In this perilous election season of historical revisionism and fable-making by our politicians, our president-economist turned historian has been playing dangerous games with our history. It is not the things we know such as the PNC’s miserable failure, but it is where the President is prepared to stoop to try to confuse youths and the historical distortions and factual omissions in that act that are the problems. Everyone and their dog know about the PNC and their failures from 20-plus years ago. But what this President seems hell bent on doing is wreaking havoc with convenient historical relativism and absolutism. And when he does, he somehow forgets a massive slice of history in jumping some 20-plus years back and forgetting the 20 years in between. Now that our President has developed a newfound fascination with history, he should understand that when one compares the present to the past and vice versa, it is instructive to do so in a structured manner. Just like 1992 is now Year One in Guyana’s history according to this crop of PPP rulers, and every year from then onwards is recounted to the present, the President must switch it around and start by going back systematically when he delves into his history lessons for the young people of this country.
When the President jumps 26 years into the past and compares his regime to the PNC, he is essentially comparing two failures and trying to explain how one failed less than the other. He somehow forgets that Guyana’s revival started not in 1992 or Year One, according to the Book of the PPP, but in 1985 or Year One in the Book of Desmond Hoyte. In this major time warp the President operates with there is another thing missing. He somehow misses that there were two PPP Presidents before him. I don’t know if he remembers but there was a son of the soil in Cheddi Jagan and his wife Janet Jagan before him.
It does not seem as if Mr Jagdeo acknowledges these two governments that preceded his rule. One gets the sense that it is his rule versus the PNC, that only his version of the PPP is worth cementing for the future. This seems to be the version being peddled to the youths of this country. A version that pits Bharrat Jagdeo the freedom fighter, saviour of the nation and champion of the Guyanese people against a heinous PNC regime of some 20 years ago. For those too young to remember, this version of the gospel will slowly and notoriously erase Dr Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan from the political consciousness, from the geography of PPP history and from the nation’s history.
For that reason, Bharrat Jagdeo as President of this nation and Donald Ramotar as General Secretary of the PPP and ‘Consultant’ to the President must begin by comparing Jagdeo’s regime to Janet Jagan’s rule and then to Cheddi Jagan’s rule before getting to the PNC. For the PNC has nowhere to go politically but into the opposition benches in Parliament. Any ten-year-old who has never experienced or lived under the PNC knows this fact. So before Jagdeo compares his government to the PNC to 20-year-olds, he must start by comparing his government to the governments run by the Jagans. Now, that is something some of these youths will remember as they lived under these governments. Therein lies the problem. Because when the comparison starts, the truth emerges. The truth that Bharrat Jagdeo has delivered a legacy since 1999 of power-hunger; a surging narco-economy fuelled by drug cartels; high youth unemployment; massive inequality as taxes from all end up as contracts for a few; flopped industries such as sugar; a PPP of the rich and powerful and not of the poor and powerless; cost of living nightmares; an asset bubble created by people taking serious personal risks for a better life and not by government; runaway crime; sky-high corruption; waste and mis-spending of taxpayers’ money, etc, etc.
When one compares Jagdeo’s rule to Janet Jagan’s rule or Cheddi Jagan’s rule, we see the distinct pattern of Jagdeo’s shocking failure. The Jagans’ work on bringing equality of wealth and income distribution to lift people out of poverty has been cast aside by President Jagdeo and now his follower, Donald “I won’t change anything much” Ramotar. So has the work on battling corruption. So has humility and eschewing avaricious materialism and relentless acquisition. The VAT is Mr Jagdeo’s doing. Where is the VAT money going? You all know where. The time has come for our historian-President to start telling the right history in the right manner. History such as Burnham banned food items and Hoyte restored those items in 1985. History such as the PNC employed Mr Jagdeo at a good government job when he returned as a PPP protege. History such as the fact that he worked on the economic transformation of Guyana as an economist at State Planning.
On that point, Mr Jagdeo the historian-president must tell the Guyanese people what work he did and what projects he worked on under the PNC while he was employed at the State Planning Secretariat. He must inform these same youths he is educating about any work he possibly did on transforming Guyana’s economy from a socialist model to its current market-oriented system. Let us get the full history from our President. While the PPP hasn’t banned any food items, its economic mismanagement leading to extreme cost of living hardships will result in a food ban too. For in reality, many of these items are slowly being banned by Guyanese from their dinner tables with too little left in their hands after the hefty taxes are taken and the economic strangulation by the PPP has taken its toll. Mr Jagdeo knows that his policies that favour the rich and the enrichment of a few have failed this country. Even worse, he is a failure compared to the Jagans. Let him start with that fact – and then proceed to beat that familiar drum of PNC failure.