Man’s relationship with his neighbours has been characterized by conflict for wealth or resources. History has documented many instances of these conflicts, with those between countries utilizing violence which resulted in millions of deaths in numerous cases. In countries such as Rwanda and the Sudan, these conflicts occurred along ethnic/religious/tribal lines, leaving a trail of deaths.
Although much conflict has been characterized by violence and death, non-violent conflicts for resources nevertheless exist, in particular between classes. In these instances, the principal weapons include general deprivation of welfare resources such as access to basic amenities like water, electricity, housing, education, and access to jobs. Obviously, these weaken the victims’ ability to sustain themselves and ultimately reduce their ability to maintain their existence and ensure the survivability of their children.
In Guyana, the many can attest to having being exposed to the above in one form or the other. This is because Guyana is, and has been in a state of conflict since independence. We were exposed to this under Burnham and the People’s National Congress (the PNC cannot extricate itself from this since many of the old guard who remain were instrumental in maintaining and securing power and control during the party’s reign up until 1992). Every time voters went to the polls to assert themselves, their democratic right was trampled upon. While Burnham did not intend to starve Guyanese, his policies nevertheless did deprive them of foodstuff. He was however unwilling to be booted from government, and so continued to have a deleterious effect on Guyanese welfare although lacking popular support.
From 1992, notwithstanding the suffering which continued to be meted out under the PPP through deliberate government policy, supporters of that party had more or less vowed never to return power to the PNC after the 28 years of suffering they and the entire country endured. And so this continued until 2015, when a few of them decided that enough was enough. Presented with an option of the coalition administration comprising the AFC, which was supposed to represent their cause, and the PNC itself, many took a giant step of breaking with the PPP in the hope of bringing change.
Unfortunately, as is currently unfolding, it is turning out that they and the entire country were duped by the coalition, as it put many of the policies in its manifesto aside and initially set about seeking to make Burnham’s socialist ideas, the very same ones that reduced the country to economic rubble by 1990, back at the centre of the country’s economic policy framework. Although the coalition came into office with the support of many who broke away from the PPP, it stubbornly went ahead with its plan of economic deprivation of many of the traditional PPP supporters in the sugar belt by allowing GuySuCo to proceed with the release of sugar workers from their duties without an appropriate compensation package.
When they finally realized the political cost of this effort, the coalition included compensation for laid off sugar workers in the 2018 budget, versus making such payments immediate, emergency payments. After giving themselves fat salaries, what the coalition is telling Guyanese here is that they don’t consider the children of sugar workers punishing as a result of their parents being laid off an emergency. More to the point, the coalition is saying it doesn’t give a damn about the lives of sugar workers and their children. Well, this is understood, accepted, and will not be forgotten. Forget about all the talk. It’s what they do that matters.
In Guyana, outcomes in conflicts between our government and people will be decided based on knowledge, who is smarter and more cunning, and who is foolish and gullible, willing to believe every fable and fairytale proffered. Guyana is in a state of conflict, and if Guyanese want to achieve better for themselves, they will have to be smarter than the present government, as well as the one they threw out of the door the other day. My name is Craig Sylvester, and I am asking Guyanese to stand with me for a better Guyana.