I have noticed that the AFC is under tremendous attack from the PNC and PPP. This means the AFC must be doing something right to stick to its plan to go against the grain. The AFC has declared itself as the third option. People who do not want to vote within the ethnic bloc now have a third option in a genuine multi-ethnic party. According to the LAPOP poll, only the AFC draws balance support from a wide cross-section of Guyanese.
The PPP and PNC have failed the nation since May 26, 1966. Guyana is a basket case precisely because of the collusions and tacit warfare of these two political parties. They have colluded to nationalize the “commanding heights” and strain the talent pool in the nation by taking away talents that could have been employed in private businesses. They have colluded in power-sharing talks until President Hoyte scrapped the talks. The two parties wanted to establish a socialist dictatorship which got the blessings of the Soviet Union and Cuba. More recently they have colluded to exclude the AFC from the Gecom scrutineer funds. They have always worked together tacitly to preserve ethnic fears. And at times they have fought tacit wars that claimed the lives of hundreds of Guyanese.
As a result, today 89% of skilled Guyanese migrate – the highest percentage of any country on the planet (this is the World Bank number of last year). The PNC’s policy of nationalization – which got critical support from the PPP – was a disaster for Guyanese of all ethnicities and classes. Similarly the PNC packaged the neo-liberal Washington Consensus policies in something called the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP). These policies had dire implications for the poor because they promoted the devaluation of the Guyana dollar. The devaluation plunged thousands into poverty and helped accentuate the migration of Guyanese – thus depleting the skills available. Less known is that the ERP was the final nail in the coffin of the manufacturing sector in Guyana. A nation will be hard-pressed to develop without a vibrant manufacturing sector. Because the PNC blindly followed neo-liberalism it plunged Guyana into free trade and therefore caused the country to become a nation of traders instead of manufacturers.
Twenty-eight years of PNC and nineteen years of PPP polices have reduced Guyana to a state where family consumption has to be propped up by remittances. Guyana’s poverty rate and debt would have been worse had it not been for remittances and migration. A large underground economy supports incomes both today and in the past. The country depends on foreign aid for critical projects. The official production sectors produce things at the low end of the global hierarchy of products. Incomes cannot rise once Guyana continues to operate at the low end of the global production chain. This is what Guyana has been reduced to – a perpetual basket case since independence. They have promoted policies to maintain the masses in penury.
We also know how the tacit collusive warfare between the PPP and PNC has killed hundreds since the jailbreak and the subsequent involvement of a drug dealer to fight off the so-called freedom fighters. Back in the days, several PNC leaders were sympathetic to the freedom fighters. I saw this with my own eyes on local TV in the old days as they tried to justify the killing of Merv Baran and his dad. They sought to justify the terror people faced on the East Coast. They sought to justify the murder and kidnap of sugar workers on the East Coast. On the other hand, the PPP – a mendicant government – refused legitimate foreign assistance to reform the police and security sector and deal with the freedom fighters. Instead the PPP relied on a drug dealer to fight the freedom fighters. Hundreds of young people were killed without a day in court. We got a sense of what took place by reading the reports from the Robert Simels (Roger Khan’s lawyer) trial in New York. We need to ask what was the quid pro quo? And how will this continue to undermine the security of the nation?