Make your own free website on Tripod.com

GUYANA PALM TREE

THE NEW PNC: THINK TANK

Home
NEWSLETTER
Caribbean Culture
The PNC Party
JUST MY OPINION
VIEWPOINT
Open letter to Guyanese
Political Advocacy
Anthem & Pledge
Songs of Guyana
National Symbols
National Sites
National Events
CULTURAL/SOCIAL EVENTS
Guyana Embassy
Archive
OBITUARY
Contact us

As part of the change needed in Guyana the new title of this paper should be:

"A Memorandum for Jump Starting Change in Guyana"

Don’t let the original title below turn you off. Read and check the comments within the document and the general comments at the end!

A SUGGESTED MANIFESTO FOR THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS / REFORM

A. AN OPEN APPROACH TO REVITALISING THE PNCR

Those influenced by the Westminster approach to improving governance in Guyana recommend that the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) change its leadership to attract East Indian votes. That approach is flawed for two reasons. The first is that East Indians crossing over to the PNCR may be fewer than Africans crossing over to the PPP . A friend of mine recently saw Africans in classes at Freedom House, suggesting that the PPP is not asleep in the matter of seeking African votes while the PNCR, at present, has no capability to hold classes for any one.

The second and more important reason is that improving governance in Guyana is a task for all Guyanese and not only for the PNCR. The situation in Guyana warrants a public conversation on race and on governance such as was suggested by Mr. Oliver Hinckson and endorsed by Father Malcolm Rodrigues and Brother Eusi Kwayana.

B. DIAGNOSIS

We need to diagnose what has gone so seriously wrong, in the PNCR and in the society as a whole. In pursuing a diagnosis, it is useful to combine both history and the contemporary situation. In the social sciences, the historical is referred to as diachronic and the contemporary as synchronic.

In respect of the historical, Guyana has had 400 years of imperialism that has left us with a society that is largely colonial. Colonialism in Guyana functioned around the cruel authoritarianism of the plantation that gives effect to this day to cycles of dictatorship.

The plantation subordinated the interests of the different groups on the plantation to the aims and objectives of the plantation. House slaves, for example, were given preferences so that they could be co-opted to inflict brutal punishment to their brothers and sisters who were field slaves.

When slavery was legally ended, the British paid compensation to plantation owners. The previously enslaved, by contrast, were robbed of what little savings they accumulated during the so-called Apprenticeship period by the exorbitant amounts that they were required to pay for the villages that they bought.

When indentured labourers were brought in to work on the sugar estates, they were the beneficiaries of preferences—efforts to continue their culture; encouragement to strengthen their families as compared with deliberate efforts to weaken African families; provision of access to bank loans, a facility denied to Africans. In the context of the limitations imposed on Africans, the men sought employment in the hinterland, mining gold and diamond and bleeding balata. This often resulted in additional family liaisons that further weakened African families.

It is argued that the exploitation of the enslaved and the indentured were roughly equivalent. In some respects, the exploitation of all workers was severe. But in respect of the cultural deprivation of Africans, the weaknesses of family ties and the sidelining of African entrepreneurship, there was no equivalence. Both races were dependent on the plantation with subsidiary activities to maintain their livelihood. As it turned out, however, the major distinction between the preferences given ,was in the potential of the East Indian land settlement schemes to produce rice for export. Rice became a staple in the diet of all Guyanese and ,during the Second World War, rice became a major tripod of the three legged economy of sugar, bauxite and rice.

Sugar and bauxite were foreign owned. Rice rested on domestic entrepreneurship that was East Indian. The important point about that domestic entrepreneurship was its basis for collective self-determination. East Indian rice farmers formed economic networks that planted and reaped rice by informal co-operatives that were based largely on non cash exchange of labour.

The combination of economic self-determination, cultural homogeneity that the plantocracy had fostered and political homogeneity that was occasioned by the split in the PPP after 1955, amounted to a movement that has become a racial behemoth. This represents a force that is larger than the numbers on which it is based. Western individualistic assumptions of political behaviour do not apply to the East Indian phenomenon in Guyana. This is a racial bloc that does not perceive any advantage in political alliances. It is sustainable as a bottom-up phenomenon. When the clash between the two major races occurred first in 1953 and second in 1955, none of the African grass roots homogeneity factors were given their proper emphasis. The cultural renaissance (ASCRIA) was virtually crushed because it was conceived as divisive. Collective economic self-determination was not developed. The informal social contract with the state placed too great a responsibility on the state for finding employment, and the nascent self governing institutions (city and village councils) were sacrificed to a superficial racial harmony that never undermined East Indian racial solidarity but that shattered African community relations.

