The Raphael Trotman AFC Page
by Raphael Trotman/AFC

Raphael Trotman


Strangers to the Truth

Last year at the PPP's Congress held in Essequibo , the General Secretary of that party described the leadership of the AFC as “wishy-washy rejects” who would burn out in a few weeks.

Well, eight months after formation we are still here and growing stronger, taller, faster and bigger by the day. To date we have opened 10 offices and the trends are that we will continue to grow from strength to strength, despite all of the attacks and negativity directed towards us.

When I read Robert Persaud, MBA, suggesting that we should be investigated by the Ethnic Relations Commission for spreading race politics in Guyana , I was beside myself with laughter, and quickly had to be reminded that the more serious side of politics compelled him to say something in the face of serious challenge. The AFC has come to be recognised as a serious threat, not only to the PNC and PPP as such, but to the establishment that has flourished by the backwardness for decades.

It is not only politicians who benefit from this madness and instability, but big business, state corporation executives and drug barons. Dismantling the establishment founded on race, reward and revenge will not be easy. It has to start with an acknowledgement that indeed race politics has caused Guyana to go backwards for the last forty years, followed by a healing and a closure of the past. To pretend that the reign of the PNC was excellent and could have been perfect, were it not for the PPP, is disingenuous; and so too, for the PPP to champion and proclaim its own achievements and forget the past good accomplished by the PNC is to be stupid and shortsighted.

So it was that when the second blow of the two-punch combination attack came from the PNCR Chairman, and described the AFC as a “Johnny Come Lately Party” and me, in particular, as a “stranger to the truth” and a hypocrite, I knew that we had arrived and were now being seen as a serious contender. This was a signal that the battle had been joined. In the immortal words of Lord Han in the Bruce Lee classic, ‘Enter the Dragon', I say: “Gentlemen, let the tournament begin.” This is the reality of politics and it is apparently going to be a bruising campaign.

As a young Guyanese growing up in the 1970's and 1980's I witnessed first hand the declining state of affairs of our country. Perhaps too young to understand why, but not too young to see the declining standards that we were suffering, relative to our Caribbean sisters and brothers.

This was the Guyana I knew. I admired Mr. Burnham's speeches and sophistication and Dr. Jagan's tenacity and political longevity, whilst anxiously awaiting the next instalment of the Dayclean faithfully delivered by Nigel Westmaas. I was fortunate in a sense to know all worlds, and had awakened to the understanding and acceptance that race politics had not only begun to halt our national development, but was anchoring us into the mud.

For me to say therefore that the practice of politics has taken us backwards rather than forwards is the truth. We may have had hundreds of miles of paved roads, hundreds of scholarships, hundreds of new schools built, but no one cares to mention the damage done to the soul and body of Guyana. Who could deny that there were infrastructural and other accomplishments under successive PPP and PNC administrations over the past forty years? One such achievement which moulded me as a young man was my stint as a pioneer in the National Service. A brilliant idea which until today remains misunderstood, vilified and, in many respects, badly implemented. However, the net result of the achievements relative to the destruction we witnessed is negative or backward movement.

I challenge every citizen and every leader, whether political or civic, to ask and answer the questions: Do I feel better off as a citizen today? Have I accomplished the growth and development I dreamed I would have? Are my children and the people of Guyana any better off today than they were in May of 1966? Was I, or my associates and predecessors, in any way responsible for this failure? Well, let me set out some other truths that we cannot escape today and, moreover, couldn't have just appeared a few years ago.

We remain the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and have been for decades. (

1. We have the highest rate in the world of migration of skilled labour to the developed countries (source:

2. We have removed hope from young people, and 85% of them would leave the country permanently if given the chance to do so. (source: ROC Express Yourself Survey).

3. We have an incidence of HIV/AIDS and the suffering it brings, second only to Haiti in this hemisphere. (source:

4. We are the most economically, socially, and politically unstable Caribbean country after Haiti . (source: “The Wars of the West Indies-A Comparative Study of State Failure in Guyana , Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica ”).

Mr. Desmond Hoyte constantly reminded me that “there are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.” The statistics on Guyana tell the true story. He once remarked to me that being in opposition, after serving as President, allowed him to see firsthand, and for the first time, the true state of suffering of the people and it was his desire to give them the life they deserved. He died trying to do so and thankfully had acknowledged the truth. Undoubtedly, we have each made tremendous achievements, and each of us, as leaders and as citizens, has been responsible for erasing those achievements. This was vividly brought home to me recently in the simple language of a Guyanese resident abroad. He said: “They took a jewel and smashed it.” The AFC leadership, recognising this, published its statement on healing and reconciliation in February, 2006, and some of its words are worth repeating:

“We strongly feel that for Guyana to emerge from the darkness and despair after forty years of wasted political independence, we must first acknowledge that we have all contributed, in some way or the other, to the present situation that exists in the country, either by our actions or by our failure to act, either by our words, or by our failure to speak out.”

I will not set about making enemies, but accept that enemies will be made for me. Those who are offended by the statement that for the past forty years Guyana has been going backwards, should ask the approx. 700,000 Guyanese living in the US, Canada, England, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname, Antigua, St. Vincent, Dominica, St. Kitts, Finland, Italy and perhaps even Timbuktu, how they weep at the mention of Guyana and why they ran and left. Visit the alleyways in Linden and Albouystown, the red brick roads of Berbice and the people will tell you the truth about their backward development. Walk the streets or the savannahs to see firsthand the depravation, starvation and frustration our people experience. If afterwards you still can't accept the reality, then we are all hypocrites alike. The words of Imam Baksh, the young winner of our Independence Essay competition, should sum it up for us all:

“It might seem strange that this essay about the Guyana of tomorrow has focused on the seemingly minor and technical issue of our current voting system. Yet that system enables our problems to steer us into folly and nothing positive will happen until we discard it. Guyanese love Guyana and they love each other. If they can be released from a system which forces them to consider their fears and insecurities, rather than their goals and desires, then all those old clichés will shine with the light of reality. We will have racial harmony. We will be one people, one nation, one destiny.” (KN 070906)

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