by
the Rabbi's men and very seriously injured his arm so that he
lost control of certain fingers. It will take considerable time,
if ever, for him to recover full control of those fingers —
he was seriously wounded. And the moment he was let out of the
hospital, his attackers were, of course, rushed through the traffic
court at five o'clock in the afternoon to be released back into
the street on merely nominal fines. So far as the law was concerned
, as far as the particular magistrate NORMA JACKSON or JACKMAN
or whatever her name is was concerned, they were free to go back
on the streets. Another one who was touched. (Laughter). Let me
complete the story about brother Jomo. Jomo went back to Linden
after his attackers had been freed to go on the road, and the
police turned up to search his house for arms and ammunition.
I suppose the next thing that they will do is to arrest him and
say, "We are charging you with unlawfully throwing yourself
on a bayonet and causing the bayonet to get blood." That
is the only thing left for them to do. Then the victim becomes
a double and triple victim.
Black Skin, Fascist Mask
This is the society in which we live and we are not talking about
'long-time story'. We're talking about what's going on right now.
And we have to expose this ruthlessly. One of the things that
the regime does not like is to be exposed and uncovered. They
have lived for these many years by putting on certain masks, by
trying to fool the outside world — and even some Guyanese
who live right here, with the mask of democratic government because
they have a joke institution called a Parliament. In this mask
they have something called a free press, free judiciary etc.,
but we know that when we lost the right to choose our own government
in free elections, we lost all other rights. It is just a matter
of time — they take when they want to take, they give when
they want to give — until that time when the people intervene.
Unmask them and show them that the power belongs to the people!
If you notice in the media, whether it be Action
Line, or the New Nation, or the Chronicle, one of the things they're
very hurt about is the so-called attacks on their leader. How
come their leader can be attacked? King Kong is supposed to be
beyond criticism. (Laughter). They have seriously promoted him
as the ultimate in wisdom, all-knowing, all powerful, next to
God — a man whose face adorns the exercise books of our
children, and who is probably responsible for their high failure
rate in the schools. (Laughter). Do not believe it was a mere
accident that it was necessary to promote the cult of the personality
around him, to make it appear as though all intelligence in Guyana
was concentrated in one man and no intelligence was outside. All
virtue, all political acumen, all commitment was concentrated
in one man. It even reached the stage, (and you will check this
out for yourself, you will check it out in terms of your experience
and your memory of what has been going on) when it was popular
in P.N.C. circles when something went wrong for the person to
say, "Well, maybe you're right, it did go wrong, but the
Comrade Leader didn't know anything about it." You have to
put the Comrade Leader above all wrong doing, although in another
context he himself has said that nothing goes on that he doesn't
know about. But whenever something went wrong, it is claimed he
didn't know about it. It is a way of isolating him from the people,
putting him way above the people, and therefore it is equally
important that in the context of our present struggle we unmask
that attempt to wrap this individual up, romanticize him and present
him to the Guyanese people as the 'ultimate.'
On the contrary, we will judge him on the basis
of his performance, and on that basis we can we can say that he
has been the initiator of a period of a total lack of democracy
in this society; that he has supervised over bringing the society
to the lowest ebb it has ever been in its history; that he has
reduced Guyanese to a position where he can only say "we
shame" wherever we go, "we shame". We have said
this before, and one could always ask Guyanese as individuals
to check this amongst themselves. They can check with their relatives
abroad because we are a people who travel the world, and there
is hardly anyone in touch without some relative or a friend in
Canada, the United States, etc.
Write them and ask them how you felt as Guyanese
at the time of the Jonestown tragedy. Many of them actually went
around denying that they were Guyanese. Somebody would come up
to you and say, 'tell us something about Jonestown. I know you're
from Guyana", and the person would explain, "no, you
get it wrong, is Ghana, you get it wrong". (Laughter).
Burnham's Shame Is On Our
Nobody want to own up to being Guyanese abroad. You had better
not go to Trinidad or Surinam or any place and let it be known
that you come from Guyana because the police will pick you up,
all kinds of things will happen to you because you are Guyanese.
