Kindly grant me permission to comment on a letter penned by Vishnu Bisram in your July 31st edition: `PPP should pick candidate with best chance of defeating the Coalition’.
In his letter, Bisram categorically states that anyone with an anti-American attitude or guilty of anti-Americanism or partook in an anti-American attack has no chance of winning a general elections”, since “the US will not allow it unless there is redemption”. He further states that “anti-Americanism contributed to the removal of the PPP from office in May 2015. The US does not have short memory.”
Bisram’s criterion for selecting a presidential candidate is founded on the outlived Cold War context of Guyanese politics which as we all know, resulted in the installation of a 28-year dictatorship with the help of US intervention, similar to elsewhere in Latin America. Of course, Guyanese too, do not have short memory. Those who were brave enough to actually fight for independence and take a stance against the ideological war into which Guyana was dragged, should not be stigmatized for having taken up an active role in our history at a time when we needed Guyanese leaders to guide our first steps as an independent nation. “Redemption” should probably be sought by those who deny the value that these individuals have added to our political history.
But the world has since changed, thanks in part to growing South-South cooperation. Subsequently, what some believe to be an extension of the Cold War today, cannot affect us as easily as it did five decades ago. The political environment has evolved enough to increase access to civil and human rights, allowing Guyanese to express their choices and convictions constantly as we cultivate national debates without fear of repression from the State. Irrespective of the divisiveness which stifles our society, I believe that Guyanese have come too far to allow the integrity of our national institutions to be sacrificed in silence. Hardened by the fight for independence and from dictatorial oppression, as well as from years of frustration engendered by slow human development and continuous government deceptions, the will of the Guyanese electorate is no longer subservient to that of any foreign power as we become increasingly weary of political rhetoric. Instead, and even more so with the emerging oil industry, we are now more than ever eager to protect our right to national sovereignty and self-determination as a nation struggling against the gangrene of corruption and thirsty for social and economic development.
Selecting a candidate in 2020 will therefore have little to do with ideology (a term long withered in our political landscape anyway). Instead, many of us will look for leadership pillared by credibility, commitment and service to the people. We will endorse leaders who we believe are strong enough to take on the responsibilities that come with this new era of economic wealth which dawns on Guyana. We will seek out leaders who possess the political will and respect for principles of transparency and accountability to the nation; leaders capable of sustainably solving the developmental challenges which riddle the path to our future and potential economic prosperity. And most naturally, we who live and vote in Guyana will look to leaders who have the stamina and resolve to honour the sovereignty of our flag, by remembering that the purpose of good governance is to serve only the interest of the small woman and man, and not that of any foreign or corporate power.
This is what Bisram should be encouraging, rather than to suggest that Guyanese cast their ballots with the benediction of the Star Spangled Banner.