The Ethnic Security Dilemmas thesis needs to be updated

Dear Editor,


Recently there has been a remarkable convergence of views regarding the recent crime wave among the Muslim Youth Organisation (MYO), Mr Anil Nandalall, Mr Clement Rohee and Mr Ravi Dev. They all opined that the recent upsurge in serious crimes are ethnically based and politically directed. No doubt guiding Mr Dev’s analysis is the thesis known as the Ethnic Security Dilemmas (ESD), which is an idea that came down from the British Guiana East Indian Association (BGEIA) and was modified by Mr Dev. As an economist, I have the highest regard for theory since it’s the only way by which we can understand how the world works. The ESD does have predictive powers in terms of its insight into how the two dominant ethnic groups are likely to vote in Guyana. However, it is a very poor predictor of the source of crimes, especially in light of the confessions of the convicted Mr Roger Khan.

Therefore, the thesis has to be updated in light of recent data that came from Wikileaks, the trial of Khan’s associates in NY and the very recent news report surrounding the arrest of President Bouterse’s son for trafficking cocaine. The theory, furthermore, has always had a major weakness even before the recent narco-connected crimes.

This weakness has to do with the fact that the ESD does not explain properly the root cause of the fears of East Indians; however it explains the source of the fears of African Guyanese as economic in nature.  The fear of East Indians as a group supposedly stems from the fact that the army and police are not ethnically balanced. However, the army has been very professional since 1992 and it has not attempted to overthrow the PPP. Indeed the PPP has been good at selecting its leader for the top spot of the army. This leader is typically given significant economic rewards. The battles on the East Coast had a drug connection. The theory does not take into consideration the fact that it is the PPP which uses as an electoral strategy a racist message of blaming the opposition for crimes when many of the crimes were connected to the gangs owned by the man now in a NY jail.

According to the theory, African Guyanese fear economic marginalisation by an Indian-dominated PPP, hence they tend to vote in large numbers for the PNC.  This is agreeable. However, East Indian motivations also stem from the fear of economic marginalisation and not necessarily the nebulous notion of physical fear. Therefore, they also tend to vote in large numbers for the PPP. In the past I have noted that the PPP has taken advantage of this entrenchment of votes to create an oligarchic relationship with several chosen business personalities excluding the East Indian masses from sharing in the economic pie. With economic fears paramount, the groups turn out to vote for their respective parties. Each cannot know how the other will vote, so he/she votes for the party perceived to provide this economic security. Fear and emotions rule over reason on the day of voting. Ironically voting for the PPP does not provide the economic security for East Indian masses because the PPP’s entire economic agenda is motivated by oligarchic expropriation.

This thesis, however, will not explain the voting pattern of about 30 per cent of the population. This will include liberal East Indians, liberal African Guyanese, mixed ethnicities, Indigenous folks and other groups. They are the swing voters who will determine the election. They will not fall easily for the propaganda that says “don’t split the votes” by whipping up ethnic fears among East Indians by blaming African Guyanese for crimes.

The theory must be updated to take into consideration the narco-engendered crimes in Guyana. Since 1992 cocaine has become prominent among illicit exports. Its consumption has also increased at home affecting all villages. East Indians will note how drug consumption is ravaging their villages, reaching the crisis level of alcoholism. East Indians will note that it was the PPP which turned down British security aid and had earlier appeared to rely on Roger Khan to fight the supposed “freedom fighters”. Since the PPP has refused to do an inquiry into these crimes (something for which APNU and Mr Granger have called), we would never know the truth. Therefore, this scenario of narco-traffickers trying to destabilise the government is equally plausible.  The outward ethnic manifestation of the conflicts on the East Coast had a narco underpinning. The narco-traffickers certainly have the incentive to do so since the PPP has refused to reform the police force since 1992. The state is weak and the traffickers know it can be easily corrupted.

A large percentage of East Indians will understand these things and will not support the PPP this time around. They will not fall prey to the coordinated propaganda games being played to unfairly blame the African Guyanese community for crimes. They will enquire where are the serious police and judicial reforms since 1992?


Yours faithfully,
Tarron Khemraj

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