In other words, although it is the shame of the ruling class,
they have brought that shame upon us.
All Guyanese will have to bear that burden and
therefore it is time that we make sure we throw that burden off
our backs. And we have the capacity. It is only the ruling clique
who imagine in their fantasy, in their lunacy and lack of touch
with reality, that the people do not have the capacity.
The maximum leader finds or found in the past
that the things he had to do was to surround himself with mediocrity,
surround himself with persons of no stature; surround himself
with persons unknown to the people, with persons who had compromised
loyalty to the supreme leader. All of those tendencies we have
to arrest, and before the time runs out on us we will have to
try and work out some steps for the programme by which we will
effect the removal of the P.N.C.; the removal of the illegal clique,
or what is left of the P.N.C., because it is hardly a political
party anymore. (Applause).
Many a rank and file member of that party has
quit its ranks, many who years ago honestly felt that they could
work with that P.N.C. have now given up in disgust. And when you
check it out, you find those former members of the P.N.C. or the
Y.S.M. — they too know the Burnham touch because he put
it on them. They realize with even greater confidence, with even
greater certainty that the task at hand is the removal of that
clique because they have firsthand experience of working in those
frustrating conditions. And it is precisely at this point in time
we have to mobilize all forces, not only those who were opponents
yesterday, but those of our brothers and sisters who today can
realize that they must join our ranks — and we will make
way for them. We will welcome any Guyanese who recognizes what
is going on and who is prepared to make progress on a different
path. (Applause). That is why our programme as a party involves
actively the people of Guyana. Ideologically as Brother Roopnarine
was explaining in all circumstances we will pursue a principled
line for the building of genuine socialism.
The W.P.A. and Our Struggle
Let us make it clear that we are not asking persons to enter because
of support for our ideology. We are asking for an active effort
of the people people for national reconstruction and national
unity on the basis of common sense, patriotism, decency and honesty.
We are committed to building a Guyana for the future of the Guyanese
children. (applause). We are prepared to enter into a dialogue
with groups such as businessmen, the various professionals like
lawyers and doctors, engineers and architects and so on. We are
challenging them to take a stand now against what is going on
at the political level. We are challenging them to recognize that
the workers in the society, in all sectors have a common cause,
to realize that they have to participate in a future government
if they want to be able to claim that they are patriotic Guyanese
who are prepared to contribute to the well-being of the nation
These groups may well ask you what is our programme for them.
Where do businessmen and professionals fit into our programme?
And we can answer that question as best we can from our printed
programme and our exchange with them verbally. There is more than
that; it is not simply that we should promise any given group
that after the revolution they will get certain rewards. We want
to say to these groups, "participate in the process of change,
participate in what is now the true Guyanese revolution, and by
virtue of participating, you will not have to ask anybody what
is the policy, because you will help in the making of that policy."
(Applause). That is why we are challenging everyone to get involved
now because it is only by being involved now in the process of
change at this very beginning that the individual goes around
and says "We also have power, we're also involved in the
process of power, we also can make decisions in our society of
the national level, of the local level, within our communities,
and so on."
The W.P.A. has been very careful, as those who
know over the years will testify, to warn against demagogues.
We have been careful to warn you against people who come to you
and say, "we are the new deliverers, we are the new messiahs
and the new prophets." this is because it is the old set
who stressed precisely that, and delivered to you — to what?
That which we know about. They delivered you into the Burnham
touch. (Laughter). As a consequence, we are not simply saying
that we will come forward and take hold of the reins. of power
as they are, because we are not interestedin those trifles. We
are saying that in the interests of Guyanese as a whole we have
to build a new political system in the long run — one that
offers stability, security and justice for all Guyanese; and if
we are to do that and if we are to solve the immediate pressing
problems of the economy, we have to have the participation of
all, all sorts and types so that we can pool our collective wisdom
and our collective intelligence. It is only a fool who believes
that he or she alone has the wisdom to make decisions particularly
in a situation as desperate as ours. One would have thought that
anyone in this situation would be only too happy to get aid from
somebody else, to hear other people participate in making the
decisions in the present crisis. So we challenge the businessmen,
we challenge the professionals to come forward and identify themselves
with the idea of a government of national reconstruction and national
On Being A Professional
I want to say some words in particular about the professionals
who are a group who normally have a lot of respect in Guyanese
society. And to be professional, really means that once you have
chosen that field of work and you have certain standards which
you would like to maintain as a professional, whether you be a
future professional or whether is be what we traditionally call
a 'trade'. As a professional, you try to follow professional standards.
