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OPINION: The Guyana Story in numbers; revealingly ugly poll numbers

Last Updated on Friday, 15 April 2022, 20:33 by Denis Chabrol

by GHK Lall

Three articles from Demerara Waves on Good Friday confirmed my worst fears. I can relate to them, long having suspected that this was what was there in the real Guyana.  This country is in a terrible state, as attested to from the minds and mouths of citizens, and regardless of what leaders in the Government say.  Though a bit tedious, I name the three articles which were titled, “Electoral reform needed in Guyana, low confidence in declared results -US opinion poll”, “Guyanese give race relations low marks but thumbs up for women’s empowerment, indigenous rights”, and “US poll finds political representation on major issues generally poor; youths don’t see a future in Guyana” (Demerara Waves, April 15).  There was a notorious St Valentine’s Day Massacre, this was a Good Friday bloodbath.  It isn’t the kind of Easter Weekend news that I wish to hear from any source.

I must say is that I would be less than honest if I table that I have much regard for the people behind this polling of Guyanese.  I have written sharply before on the doubts I have about these people, the International Republican Institute (IRI).  None of that has changed.  But notwithstanding my misgivings (and prior critical expressions), there must be recognition for the results of the work-this poll-that the IRI conducted.  For what was heard from Guyanese matched some of my own thoughts and public positions, and then went beyond even my sometimes-scorching articulations.

The first concerned the last elections and “low confidence in declared results.”  I expected Black Guyanese to be unpersuaded, unhappy, and unaccepting of the elections outcome.  It was a given, ancient elections contexts, and all other circumstances considered.  Thus, the report that 48% of Black Guyanese polled coming out strongly against the declared results did not surprise me in the least.  What caught me off guard was that 28% of Indians polled expressed strong reservations about the same results.  That is news to me, as I have not heard many Indians say that they were or are troubled by what was declared.  For sure, quite a few of them did freely concede something to the effect that, “all ah dem teef, aall ah dem juk de system….”  But 28% of the polled is a big one to swallow.  In terms of electoral reforms being needed, that one is a ‘no brainer’ to borrow an oil expression from the big man, the Hon. Vice President.  But I will say this today: whatever reform we end up with, that itself would please only half the population, and would itself need overhaul.  That is, any electoral reforms finalized would itself have to be reformed, and in short order.  From my perspective, the bottom line in anything to do with electoral reform in Guyana would be heaping controversy upon acridity, and piling dispute upon dispute in the darkness.  It is just the way we have been conditioned, and are likely to remain far into the future.

Regarding the second article about race relations and that it is given “low marks” by Guyanese is a shade on the understated side.  In my humble opinion, race relations in this nation are at the worst level that I have ever seen, or been around in this country.  This is before I left it, and since I returned.  Guyanese are all going about life (post 2020 lections) on eggshells, watching others from the side of their eyes, and with a combination that is best described as sharp suspicions, simmering anger, deep distrust, strong dislike, and barely concealed disgust.  The ‘others’ that I mention, who are being given the fish-eyed stare (more like a nuanced glare) are those across the divide, and any who are deemed to be race traitors.  As asserted a moment ago, it is bad, race relations are really bad.  I don’t think that we are anywhere near extricating ourselves from the race pit in which we now exist.  It was always deep, but now believed to be bottomless.

The most that I would say about women’s empowerment is that I agree, as I see a favorable numerical march in that direction, and with the so-called glass ceiling a little less rigid in today’s Guyana.  More women of a certain kind of color and political inclination are rising.  Of course, the ugly examples and longstanding realities of the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice stand as a stench (the CCJ chief said “blot”) on the progress that women have made, and the power gained.

Speaking of indigenous rights there can only be agreement with what the poll stated.  Any Government keeping these folks down would be reckless, if not dangerous to its own electoral prospects, due to the sensitive nature of this swing demographic that must be wooed and coddled.  I detect pure politics at work, in the handling of the welfare of indigenous Guyanese, with these good folks well-positioned to benefit from Government’s careful handling of their interests, including rights.  Our indigenous are now more politically astute, and know how to capitalize on their place in the Guyana’s razor-thin power equation.

Last, I stand with the issue of generally poor political representation on major issues, which I think circumstances prove repeatedly.  It is just what is, and I don’t need any poll to enlighten me on this score.  As for youths not seeing any future here, the clock just turned back for me.  That was my position in the early 1970s, and I did something about it.  The youths of today are wearing my shoes from back then, with severe discontent about prospects in the local realm.  Sadly, it is 50 years later, and despite Guyana now being the place to be with its grand oil bonanza, our youths are forced to think as I did, and walk in my footsteps.  It is just a matter of time, and they will be on their way, too, be they Indian or Black or indigenous Guyanese.  On this, we are our own best pollsters.