BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF
THE PEOPLE'S PROGRESSIVE PARTY
MR. DONALD RAMOTAR, MP
October 5 marks the 11th anniversary since that historic day when democracy was restored to the people of Guyana after an absence of twenty-eight years. During that period, the country deteriorated from being among the most prosperous in the English speaking Caribbean to the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to the People's National Congress.
The People's Progressive
Party (PPP) wishes to use the occasion of October 5 to remind Guyanese of the
immense sufferings and deprivations inflicted on the people of Guyana by the
former PNC administration. Who could forget the indiscriminate and senseless
banning of essential food items such as wheaten flour, peas, potatoes, milk
and cheese? Who could forget those days when being caught with a loaf of bread
was considered a criminal offence? Still
fresh in the memories of Guyanese were the brutal killings and harassment of political opponents, including the deaths of world-renowned historian Dr. Walter Rodney and Father Darke who was knifed to death for daring to march against PNC atrocities.
These are only some of the atrocities experienced by Guyanese during that dreaded past. The systematic destruction of our physical and social infrastructure, coupled by a steep decline in purchasing power as a consequence of economic mismanagement all conspired to create hell for the vast majority of the Guyanese people.
The PPP is extremely proud
of it record in the struggle for a free and democratic Guyana. The Party wishes
Guyanese to remember that the restoration of democracy did not come about without
a vigorous and sustained struggle in which the PPP played the leading role.
The evidence will reveal that the electoral rigging machinery which served the
PNC so well in the
1968 and subsequent "elections" were well oiled and put in a state of readiness for the October 5, 1992 elections. What the PNC did not reckon with was the resolve of the Guyanese people for an end to tyrannical rule and the strength of international opinion in favour of democratic renewal.
The rigging intent of the PNC was quite evident from the refusal of Desmond Hoyte to agree to the counting of votes at the place of poll, which was described by Hoyte as a "logistical nightmare". It took the combined weight of local and international opinion to, as it were, twist the arm of Desmond Hoyte before he finally succumb to the holding of democratic elections in
October 5, 2003. The Party wishes to acknowledge the role played by the Carter Centre and President Jimmy Carter personally in the restoration of democracy to Guyana.
The victory of the PPP/Civic
alliance at the polls under free and fair election was almost a forgone conclusion
even though the playing field was far from level. On August 29, 1992 when Hoyte
announced at the Square of the Revolution that General elections will be held
on October 5, 1992, a matter of only 35 days away-the shortest possible time
for the official campaign.
This however failed to prevent the PPP/Civic from scoring a decisive victory at the polls, winning some 53.5% of the votes as compared to the PNC's 42.3%.
Under the theme, "Time
to change, Time to rebuild", the PPP/Civic under the dynamic leadership
of Dr. Cheddi Jagan begun the task of national reconstruction and national reconciliation
in a vigorous and energetic manner. Successive PPP/Civic administrations under
the leadership of Presidents Janet Jagan and Bharat Jagdeo have consolidated
and sustained the
growth momentum with the result that Guyanese today are enjoying a much higher quality as compared to that under the PNC. The PPP/Civic has introduced new norms of accountability, transparency and good governance.
The PPP/C administration, in keeping with its philosophy of inclusive and participatory democracy have set up a number of parliamentary committees and commissions, including several rights commissions to address the question of ethnic insecurity.
The Party recognize that much more needs to be done to build bridges of tolerance and understanding among the diverse peoples of Guyana especially in view of calculated attempts by some elements in our midst to sow the seeds of strife and ethnic division. The PPP is convinced that these attempts to divide our people will fail.
The PPP at its last meeting
of the Central Committee reviewed local and international developments and remained
convinced of the correctness of its political line which is aimed at putting
people at the centre of the development process. The achievements of the PPP/Civic
administration in the social sectors; education, health, housing and water to
name but a few are
nothing short of being spectacular and there for all to see.
The PPP wishes to assure the people of Guyana that it will continue to remain steadfast and faithful to the cause of a Guyana in which there is social justice and equity and where there will be opportunities for every Guyanese to develop his or her potential to its maximum.
However, we urge all Guyanese to be vigilant and prepared to repel threats to our democracy by those who wish to take us back to the dark days of dictatorship and oppression.
Meanwhile, a number of public activities have been planned across the country to mark this historic return to democracy and I wish to invite the general public to participate and celebrate in our achievements as a nation.