The undue dependence on the state has destroyed the PNCR. The PPP has seized on this weakness to subordinate Africans while not affecting the economic and cultural and political independence that provides the basis for East Indian superiority. To the extent that the PNCR wishes to perpetuate the subordinate outlook in its membership, it is continuing to play into Jagdeo’s hands.

There is, now, an apathy among Africans that expresses itself in low productivity and in weak responses to opportunities for joint social action. Africans are less confident now than they were at independence largely because of the mis-steps of the PNCR. It is therefore irresponsible for the PNCR to wash its hands like Pontius Pilate and claim that it has no racial responsibility for the restoration of the fortunes of African people.

C. THE IMPORTANCE OF IDEOLOGY

In addition to the weaknesses associated with the shift to an imbalance in the dependence on the state, the biggest weakness of the PNCR is the absence of an ideology. The PNC has drifted from declaring itself libertarian in 1968 to being communist in the early 1970s. In 1969, Mr. Burnham declared his dissatisfaction with the free enterprise system and his willingness to embrace Marxism/Leninism. The nationalisations followed and the Sophia declaration was pronounced in 1974. State ownership of productive assets did provide opportunities for the development of a managerial class but the technological grasp was weak. Moreover, the Western capitalist powers were in no mood to encourage socialism in America’s backyard during the Cold War and the financial pressure to return to capitalism was intense.

Mr. Hoyte had never embraced Mr. Burnham’s experiments and made the switch back to capitalism when he instituted the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) after Mr. Burnham died. Mr. Hoyte did not give much consideration to the differences in expectations that East Indians and Africans had developed in relation to the state. For Africans, the ERP was a disaster.

Both Bharrat Jagdeo and Robert Corbin pronounce their faith in the free enterprise system. Those pronouncements are the consequence of a refusal to consider seriously the implications of the free enterprise ideology. By 1995 January, Mr. Hoyte had seen the need for an ameliorating ideology. He was inclined to adopting social democracy. He had seen that naked capitalism was a cruel system. As Lenin had said, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." One core principle in capitalism is its reliance on bankruptcies to weed out inefficient companies.

Alas, at the present time, in the U.S.A, that core principle is being modified. The U.S. Government has taken shares in several U.S. financial institutions and is in the process of making substantial loans to motor car manufacturers. The U.S. Government is in no position to tell us that the Government should not intervene to support Globe Trust, for example. The PNCR should ask the Guyana Government to salvage Globe Trust in the very same way that the U.S. Government is saving the financial giant AIG, American International Group.

In effect, the Americans can intervene to save companies because their ideology was always a mixture of private enterprise and state intervention. That mixture is, in effect, a form of social democracy. Marxists have been critical of social democracy because of its imprecision.

But it is possible to be more precise in Guyana by considering four elements of a political ideology for the PNCR. The elements are as follows:

    1. There must be equality of opportunity for each individual in the society.

2. In the context of Guyana, where racial groups are important, equality of opportunity for each individual will be realised only if there is racial equality.

    1. A social contract, largely unwritten, must evolve in which each person,

      in assuming personal responsibility for realising her or his potential, will be supported by the efforts of the state.

    2. Local authorities should be empowered to strengthen community relations for individual and community production and for interpersonal support.

The first element is basic to this whole document. It derives from the ideological objective that each person should be free in the wide society "to enquire and create." When the Party attempts to suppress that freedom in the political confines of the Party, it is infringing a basic human right. No individual should transgress the human right of another individual. By the same token, no Party boss, no Party official, can infringe the basic human right of an individual member.

The highhandedness with which the Party has trampled on the basic human right of individuals is a practice that should be stopped. Demanding sexual favours for promotion in the Party infringes the human right of the member. It is wrong.

There is a notion that political leaders are superior to ordinary members. As in all organisations, high office requires acceptance from the general membership of the priority that has to be accorded to leaders. That ,however, does not make the leader a superior being. In the parlance of the American Constitution , all men are created equal. It is a principle that should be cherished, in our existing state, and in our right to be elevated.

In respect of the second principle, none of us is an island. It is in the bonding with others that we seek equality of opportunity. In a highly developed capitalist system that is racially homogeneous, bonding for equality of opportunity is pursued in capitalist classes. In undeveloped multi-racial societies, bonding for equality of opportunity is pursued in racial associations. Let us not fool ourselves. East Indian business networks, have no intention, ZERO intention, of admitting Africans in their commercial networks, in the rice field operations, in the fishing co-operatives, in the farming associations, in the chambers of commerce, in the manufacturing associations, in the commercial banks’ lending operations. In the spirit of the racial equality principle, these various associations should be open to admitting members of all racial groups.

