Former President Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday said the records show that Afro-Guyanese have achieved more during the PPP’s 23-year rule, even as he maintained that the David Granger-led administration has been discriminating against Indo-Guyanese.
“In terms of business ownership, in the tenure of the PPP at no time in our history have there been so many Black-owned businesses for every type of service,” he said. They range from security, computer, hairdressing, taxi service and construction. “I am prepared to put our record on the line comparatively…our record will speak for itself,” he said.
Jagdeo recalled that the predominantly Afro-Guyanese public sector that had been eventually pauperized due to the devaluation of the Guyana dollar in the 1980s that had resulted in a decline in the minimum wage to US$25.00.
Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese and Amerindians, he said, have made “tremendous progress under the PPP. “I am proud of that record and I am prepared to put that record on the line, not the gaff of some of these fringe elements but real, hardcore, fact-based assessments that you will see the progress,” he said.
He added that under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration, the predominantly Afro-Guyanese town of Linden got a brand new hospital, two new secondary schools, new housing schemes at Amelia’s Ward and Block 22, a new potable water supply system and subsidized electricity, Other achievements by Afro-Guyanese, he listed, were access to land, public service jobs and home ownership. “I am proud of our record how we have moved this country forward and a lot of our people, in fact all of our people made progress,” he said.
The former Guyanese leader highlighted the removal of street lights from Bath Settlement since the APNU+AFC took office as an example of racial discrimination against Indo-Guyanese, while spending GYD$100 million in installing street lights in Linden and Sophia.
Now Opposition Leader, Jagdeo reasoned that since the current APNU+AFC elected officials had criticized the then People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) of racial discrimination against Afro-Guyanese then those office holders could also be classified as racists. He observed that only when Indian rights are being defended that people like himself are deemed racists while Afro-Guyanese speak out against discrimination they are labeled “freedom fighters.” “If that’s the standard, then this government is made up of a bunch of racists,” said Jagdeo.
He noted that APNU+AFC political appointees such as Professor Clive Thomas, Professor David Hinds, Desmond Trotman, Tacuma Ogunseye, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and President David Granger have all claimed that Afro-Guyanese were being discriminated against. “The President has to be racist too for saying some of the things that he has done in the past and he continues to say so I will not stop representing people,” said Jagdeo.
Jagdeo maintained that his criticisms of the Guyana government about discrimination against Indo-Guyanese and other PPP supporters in remarks to a social gathering in Queens, New York was nothing new. He said the PPP remained in office for 23 years because “we have been even handed” to all of Guyana’s race groups. “No government can be as partisan as this government and last in the long term” he said. “It’s true and I repeat it here again. It discriminates against Afro-Guyanese,” he said, adding that Afro-Guyanese and Amerindians, who support the PPP, are also “facing the brunt of assault from government.”
The Opposition Leader has already stated that the PPP’s mission is to consolidate its Indo-Guyanese support base and reach out to non-traditional supporters.