The Red House matter could have been solved a long time ago, but for the PPP’s inherent politics of domination. The President made the most reasonable suggestion that the Red House be used to house the papers of all Guyana’s presidents. Now, how much more reasonable than that can you ask for, bearing in mind that this was a case of state property being appropriated for private, party use? The PPP rejected this proposal—a case of being wrong and strong. The PPP is blatantly saying that it has no interest in national reconciliation; its only interest is to get back into the seat of dominance. This is ugly politics at its ugliest. Some of us continue to believe that we can go nowhere as a country without a common sense of purpose. But the PPP makes a liar of us—every day.
Former President Jagdeo, as he often does, let the cat out of the bag when he asserted that the APNU+AFC would pay for their move to evict the PPP from the building; that Indian Guyanese supporters of the PPP would not look kindly on such an action. Now, let us examine that assertion. To begin with, Indian Guyanese PPP supporters would not look kindly on any government action—so there is no news there. So, Mr Jagdeo must be hinting that there is something special about this action. He is, of course making the Red House story about Jagan the person and in the process appealing to the raw ethnic sensitivities of Indian Guyanese.
As a student of ethnicity and ethnic politics, I allow for certain normatives in ethnically polarized societies. I am not torn up by ethnic voting nor am I condemnatory of appeals to ethnic solidarity—I see these as normal developments that are products of the logic of ethnic polarization. One just has to live with them and try to utilize them in positive ways. But what Mr Jagdeo is doing is going out of his way to create an atmosphere of ethnic tension when there need not be one.
This Red House issue is not one of disrespecting Jagan or Indian Guyanese sensitivities. It is a simple case of a party using its authority to appropriate common resources for private partisan use and the government attempting to restore the resource to common public use. This is purely a matter of recovering misappropriated state assets. The issue of stolen state assets is one that is central to the PPP’s legacy, but because of the present government’s weak-kneed approach to the issue, the PPP has been behaving as if it has been vindicated.
But having said that, the government should not have chosen the Red House as its point of entry; on the scale of things, Red House is low down in the pecking order. Why go after Red House when you have the bigger house in the form of Pradoville? What about all the easy targets unearthed by the audits? The Red House is easy pickings for the PPP; they will make it about Jagan, as they are doing. Eventually the government would take control of Red House, but the PPP would have made its political point that a government of Guyana threw out Jagan from Red House. This is political ABC‒ if you are going after political corruption, go where the perpetrators are most vulnerable. Where are the political brains in the government or are any available to them?