Last Updated on Thursday, 31 August 2023, 14:23 by Denis Chabrol
by Roysdale Forde S.C, M.P
Hereunder is a response to Professor Emeritus Randy Persaud who opined “APNU’s Roysdale Forde A. Forde owes President Ali an apology,” as published in Demerara Waves on 30th August 2023.
A government that picks fights with the citizens, is devoid of vision and bankrupt of ideas to unite the races and move the country forward, consistent with the aspiration of “One People One Nation One Destiny,” is not governing in the interest of all the people.
In the 21st century where the descendants of enslavers are seeking ways to atone for the brutality committed by their forebears, President Ifraan Ali, whose ancestors came to Guyana as indentured servants, is making no effort to emulate progressive descendants of the enslavers, but rather mimics the management style and behaviours of bygone centuries.
I am well aware the president has instructed his advisor, Professor Emeritus Persaud, to cloud legitimate concerns expressed by me (Village Voice News, 28th August 2023), by requiring an apology for placing the facts before the citizens. There will be no such apology.
It is unfortunate the goodly professor either didn’t advise or could not have advised the president, his academic title requires a response that brings scholarship to the discussion, and a failure to do so opens him to ridicule from his peers and persons of conscience. I also wonder if the president’s intent was to embarrass the professor, given his low value for others that work around him and put their lives on the line for him. The most recent reminder is the ‘manhandling’ of his bodyguard at the 2023 International Building Expo.
Contrary to Dr. Persaud’s claim, I couldn’t have held the Government of Guyana responsible for the atrocities of slavery, and excluded other Caribbean countries, because no post-colonial Caribbean government had anything to do with slavery. What I did, justifiably so, is held and will continue to hold President Ali to account for the atrocities of his three-year-old administration.
To wit, both Dr. Persaud and President Ali are reminded if the latter so cares and is concerned about the apology made by the Gladstone family for their ancestor’s role in slavery, and reparative justice as demanded by the descendants of an enslaved people, he must demonstrate this by treating Guyanese better; paying real wages to the workers of Guyana; adequately compensate Guyanese for flooding their lands and destroying their homesteads in Success, ECD, Caneview/Mocha, EBD, Vreed-en-Hoop, WBD; and correct the numerous economic, political and social injustices that have come to characterise his leadership.
Whilst time would not permit full documentation of these, it would be remiss of me, as an officer of the court and a representative of the people in the National Assembly, not to remind President Ali that extrajudicial killing has returned under his presidency. This is a break from the APNU+AFC government that communicated zero tolerance for law enforcers taking the law into their hands and denying persons the right to judicial recourse. One rather suspects the president is not being provided proper counsel or is not receptive to such counsel.
Another reminder is the 2023 National Budget, along with the supplemental, which keeps the majority of Guyanese in a poverty trap, and ignores credible data (World Bank, IMF, etc) and proposals by the APNU+AFC and civic organisations to target poverty with the aim of elevating the quality of life for all Guyanese.
In 2023, the evidence holds that in one of the world’s fastest growing economies poverty is expanding. This year the GDP is projected to grow by 37 % and revenue from oil US$1.63 Billion. But the more than 42 % increase in spending in the Budget is not designed to address the 48 % of Guyanese who live on less than $1200 per day; the 49 % of Guyanese who are poor; teachers and public servants finding it increasingly difficult to afford three square meals and keep a roof over their heads. Inflation has outstripped the increase in pension and salary and for the unemployed youth the situation is just as dire.
The poverty rate in Guyana, based on 2022 Survey Data, reflects 32% among Indigenous-Guyanese, 20 % Afro-Guyanese and 15 % Indo-Guyanese (Assistant Professor Dr. Collin Constantine). Some believe the numbers would be higher if the working poor is included. Guyana’s oil wealth has left the poor and vulnerable, including supporters of the PPP, in a worse state
The only recognition the President’s statement on the Gladstone family deserves is to advise him of his own culpability and mimicry of a brutish system, long condemned and should remain where it belongs, in the past.
Dr. Persaud’s reference to the West, USA and Uganda, whilst noted, is of no evidential consequence to Guyana and President Ali, hence will be ignored.
The goodly professor emeritus is advised that reparations, as being pursued by CARICOM, deal with unpaid wages for forced labour (slavery) and the affected group or population happens to be Africans. It is not a pejorative “racialise issue” as Dr. Persaud is hoping to reduce a serious issue to, but one of material fact.
President Ali does not believe all Guyanese, all races, are important and valued members of our community and, as advised by Mr. Forbes Burnham, it is a government’s duty and privilege to guard, protect and further the real interests of all. The president continues to parade the ‘one Guyana’ banality to sow seeds of disharmony, physically and verbally abuse citizens, acting akin to a demi-god and requiring persons seek forgiveness before he complies with the ideals and principles of equity, equality and non-discrimination as outlined in the constitution.
Herein lies the core of my concern with President Ali, that in 21st century independent Guyana, he, in many ways, is not different from the colonial masters and enslavers.