Throughout the course of history, the human hand has been a source of great symbolism. It is said that ancient warriors showed their peaceful intent by showing a hand, palm forward, to say I come in peace, I have nothing against you. Some claim that was the genesis of the modern military salute. In some major religions people put their hands together to pray; others stretch them out before them, palms up, all presenting powerful imagery of man supplicating himself to a higher power.
It is with much of this in mind that I viewed the banner of the joint opposition parties, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) at the rally at the Square of the Revolution. Two open palms, both facing forward. In one hand was the map of Guyana, and in the other the various symbols of the partners. The imagery conveyed peace, unity and confidence. It said to me that they were all together, that they came in peace, and they were a team that would represent all Guyanese.
Editor, it is no secret that I support the Partnership, and would like nothing better than for them to succeed at the upcoming elections. Nineteen years ago, the supporters of the ruling PPP/C voted to place the country in the hands of that party. For nineteen continuous years they have ruled this country, and the only thing I can say is that theirs was a tremendous opportunity lost. The PPP when they came to power had a great opportunity to bind the old wounds of the past, and work to erase the fear and ignorance that is at the root of racism and bigotry; they did not. They had an opportunity to put an end to corruption in government; they chose to perpetuate it. They complained about paramountcy of the party while in opposition, but today the PPP is paramount over everything in Guyana. They complained while in opposition about the constitution and vowed to change it; but apart from some cosmetic changes, it is the same ‘Burnham’ constitution that Dr Cheddi Jagan promised us he would change.
I remember the promise of the lean and clean government, but that was also just mere talk; just look at government waste, fraud and excess.
When President Jagdeo became President, I, like many others, was very excited. It was a generational change. He was young, energetic and full of promise. I felt this was the man that would put an end to the old politics in Guyana. It was said that President Jagdeo had studied economics, and here again I thought that bode well for the country. They said he was from the countryside and was not from the middle-class like most previous Guyanese leaders. I thought that this young man, born to poor country folk would be the champion of removing poverty and illiteracy in Guyana. I thought that he would fight to be the champion of the little man, but instead he chose Pradoville over Little Diamond. President Jagdeo chose the rich over the poor.
The goodwill that was squandered by this President may never be given to another head of state in this country. He had an opportunity to create the conditions, through progressive policies and programmes, to halt the mass migration of Guyanese, but instead we are still voting with our feet. There was an opportunity to transform the Garden City into a modern metropolis; instead, it is now a garbage city where beggars and armies of the homeless beg for their bread.
When this country was placed in the hands of the PPP, Guyana was not listed as a trans-shipment point for narcotics to North America and Europe. When they took the reins there was crime, but no one could have envisaged what we have today.
The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider every day. The middle class has now become the working poor, and the small farmers and the rural and hinterland residents have been totally forgotten except at election time.
As I ponder the future of our Republic I pray that this time we will be wise about who we entrust with the leadership of this nation. The incumbents have not governed in the best interest of all of the people of this country. They have set us back in race relations and education, and the small man has no hope of ever becoming “a real man” in their administration.