Can and should the ethnic divide be changed?

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letter penned by Mr Craig Sylvester captioned, ‘The PPP no longer represents the interests of its supporters’ (SN, Dec 28), in which Mr Sylvester boldly offers to provide PPP supporters with a platform upon which they can succeed in making themselves a political force in 2020. Taken in the context of his opinion that, “[PPP supporters] should simply move ahead with setting up another political organisation to represent their interests,” one may reasonably conclude that he is thereby articulating his desire to form and lead a new party. If that conclusion is correct, I congratulate Mr Sylvester for boldly thinking and writing outside the box. But I have a few questions and comments.

Editor, I agree with the sentiment expressed in the letter’s caption, as I am aware that PPP supporters are primarily Indo-Guyanese, and the current crop of PPP leaders appear to be interested in only two things, the acquisition of political power, and the accumulation of personal wealth; they couldn’t care less about the interests of ordinary people, be they Indo-Guyanese or otherwise. My first question to Mr Sylvester is, is he interested in forming a party to represent the interests of Indo-Guyanese, or does he see a need for moving away from ethno-centric politics towards issues-based political contests?

I ask this question in light of the fact that it is no secret that President Granger – and by extension the APNU – has a vision, a hope and an aspiration of a united Guyana; one in which a citizen’s ethnicity is but a minor part of his identity, and of no political significance. I share that vision with the full knowledge and acceptance that I will not live sufficiently long to experience that ideal, but one which I believe is yet worth fighting to realise.

I ask too, what are the interests to which Mr Sylvester alluded, of PPP supporters? Are those interests, in his mind, unique to Indo-Guyanese or, are they shared by non-PPP supporters? In other words, do PPP supporters experience some situation or circumstance from which non-PPP supporters are insulated?

I ask those questions in the context of my aforementioned ideal; one of a racially united Guyana, where citizens select their leaders based on merits which are of deeper significance than skin-colour or hair-texture.

I iterate the fact that the APNU has articulated in no uncertain terms the premise of a development-oriented philosophy of inclusionary democracy, unity, social cohesion, environmental conservation, decentralisation, and community-building, among other pillars. I have yet to learn what exactly the PPP currently stands for or proposes, whether similar to or different from that stated by the APNU.

In the absence of the explicit expression of a contemporary philosophy or ideology by the PPP, one is left with no alternative but to resign oneself to the acceptance of the conclusion that the current leaders of the PPP view their party as one with ethnicity as its foundation.

Editor, I would ask Mr Sylvester (as well as my fellow citizens who may or may not share his views) does he believe that the ethnic divide which currently exists – and which is shamelessly exploited, fostered, and deliberately widened by the majority of Guyana’s politicians – is acceptable as a permanent feature of local reality, or does he think that the status quo can and should be changed?

Yours faithfully,

Mark DaCosta

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