The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) yesterday paid tribute to Dr. Joshua Ramsammy, describing him as a fallen soldier of the working people.
In a statement following Ramsammy’s death on Wednesday, the party extended sympathy to his family and friends, while reminding that he was “very concerned with personal suffering and personal poverty as much as he was with the suffering and poverty of the working people” throughout his career as an activist. It noted that he made himself available for political action and placed his resources of time, transport and premises at the disposal of the movement. Additionally, as a member of the UGSA, he defended the independence of trade unions and struggled at the level of the Trades Union Congress and other associations in defence of that principle. The party noted that while he was one of its members, whether of the collective leadership or of the executive he remained a reliable and instructive conscience. “As one who could claim some seniority in the recent political struggles of Guyana’s working people, Josh readily embraced the presence and inspiration of Walter Rodney with its emphasis on People’s Power,” it said, adding that he welcomed the launching of this education at the mass political level and embraced the civil rebellion.
According to the WPA, Ramsammy threw in his energies with the political reform movement when he decided to support the IPRA-ASCRIA Race Commission after the 1973 general elections. An essential part of his approach to politics was going to villages to meet with small gatherings and discuss their experiences. In 1974, Ramsammy was a co-founder and member of Ratoon and joined in the consultations among many groups that led to the formation of the WPA in 1974.
The party said he had previously found himself among the founders of the Movement Against Oppression, which it noted was probably the first formal organisation in post-WWII years to arouse the public conscience against police brutality and to express solidarity with the poorest and most harassed sections of the urban population. Additionally, it said his union of university lecturers, scientists, economists and other middle strata elements whom the establishment regarded as lower castes scared the political and security establishment of those days. It was in this context that an open daylight attempt on his life was made.
Ramsammy was born and grew up in the Corentyne area and was part of a family that stood out in its relations with all ethnic sections of the population, the WPA said.
He was well received everywhere and he strongly favoured collective consultation as a basis for decision making as opposed to vanguardism and maximum leadership. “The crashing of state structures that disempowered the people never surprised him,” it added, pointing out that, “Despite his accomplishments he did not fall into the trap of self promotion.”