I should like to thank you for your invitation to deliver opening remarks to this the Third Conference of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana. This acknowledgement from you that I may have something of interest or value to say to the trade union movement, is indeed a great honour.
Among the material I consulted when preparing my remarks, is the speech of Brother Ashton Chase to the first Conference of FITUG in 2006. It is a most enlightening document, reverberating with history. A portion of the speech traces the formation and suspension of FITUG between 1988 and 1993, and its re-establishment in 2003. This history demonstrates that FITUG=s birth and growth were inevitable outcomes of the underlying interplay of politics, workers= struggles and trade unionism, that have characterised our history as well that of many other Caribbean countries.
The newspapers last weekend highlighted the story of six overseas Guyanese representing Guyana in athletics at the Central American and Caribbean Games to be held at the end of July in Puerto Rico. There were photographs including that of Aliann Pompey who is among the earliest and most successful overseas Guyanese female athletes to represent Guyana at overseas sporting events. Several worthy Guyanese women have since followed and have made distinguished themselves and made Guyana proud.
Also representing Guyana at the CAC Games would be another overseas female Guyanese, Claire Fraser. A young British Army captain, Claire Fraser was in Guyana for a week to ride in the national cycle championship which took place on Sunday last. Unfortunately, Claire got an infected throat and chest, with a severe cough, and was running a temperature. She had to undergo medical treatment. Nevertheless, even though still ill and on medication, she bravely started the race and rode half way before having to drop out. Claire has already represented Guyana in Barbados in the Caribbean championships.
President Obama’s tenure so far has confirmed a fundamental operating principle of Democratic Party politics in the United States – campaign from the left and govern from the middle.
Obama’s campaign attracted the American left (not socialist left as we or Europeans understand the term but liberal left as Americans understand it) in unprecedented numbers. Not many on the left paused to read and analyze what he had written in his autobiography or to consider where he came from, to where he had arrived and how he had travelled.
Many political commentators decry ethnic voting patterns in Guyana and express despair about change ever taking place. These commentators are mostly inclined to support opposition parties whose desire is to see a change in government which, I hasten to add, is a legitimate objective. Some bemoan the wickedness of the East Indian mind; others the racism of the Government; others still, the wickedness of the people in general. But these commentators bury their heads in the sand and fail to recognize the persistence of ethnic voting patterns almost everywhere else in the world where the electorates consist of different ethnic groups no matter how small or large.
The electoral victory of the People’s Partnership in Trinidad and Tobago, the subject of much recent comment in our press, has highlighted the issue of alliance politics which was pioneered by the PPP in Guyana.
The success of the People’s Partnership was based on this creative alliance, decisive leadership and hard work. The failures of governance during the PNM’s terms of office, allegations of corruption, squandermania and arrogant behavior played an important role in diminishing support of the PNM. These factors facilitated a landslide victory for the People’s Partnership.