You try to follow standards that are correct and laid down. Even
if you are an undertaker, you have professional standards. You
don't just throw the body into the earth, because that would be
against your professional standards which dictate that when you
bury people you do so with a certain standard. So professionalism
is an important element of social life because if people do not
uphold proper professional standards, the entire society tends
to collapse. What we find in Guyana today is that the conditions
which prevail make it impossible for professionals to conduct
their professional life was they would like. You are not allowed
to do the job you want to do. Many persons are frustrated not
just by the economic conditions but by lack of job satisfaction
— a lack of an opportunity to develop a talent, to show
their creativity, to advance in their chosen field of work and
We just have to look around and we realize this
at once. We talk about the media — which means in Guyana
the newspaper and the radio. Now the persons who work there are
journalists, and in the past we have had a tradition of fighting
journalism in Guyana. More than one hundred years ago, there were
independent fighting journalists in this country and we do have
a tradition of fighting journalism. We had, even in the colonial
days, journalists who fought to make journalism a genuine profession.
Even the former editor of the Chronicle who resigned recently,
in the old days, before he got the touch, would have been known
as a journalist of repute. (laughter). That is the tragedy of
Guyanese life, the man went around touching so many people on
their head and their shoulders that that was the end for them
after he touched them. (laughter). What we have to realise is
that a profession such as journalism is a profession which in
other parts of the world commands maximum respect. In the United
States today, I am assured that the most popular course for enrollment
in the universities is journalism because students have come to
associate journalism with a capacity to speak and write. These
journalists saw the exposure of those who planned the Vietnam
War; they saw the exposure of Nixon — all that was done
by journalists. And nowadays, in the U.S.A. and Canada and Britain,
when a minister of government receives a 'phone call that such
and such a journalist wants to see him,' they immediately get
straight; they get under 'heavy manners' because when a journalist
is talking to you, you have to be serious. But what have they
reduced journalists to in this country? They're not even scribes
because they cannot write down what is happening, so they're not
In the old days, the journalists used to move
around with their notepads and write down notes, but now it is
not even worthwhile writing down notes. The brothers will not
be published if it is serious material — certainly not in
the form in which the journalist intended. They cannon investigate
independently. They cannot ascertain what facts are there. They
cannot cross-question a Minister to hear what is the truth and
what is not. They had the biggest news story in the history of
journalism—JONESTOWN—bigger than any other single
news story — and not a single Guyanese journalist could
get into the act. Do we understand the extent to which they have
been deprofessionalized? A professional journalist is living ina
country which has the biggest news story in the profession on
the history of journalism — not just in this country but
in the world, and he never wrote a line about it because the nature
of the system under which he lives has reduced him to such a low
level! It is an abomination to the spirit, really. Wherever you
turn (I'm just using one example) one can multiply this a thousand
times. The Government of Guyana has reduced us to the lowest possible
leve, whther as workers, housewives, or professionals.
The People Make a Revolution!
There is no way out under the present system. So we have got to
make up our minds what we are deciding now within the Working
People's Alliance. It is not simply that the government 'do bad'
and they must do better, it is not simply that they must do part
good and part bad and they must remedy it. It is not that they
must reform. It is not that they must hold another election and
rig it all up. We 'finish' we all of that. THEY MUST GO! (Loud
applause). THE P.N.C. MUST GO!(Loud applause and cheering). And
they must go by any means necessary. (Loud cheering).
They have been accusing us of fermenting violence.