But the reality is that, in these informal relationships, there will be little or no inclusivity. The state, in respect of this second ideological principle of racial equality, should make it its business to strengthen associations of the weaker racial networks and weaker racial groups to achieve racial parity. This is an ideological commitment that the PNCR should demand from the Government. [Why the PNCR: the emphasis needs to be on affirmative action type approaches and outlawing of racism, and a mechanism to enforce these measures. Back to changing the govt as the first priority to change the governance structure of the country]

The third principle of a social contract to permit the discharge of the activities of the state to assist individuals, co-operatives, companies and racial groups who are doing their best to be personally responsible is one which requires a state that has the information, the analyses and the resources to intervene efficiently in the private sector. It was observed in the Diagnosis how important it is to achieve balance in pursuing the social contract. The discharge of the social contract will rely heavily on power sharing of the central executive, on a well developed public service and on an empowered local authority.

The fourth principle of empowering local authorities will permit the participation of the communities, the villages, and the neighbourhoods in the cities in efforts to increase incomes and improve the environments where they live.

In multi-racial Guyana, no hard and fast predictions can be made about racial interactions. As indicated throughout, differences in culture make simplistic views about racial harmony unlikely. The preference ought to be to strengthen weak racial bonds, as suggested in the second ideological principle, especially as these are likely to be non-threatening. This means restoring village councils, strengthening East Indian and Amerindian communities and putting the property tax authority in the village and community councils. [I agree with measures like this to see more revenues collected and spent at the local level] This will be spelt out fully later.

Taken to its logical conclusion, this approach leads to the ELIMINATION OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD DEMOCRATIC COUNCILS, a major change in local governance. It is a change that can bring about greater harmony in race relations since it can be associated with the ELIMINATION OF THE ARMED VIGILANTE GROUPS and with GETTING GUNS OUT OF THE HANDS OF CIVILIANS AND RESTORING LAW AND ORDER BY RE-EMPOWERING THE POLICE.

This set of principles constitutes a suggested national ideology. They are critical in ending the low grade racial war that is tearing the society apart. Oliver Hinckson’s national discourse is centred on these four principles. Taken together, they represent a sea change in the ideology of governance.

D. VISION

Implementation of a new PNCR requires an abandonment of the ZERO-SUM outlook that has characterised political thinking since 1955. Proposals for the future are always conditioned by " What is in it for us ( for our Party)?" and not by " How will this benefit all parties?". The PPP, at present, is biasing development objectives towards Skeldon and away from Linden and Georgetown. The PNCR should battle this negativity in preference for a POSITIVE-SUM approach that brings the maximum returns wherever the investment is made.

The New Nation or some equivalent publication should motivate all Guyanese by a MACRO VISION of expansion and by a widespread participation of all Guyanese in that expanded MACRO VISION. Local government empowerment should be developed to ensure participation by all Guyanese in the exclusive enclaves of activity that are being taken over by associates aligned with Jagdeo and by Brazilians and Colombians who are taking away the birth right of Africans and Amerindians. Those peoples who were first to arrive in Guyana have prior claims to ownership of Guyana. That the PNCR has no strategy for the reclaim by Africans of their birthright is a disgrace.[don’t forget that person of south Asian heritage born in Guyana also have birthrights as Guyanese. People are not born racist!]

A MACRO VISION of expansion must be based on the comparative advantages of the country. There are three major comparative advantages that Guyana has. The first is that of an advantageous LOCATION which facilitates entry through Guyana to the North of Brazil. The second is the abundance of agricultural land and of minerals that the Brazilians are digging out and transporting to Brazil. The third is the vast potential for agro-processing and manufacture of the raw materials that are being dug out of the earth and filling the pockets of foreigners and a few Guyanese.

Stanley Ming and Eric Phillips and Kadz Khan must be given praise for their proposals to take advantage of our favourable international location. Cheddi Jagan killed their Guyana 21 project for none other than political reasons. Bharrat Jagdeo is continuing in that same tradition.

Although the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has made money available for a road parallel to the East Bank road form Mandela Avenue to Timehri, Jagdeo has refused to draw that money down for much the same reason that Cheddi Jagan threw cold water on the whole Guyana 21 Project. A revitalised PNCR must advance the road project by approaching the IDB for the draw down of the funds.

Jagdeo, in his vicious ZERO-SUM approach, is pushing the limited options for development of the airport at TIMEHRI even though the Guyana 21 project has made it clear that the extensive plateau on the left bank of the Demerara River opposite Timehri will receive large aircraft that Timehri will never accommodate.

