the dead, speak no evil. Speak of what has been done for
the improvement of their lot. This is the ultimate service any public
servant can render to human society. A few months ago, as the PNC
approached its Congress, I wrote an editorial stating, "Hoyte
is still valid." Then shortly thereafter, as it became
increasingly obvious that PNC leaders like Bernard and Alexander
were justifying anti-Indian violence, I wrote what I felt, that
Mr. Desmond Hoyte, was the most relevant person in relations to
the future of East Indians in Guyana. Of course, this translates
into the future of Guyana itself. At the point of writing the aforementioned,
I supposed that Mr. Hoyte was the man that East Indians had to keep
There are a number of reasons for this, two of which were that he
was the restraining factor in the PNC camp, from where voices have
been inviting anti-Indian violence or plain violence. Second, he
was old-fashioned and this meant a connection with a more disciplinary
school of public servants from the 50s. While he knew (but never
accepted publicly) that PNC anti-government demonstrations often
led to violence and mayhem, often orchestrated against Indians,
Hoyte did not approve of or promoted either violence or anti-Indian
hatred. The future is now a word imbued with terror and dread.
No one can truly doubt that as a leader, Hoyte made necessary, serious
changes that broke with traditions. It was no easy task to break
with the PNC's hold on Guyanese society that Burnham had encouraged,
nor was it easy to expel Hamilton Green, the ill-reputed PNC strongman
and true inheritor of the helm, until Hoyte came alone. In fact,
while Burnham has to be given credit for allowing Hoyte such credibility
in the party, Hoyte had to be loyal to long serving PNC folks like
Robert Corbin, in the bitter fight against Green. One may speculate
that Corbin helped Hoyte get rid of Green so as to clear the way
for his own (Corbin's) role as leader once Hoyte passes on.
After the elections
loss in 1992 in the first transparent elections under the PNC regime,
Hoyte could have allowed for violence to sweep the city streets
as we have seen after the follow up elections in 1997 and 2001.
But he did not. He could have asked for power sharing since 1997,
but he did not. Hoyte played the "opposition role," possibly
hoping that constitutional reforms would enable the PNC and the
African population to inherit a stronger political voice in Guyana.
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Of course, by 2001, after three elections losses and a consistent
decline in the attitude of PPP rule, it was clear that elections
done by ethnicity would never bring the PNC any victory at the polls.
This was especially obvious with the racial tensions that were being
escalated. By August 2001, he officially approved of an adjusted
system of governance, saying that "whether we call it 'power-sharing,'
'shared governance,' 'inclusive governance' or any other name-appears
to be an idea whose time has come." When asked a few years
ago about power sharing, as man who believed in the traditional
form of democratic rule, with a strong opposition, he said that
he did not know what it meant.
Mr. Hoyte has set the stage for the PNC, which is a deeply fractured
unit that is now leaning increasingly towards the support or advocacy
of a violent campaign to force the government to come to its terms.
The tone of the New Year will be set by the combination of a call
for shared power, supported, even unofficially, by the violent and
criminally aligned Black militancy program and violent anti-government
demonstrations. Ironically, this is not the true legacy of Hoyte-but
perhaps this combination best exemplifies what the PNC has come
to represent over the decades-part demand to rule, part use of political
After 17 years as boss of the PNC, it appears that the PNC has not
been changed at all by Hoyte at the fundamental levels. Tomorrow,
after the mourning is over, shall come the terror and dread of the