They have even had the temerity to say that we are working up
hit-lists — assassination lists in which the names of the
Prime Minister and Hammy Green and so on appear. Someone who heard
that was speaking to me the other day and said, "Well if
all you really intend to to assassinate dem fellas, ah tell you
something — you gat to join the queue." (Laughter).
The guy was asserting his right. He was saying that people were
standing up in line before us and that many Guyanese were standing
in line. Their 'hit-list' then is ridiculous on many grounds and
the people understand it to be ridiculous. We have said that we
are not for assassination because politically and ideologically,
an assassination is of no value to us. We do not want to replace
one individual with another individual of the same type, whether
it be for better or worse. I remember when the King Kong was ill,
reportedly seriously ill. And many Guyanese, including Christian
Guyanese, were praying for the best. (Laughter). And even in those
days, we in the W.P.A. used to say that that would not solve any
problems. We would not want to concentrate our analysis into thinking
that if one man went, then the whole system would be cleaned up.
What we wanted was to make the whole system go, and we repeat
And we say further that we do not want those
who have been responsible for crimes against Guyanese people assassinated;
so if any of you brothers and sisters were thinking along these
lines, we ask you to hold your hand because WE WANT THEM ALIVE!(Applause).
The time has come when they will have to face the Guyanese people
and be brought into account for the many years they thought they
were beyond any kind of control on the part of the people. (Applause).
And there is another reason why assassination
is not within our political textbook. And that is because assassination
is the act of one man — any one man can assassinate a leader.
But only the people can make a revolution! (Applause). And the
day has to come when the real revolution will begin — the
revolution in the economy, the revolution in the society, the
revolution to bring us back to a level where we can hold our heads
up high. And it is that day that we need the participation of
the people. As for the assassination — we are not worried
about that. That is something that they are inventing because
they have plans for assassination; because they have not only
the Rabbi's squad as their death squad, but they have the assassins
that they have been training at Low Creek. They have been training
them to be snipers, training them to come amongst people with
silent weapons while they guard the kingdom of the real assassins.
These have been produced by the P.N.C. government — produced
by the clique in power, because it is necessary for them to find
some excuse in order for them to carry out their orders and their
Violence: The Guyanese
They are now trying to distort the fact through their media. Let
me tell you what the fascists did in Germany. They created the
conditions, set up the situation, and then afterwards removed
the 'undesirables'. So we want the people to understand that very
clearly. It is not that we are afraid of the concept of violence
because ultimately we would not let them bully us into thinking
that violence is not the necessary political step under certain
circumstances. If we felt that way we would not be able to understand
what is going on in South Africa; we would not be able to understand
what is going on in Zimbabwe. We would not be able to understand
the reasons for the happenings in Grenada or Nicaragua.
In the Long run the people must free themselves
by any means necessary and they will receive recruits from the
people at the point at which violence is the only alternative;
then violence becomes the supreme political weapon. (Applause).
and note that, the very famous Mahatma Gandhi, famous for his
peacefulness, famous for peace and nonviolence, is a man who once
explained the difference between nonviolence and cowardice. He
said that nonviolence has its applications. But he once wrote,
"I do believe that where there is a choice between violence
and cowardice, I would advise violence." That is Mahatma
Gandhi, a peace loving man. (applause).
So what I am trying to drive at is a certain
understanding, not for the present but merely for the future.
We are attempting to try and create at this stage, political change
without violence. In fact, if the Guyanese people cannot see this
possibility we are likely to arrive at political change with violence.
This is not because I say so or the W.P.A. said so or anybody
else said so. It is because that is the very nature of society
and it is in the nature of man. Man pushed to this level will
degenerate into a violent society, so we don't have to push violence.
The violence underlines the society because we are ruled by a
violent and illegal government and if they are not removed now
there will be violence. (Applause).
They have been guilty of the real violence.
The very nature of this illegal regime is defined by violence
— note the $70 million that they spend on the armed forces.
That is the violence that we have to overcome. And if it is not
removed at the present time by the combined will of the people,
then unfortunately probably our children will be saddled with
this oppression of the spirit. WE must show some responsibility
even if it requires taking to arms to remove certain oppressive
regimes. So right now we have our task — finding the way
to unleash the energy of the people and removing the clique in
power before they bring violence to bear on the vast majority
of the population. (Applause).