It is really unthinkable that the PNCR is allowing a very limited small minded leader of the PPP to constrain the country’s macro-economic vision to his Berbice Zero Sum outlook. The substitute of limited eco-tourism projects is not a satisfactory alternative. To pursue with the Berbice zero-sum approach, Jagdeo is attempting to force the entrepôt advantage through Berbice. A revitalized PNCR should fight this Berbice bias every inch of the way. Jagdeo and the PPP wish to make Berbice the capital of the country, wasting resources in the process of doing so. [a revitalized combination of progressive forces is what is needed to counter zerosum politics. Earlier you had alluded to the fact of the need for all to work together to advance Guyana. You have to stay consistent on that theme]

The second aspect of the MACRO VISION is the development of agricultural land and the exploitation of the abundant mineral resources that the Brazilians and the Colombians are extracting with Jagdeo’s complicity.

At first, the PPP decided on returning to office in 1992 that every Burnham project must be ignored. The PPP has now awakened to the stupidity of that policy and has returned to the MMA Scheme which it had abandoned. In typical dictatorial fashion, the PPP has placed a czar in charge of MMA with the intention of evicting Africans from their ancestral lands in Western Berbice. The PNCR has not responded to the czar’s behaviour even though he is using a Burnham project to disinherit Burnham’s followers. Africans in West Berbice have not helped their cause by allowing apathy to govern their responses. [Is this true? Does the AFC know of this??]

Jagdeo is now proceeding to develop the development of his and the PPP’s Little India dream by turning his attention to the Canje Reservoir Scheme. The Scheme has a vast potential that should first be allocated to Guyanese and then to West Indians, primarily Haitians. The PNCR should not shy away from the Haitian idea since Haiti is a post-slave society that is struggling and that needs the assistance of other post-slave societies, like Guyana, for its development. The cultural difficulty of absorbing people who speak a different language must not be under-estimated though that cultural difficulty will be a lot greater in respect of the absorption of migrants from India and from Brazil and Colombia. The South American migrants have already occupied considerable space in a situation where there has been no policy to guide their residence in Guyana. The ad-hoc arrangements that apply to the South Americans have reduced African Guyanese to inferiority in their own country. [the south Americans bring investments. Their activities have a multiplier effect on all Guyanese. We should not be bewailing foreign investment but rather striving to develop a robust framework to ensure that foreign investments have maximum impact on Guyana’s sustainable development]

The problem with the development of agricultural land is the absence of a land and crop development strategy. There is no effort to allocate crops to the most suitable land. Economies of scale are not given adequate consideration. Landless Guyanese are not educated about the options. The whole process is a Wild West operation of greedy land grabbers who are not trained farmers and are, in effect, land grabbing speculators.

This development of agricultural land should be brought under national control of [a ministry of agriculture staffed with professionals] all the political parties. The process can be made transparent. The various Regional Democratic Offices should be given the task of computerising the availability of land and its ownership. It does not require rocket science to achieve this knowledge. The Guyana Government has received an IDB grant for this specific purpose. What is now required is the training of land surveyors and computer data base operators to put together the information. If this is not done, Wild West land grabbing will lead to the dispossessing of Guyanese, particularly African Guyanese, of their birthright.

The PNCR does not have to wait for a power sharing government to achieve this data base. In every region, there is a PNCR representation that can insist, with the support of the AFC, on this data preparation. Land use studies at the regional level can follow. There is no need to rely on a CONTROL FREAK from on high to dictate development in every part of the country.

The crop determination can be a continuous process as more information unfolds. The central feature must be its decentralisation and the participation of the regional citizens in its determination.

Mineral development is the accompanying feature to crop development. Every Guyanese has heard from birth about the mineral wealth of Guyana and about the potential prosperity for Guyanese. Alas, instead of wealth, Guyanese are among the poorest people in South America, escaping their homeland to subjugate themselves to unbecoming treatment and insults in the Caribbean while the land and the mineral wealth of the country is handed out by Jagdeo to wealthy land speculators. DOES THE PNCR EXIST IN GUYANA WHILE THIS IS TAKING PLACE? [the real question is whether there exists in Guyana and the Diaspora LEADERSHIP for changed governance in Guyana]

The answer to occupying the hinterland by Guyanese is in the upgrading of mining skills of Guyanese. This will take time, given the miserable levels of education of the vast majority of Guyanese. [necessary for broader economic activity in the so-called hinterland is the development of the transport infrastructure to facilitate diversifying economic development from the huge trench that is the real description of Guyana’s coast]

The process of education, however, should begin. There are vast swaths of illiteracy in Georgetown. An education programme to upgrade reading skills should be started in Georgetown, particularly in South Georgetown. [all Guyana]Instead of pursuing the objectives of dictatorial control by the Leader, the PNCR should seek the assistance of UNDP, UNICEF and the European Union to undertake mass literacy programmes. There are small efforts in this regard that are being attempted but a mass education approach is the best means for addressing the disgraceful illiteracy situation that Africans find themselves in at the present time. Much of this present disgraceful situation is the result of the undue bias towards dependency on the state that the PNC fostered and that the PNCR wishes to perpetuate. All hands on board are required to uplift African Guyanese from their state of ignorance. Expelling Party leaders and excluding Party leaders from taking a lead in educating illiterate members is the utmost stupidity.

