“This pressure must continue until this government fall.”
   —Desmond Hoyte, Leader of PNC/R  
(after losing 3 times in free & fair elections)
by Rakesh Rampertab

THIS is the cry of the main opposition party, the PNC/R, made official in the deliberate and brazen public message at a recently held rally; their aim is to “expose,” “oppose,” and “depose” the democratically elected standing government. After leading its supporters in a march pass government officials’ residences, such as the prime minister, before whose home they shouted, “Sammy we gon burn you down,” the PNC/R held this rally (ironically) on the 22nd assassination anniversary of Dr. Walter Rodney (June 13) at the Square of the Revolution. Here, they made it clear that their intention is to remove, as opposed to replace, the PPP/C government. Is it possible and what measures can lead up to this happening?

To begin, it seems fitting to return to 1992 when Dr. Jagan’s PPP/C returned to office and since, failed to implement a few critical measures to safeguard its position in office. One of these measures is to create a serious crime-stopping program including community policing. One decade later, the crime situation has spiraled outwards like an octopus, its tentacles reaching into some native villages for civilian support, as well as into the obscure corners of the PNC/R. This is the catalyst that is being used, be it directly or not, by the main opposition to make Guyana “ungovernable.”

Criminal Disobedience and Sedition

Republic Freedom: On February 23, a well-organized plot which could not have succeeded in the escape of five professional criminals, without the inside involvement of officials in the prison and police services, consolidated with “radical” members of the PNC/R, began a series of criminal events that resulted in more insecurity generated by the 1997 and 2001 anti-government demonstrations together. This plot and the subsequent destabilizing of the country’s Coastal Plain, is reminiscent of Plan X13, or Burnham’s insurrectionary plan to overthrow the PPP regime in the 60s.

Following this was the circulation of a series of seditious and inflammatory pamphlets amongst PNC supporters, and well as the police and army. The first referred to the five escapees as “freedom fighters”; the others called for non-cooperation with the “Indian” regime, consolidating Hoyte’s “kith and kin” statement, which in effect holds Guyana at ransom because of the continued racial imbalance in these organs. Police members are warned that those working in lieu with this regime to suppress Blacks would be targeted, as would their families and government ministers. Since the jailbreak, five police members have been interred. And, as if to sent a message on political retribution, the wife (Quan) of a former PNC MP, who switched allegiance to the PPP/C, was murdered.

Boycotting of Parliament and Constitutional Crisis

Meanwhile, the PNC/R increased its criticism of the government, spearheaded by its claim that state terrorism is being used by the PPP, via the “Black Clothes” unit, to kill Black criminals. Moreover, it upped the ante by two critical moves; it stopped the Jagdeo-Hoyte Dialogue, which may result in a constitutional crisis and, secondly, it boycotted parliament. As a prelude to serious anti-government demonstrations to come, it organized bauxite workers in a sit-in before parliament, blocking PPP/C traffic.

Strikes and Propaganda

Speaking about strikes, our premier public union, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), a staunch supporter of the PNC/R, is making preparations for a massive strike, once a pending court order is settled. In the press, local TV stations loyal to the PNC/R continue to produce programs that pummel at the ruling regime. While letters from as many as four PNC leaders have made the PNC/R presence a solid fixture in the Letters column of Stabroek News, the PNC/R’s web site itself has been revamped, including a page on PPP terrorism (interestingly, this page lists names of people whose deaths are not considered, by and large, as PPP-political killings. One such person’s name Mr. Gavin Sobers.) Notably, there is the careful mention for its “younger” supporters to know, and for the older generation not to “forget,” all in an effort to create a sense of awareness of the past, and a sense of readiness for what is to come. The stage is being set.

Racial Animosity and Political Violence

In fact, the stage to seize power was being orchestrated since 1992. Instead of assuming the traditional role of an “opposition” party, the PNC/R began its own resistance through vigorously sowing discontent among its supporters by denying the validity of consecutive electoral results. While racial animosity survived through their perception of every Black as being “marginalized” by the PPP/C-Indian community, their protest attitude became characterized by volatile phrases such as “slow fire and mo fire” or  “negotiating from a position of strength.” Altogether, a climate prone to political violence has been cultured, as is evident in marches that often become events in which Indians are targeted.

This August, the PNC/R will hold its annual Congress meeting and a new leader will be elected. Whoever is chosen, he shall not be as conservative as the outgoing Hoyte. What is happening currently is, arguably, only a prelude of worse times soon to come. Will something drastic occur before August, or will the thunder from Congress Place come thereafter? Will it involve the army and the police?

Allegiance of the Security Forces

Constitutional convention demands that both army and police support the day’s standing regime, but this is no guarantee. It is almost certain that the army will not confront the very Black community from which it members belong. Open coup may not occur, but open allegiance to the PNC/R during crunch time, is not impossible. As expected, the police will be pitted between anti-government demonstrators and the government, during demonstrations certainly to include heavily armed criminals who will now shoot at the police. This may force many police members to stand down or refuse to serve. This is the powder keg that can trigger Guyana into an emergency state.

State of Emergency

If the PNC/R is true to its words of having no intentions to take office via a “force of arms,” then the army and police will most likely offer the government lackluster support. This means that the PNC/R must depend of political violence to “pressure” the regime. One may expect a severe rise in criminal activities, racial attacks on Indians, and burning and looting. The city will become off limits to anyone but PNC/R supporters; the economy and the government will be at a standstill, and traffic between the counties, as well as from outside the nation, will be drastically reduced.

Considering that the PPP/C will bring out its supporters to counter-demonstrate in defense of their 52% electoral mandate (this does not mean outright racial conflict since this would mean massacres for the Indian community, which has neither the mental attitude, nor physical resource, nor leadership, to engage in such a disaster), and garnish assistance from the international community, primarily the Organization of American States (OAS), this is all the resistance that can be mustered against the PNC/R’s onslaught.

Still, if these do not help, it is quite possible that, as a last resort, the PPP/C may offer a parity of government (equal power sharing), but it is difficult to vision the PNC/R, after all its efforts to topple the government, accepting mere shared governance. Despite the logic that goes against it seizing office illegally, the PNC/R under a new head might attempt to rule outright (after all, they must have considered outside pressure etc. to such illegal rule of government); to have power fully at their disposal is their sole aim, stated publicly. This means that all methods conceivable of pressuring the current regime to topple (“fall” as used by Mr. Hoyte), besides a possible direct overthrow via the use of the army/police or a staged paramilitary coup, will be used. However, if the PNC/R does settle for a parity of government, it is certain that the PNC/R will demand tremendous power. Perhaps, in the end, this will be the very avenue through which it will seize complete control of the government and rule of Guyana.

Those who believe in democracy, and stay silent NOW, must know they remain as guilty as the PNC/R. The return to power of the PNC/R in this manner, will repeat a dictatorship worse than before.

June 25, 2002[Reprinted from
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