We would like to list several ways in which
this process must proceed. Brother Roopnarine spoke about your
physical presence at these gatherings. The W.P.A. considers this
extremely important and it is obvious that the P.N.C. clique also
thinks that this is important. People are already winning victories.
Imagine, we have brought the P.N.C. back to the streets to hold
public meetings. That is a victory in itself. Of course, the meetings
will collapse and they will go back into their seats and will
try other techniques that are much more fearful and repressive.
But initially we can show them that we have come to the streets.
We have to let the police force know and we
have to let the Police Commissioner know that we will insist on
our rights under the constitution and our rights as human beings
to meet and discuss at the highest level. We are not going to
allow ourselves to be threatened, abused and kept off the streets.
If they have to deal with only a handful of the Working People's
Alliance, then they know that they can bring down a mass of police.
But when they have to deal with the Guyanese people in thousands;
when they have to deal with persons of all ages, both sexes, both
major races, various occupations, professions and the like, they
know it would not be possible to unleash the forces of repression
because the very police and armed forces are drawn from amongst
They will not, therefore, in the circumstances
of massive popular uprising, massive shows of our indignation
and frustration against the government in power bring out real
everyday policemen. They will bring out their thugs and dress
them in uniform. But it is the right of the Guyanese people to
assemble peacefully and this is a peaceful assembly. The only
time the peace is broken is when they introduce their thug element
and we must also drive those thug elements from off the streets.
They will not come back once the people are resolved. They will
not dare to come into this kind of gathering! (Applause). So we
have to make it clear that we will count ourselves here, we will
draw strength from each other. We will look over our shoulders.
We will see Africans and Indians standing side by side and we
will know that this regime will not trick us back into another
frontpage of the Guyana Chronicle, the day after the
assassination. Dr. Rodney would be described as having died via
his own "misadventure" by the PNC regime.
On the Need to Organise
The Working Class Into a Fighting Force
Then we have to go further, we are going to work out programmes
in which we refuse to co-operate with the elements in power because
people have it within their rights to find various ways of refusing
to cooperate because the state requires your cooperation in order
to survive. Just a while ago someone put to us a proposal which
in fact is not a new proposal. He said when they close down the
Mirror by refusing to offer newsprint, when they practise various
forms of discrimination which do not allow freedom of expression
and freedom in the press, one of the things that people can do
is boycott their press. Boycott their newspaper. (Applause). Now
that this is the kind of suggestion coming from within the people
themselves and if we sit down as we should to work out these proposals,
we can find ways and means to stop this illegal government —
to remove them. What we have to understand then is the need to
develop programmes of our non cooperation. The W.P.A. has said
on previous occasions, that individuals should set out to isolate
the agents of the regime. Now this government has spent a great
deal of money setting up what they call security forces. Apart
from the uniformed security forces, they have all kinds of messengers
and pimps who go around spying on other persons. They have all
kinds of wire-tapping, mail-opening, and so on in this society.
Quite apart from those who follow us around, we know that there
are others reduced to that kind of job of professional Peeping
Toms in order to report on other persons. This must surely be
one of the most undignified ways in which you can ever live.
One day we caught one of them up at Linden and
when we accosted him we said, "My friend, when you go home
tonight and you have children and they ask you, "Daddy what
were you doing all day?" You've got to say, "Well children,
I was out spying on the W.P.A.."" That is the level
to which one is reduced. You have to tell your children that you
are a spy, and that this is your work — to go around spying
on other people.
We believe that those who are paid and those
who are not, are carrying out this activity of spying, harassing,
telling tales, etc. on others. They should be isolated within
the community and when you know them you must point them out.
You must be able to say, "Look, one she is going there."
or "Look, she there she is another one!" We must make
sure that these people are brought out into the light of day and
let us see whether they will operate when they know that the Guyanese
people look down on such type of behavior.
