I prefer to discuss policies, theories and ideas rather than fall for personality politics. However, please allow me to respond to three points raised by Mr Harry Hergash (`Mr. Granger will have to do far more than being `very passionate’ about the theme of unity and human development’ SN Oct 29, 2013). First, Mr Hergash projects the old racist subliminal message. It goes as follows: since Brigadier Granger brings up the Sun Chapman incident of 1964 it means he is anti-East Indian. To be pro-East Indian, according to Hergash, the opposition leader should have proposed a monument remembering the Lusignan massacre (Of course, the non-East Indian victims of the Bartica, Lindo Creek or Agricola massacres are forgotten). Yes, Editor, a monument. That is what Mr Hergash believes those innocent victims deserve. The PPP destroyed the livelihood of East Indians in Berbice by destroying the sugar industry and levying a burdensome tax to cross the Berbice bridge yet not a single “Indian rights” activist wrote a word. The state, fundamental for the well-being of East Indians and all Guyanese, has been criminalized, yet not a single word from the Indian rights activists.
Brigadier Granger has gone further than calling for monument. He is on record calling for a presidential commission of inquiry into the crimes that took place on the East Coast. This fact was reported in the newspapers. The families of the deceased deserve this inquiry which will add closure. Even Guyana Times, the pro-PPP newspaper, reported this call by the opposition leader. The PPP, supposedly the party of East Indians, refuses to institute such a commission. Why? Brigadier Granger went even further by calling for a pro-Guyana, pro-East Indian, pro-Afro Guyanese, pro-Indigenous Guyanese reform of the Burnham constitution. During an interview with Mr Yesu Persaud, the opposition leader called for a return to the early post-independence constitution which reduces the powers of the President and places the Prime Minister as the head of government. I think if these changes are made it can set the stage for democratic turnover instead of shared governance, which will become a system of elite accommodation and privileged entrenchment.
Second, Mr Hergash agrees Guyana needs swing voters to allow for democratic change in government. I use the example of Trinidad and Tobago. He believes using that country is akin to comparing apples and oranges. I don’t think do. It is indeed hard to find the perfect control group in the social sciences (except psychology of course); nevertheless Trinidad and Tobago is a bi-communal society similar to Guyana, but most likely with a larger percentage of swing voters. Therefore, time will tell as his letter notes.
Third, Mr Hergash questions my ability to help in achieving the objectives of unity and human development (UHD) because I “live in a foreign land”. However, I wrote a PhD dissertation on excess liquidity in the Guyanese and Caribbean banking systems, published ten peer-reviewed papers on various economic issues in Guyana, and have access to numerous data sets and information sources that I can get abroad but not in Guyana. I am actively involved in Caribbean economic issues, including that of Guyana, since I’m a research associate at the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance, a UWI-based central banking think tank. I am confident I have a very good understanding of Guyana’s political economy. I have helped several PPP supporters, who work for the government, gain acceptance in foreign universities. I do this because I believe it is important to build state capacity even though I have nothing in common with the PPP.