It is not the duty of the AFC to give Freedom

Last Updated on Monday, 2 May 2016, 6:13 by Denis Chabrol

by David Hinds

I have read a press release from the AFC which took me to task for what it called “regular attacks” on the party. I have to assume that I must have offended the party. Let me first of all commend the AFC for inferring that all is not well with the party and government—that there are things to be corrected and that the party“ought to do more at the grassroots to build itself into a mass-based party, and that it suffers from both financial and organizational weaknesses.  But our resolve to help take this Coalition forward is undiminished.” There is a hint of humility there. And that is a quality in short supply among politicians, especially those in power.

But true to form, the political party gives a little with one hand and takes it back with the other one.  In slamming me the AFC repeats my very criticism. It is unfortunate that the AFC reads the criticisms as “regular attacks” on the party.  Why political parties are so obsessed with seeing attacks in every little nook and cranny? There is no such intent on my part. I voted for the Coalition Government of which the AFC is a part. My criticisms are part “Self-criticism” and part democratic critique of the political order. I come from a tradition that asks questions of power—always. That’s how you get freedom and preserve it.

I observe politics in Guyana and around the world and see what the absence of self-criticism eventually does to those in power. In that sense my criticisms may be doing the AFC a good turn. Just imagine what a difference it would have made if some who now sit in the halls of power had spoken out earlier and louder against the Jagdeo-PPP excesses. We have to learn to question power more, even when we support the party or parties in office.

The AFC’s statement asks me to be grateful for the “new freedom which our Coalition Government has afforded and guaranteed” me.  As the young people would exclaim—Wow! Therein lies the origins of “political gods.  ”That statement alone justifies my criticism that the AFC has moved away from their founding principles. There is more than a hint of political intoxication there—for Guyana’s sake the AFC needs to get sober quickly.

Let me assure the AFC that it does not afford or guarantee me or any Guyanese freedom of speech or other liberties.  Insofar as we have freedoms in Guyana, it is because our people have for centuries fought and struggled against those who arrogated unto themselves the power to determinewho should be free. He who thinks he gives freedom will logically think he can take away freedom.

The AFC should be careful. It’s not its duty to “afford and guarantee”freedom; that is done by the constitution. The duty of the parties in and out of government is to protect the liberties of the people from being trampled by the powerful and the mighty, including themselves.

But for the record, if the AFC thinks it has given me freedom, I hereby tell the AFC—“Teck back yuh Freedom.” My freedom as an individual is guaranteed and afforded by those ordinary people in the towns and villages who on May 15 2015 and before turned their agony and pain into the stuff of freedom that released Guyana from modern-day bondage. That is the freedom I align myself with—the freedom that arises out of collective struggle.

Brother Bob Marley best answers the AFC for me on this score.  “Every-time I hear the crack of the whip/My Blood runs Cold/I remember on the Slave Ship/ How they Brutalize our very soul/ Today they say we are free/Only to be chained in Poverty/Good God I think its illiteracy.

It is obvious that the AFC is not liking criticism even though it admits that there are still “some issues in the Coalition that must be addressed.” They don’t like “self -proclaimed critics”; they apparently prefer the ones they proclaim to be critics. If you cannot handle criticisms from friends, then what will you do when the criticisms come from those who are unfriendly to you. If the AFC must be honest, it should say that my criticisms of the party is shared by many in their followership, supporters and some in its leadership.

Insofar as the AFC is a part of this government, they will hear my critical voice even if they remove their gift of “freedom” from me. Our people have invested too much in the government and I am determined that they, the government, will not go the way of previous ones which betrayed the people’s trust. So cool it, Mr. AFC, I am just trying to do my small bit to keep you honest and from drifting into the Jagdeo-Ramotar tradition.  And I do it with extreme love. Let me repeat—my critique of this government is aimed at protecting it from self-implosion.

And just in case the faction of the AFC leadership that is associated with this release has now arrived into Planet Guyana from outer space, David Hinds and “others like him” have been doing what they are now doing for a long time now. Did you join them in the picket lines, on the streets facing the guns of unfreedom and in the jail cells of the oppressor? We did all of that so that you can now sit on the throne. If you know not from whence your power emerge, you will mess it up just as others before you have done. So that is why I have to have the AFC’s back.