There is nothing new in Gay McDougall’s report which has not been stated before

Dear Editor,

As was expected, after a week of internal strategizing, the government’s ghost writers, the Chronicle, NCN and several entrepreneurs launched their attack on Ms Gay McDougall in an attempt to discredit her and hence her report on minorities. These individuals are very upset because the 192 member states of the United Nations are now fully aware of the racial tragedy Guyana has become. Truth is, there is nothing new in Ms McDougall’s report that has not been stated before. Only the degree to which Guyana as a nation has regressed socially, politically, morally, economically and racially has changed. Former President Carter said the same about Guyana and he was here for weeks and his Carter Center for years. The World Bank has said it. Former ambassadors and high commissioners have said it, privately and in official internal reports. Prime ministers and heads of states in the Caribbean and Latin America have said it. Local editors have proclaimed the same messages: We are a divided nation; we have corrosive racial politics; we need to change our political system.

Now that Gay McDougall has said it, this extremely credible United Nations expert is telling untruths and has been influenced by extremists. For the uneducated and functionally illiterate whom the government are trying to influence and for the uninformed, the government’s propaganda machine had three strategies. The first was to state Gay McDougall was only in Guyana for 4 days and did not meet Amerindians, the real minority group in Guyana, hence her report is null and void. Second, she was influenced by extremists like the Guyana Human Rights Association and ACDA and therefore she doesn’t have a clue about Guyana. Third, she is promoting “shared governance” because she wants Africans to get power through the back door.

What are the realities of these claims?

Before coming to Guyana and before writing her UN report, Ms McDougall would have read many UN reports about Guyana (there are more than 10 UN agencies including UNDP). She would have read in particular, the report by the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism in 2003 which said “the harsh reality is one of ethnic polarization among Guyanese of African, Indian and Indigenous descent.” She would have read President Carter and the Carter Center’s report. She would have read about Roger Khan and have access to other documents about him. She would have read his public advertisement and read that the US Government claims he was involved in the murders of over 200 Guyanese. She would have read and seen vivid newspaper pictures of torture or ‘roughing up.’ She would have read about Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek. She would have read US Drug Country Reports. She would have read President Jagdeo’s comments at Babu John. She would have read about the government’s denial of radio to Linden residents.

Now, is Ms McDougall more domestically and internationally more credible than President Jagdeo, Prem Misir, Gail Teixeira or the PPP’s ghost writers? Who is more credible, President Jagdeo or the evidence in the Roger Khan case compiled by the US? Case closed.

The PPP propaganda machine jumped up and down and called Ms McDougall’s report “grossly inaccurate and extremely offensive.” They argued she did not address Amerindian issues. This argument shows how intellectually barren the government has become. Why?

Guyana is a country of “minorities.” Indians are 43.5%, Africans are 30%, Amerindians are 9.2% and “mixed” are 16.7%. Ms McDougall’s mission and report dealt with racial minorities. The two largest racial minorities in Guyana are Indians and Africans. This was the centre of her report. It is only our pernicious West-minster model of governance than makes the PPP an electoral majority with only 180,000 votes or 36% of the voter base of 492,000 eligible voters. Remember, the Indian population should have 43.5 % of eligible voters or 204,000 voters. So much for the ambient myth that a large number of Africans voted for the PPP at the last elections. They just didn’t vote.

The other key point centred around shared governance. Here again the PPP apologists attacked her recommendations. But what is the reality? President Jagdeo does not share power with his own party, the cabinet or the parliament. He is constitutionally above the law. The call for shared governance as a solution for Guyana is not new. The Ethnic Relations Com-mission at its last stakeholder conference at Ocean View was unanimously told that shared governance is what the people of Guyana needed. The ERC never took this to parliament which it has the constitutional mandate to do. Former President Jimmy Carter said this but stated President Jagdeo “is an intelligent and capable leader, but he takes full advantage of the ancient ‘winner take all’ system in Guyana.” Jimmy Carter also stated “Instead of achieving this crucial goal of inclusive and shared governance, the Guyanese government remains divided with a winner-take-all concept that continues to polarize many aspects of the nation’s life.”

We need to take heed of Ms McDougall’s report and find peaceful solutions for our nation. Our motto of ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’ cannot be achieved by a Westminster executive presidency model of governance. Westminster means winner-take-all. There are winners and losers and in Guyana’s case given the ethnic composition of political parties, ethnic winners and ethnic losers. You cannot achieve unity through winners and losers and in a process where elections become a life and death struggle. If we continue along this path of racial and moral insanity, Jimmy Carter’s statement will continue to haunt us all:

“Of all the countries I have visited in the world, Guyana has the most unrealized potential. It is my hope and prayer that the future will be filled with peace, harmony, mutual respect, and economic and social progress.”

Yours faithfully,
Eric Phillips

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