Recent letters demanding more prominence for Amerindian leadership candidates in the forefront of the slates of the two major parties come as no surprise. It is only a matter of time when the Mixed Race citizenry start demanding their own high-profile candidates. I see this as a troubling development. After all, these two groups comprise about 30% to 33% of the country’s population currently and it was inevitable that they would demand more visibility in the political sphere. The greater concern with these rumblings, which are sure to grow as the Amerindian and Mixed populaces inevitably get bigger while the Indian and African ethnic groups decline further, is that if not addressed within the current duopolistic political power structure (PPP and Coalition), we could have further racial-political fragmentation and intensification with these groups forming their own political movements. Amerindians and Mixed Races are just one dynamic leader away from political fomentation and aggregation. If one Obama-type charismatic leader emerges who can meld these two groups together, they will be the largest voting bloc within a decade and ready to rumble for power, making an even greater mess of the already fractious landscape.
The bald problem is that the current political entities (PPP and Coalition) are Indian-African dominated and have most egregiously failed to expand power to include these growing ethnic groups. Even as the Coalition and the PPP know their very political future depends on the attraction to secure crossover voters, the slates announced by these two race parties palpably have failed to offer any dynamic and visible Amerindian or Mixed leaders at the forefront of their tickets. Their slates are the standard fare of African-Indian political domination. The PPP bypassed Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, a recognizable Amerindian woman and put her deputy, an African, as its PM candidate. The two VP slots negotiated by the AFC reportedly go to Khemraj Ramjattan and Cathy Hughes, an Indian and African for a Coalition with an African and Indian as President and PM. All four presidential and prime ministerial candidates are from the two main ethnic groups (Indian and African) and the other important slots are going to candidates of these two ethnic groups.
Guyana is all about race. At its core, this country moves on race, especially on the political front. It is destructive to exclude about one third of the populace from meaningful and visible political and power presence, particularly when that one third could grant either of these two sclerotic parties the Holy Grail of power if they are incentivized to come off the fence and into the fray. It is no wonder Amerindians are writing these letters and Mixed Races are still noncommittal about voting.
Surely, the political ambitions of some could have been sacrificed for the safety and security of a future without the intensification of racial politics brought on by the splintering caused by the arrival of Amerindian and Mixed movements or a single movement of both groups. Surely, some concessions could have been made within the current duopolistic political framework for the two movements to facilitate a pivotal optical sea change moment in our history. Some will argue that race parties have no inherent duty to transform to genuinely accommodate Mixed and Amerindian voters by creating equal representation and space. However, those advocates for this position hate the dramatic consequence of the closed-shop approach – political party formation by Mixeds and Amerindians. They detest even more the staggering truth than demographics could see such a new combined movement vaulting to the top of the political space in a decade or so. Make no mistake, in this racially conscious country, these moves are going to rub many Amerindian and Mixed voters the wrong way and will trigger sentiments of disrespect, alienation along with the perception that the political scene is all about Indian-African (or African-Indian) political domination and power. This will create fertile ground for the rise of Amerindian and Mixed political movements.