We also say, and we know that the regime is
very anxious about this point, that in the final analysis, the
working people have one commodity which is all-powerful, and that
is their own labour power. This is the ability to work or the
ability to say "we will no longer work under these conditions."
It is interesting to find that now is the time when the working
class is under the greatest pressure. They therefore have to consider
the strike weapon as a weapon in their own interest and which
can help to perfect their living standards. The government is
today terrified at the thought that workers should go on strike
and they are raising all manner of bogies, bogies and jumbies
to threaten people when they consider the possibilities of strikes.
Every strike that has taken place under the P.N.C. has been called
a political strike. It is nothing new to them to call a bauxite
strike a political strike. What persons have to realise is whatever
they call it, it does not matter, the working people have the
moral right to withdraw their labour to alter the conditions under
which they live. More than that, they have the right to say if
we live under such oppressive conditions that even asking for
increments from this present set of managers and political rulers
is forbidden, then strike is not enough. If they say in order
to get the increments we have to move the present rulers, then
they have to make sure that the strike has teeth, they have to
make sure that when they act to withdraw they do not bend until
they get the results of their strike. They do not bend until they
can see that the conditions are being altered in a way guarantees
them that they as workers would share in the fruits of their labour
and if it means that the program must go, and our interpretation
is that it does mean that the government must go, then they must
It is critical that at this juncture that the
Guyanese working people realize the need to seriously, soberly
but effectively utilize their rights to strike. (Applause). Earlier
their tribute was made to the bauxite workers and we must repeat
it. Kwakwani has been on strike for the longest while. They led
the strike. Now the Linden workers are also on strike. We know
that that means. We know that is the single largest industrial
working class section in this country. we know that it represents
a group which racially and politically was misled, confused and
conned by the regime many years ago and what these workers are
telling the rest of Guyana is that their eyes are completely opened
and that they understand their own interest. Even the leadership
of the Guyana Mine Workers' Union which was put there by the party
has abandoned the party because even it has to realize, that when
it comes to the interest of the workers, the P.N.C. has deceived
us all, and the time has come to tell them that there is no line
to be drawn between industrial and political action that will
stop workers from going on strike on the basis of their own self
So we have to salute the Linden workers and
the Kwakwani workers. That is why we have asked for that contribution,
and persons are still going around collecting and at the end we
will announce what the Guyanese people assembled here have contributed
at a W.P.A. meeting. Though we are a new political party, we will
not use one cent of that money four our own purposes; we will
hand it over to the bauxite workers. (Applause).
There are many people who believe that a revolution
is about blood. It is true that at times in a revolution blood
flows. Very often innocent blood, very often the blood of the
best amongst us. But one must be prepared to take a stand against
evil and injustice in the society. We will have to realise that
the time is now to make precisely that stand. For too long our
nature has been overcome by fear; a justified fear. It is true
that there is a fear of losing jobs; the fear of not getting promotion;
the fear that your children might be victimised and so on. But
there must be a point at which people realize, that even that
fear has to be overcome. It has to be overcome by a new resolution
because in the long run it is not simply that you and I are fighting
in individual battles. Far more important is the sense in which
we can fight in a collective battle. They can't fire everybody,
they can't victimise everybody; on the contrary, they have given
us the vast majority whom they have treated with contempt, whom
they have insulted everyday for 14 or 15 years. When we act together,
we will make this little paltry gang of petty dictators go on
their way. And we will bring them to task. Because it is obvious
that in the end they depend upon the power of the people.
The people put them in power, they now spit upon the people. The
people put them into power in the sense that the P.N.C. used the
electoral machinery to rig it. They got some support internally;
they got some support outside from the C.I.A. Once they got that
they parked the dictatorship in a one-way road; they took a one-way
ticket to dictatorship, day by day reducing the rights we had.
The supporters who helped put them into power back in the '60s,
had no power by the time we reached the '70s — even the
P.N.C. rank and file.
