The Guyana government has accused critics of then Acting Foreign Minister, Priya Manickchand of being “racist” and “sexist.”
Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira said attacks against Manickchand following her public humiliation of former United States (US) Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt about his tenure here was yet another instance of Indian women being targeted.
Teixeira alluded to the Alliance For Change’s (AFC) characterization of Manickchand as “Satira Gal” (a Guyanese folk song) as part of a “racist and sexist” pattern. “It’s really saying basically …that Indian women in this country must know their place. They mustn’t come out of their confines and suddenly be out there speaking,” she said on a programme on the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) television.
The Government Chief Whip noted that women’s movement has not been defending Indian women like Acting Town Clerk, Carol Sooba; the Finance Minister’s wife, Gitanjali Singh and then Supreme Court Registrar, Sita Ramlall. “A lot of women who have been targeted in the media and by opposition parties have been majority Indo-Guyanese women,” said Teixeira.
The governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which draws the bulk of its support from among East Indians, lost its parliamentary majority by one seat at the 2011 general and regional elections partly due to apathy and less than satisfactory mobilization and dissatisfaction with the governance system.
The Private Sector Commission and former PPP Executive Member, Ralph Ramkarran have recently said that government should have resorted to diplomatic channels to air its grievances about the posture of then American envoy.
But Manickchand said the speech that she delivered at last week’s US Independence Day reception followed after several discussions with the then Ambassador about his “rogue behavior.” “We did speak behind closed doors,” she said.
The then Acting Foreign Minister accused Hardt of breaching all the norms and conventions by launching an attack and laughing at Executive President and mocking the PPP’s General Secretary. Government also objected to Hardt saying that the President had engaged in unconstitutional and illegal acts.
Hardt had highlighted inconsistencies in Ramotar refusing to assent one of the Local Government Bills because it was unconstitutional but has declined to call local government elections which is provided for in the constitution. By law, the poll should be held every three years but has not been since 1994.
The government also interpreted one of Hardt’s utterances as an incitement of violence when he drew on an example of how Americans fought against British colonialists. “We believe he went wrong when he practically called for an insurrection in this country,” he said.
Despite mounting criticisms, the Guyana government remained unapologetic and said its “feral blast” against the diplomat was justified.