Peru is a true democracy; Guyana is not

Dear Editor,

Over the years many Guyanese have espoused the notion that Guyana is a democracy. What they have failed to say is that Guyana is a quasi-democracy.

Guyana is a country with an elected government, but without the mechanism to police itself, to ask and solve questions when there is government and other administrative abuse. A true democracy has a built-in mechanism that automatically investigates any governmental impropriety, especially when that impropriety is committed by elected members of the government. This oversight of government is directly monitored by an independent judiciary that is free to pursue any member of government who abuses the people’s trust, and never kow-tows to the whim of a President.

A few days ago the former President of Peru, Mr Alberto Fujimori pleaded guilty to illegal wiretapping and embezzling government monies to bribe politicians and journalists to lend him support for his 2000 re-election bid (cnn.com). What is astounding about this Fujimori issue, is that he was extradited from Chile to Peru where he sought sanctuary after being accused of his transgressions. It is reasonable to say that if Fujimori was a Guyanese politician he would not have pleaded guilty to the charges. In fact those charges would have never materialized or been pursued. This chapter in Peru’s history shows how far Peru has come from the days of Alan Garcia during his first mandate as President, and during the era of the guerrilla movement, the Shining Path. Mr Garcia has been acquitted of all atrocities that allegedly occurred in the 1980s and is now the President for the second time.

Fujimori, on the other hand, had a preponderance of evidence against him with witnesses willing to testify about his involvement in bribery and other illegal activities. The people of Peru, as in a true democracy, allowed the judicial tentacles to reach out and search for the evidence with which to ensnare and convict Mr Fujimori, instead of acquiescing to a governmental cover-up. Peru’s democratic process is entrenched enough for a former President to be brought to justice for the crimes of which he was accused.

This example exhibits the elements necessary to foster a true democracy, which is much more than we could say exists in Guyana. With all of the current and past allegations of abuse that occurred in Guyana, including extra-judicial killings, drug trafficking, illegal incarceration, gun and drug running, Guyana has failed to set up a commission of inquiry which is the sine qua non to alleviating the growing mistrust of the government. Instead what we have is deafening silence and constant denials.

From the beginning of this current administration, we have seen one constant, and that is to limit comments on any accusation with the hope that, as expected, the Guyanese public will eventually forget, or deem it not worth the effort to pursue politicians or anyone with governmental clout for any illegalities.

We the Guyanese public could ill afford to call our government a democracy when other countries are shining examples of what a democracy is and how it should function. Guyana’s semblance of a democracy could not stand the probing questions and scrutiny of a true democracy, and just maybe, we should look no further than to our neighbour to the south-west. Peru is a working democracy;  Guyana is far from one.

Yours faithfully,
Patrick Barker

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