At the same time as the literacy skills are being developed, the PNCR should approach Brazil and Venezuela to secure places in the institutions of higher learning to upgrade mining technology skills in Guyana. Much of the mining that takes place at present is environmentally disastrous and wasteful in terms of the minerals lost. The Mining Faculty at the University of Guyana should be twinned with appropriate faculties in Brazil and Venezuela to upgrade mining technology in Guyana. The PNCR should be in the vanguard of this process. The manufacture of equipment, of engines and of river craft in Guyana will take development several notches higher and eliminate the backwardness on which the narcotics traders feed.

The third macro-economic aspect, namely the processing of food and the manufacture of raw materials can be developed by similar leads taken by an aggressive PNCR. In respect of food manufacture, Brazil is very advanced. Why is Guyana, a next door neighbour to Brazil, unable to can water coconut juice? Why is the production and export of jams and jellies limited to picayune operations? The answer. The ZERO SUM outlook, the closeting of networks to a selected group, the monopoly of pharmaceutical and food processing operations in the hands of a clique, the monopoly of stock feed manufacture in a similar fashion.

In these circumstances, the PNCR whines each week, in press statements, begging for miniscule non-strategic benefits. Big Daddy, in response, condescends to grant a concession or two. The PNCR, in exemplification of its ingrained dependency syndrome, gloats at achieving a miniscule triumph or two. It is the worst example of the mentality of enslaved minds. It is a disgrace.

Upgrades of reading skills are available. Upgrades of food processing know how are available. Upgrades of mining technology are available. Diamond cutting skills, such as Dr. Grantley Waldron would like to employ, are available in India. Manufacture of mining equipment can be undertaken. Small engine manufacture is a possibility. Small river craft manufacture can be undertaken. But the VISION is not there in the agenda of the PNCR.

Lee Kwan Yew (who is an autocrat and whose approach should be corrected for its authoritarianism) does point to leadership attributes that we will do well to embrace. Leadership attributes, Lee says are: (1) VISION (2) COMPETENCE (3) MANAGERIAL ABILITY (4) HONESTY (5) HUMILITY (6) ACCOUNTABILITY.

None, not one, of these attributes is evident in the PNCR leadership. Most important in the list of six attributes is that of VISION. Without VISION, leadership is not possible. Is VISION present in our leadership? The answer is NO. So the followership is VISION LESS also.

E. THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

While the PNC made huge mistakes in the design of the local government system, the division of the country into ten regions provides the basis for people participation in the management of the country. Georgetown and Region Four provide the examples on which the system can function.

Both Georgetown and Region Four have witnessed huge housing developments from questionable sources of finance. In Region Four, there is the spectacular achievement of SPLASHMINS and the extensive housing estates of Buddy Shivraj and of Roger Khan. These are sitting ducks of sources of finance for development.

The PNCR has the most seats in the Region Four Democratic Council. In a decision of unimaginable stupidity, the PNCR joined with the PPP to achieve majority control of the Council. The obvious alliance that the PNCR should have sought was that of joining with the AFC.

With the majority control of the PNCR and the AFC, property taxation should have been pursued that would have made Region Four wealthy.

This is a somewhat complicated matter. It is complicated because Guyana has, in its laws, a wealth tax that was passed with the advice of Nicholas Kaldor by the first Jagan Government of 1957 to 1964. The property tax is obsolete and should be taken off the law books. [property tax is obsolete? Property taxes are what pay for a lot of services, including education at the local level all throughout the US!! One of the reasons for the disparity in services from community to community. Property taxes should be kept, with lower income communities subsidized by the central govt to ensure a minimum level of services to all Guyanese. On further reading what was really meant was that property tax in Guyana needs modernization]                                                                                                      The second complication is that of evaluating properties for taxation. The backwardness of the country is evident in the fact that all wealth taxation was evaluated by an old man who is now dead. What is required is a system of up-to-date market values of properties that can be achieved by the valuation experts of the fire insurance companies. Fire insurance companies value houses all the time for the purpose of insuring houses against loss by fire. These values can be obtained from the valuation experts and used as a basis for property taxation. The Government would be opposed to the approach because it would be obliged to pay property tax on Government buildings and on embassy buildings and on the buildings of legations. But Jagdeo’s larger objection would be the fact that his supporters would be required to pay substantial taxes.

