MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF
THE PEOPLE'S PROGRESSIVE PARTY
MR. DONALD RAMOTAR, MP
PPP/C Government's 11th Anniversary
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.
Balancing of the security forces
Since 1992, the government
of the People's Progressive Party/Civic has been responsible for managing this
country in the interest of all Guyanese. The PPP was in the vanguard of the
struggle for the restoration of democracy in Guyana, a struggle which was waged
of all Guyanese without exception. We have always indicated that we believe that people of all races and religions should be allowed to coexist harmoniously in this dear land of ours. We will continue to defend the gains of the more than fifty years struggles of our party.
The freedoms that Guyanese
felt under successive PPP/C administrations have led to the blossoming of a
number of cultural organizations, inclusive of those advocating for both of
the major ethnic groups in Guyana, a right which we respect and encourage. However,
the PPP will never surrender to the naked demands to promote division in our
country and to spread hatred
and strife amongst our people. Our responsibility extends to the nation as a whole and for all the people of this country who have benefited immensely since we retook office in 1992.
It is in this regard that we are deeply troubled by the misrepresentations being pedalled by ROAR-sponsored GIHA which while we feel has a right to express its opinion that affect the Indian community, should refrain from the sort of invectives and slander solely for the sake of deriving political attention.
Recently, that body has accused the PPP of historically failing to address the issue of the ethnic balancing of the disciplined forces and specifically of waging a negative campaign against Indians joining the disciplined forces.
GIHA is misguided in its assessment. It was not the PPP that was responsible for the ethnic imbalance in the protective forces. In our submission to the Disciplined Services Commission, we noted that this imbalance in our security forces reflected the designs of the colonial masters.
The PNC in turn used the security forces to maintain themselves in office through fraud and deceit. They politicised the disciplined forces and forced them to swear allegiance to their party while maintaining ethnically insensitive conditions within the disciplined forces.
It is not true, as ROAR-sponsored GIHA is contending, to say that the PPP has not done anything to correct the ethnic imbalance of the Guyana Police Force. As our submission to the Disciplined Services Commission would record, during the PPP led limited and internal self- government administrations on 1957 -1964, the PPP made attempts to correct the imbalance in the Guyana Police Force. One example is that the Special Services Unit (SSU), which was established under the PPP administration had a much better ethnic composition than the colonial police force burdened with the traditions of its colonial origin. That period represented the only time, before 1992 when deliberate efforts were made to create an ethnically balanced Police Force.
In an article in last Sunday's edition of the Mirror, Mrs. Janet Jagan who was once our Home Affairs Minister revealed how discriminatory were the recruitment methods in the Guyana Police Force at the time and the steps that she personally took to remove this practice. It was because of her intervention that many of the barriers, which were put to entry into the force, were removed.
The record will also show
that since the PPP assumed office, there has been an improved balance in the
Guyana Police Force. Today there is far more balance in the Guyana Police Force
than what existed prior to 1992, even though it falls far short of the ideal.
Far from what the ROAR-sponsored GIHA is saying, the PPP in its representations
before the commission called
for the correction of the ethnic imbalances in the disciplined forces. We remain unflinching to this task, which cannot be reversed overnight.
We remain committed to promoting policies that would benefit all Guyanese and we cannot abdicate our responsibility to ensure that the interests of all Guyanese are addressed.
The PPP has a history of building our support based on our struggle for the rights of all our citizens; we do not need to prey on the fears of citizens in order to bolster our support base. We shall continue to work for a Guyana where all religions races or classes can coexist in an environment of tolerance and respect.
Congrats to UG on 40th anniversary
The People's Progressive Party salutes the University of Guyana as it celebrates its forty years of existence and service to the nation of Guyana. Conceived by our Party while in Government in 1963 the University of Guyana stands as a testimony to the foresight of our late General Secretary and former Premier and President of Guyana, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
Dr. Jagan pioneered the establishment of the University of Guyana, which was declared open on October 1, 1963. He recognized the importance of our students obtaining higher education and the necessity for this training to be provided at home rather than students having to go abroad at great personal expense.
With the return of the PPP government to office in 1992, the degradation that had steeped in during the ensuing years was reversed with investments in physical stock of the university. Many buildings were repaired, renovated and spanking new ones built. In addition, corporate assistance was sought by the university administration in constructing dormitories and other facilities.
The university has also
extended its reach to other parts of the country. In the year 2000, a new campus
was declared open at Tain, Corentyne to cater for the needs of students from
that part of our country. In due course, it is hoped that tertiary education
will be delivered to other regions of
Guyana. The University of Guyana is gearing itself to keep up with the changing demands of education in a rapidly changing global environment. This requires great adaptability and our party is confident that with sound management and prudent use of the financial resources coupled with innovate ideas the University of Guyana can sustain itself well into the future.
We take this opportunity to congratulate the entire academic community and hope that the fortieth anniversary celebrations will serve as a reminder that what started out as a people-centered idea has blossomed into a people-serving institution.
October 2, 2003