October 5 will forever be remembered in the history of Guyana as the date when a short-lived democracy was restored. Our freedom was obtained on May 26, 1966. The period of formal democracy lasted from 1966, until 1968 when it was crushed by rigged elections.
The rigging of the 1968, 1973, 1980 and 1985 elections have been fully documented elsewhere. But the entire gamut of manipulative techniques was employed. Laws were passed that removed all but the formal powers of the Elections Commission and handed over the management of the elections to the Chief Elections Office. The free press was destroyed and Parliament unrepresentative. But opposition to the rigging of elections never subsided.
(Speech to New York Diaspora 8th October, 2017)
October 5 will forever be remembered in the history of Guyana as the date when a short-lived democracy was restored. Our freedom was obtained on May 26, 1966, after a ‘fiddled constitutional arrangement,’ as described by Harold Wilson, former Prime Minister of the UK, when he was Opposition Leader. The constitutional arrangement was fiddled for the 1964 elections by the imposition of proportional representation, but there was no claim that the elections held in 1964 had been rigged. Nor was there any such claim in relation to the previous elections held in 1961, 1957 and 1953, all won by the PPP. The period of formal democracy lasted from 1966, the year of Independence, until 1968 when it was crushed, when the elections were first rigged.
The rigging of the 1968, 1973, 1980 and 1985 elections have been fully documented elsewhere and there is no need for me to set out the details. But I should remind you that the entire gamut of manipulative techniques was employed. Among them were overseas voting by non-existent persons, padded electoral lists in Guyana by non-existent and deceased persons, multiple voting, proxy voting, postal voting and ballot box stuffing. This was accomplished by removing the bottoms of the wooden boxes which were nailed in, removing the genuine ballots, stuffing the boxes with false ballots and nailing in the bottoms of the boxes. After the 1992 elections the PPP was told this by several persons who had participated in these events.
Mme. Conference Director, Melanie Smith,
Moderators and Panellists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Critics outside the PPP have accused me of being silent while in the PPP, and of only recently having found my voice. I have never responded. Those same criticisms are now being echoed from within the PPP. First a ‘source’ in a newspaper which promotes Dr. Jagdeo, whose identity can be easily discerned, and more recently Clement Rohee in his letter on April 3 in SN, in defence of Dr. Jagdeo and not a word about his belittling of President Ramotar, reinforcing my contention about Dr. Jagdeo’s grip over the PPP. The unjustified criticism, proven to be false from what follows, relieves me from any further obligation to retain confidences of the PPP leadership. I set out below a short, verbatim excerpt from a 4,275 word presentation I made at a meeting of the Central Committee of the PPP on or about March 25th, 2006, which Mr. Rohee saw in draft and amended before I read it. It demonstrates that the accusation that I never spoke out is false and known by Mr. Rohee and Dr. Jagdeo to be false. I spoke out and responded in writing on many other occasions on many issues. These will be revealed and other appropriate responses made from time to time in self defence, or whenever Dr. Jagdeo chooses to ‘have the last laugh,’ as predicted by Mr. Rohee:
“The expression of different views does not harm Party unity; it is, on the contrary, vital to the maintenance of Party unity and the building of consensus. It is only when members have the opportunity of fully expressing their views without being quickly dismissed or responded to with hostility that they can be satisfied that they are being heard and their concerns addressed. Only then will they sign on to a decision and defend it willingly and gladly…
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.