If the PNCR, with the AFC, has the majority in Region Four, it can battle with the Government on both the valuation of the properties and on the rate of taxation.

The rate of taxation is the more contentious area. The extra ordinarily large properties of SPLASHMINS, BUDDY SHIVRAJ, ROGER KHAN and similarly huge holders of wealth should be required to pay a progressive property tax, that is, the property tax rate would be higher for more valuable properties.

Progressive property tax rates can be easily designed in such a way that the small property holders continue to pay at existing property tax rates while the larger holders of wealth pay at a more substantial rate. The higher rates will not, in any way, cripple the large land owners. SPLASHMINS, BUDDY SHIVRAJ and ROGER KHAN are capable of carrying the additional tax burden with ease. [this personalization of taxes and taxation policy is not sustainable. Similarly some of the current large investments in Guyana not sustainable because of their source]

The rule should be adopted that all the property tax accrues to the area in which the property exists. That revenue can then be applied to the police, the schools, the roads, the health clinics, the street lights, the garbage disposal, the drainage and irrigation of the areas of these holders of massive properties.

If this approach is applied to Greater Georgetown, the financial woes of the Mayor and City Council will come to an end. Finance of the literacy programmes will be available. Similarly finance of education programmes for upgrading skills of miners will be in place.

This is liberation from the oppression of BIG DADDY. The liberation will not come without a fight. But this will be a big fight that will be worth the battle.

This approach to property taxation should be applied throughout the country. Its purpose will be to begin the fight back against drug lords and the dread hand of Jagdeo’s oppressiveness. It takes the lever of Jagdeo’s bribes away from him and puts it in the hands of the people.

If this works, it can help to finance the Police Force and return the country to law and order. After a while there should be no VIGILANTE GROUPS which are an umbrella organisation for East Indian domination.

Much more can be written on the specific programmes in the villages but the outlines of what can be pursued are clear from what has been set out in the earlier sections.

That the PNCR leadership has nothing to do but tear each other apart is an indication of vacuousness.

F. FORMS OF OWNERSHIP

The sugar plantation and the rice estate are two oppressive forms of ownership that suppress the freedom to "enquire and create" that is identified under the first principle of the proposed PNCR Ideology. Although both forms of ownership are stultifying, they are difficult to change. In fact, they are being perpetuated in the individual ownership plots and the great houses that result from the individual awards of land and dispensations of privileges by Jagdeo. That distribution of largesse by the President is what constitutes Jagdeo’s concept of free enterprise. It is, in effect, his freedom to do as he pleases with the patrimony of Guyana. It is not free enterprise in the traditional sense in which the term is used. It is in effect the perpetuation of major aspects of the plantation society, namely, the manager’s house and the manager’s autocratic outlook.

The large volumes of wealth being made available by the narcotics trade contribute to the huge inequalities of wealth and income that kill the fortunes of small people by putting their advance out of reach unless they join the band of criminals. People are forced to live in the despair that honest achievement will never be worth while.

The recent story of the immediate payment of nearly G $ 2 billion in bail money in a New York court by a single Guyanese family is an indication of the new form of slavery that is returning to Guyana. Is this what is meant by Emancipation?

The key correction to this new enslavement is the progressive property taxation proposed above under the Role of Local Government. That is a quasi grass roots approach that does not have to await formal power sharing. It can be implemented now if the PNCR leadership is so minded.

Africans who have taken large tracts of land under the Jagdeo dispensation are unwittingly contributing to the slavery of their children and grandchildren by perpetuating the plantation mode. People, including a revitalized PNCR, should be clamouring instead for the strengthening of local government in the City Council and in the Regional Democratic Councils and the imposition of progressive property taxation to discourage further entrenching plantation type establishments.

The plantation is central to our repression. In the existing plantations, the field lay out of the agricultural area is not conducive to individual cane farming. The transportation of cane, once it is cut, is corporatised. Again this is not favourable to individual enterprise. The timing of transport is not flexible between rival cutting operations but rigidly sequenced if sucrose content is not to be destroyed.

Can this set of operations be undertaken by individual farmers who are co-operativised instead of corporatised? Co-operativising, in the Eusi Kwayana concept of co-operatives, can be prosperous if it is introduced slowly with individual ownership that observes the principles of equity. It has been achieved in Belize with relatively small farmers. The farmer size is larger in Australia and in the U.S.A. but scale may be reduced while retaining efficiency. [hard to do that for certain agricultural crops. The evidence is clear that larger scale is better for crops like sugar. Small scale more suitable to exotics like coffee, spices. We therefore have to widen our concept of agriculture and understand that there are differing levels of investment needed. Everyone whom we encourage to go into agriculture is not going to plant sugar.]

