The PPP resents the WPA for playing a leading role in the anti-Burnham struggle

Stabroek News
July 5, 2001

Dear Editor,

I thank Mr. Ellis for his kind remarks about me in his letter of June 29. Mr. Ellis also reminded me that I have failed to respond to two inquiries. One relates to whether President Jagdeo would be broadminded enough to appoint PNC economists to the government just as Jagdeo was appointed to the State Planning Secretariat under Burnham. And secondly, what do I think of those WPA persons who came through a multi-racial struggle but are now to be found in the occupational company of the PPP?

In relation to the first question, Mr. Ellis is asking me to engage in self-humiliation. Why should I do free PR work for a government that is run by a party whose executives do not like me? Those who feel Mr. Ellis is wrong and that the president is willing to employ PNC supporters should write and reply to Mr. Ellis. They are the people who are paid in American currency, they are the people who drive Prado, Rav 4 and CRV vehicles, they are the people who got prime real estate houselots. I honestly believe Mr. Ellis that a greater percentage of the accusations made against the present Guyana Government by its detractors can be rebutted with deadly academic accuracy and trenchant polemical definitiveness. But why should people like me do that for a government that has employed people to do just such a job for it? If you live in Guyana Mr. Ellis, you would see how wrong and morally questionable this process is. I will give you two examples.

Young Kwame McKoy was a target for the violent people who roamed the streets looking for known PPP supporters after the election. I met him by Bourda Market during the heat of the post-election violence, and advised him to be careful waking the streets so openly because the day before the protesters tried to tear down the Catholic Standard building because they thought he was hiding in there. I suggested he drive instead of walk to which he replied he didn't have a car. This inexperienced youth had to face the fire for taking on Ronald Waddell and Mark Benschop.

The second example relates to the University of Guyana. The PPP put its people there in strategic places. It even created a precedent not seen under Burnham and Hoyte; it took an ordinary lecturer, like so many of us there, and made him a member of the Council. The Council has never had such a member before since the university began. But check to see how much support, if any, the PPP government gets from these people who are put there with the sole purpose of defending government's positions and policies. Freddie Kissoon and others who endangered their lives and did so much to fight for democracy at the UG when leaders in the PPP couldn't even show their faces there under Burnham's rule have never been invited to sit on anything much less the prestigious Council of the University. I am sure by now you get my point so I believe I have answered your question.

In relation to WPA people being employed by the PPP government - this doesn't make sense Mr. Ellis. The PPP government doesn't want to touch WPA people even with a ten foot pole much less to employ them. I would be grateful if you could educate me on this interesting dimension of PPP politics. Twice within the space of a month recently, on the UG campus, I mentioned to Clive Thomas a unique theory of mine. I said to him that I believe the PPP leadership hates the forces who fought in the anti-dictatorship struggle more than the PNC people who the society believes are the real enemies of the PPP. I gave him my reasons for saying so. I told Dr. Thomas that among those pro-democracy forces, the PPP has singled out the WPA for more venomous treatment.

The confinement of a newspaper letter will not allow for an excursion into this theory but I will briefly offer you two reasons. In one group of PPP leaders, of which Mrs. Janet Jagan is the leading example, there is the feeling that the WPA has been given too much national and international credit for work that they don't deserve. This belief takes the view that Guyana went back to democracy because of the sacrifice of the PPP; the WPA merely piggy backed on the PPP's contribution and constitutes an assistance in the struggle not a major player. As a result of this conceptualisation, there is a psychological irritation in this group about the WPA.

The other reason has to do with historical chauvinism. Prior to the introduction of the WPA's anti-Burnham passion in the fight for free and fair elections and the return of democracy, the country, the Caribbean region and the world acknowledged that the PPP was a great historical party whose role in the fight against authoritarianism was comparable to any other in history. And the PPP basked in that glory. But that glory got stolen when the WPA emerged. Rodney became an international hero like Cheddi Jagan. I remember Bonita Bone of the WPA sitting on a sofa in my Toronto apartment telling me about a developing strain between the WPA and the PPP because Cheddi didn't want Walter Rodney to address meetings in pro-PPP Indian districts in the countryside.

What has happened since is that whoever writes about the history of Guyana and the country's fight for freedom, whether they are from a high school in Saudia Arabia or from the Political Science Department of Oxford University, the PPP will not be given the honour, glory and heroic treatment that it alone got from the fifties to the seventies. That it has to share the spotlight with the WPA is now irreversible. My belief is that deep in the psychology of the PPP, they wish that didn't happen. They find an outlet for that in a hidden, covert, yet open and overt dislike for people who were once and are still in the WPA (and other members of the polyclass grouping that fought for democracy from 68 to 92).

Really, Mr. Ellis, this is a sad aspect of our country's history and one that will depress so many of us who were involved until we go to our graves. Sometimes you wonder Mr. Ellis if history and philosophy will ever be nice to Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
Frederick Kissoon