I am writing for two reasons. Firstly, I would really like you to clarify your policy regarding the publication of letters. So far as I know you have a policy of not publishing letters that are also carried in other outlets. Fine. But I have noticed that you apply this policy quite selectively. Letter writers who are known critics of the government of Guyana seem to have a ‘free-for-all,’ while others have the policy thrown at them.
The last instance of this discriminatory practice was on September 28 when you published a letter by Boyo Ramsaroop under the title ‘The AFC is a multiracial party.’ The identical letter was published in Kaieteur News.
Given the circumstances just noted, I hope you will allow me to respond to Boyo Ramsaroop.
Mr Ramsaroop claims that he was responsible for organising 73 households in Delph Street during the 1953 elections. Are we to understand that a thirteen-year-old was handed such a task? He made mention of some interesting stories regarding people, most of whom appear to have passed away. The point is that there is no way of verifying his claims.
Mr Ramsaroop’s claims in the press seem to have some kind of privileged position which allows him to write whatever he wants. His position is clearly political and so by allowing him unlimited access to your newspaper, while the same is not allowed to others, is a clear case of discrimination.
On the more substantive side of things I have to note that the claim that the AFC is a multiracial party is sheer poppycock. The AFC Big Ones practically cursed Indians after the 2006 elections for not voting for the AFC in the same numbers as African voters. There were also big fights regarding race discrimination within the AFC after the last election.
Boyo Ramsaroop is trying to say that the AFC is like the PPP in the old days. He must be dreaming. Let me say this to Boyo Ramsaroop: Dr Jagan would have never joined an alliance with a party that had rigged an election against its own members. The AFC is today sitting pretty with the PNCR despite claims by senior members from that party that its leadership race was not transparent.
I must also say that I am horrified by what Mr Ramsaroop considers to be evidence of racial harmony. He states that he went to pick up his daughter one day from school and saw her “plaiting the hair of an African Guyanese girl.” Please Sir, have some restraint. Children do these things all over Guyana, and so I wonder why Boyo thinks that this was some special act by his daughter. He makes it sound as if his daughter had done something of extraordinary proportions. That claim is more insightful about Boyo’s mindset than anything else he has written or would ever write. Think about it and you will see the cultural arrogance that is there. More than that, this man seems to have a habit of praising his children for political purposes.
I hope the editor of Stabroek News would afford me the opportunity to publish this letter. I have not sent it to another outlet. I also hope you will apply your stated policy to Boyo Ramsaroop who is a struggling AFC activist.
Dr Persaud appears to have his dates confused. September 28 is today, and we published Mr Boyo Ramsaroop’s letter in yesterday’s edition – Sunday, September 27, on the same day as Kaieteur News. We have no way of knowing in advance if a letter has been sent to another newspaper, or if we do, whether it will appear on the same day as ours. We will only decline publication if it has already been printed elsewhere, which was not the case in this instance.
Having said that, we do exercise discretion in a few cases and carry letters which have already appeared elsewhere. When Dr Persaud complained about our selective approach in relation to pro-government correspondence, he obviously overlooked the recent case of Minister Kellawan Lall, whose letter was published in this newspaper on September 22, under the caption ‘Sunday editorial contained misrepresentations and distortions.’ This was despite the fact that it had already appeared in the Guyana Chronicle the day before (September 21), albeit not in the form of a letter, but under the rubric of “statement.” Accompanied by a photograph of the Minister, the half-page piece was entitled ‘Minister Lall corrects Stabroek News distortions.’