Reference is made to the article ‘Hughes dropped from list of speakers at Linden meeting -declines offer to present “greetings,”’ Stabroek News, January 14. Based on the report it becomes imperative to set the record straight, since it has implications for tarnishing reputations, destroying relationships and undermining the struggle in Linden/Region Ten. While the motive of the article is not the focus, its content is deserving of context. As such I state the following:
1. Nigel Hughes was never denied the opportunity to speak;
2. The notice (handbills) distributed to the people in the township on the meeting never carried the name of any speaker.
3. The question of who will speak other than the major players (named at #8), was raised. The Chairman advised that two of the RDC’s councillors will speak.
4. The issue of the APNU and AFC as national organisations speaking was raised. The point was made that the regional administration would ideally prefer both groups speaking.
5. It was acknowledged that the AFC national leaders were in the township. Their presence on the platform, coupled with the sensitivity of the political climate and the absence of the APNU national leaders were discussed.
6. Notwithstanding # 4 and 5 it was agreed that Nigel Hughes would be asked to speak.
7. Present at the pre-meeting were Aubrey Norton, Christopher Ram, Gerhard Ramsaroop, Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon, and I. It is noted the newspaper only mentioned Sharma, Norton and I as being in this meeting.
8. This meeting was called specifically to ensure collaboration on the message to be delivered by the major speakers, primarily Christopher Ram (region’s economy), Vanessa Kissoon (motivation), Sharma Solomon (region’s position) and Aubrey Norton (negotiation). Ms Kissoon was not present but the Chairman had a copy of her presentation.
9. It should be said the meeting for Sunday was advertised to address the August 21, 2012 agreement between the Region Ten administration and central government.
10. My presence in the pre-meeting was to give logistical support. I also spoke at the meeting.
11. The pre-meeting was not tense at any point. The mood was frank with an eye set on building bridges, foremost recognising the sensitivity of the political environment the Regional Chairman has to navigate.
Throughout the struggle the Regional Chairman has consistently made the point that it is a regional struggle, which cuts across political parties, race, creed and sex. He reiterated the said point in his speech on Saturday. And one would be inclined to think, having read the media story, that Solomon’s emphasis for creating a new political culture built on mutual respect and trust where, as he said, “we can talk with each other and settle our differences” may be elusive.
The media’s misrepresentation of what actually transpired and who was present in the room during the pre-meeting discussions present the Chairman with an opportunity to keep his focus and strive for his objective.
Having said that, it must be said Nigel Hughes has given and continues to give yeoman service to the people of Linden and Guyana, and I am convinced himself and the Regional Chairman will seek to iron out any difference that may have arisen from this issue. This is a lesson learnt and both gentlemen will rise above any perception that trust and respect were/are lacking in their relationship.