Let’s debate: America’s immigrants
Coming from where I came from – voting for the People’s National Congress (PNC); then participating in its elections campaigns (’80, ’85, ’92) – I will not here prevaricate or equivocate: I’m aware of allegations and realities of electoral rigging of polling and votes when Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte administered this land.
Rigging subsided when Desmond Hoyte succumbed to American realities as outlined by Jimmy Carter in 1992. Imagine my surprise therefore when I am told that “rigging” still featured – as electoral malpractices and GECOM lapses – during elections of the 1997-to-2015 period! Is that true? Accurate? Can’t we Guyanese ever experience free and fair rig-free national elections? And what were the fraud-filled electoral “engineering” features of the by-gone PNC days.
Intimidation, dead and donkeys voting!
I guess that not too many of the present under 30 generation – including new 18/19-year-old voters – would now care about the interesting, dramatic or sordid details about how the people’s real will was stolen through both subtle and blatant rigging of the vote and results under Presidents Burnham and Hoyte. So today I’ll use just two paragraphs to summarise the evidence – proven techniques.
The rigging ranged from manipulation of the overseas votes. “Votes” came to Georgetown from areas in England that were cemeteries and open pastures. The dead and jackasses, (as in donkeys) voted! And were counted by Mr Burnham’s election machinery.
Ballot boxes were captured and ballots boxes replaced. Janet Jagan showed how original ballots cast and stamped inside later turned up stamped outside – all for PNC! Thousands! Army, police and friendly elections officials intimidated non-PNC party scrutineers and overseas observers were routinely duped. PNC people rubbed off electoral ink with bleach and other substances to vote multiple times. More later – to include the role of the then Elections Headquarters.
Rigging today – and tomorrow
After the 1992 resumption-victory of Cheddi Jagan’s People’s Progressive Party (PPP) he chose Asgar Ally to be his first Finance Minister. Ally had lived and worked in Jamaica and was a flamboyant economist. Later Ally left the PPP and actually established his own little baby party. I forget its name but guess who was an active young right-hand man to Asgar Ally? Irfaan Ali, today’s new PPP presidential candidate! Asgar accused the PPP of controlling the elections from Freedom House. He alleged collusion from the then GECOM. More on this as I secure “evidence” from the 23 years.
Rigging today? Does His Excellency’s Chairman know? Does Officer (rtd) Lowenfield know? Ho-ho! One method! At the close of polls – around 6:00 pm (18:00 hrs) three (3) copies of the statement of poll have to be made for every polling place. Counting is done transparently (?) at each place. In some places the Statement sent to GECOM by a PNC-friendly (APNU?) Presiding Officer has a higher different number for the favoured party! From the others which existed at the polling place.
Scared/fearful non-PNC/APNU agents and scrutineers seek to “escape” certain (Region 4 and 10) divisions after 6:00 pm! Next time I’ll discuss the role of “friendly presiding officers and inexperienced scrutineers. And why foreign, neutral officers might be necessary in GECOM’s computer units before and on polling day and night.
Why am I so interested? Because if a party boasts of the people’s support; of confidence in winning, the mechanics of voting should be fair and free. Whether there is new registration – or not!
The constitution my eye!
Trae unionist Lewis has much respect and great insights relevant to the Constitution of Guyana – as currently amended. New York-based Rickford Burke seems to be studying it intently too.
Recent events have catapulted – once again – the issue of the need for the national document to be modified, amended, reviewed, reformed! Every week I read numerous letters, “dissertations” on the use – or abuse – of our Constitution. This column is disappointed by the disregard and eye-pass meted out to the Constitution by the Coalition since May, 2015. The arbitrary selection of the GECOM chairman by His Excellency, the Brigadier; the presence of the Prime Minister in the Assembly when acting as president and all the legalistic shenanigans consequent upon the No-Confidence vote testify to government’s disdain of specific provisions as the Constitution becomes a mere convenience.
A strategic nation of immigrants
On another occasion I’ll discuss Emma Lazarus’ poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty near Ellis Island (?) New York, New York, USA.
Those words are used by pro-immigration advocates who seek to accommodate all immigrants and refugees into America. But are those words meant to welcome all who would enter? Even illegally?
I support Mr Trump’s policy regarding legal merit-based entry into the USA. I know that the developed nations of the world, including rich Arab states, should increase assistance to poorer states to promote freedom, democracy and economic development to motivate people to remain where they were born.
American immigration realities are grounded in history – some British establishing 13 “American” states, appropriated from the continent’s First Peoples. Then warring with Britain and France to stay independent (from 1776). (The original settlers/immigrants welcomed others from Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Jews displaced, Scandinavia, Italy before and after the two world wars.
The new America utilized immigrant skills and indigenous economic capitalistic strategies to amass added expertise, eventual wealth. Soon many, from every portion of the planet, felt America owed them “opportunities”. Now Trump faces an explosion of unreasonable “immigrants”. A few Guyanese Americans assure me that “America can tek in mo people.” Let’s discuss this. Later.
What arrangement can be devised for “Dual Citizens” to serve in the Assembly under a modified Constitution?
Should ANUG, FED-UP and the new JCP all welcome Cde Irfaan’s candidature?
Said one letter writer: “APNU has no need to rig now…” Naughty! Eyes “pass” APNU!
Vice-President Nagamootoo’s Chronicle has gone flat out into APNU/AFC campaign mode!
Still to come: Our under-development in sport.
’Til next week!