This is an exceptionally emotive issue. It was infamously abused in elections of 1968 and 1973, restricted in 1980 and finally abolished for the 1985 elections. It was a major device for the rigging of elections with the objective of establishing one party, authoritarian rule. It helped to destroy Guyana’s economy and its good name. We sank into international shame and disrepute.
The recent, ongoing debate on narratives initiated by Ravi Dev in the Kaieteur News, is a refreshing departure from the traditional accusatory posture that defines political analysis.
The contribution of the Working Peoples’ Alliance and Walter Rodney to the political development of Guyana is under discussion in the letter pages of the newspapers. Unfortunately in much of the emotionally charged comments, facts tend to take second place. I wish to add my two cents worth but I can only do so from the prism (not ‘prison’) of the PPP because it was through the PPP that I perceived and understood the WPA. I cannot claim therefore objectivity but I can try to be rational.
The role of the WPA, like that of the PPP (and the PNC, now PNCR), and their leaders, will always be the subject of controversy, because of their impact on the development of our political realities. Until history settles the arguments, if it ever does, differing perceptions will continue. But these can be expressed in more constructive and less embittered language. No purpose is served by conjuring up demons.
There was a sense of anticipation in the political air upon the return of Walter Rodney to Guyana in the mid 70s. Elections had just been rigged and our comrades killed. It was felt that the struggle for democracy needed to be broadened. We in the PPP were especially happy when Cde. Cheddi Jagan reported shortly after Rodney returned that they had met. He indicated that the discussions revealed a large area of agreement on the political situation in Guyana and the world and that there was agreement on the need for co-operation in the struggle to restore democracy. A good personal relationship and mutual respect had been established. This grew as their engagements intensified.