Those whom Cheddi Jagan lifted from obscurity to megalomania at Freedom House are concerned about Stabroek News tarnishing of the legacy of Bharrat Jagdeo. Mr Jagdeo was President of Guyana from August 11, 1999 to December 3, 2011. Guyana became a major drug transhipment point and crime-infested republic during that period, and attained its pinnacle of inequality, injustice, corruption, cronyism, immorality and unfairness. This is some achievement considering the dreaded PNC regime swung a wrecking ball at this country for 28 years. So what is there to tarnish when it has already been tarnished? Mr Jagdeo was trained as an economist, yet Guyana under Jagdeo achieved the following yearly GDP growth rates from 2000 to 2011 inclusive: 2000: -1.4%, 2001: 2.2%, 2002: 1.1%, 2003: -1%, 2004: 3.3%, 2005: -2%, 2006: 5.1%, 2007: -3.6%, 2008: 2%, 2009: 3.3%, 2010: 4.4% and 2011: 5.4%. Guyana had total annualized GDP growth of 18.8% in the 12 full years of Mr Jagdeo’s rule. Dentist Cheddi Jagan oversaw the following GDP growth rates from 1993 to 1996 inclusive: 1993: 8.2%, 1994: 8.5%, 1995: 5% and 1996: 7.9%. Janet Jagan achieved annual GDP growth as follows from 1997 to 1999: 1997: 6.2%, 1998: -1.7% and 1999: 3%, an average of 2.5% in those years. Those propagating the myth of Jagdeo as a leader believe they can con the Guyanese people; they cannot.
The most telling legacy from the Jagdeo era is the criminalization of the society. Add waste (Skeldon Sugar Factory), incompetence (we cannot collect full LCDS payouts under Guyana-Norway agreement because of a self-strangulating agreement), cronyism (Berbice River bridge paid for primarily by taxpayers but private companies are reaping the most profits), and an indifference to wrongdoing and we get to the almost failed state we have today.
It is no wonder the PPP continues to decline. It is no wonder there has been a mass exodus of PPP supporters. Everything is a game of historical jumping jacks to Freedom House. When Stabroek News quotes a period of terror and crime within the last decade, the PPP hijackers at Freedom House become like automated kangaroos jumping several decades further back to haul up erstwhile events that the majority of citizens and PPP supporters do not care about.
Backward looking idealism is symptomatic of the backward mindset infecting Freedom House. Present atrocities must be addressed with past atrocities. Walter Rodney’s killing in 1980 is raised when the killing of so many Guyanese is happening yearly right now. Did so many Guyanese lose their lives in 1980 when Rodney was killed or when the two PPP activists were shot over the ballot box incident? Were Berbicians being incessantly terrorized by bandits then as they are now? Mash Day would not have occurred if the PPP had reformed the prison system, professionalized the police force and strengthened security and the protection of the citizenry, something which their own supporters had demanded for decades before they returned to power in 1992. The attempt to use drug trafficking cartels to fight criminals has left us with even more crime. Using criminals to kill criminals has given us even more criminality. Mexico and Colombia have a DEA office, Guyana has none.
Do Clement Rohee and his associates really call the pathetic performance of the Guyanese economy under the PPP relative to the rest of the world and similar economies responsible fiscal management? Does a country with 83,000 square miles of some of the richest territory on earth with a mere 750,000 people to reap the benefits but which is still mired in poverty really a model of responsible fiscal management? If Haiti did not have the natural disasters it suffered in the last 21 years, it would have outgrown Guyana economically despite its humongous population! Why didn’t Mr Jagdeo use these state of the art health facilities his government created when he got sick instead of jetting off to foreign lands? The PPP has not fixed many of these decrepit hospitals but wants to spend taxpayers’ money to create a Specialty Hospital.
Is domination of the Amerindian people by throwing them outboard engines and vehicles, and expecting them to politically bow to the PPP hinterland development? Is the smuggling of our gold by foreign and local miners also hinterland development? Was the dried-up Amaila Falls of US$1billion fame, hinterland development? Guyana’s international image has been rebuilt indeed; we are now known as a cocaine trafficking nation.
Is a boundary award obtained after a pathetic government incapable of militarily defending its territory was chased out of its own territory by a smaller neighbour now something to celebrate? It was our territory to begin with as the award confirmed, and the PPP was incapable of defending it just as this PPP government has bent over and allowed Venezuela to hold this country to economic ransom with PetroCaribe.
The fibre optic cable is now years behind schedule and has drained and continues to drain tens of millions of US dollars from taxpayers’ pockets, and an airport expansion that is overpriced and not justified by demand is now development. House lot distribution is a PPP success but so has been the giveaway of prime lands to a select few. Mr Jagdeo who has saved to afford a mansion worth millions on the local market still, despite his ability to be able to build such a mansion, got his land at Pradoville 2 at a price below what remigrants are asked to pay. This is not to say the PPP has done no good.
The problem is it is difficult to see and even some of the projects which could bring genuine benefit to the country are so damaged by graft, or misuse or waste, that they no longer produce a viable return on taxpayers’ money.