OPINION: Electoral reform starts here, must be driven by us -get CARICOM

Last Updated on Friday, 14 May 2021, 8:13 by Denis Chabrol

by GHK Lall

I refer to the article titled, “GHRA says call off IRI electoral reform project, bring in CARICOM instead” (Demerara Waves May 13  I fully agree, and here is why.

First, Guyanese electoral reform will not occur without political compromise, as the GHRA noted.  Notwithstanding that, I still believe that both major political groups will search diligently for ways to insert and deploy “ethnic manipulation” in whatever reforms/processes are finalized.  Ethnic manipulation stands as the passport to power, the keys to Guyana’s political kingdom; it is an irresistible addiction, and I am sure that, even with the most robust reforms, there will be gaming the system, playing upon words, and making skilled mockeries of what is memorialized.  So I agree on the need for substantial compromise.

Second, this society does not, should not, have any use for a Republican-centric entity that provides oversight, leadership, and guidance on what electoral reform should be in this nation of diverse peoples.  For the most part, Republican politicians have shown that they are just as rancidly partisan as us here, if not even more sharply so.  To this day, Republican leadership, at most levels, and with few exceptions, still live with the loss of the White House since last November (make that January 2021), and harbor pretenses of cheating and other such intellectual divisiveness and mental perversities.  They support spiritually the former president’s claims and narratives that he (and they) were robbed.  These are not the kind of men that we should want here and welcome here to help us with much-needed electoral reforms; they would only sow more trouble, since they have proven that is all that they know.  They are also, like Guyanese partisans, all about cult leadership, and the party first, and whatever the cost that must be paid in loss of credibility and standing, it will be paid.  How can these people assist us with genuine electoral reform, when they lack the basic honesty and decency to fix themselves first?  Their help here, and presence here, would be the equivalent of pouring fuel upon fire.  It would be waving a red flag in front of an enraged bull.  This is how I see them, and to emphasize this position of mine, I place a few facts from late 20th and early 21st century history.  More specifically, it is of American history, and Republican realpolitik in action.

At the risk of a quick diversion, but as parallel and precedent, I remind Guyanese of something that is possibly unfamiliar to them.  When the Americans, through the swashbuckling Reagan-Bush eras, extended a helping hand in the Caspian Sea region, an entity named the U.S. Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce came into being.  Its so-called Council of Advisers were known heavyweights from the time of those two presidencies.  There was James Baker III, Henry Kissinger, John Sununu, and Brent Scowcroft, among others.  I make no comparison to the equivalent we have today called Am-Cham Guyana, but I do point to the Republican powerhouses infesting the IRI that offer assistance here with electoral reform.  I present names, such as Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio.  They are exemplars of clean electioneering; or of taking principled political and personal stances in the crunch.

Why should any Guyanese trust men like these to be near, or somehow involved with, electoral reform in this country?  I wouldn’t.  we can’t be stopping and starting something so important; or going off half-cocked, and on the wrong foot.  To take this deeper, there are big billion-dollar business opportunities in Guyana, so it is imperative for some semblance of American style and U.S. backed electoral reform to be bandied about to meet Guyana’s urgent needs, if only to settle it down to some state of social tranquility.  After all, political stability is good for business profits.  And to shift geographically, I share with my fellow Guyanese that Bechtel, Haliburton, and ExxonMobil were all present and prowling for profits, both in Azerbaijan and war shattered, sectarian wounded, Iraq.  For industrious Guyanese minds, I say look at the luminous corporate presences that lead the way here today.  They come now to Guyana, to lift these poor helpless natives out of the mud in which they are mired, in the 21st century rendition of Kipling’s ‘white man’ burden.’  But they put the gloss on t, through this mechanism (I call it a Trojan Horse) labeled IRI-led electoral reform.  As camouflages go, that is as good as any.

Now I may make some uncomfortable, but I have no option, but to be direct.  We have had enough (I have) of the white man’s benevolent hand; look carefully, and determine where that has led us and left us.  Get the people of and the minds from CARICOM.  They showed last year during the sharp and heaving elections of 2020 that they can be counted on to make an honest call and take a reasoned stand, even when there was the great likelihood that their work and conclusion would be denounced endlessly.  It was, still is, by almost half of Guyana.

For all of the above reasons, my position is simple: Let’s fix this ourselves.  Let’s engage and put black minds and brown ones, and all the others, to work.  Let us challenge ourselves to dig deep, and then some more, to contribute to our own destiny, and carve out one is all our own.  Enough of this outside stuff involving outside people.  That is, other than for CARICOM, only them.