Our Youth & Our Liberation Struggle
The note on which I will end is the question of our youth. The
tragedy of Guyanese youth, and it is areal tragedy, is that they
have been shut out from politics. Even during the period of the
Vietnam War, it was only the P.Y.O., the youth arm of the P.P.P.
that used to make propaganda on that issue. Our youth could not
even understand what was going on in as fundamental struggle as
Vietnam. In the early days, it was the P.N.C. that shut them off
from that. Our youth have been kept politically uneducated. This
is as the time when in the world at large, young people are setting
forth new political directions in every nation.
In South Africa for example, you have heard
of the Soweto uprising. Do you believe that those were adults
alone in Soweto? School children, 14, 15, and 16 years old made
the Soweto revolution. And I remember certain incidents of that
Soweto struggle. When the young people of Soweto were meeting,
many of their elders came and said, "We do not want to rock
the boat; the White man is too strong. Apartheid is too strong.
Apartheid is too powerful. Take it easy." That is what the
older people were telling the youngsters. And one person from
Soweto, a young man who has now left and is now in Europe explained
to me that there was a meeting in which they had to actually throw
out their own parents — their own elders were thrown out
of the meeting for standing in the way.
Now that was a serious development. When the
elders have to be cursed by the younger people in a sense. And
that is the real threat in this country today. That in the next
generation some young people will ask the older people, "Daddy"
or "Mummy", as the case might be, "Where were you
when all that was going down?" And if you don't have an answer
it's no better than a young slave asking an older slave why he
or she never rebelled. (Applause). So we want our young people
to understand that all over the world people are taking political
steps. Out of that same Soweto uprising I saw a girl from that
same Soweto uprising, a young woman fourteen years of age. She
went to fight for Soweto with nothing in her hands except for
a handful of stones to throw against the government with all its
guns and tanks. She had one leg shot off. When she was introduced
by a reporter and she was speaking to him she said, "Yes,
my leg has been shot off. But I went there to fight for dignity
and for rights and for justice when I had two legs. Now I will
go there and I will hop about on one leg and I will continue to
fight," That;s a fourteen year old sister. (Applause).
I believe that all young people too would have
that capacity. I believe that they're now beginning to be re-politicised,
in other words, they're coming back to thinking out things for
themselves because so long we were hiding from thinking. Hiding
because we have certain fears that somebody else might get in
or we might rock the boat and so on. But there is no boat left
to rock. Just a sinking ship.
So we have to recognize today the importance
of the elder persons who know of the 1960's, and those who know
of 1953 too who will realise that we are at a new political awakening.
And the younger persons will participate for the first time in
trying to build a society of their own choice; a society where
they will speak to themselves, because right now look around at
the leadership of the P.N.C. They were not put there by any young
person, they were not even put there by any person. Youngsters
do not know them and they don't know the youngsters.
And they don't care, they insist that they are
secure while our young people, in the very best years of their
lives, when they have much physical and mental energy, are wasted.
We can all allow your youth to build. When did we ever build?
Our youth are under the most severe pressure. They are being kept
in a state of ignorance and darkness. And we have to pay for that
at the present moment of the struggle here in Guyana.
Brothers and sisters, we are coming to the end
of our allotted time and and we are going to close the programme
soon. There are a couple of announcements. But what we are saying
to you, we say totally. The regime considers us a mob when we
come together in big numbers. They call us a mob. We say, come
together to draw strength from the traditions of resistance which
have come down from the tradition of slavery and indentureship
and anti-colonialism to the present time. And there is no force
that has stopped it in any other part of the world. And there
is no reason to imagine that this handful, because they control
the military power, can hold the entire Guyanese people to ransom.
But the change will come, and what it will emphasize is people's
power. That will continually be our emphasis. All power to the
people! (Prolonged applause!)
poster circulated after Dr. Rodney's death depicting Forbes Burnham
and Sgt. Gregory Smith, the soldier alleged to have given Dr.
Rodney the walkie-talkie in which was contained an explosive device.
Some believe that Smith was not the man who killed Dr. Rodney,
but was made the "fall" person. Some have claimed that
a few soldiers who were very young but involved in the plot, is
currently a retired brigadier of the GDF, who is one of the "masterminds"
of the Buxton gangs.