Adjusting to co-operative sugar cane farming should have been considered as soon as it became obvious that European preferences for sugar were going to be withdrawn.

As already mentioned, the transportation system is corporatised. The punts are corporate owned. The trenches are corporate owned. Only a whole scale transformation into a co-operative of the entire transportation system seems workable. [or a market based solution where transport of agricultural crops is made just another part of the transportation network. There is no reason why the person who is planting also has to own the transportation rolling stock to get the crop to the processing facilities or the shipping or marketing points. The necessary transportation services can be purchased as needed.]

Should the factory remain privately owned? If it does, should the co-operative farmers and the co-operative owners of the transportation system have shares in the factory?

These questions may appear far fetched but they are very relevant to the survival of the sugar industry. The cane cutters who are the linchpin of the system are leaving because of the rigidities that do not provide opportunities to "enquire and create." In effect, the cane cutters are the slaves of the system and they are seeking emancipation by leaving. A more appealing emancipation is to transform the "slaves" of the system into "owners" of cane farms. This approach will save the East Coast estates by reducing the high overhead costs that are ,at present, crippling those sugar estate operations.

The transformation will introduce the flexibility to diversify into other crops. The research into these other activities can be undertaken at N.A.R.I. and at the Agricultural Faculty at the University of the West Indies.

A less elaborate but similar repressive system exists in the rice industry where the ownership of the rice fields remains firmly in the hands of estate owners who often own the distribution store outlet and the factory for processing the rice.

In most instances, the plots rented to the rice farmers are too small for a comfortable livelihood, leading to the reliance on subsidiary activities like taxi transportation but also provision farming for additional support. This analysis suggests that the estate owners should allocate larger plots of land to the rice farmers or reduce the rents that they are charging. The rice industry is resting on shaky foundations if farm sizes are too small.

Rice estate owners can ameliorate the situation by permitting farmers to share ownership of the rice milling operations though if milling margins are small, the scope for greater farming profits may not be substantial.

Jagdeo is seeking answers to these rice farming questions by expanding rice farming into the Canje Reservoir Scheme and by confiscating rice farm lands from Africans, particularly in the West Berbice area. The Canje Reservoir Scheme is obviously an area of great potential but so also is the completion of the MMA Scheme by extending the irrigation project to the Mahaica Creek.

This analysis exposes the almost impossible land ownership situation of African farmers. Unlike their sugar and rice counterparts, they are not producing for export. The limited domestic market for which they produce is more cheaply supplied by the rice farmers who supplement their incomes by producing vegetables and ground provisions. Much more important is the fact that their plots are scattered and unviable in respect of providing a comfortable living.

African farmers in the villages have been totally neglected by the state. The PNC has blustered by pronouncing on the need to fund disadvantaged communities. To do what, one may ask? Should they be reduced to the production of rice? If not rice, what export activities can the villages undertake?

There are some locations where production of rice may be advantageous. There are other locations where the production of fruits can provide a comfortable means of livelihood. A short term emphasis on vegetable and ground provision production is possible though the competition from East Indian farmers will be intense.

Production of fruits requires an emphasis on co-operatives. Can Africans develop the discipline to strengthen networks to make their co-operatives successful? The PNCR should devote a special wing for the sustainability of African co-operatives. The East Indian networks already exist as mentioned under the second principle under Ideology.

If the sugar industry is co-operativised, that culture of co-operatives will have a beneficial spin-off in the African farming community which will be compelled to look seriously at the long term viability of the scattered holdings that constitute the pattern of African land ownership.

That the PNCR has totally failed its African constituency is evident from the superficiality with which it comments on these issues. The road to racial equality is long and hard. It begins with the recognition that East Indian business networks do not admit Africans. It recognises that progressive property taxation can finance institutional arrangements like the Police Force to restore law and order and remove the reliance on a force of vigilantes. It relies on a massive education programme to get rid of the massive illiteracy that prevails among PNCR supporters and the dreadful tendency to rely too much on the state. It demands a new PNCR leadership that climbs down from its present arrogance and accepts the importance of humility.

G. THE DESIGN OF GROUP MEETINGS

Group meetings should be designed in the context of Party Ideology, the Party Vision and the Role of Local Government. This is not easy because the ideological and vision issues are national matters where national generalisations apply. It will be appropriate to always find a context in group meetings where human rights and the space for human development continuously apply. Lecturers on individual human rights can always be invited to group meetings for discussions on situations where human rights are violated.

Similarly study groups on race and class differentiation should be regularly encouraged. The sources for these discussions are endless. Examples can be taken from all over the world as well as from Guyana.

