Residents of Whim, Berbice and neighbouring villages have mixed reactions to the APNU+AFC Coalition with most older villagers saying that they will vote for the incumbent PPP/C while younger residents expressed optimism in the coalition.
On Sunday, the coalition held its first rally in the hometown of its prime ministerial candidate Moses Nagamootoo and executive member Verasammy Ramaya.
Stabroek News spoke to some of the residents of Whim and attendees at the rally, on the condition of anonymity, about their electoral views since most persons did not want their names attributed to their political views.
“If AFC had remain by themselves most a we from here [Whim] that supported them last time would continue to vote for them but now I feel is either I stay home or vote back for the PPP, because I wanted a change and like is back to the same two party,” a middle-aged man told this newspaper.
However 70-year-old Permaul (only name given) proved to be an anomaly. The man was seen making his was though the village on his bicycle, and he explained that he was not attending the rally because he was not political but would be giving the coalition his support. He stressed that he was voting for the APNU+AFC because he believed it was time to give the alliance a chance to govern, as the country and especially Berbice, has been stuck in racial division for too long. “Look me a 70 year and live though both PNC and PPP and I think is a good thing they come together because we need unity. It is what Cheddi Jagan would want. For too long we deh saying oh black and coolie and nothing nah doing, this is the best thing to happen to Guyana because now we all will develop,” he stated.
He expressed disbelief that older persons, like himself, were scared to back the opposition because they felt it would be the return of an era under late president Forbes Burnham, when basic commodities were banned. He pointed out that many of the residents believed that it was the PPP/C that was responsible for the return of items such as potatoes and flour to the local markets, but that he edifies the younger persons in his family that this was not so and that it was under the very PNC, however led by Desmond Hoyte, that saw the return of the staples.
“Do I believe that we can go back to them days? Never! You hear me? Never!” he exclaimed. “You think people would allow that? Man, look, any government mad try that now? Under this government me get me aloo [potato] but watch how much I have to pay for it. I can’t even afford to buy it. I have seen hardships and under this government is the worst. It is to make people raise dem shirt and drop deh pants how it suh bad,” he stressed.
Sitting on their verandah listening to the chat between this newspaper and Permaul were two men, possibly the same age or older than Permaul.
Their views were just as Permaul had explained:
“It going to go back to the same days of the PNC, because is same PNC people in that party. You wait and see, as soon as they get into power; watch how AFC get one kick straight out,” one elderly man posited.
His relative said he was a naturalized American but still feels that the PPP was the best choice for voters because the country would be plunged back into the “Burnham era” under the coalition.
Two other elderly residents, who identified themselves as PPP/C supporters said that they would never change their voting as they have seen development under the incumbent government and were also scared of return to days of sanctions. “This street you standing on, in the 70s and 80s was bare bush. You didn’t have place to walk now look we gat street,” he said pointing to the narrow, potholed village road. Nonetheless the man said he was thankful for the solid base he can ride his bicycle on.
But a 28-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man, both of Whim announced that they were ready to defy their parents’ influence on the grounds that not only unity was being offered by the coalition, but sound developmental polices.
“My grandmother and everybody votes for PPP and the long and short of it is because they downright scared of black leadership and of only God knows what else. I have visited Canada and will be going to see [a relative] soon, so I know what the deal is. The world is not going back, so we can’t,” the young man stated.
“In Guyana those older people give them politicians too much power because if they realize that without us they can’t do anything, they would change. I want betterment not corruption and I want my mother self to live good and get chance to go countries and travel with me. With PPP she can’t get that,” he added.
The young woman, who stood alone at the rally, informed that as was customary in the village whenever there was an event most persons would come out, not necessarily in support of that event, but out of curiosity. She said it was against this background that she told her parents she would be attending. She also explained that Ramaya does a lot of political outreach via television or village walkabouts. His views, she said, have influenced her and other youths in the area.
“Look, me ent get time with them…. This election for me is about how they can make [my] life better and that is why I voting for them,” she said.
“I don’t want to have to go to live in town or overseas to get a job that paying I well. I want that right here where I live and I want to have choices. Dr Ramaya party can do that …I believe that,” she added.