The PNC’s penchant for violence and elections rigging has certainly not diminished in any way whatsoever. Recent developments within that party vis-à-vis the elections for the leadership of the Georgetown District of the PNC demonstrates in no uncertain manner the prevalence of this unsavoury disposition insofar as elections are concerned. To say that the rigging of the elections at the Georgetown District level is a microcosm for what portends for a future Guyana under the PNC would be no exaggeration.
As regards the PNC’s predisposition to resort to violence as a means of solving political problems, the PNC’s leader recently exposed once again his cloven hooves and his philosophical commitment to such a course of action.
This was revealed in a statement attributed to Mr Corbin published in the Kaieteur News of July 13, 2009 under the headline ‘Honduras situation a lesson for Guyana.’
In the statement, Mr Corbin warned that “Guyana should take cognizance of what has recently taken place in Honduras and what was the catalyst for the unrest.” He went on to state that, “When people’s back are against the wall they take action into their own hands.”
Bravo Mr Corbin! However, when the PPP was in opposition and had to face rigged elections after rigged elections from 1964 to 1985, did your regime allow the PPP and its supporters to take action into their own hands? Now with rigged elections out of the way and democracy forging ahead at the socio-economic and cultural levels, the PNC and its cohorts are on the defensive. In a sense they do have their backs against a wall but this is primarily because they lack the political will to make a positive contribution to the ongoing process of national development.
A major flaw in Mr Corbin’s comparative analysis between Guyana and Honduras is to be found in his attempt to rationalize two distinct political processes ignoring totally the socio-economic and cultural peculiarities of the two countries. Here is how he ends up with this absurd and topsy-turvy political rationalization: “The run-up to the unrest in Honduras bears a striking resemblance to the current situation in Guyana.”
A strategically situated Central American country, Honduras has a population of seven million people. It is the third poorest country in the hemisphere with deep racial and class inequalities. According to Rafael Azul, these inequalities are a legacy of Spanish colonialism and the domination of the indigenous majority. Seventy-five percent of the population lives in poverty while the top ten per cent of the population receives forty-five per cent of the gross national product.
Manuel Zelaya, himself a wealthy landowner, betrayed his class by going over to the side of the dispossessed and oppressed workers and farmers of Honduras. For this he became a class enemy of the Honduran latifundistas and big business.
Mr Corbin stretched his imagination of the situation in Honduras so far that he likened it to the situation in Guyana by referring to certain vague and nebulous references to breaches in law and the constitution. Mr Corbin even went so far as to state that “what transpired in Honduras was not a traditional coup,” suggesting that it was not a military coup but a coup with a difference which he apparently has a preference for. It appears that this is Mr Corbin’s position in respect of the events that took place in Haiti in 2004 and Venezuela in 2002.
The fact of the matter is that in all three instances it was the military that attempted to or actually seized political power and masked itself with a civilian presence in the corridors of power. Aristide and Zelaya, two serving presidents, now live in exile in foreign countries. Chávez had a close shave.
Contrary to Corbin’s explanation that Zelaya “overstepped his constitutional authority” and that the Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress rejected his “pressing for a third term,” the truth is that the June 23 referendum was not about extending Zelaya’s term of office. The actual question on the aborted June 28 ballot read: “Do you think that the 2009 General Elections should include a fourth ballot in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new Constitution? Yes or No?”
Writing in the July 8, 2009 edition of the London Guardian, Mark Weisbrot, Director of the Washington-based Centre for Economic Policy Research stated, “There was no way for Zelaya to ‘extend his rule’ even if the referendum had been held and passed, and even if he had gone on to win a binding referendum on the November ballot. The 28 June Referendum was nothing more than a non-binding poll of the electorate, asking whether the voters wanted to place a non binding referendum on the November ballot to approve a redrafting of the country’s Constitution. If it had passed and if the November Referendum had been held (which was not very likely) and had also passed, the same ballot would have elected a new President and Zelaya would have stepped down in January 2010.”
So much so for Corbin’s claim about Zelaya’s “pressing for a third term” and the other falsehoods which populate his statement on developments in Honduras. Neither Mr Corbin nor the PNC has issued thus far a clear and unequivocal statement condemning the removal of the Honduran President by the military.
Clement J. Rohee