Comparisons of social democracy and democratic socialism and Marxism and communism should form the basis of study groups so that the more social democratic approach in Guyana can be constantly evaluated. In a recent article in The Nation, Hugo Chavez states that he is a social democrat and makes comparisons of his own positions with those of Fidel Castro. These are ideal situations for study by members at group meetings, thereby removing the pre-occupation with bingos and corn house and other fund raising activities that are not contributing to developing human attributes for a modern democratic society. The pre-occupation with fund raising activities can be easily overcome by mass membership and mass subscriptions that avoid the dependence on handouts from businessmen that give rise to the insults that the Party leadership can be bought. [I think it is not too useful for us to be getting into discussions of Marxism. Where we need to get to is the principle one person, one vote, fair electoral rules, transparency, empowering of people. Release of the entrepreneurial spirit, zero tolerance of organizations which use racial litmus tests.]

At the level of ideology, an ideal approach to the study of the role of local government should be the histories of local governments in Guyana. The best source for the history of local government in Guyana is the immense work produced by David Granger.

The present lack of knowledge of local history of villages is lamentable and should be filled by constant study in the party groups.

All of these areas relate to ideology. The vision of the development of the country is a matter that will distinguish the PNCR from the PPP or the AFC.

Where the major difficulty arises is in the practical area of community and village development. The major mistake made in the past is to extend political party differentiation into the task of community development. In community development, party political differences can be destructive. Enhancement of village production, the drainage and irrigation of the village, the waste disposal of the village, and the establishment of a processing factory are community and not Party political matters. In a village, there will be PPP members and PNCR members and AFC members but their Party affiliations will relate to the distribution of incomes and the hierarchical relations at the national level. In the community, the concept of hierarchy is unhelpful in any sense other than the need for leadership to take decisions.

H. CONCLUSION

The importance of a manifesto is that it provides the conceptual basis for action. If it appears that Jagdeo is unyielding, the principles set out in the manifesto provide the basis for protests.

In absorbing the concepts of the manifesto, emphasis on diagnosis is crucial. There is extreme ignorance of the history of the development of the races and, as a consequence, of how races are situated for the advance of equity in the society. Ignorance of political ideology is lamentable . That ignorance results in a lack of guidance as to how to behave politically both within the Party and in the relations of the Party with outside groups. The approach envisaged here is one of a movement to educate members, to combine their economic activities into co-operatives that can compete with other businesses. Most crucial is the mobilisation of resources around the property tax and the compilation of data bases to determine the distribution of land ownership to bring an end to Jagdeo’s indiscriminate award of lands to narcotic and other allies.

This is a draft. I will give it wide international circulation, including the IMF, the World Bank , the IDB, the OAS and the UN. Those who read it should criticise it so that it can be modified. After agreement is reached on the broad outlines, particularly those relating to Ideology, the PNCR can undertake its internal revitalizing and develop its plan of action to bring an end to this present state of apathy.

Clarence F. Ellis, December 22, 2008

GENERAL COMMENTS

This effort by Clarence needs to be commended as part of what is needed to push a "change" agenda in Guyana. I think however we have to become more inclusive in terms of the opposition coalition that needs to be developed to force the PPP/C to be at the least more inclusive in governance. The ideal would be to get the PPP/C out of power to be replaced in the short term (5 years maximum?) by a national unity government. In my view the first step in Guyana has to be changed governance at the national level. Thus our efforts need to be focussed on how we get that change. We have to use all the tools available: the Diaspora, the internet, radio/TV, newspapers, and cell phones to sensitize people to the need for change and to mobilize them to get involved in the change process.

All Guyanese have to be made to understand that if we think big then all would benefit. This big thinking includes encouraging folks from the Caribbean and South and Central America to migrate to Guyana. This calls for thinking in terms of zoning for economic activity. Included here has to be protection of the rainforests. This is a delicate balance but it can be achieved.

There is a deep apathy in many Guyanese. This has to be stirred up. We have to get out of the bondage of our history and embrace the future. This means moving off the coasts and into the interior of the country. It means exposing corruption, questioning nepotism, protesting against unfair government, building partnerships with external bodies, taking to the streets, blockading parliament. In other words we have to focus on doing whatever is necessary, by any means necessary to get the PPP/C out of power. However we have to work with the good people that even now are in the PPP/C because we have to look at the national project, and not see the change as being one of going from one dictatorship to another. It has to be about the people being empowered to see that their destiny is in their hands and not in the hands of overseas relatives sending remittances, or a "daddy" government providing handouts based on good behavior.

NB.. The comments in red were submitted by Dr. GerryYaw  

 

Enter supporting content here

Copyright (c) 2007. Maintained by TJ Productions, USA. All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced or otherwise duplicated without the prior written permission of the publisher, except for a brief acknowledgment.