The call to dialogue was never an anti-violence strategy

Stabroek News
October 2, 2001

Dear Editor,

I am responding to the letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] entitled 'The government should have been more proactive during the protests' written by Mr Dhanpaul Mangru and published in your edition of September 25, 2001. This letter was in response to one that I had written and which was published in another newspaper. Stabroek News did not see it fit to publish my original letter, yet it published Mr Mangru's response.

Mr Mangru appears to support ROAR. During the post-election period, Mr Ravi Dev called on the government to bring in peacekeeping troops from the United Nations, thereby exposing an ignorance of international affairs. Wherever did anybody get this idea a country can just simply like that ask for United Nations troops to come in without exhausting internal, regional and diplomatic initiatives?

If he follows international events, Mr Mangru would know that it is no easy task to control social upheavals strictly by law enforcement means; these have always to be complimented by political strategy. Even in America, race riots are not constrained by law enforcement efforts. In fact, in Chicago, for example, the damage caused by race riots has been colossal. Having more troops earlier on the streets in Guyana may have given more comfort but would not have prevented the violence had there been an absence of a political strategy. The objective of the rioters was to stretch the police thin. This was clear from the very first day when protests broke out along the East Coast of Demerara. Placing ranks at every corner is not only impracticable (there are too many corners to cover) in a country like ours with an extended coastline and numerous villages, but it would have also played into the hands of the aggressors. The law enforcement agencies would have been spread so thin that disastrous consequences would have resulted regardless.

What I would like to learn is how exactly Mr Mangru and ROAR propose to achieve internal cohesion when they advance a plan that permanently relegates Blacks to second-class citizens. I also understand the reasons why the issue of the defence of Indians has been resurrected. ROAR has very little to run on. It feeds off the fears and anxieties of Indians and therefore it needs to keep these fears alive. How sad!

Let me correct Mr Mangru when he rushes to assume that the sum total of the PPP's anti-violence strategy was a mere invitation to Mr Hoyte. The call to dialogue was never an anti-violence strategy. President Jagdeo extended this invitation before the violence broke out. It was a magnanimous gesture on the part of the victor to the vanquished, aware of the need to build national unity. But it did contribute to the reduction of tensions and the subsequent cessation of violence. That it had this effect must not be confused with its original intent. Violence was only a symptom of the political crisis; therefore dialogue was necessary to address the root cause.

Mr Editor, I also wish to respond to a misconception penned by Ms Beverly Taijnauth in the same edition (26.9.01). The writer repeated what I had said about ROAR promising to create jobs. She rejoins by pointing out that "A party cannot implement policies if it does not accede to office." [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ]

The promise by ROAR to create jobs using information technology was made long before it announced its intentions to run for office. The plan was to set up off-shore processing centres in Guyana. Mr Dev in an interview with the Stabroek News had unveiled his plan pointing to the experience of India. This promise was made when ROAR became a movement. ROAR promised to work for the betterment of Indians and their communities. ROAR has failed to deliver on its promise to create these jobs.

I notice that a company on the East Coast has however ventured into the same area and created jobs.

Not so long ago, ROAR's executive member Dr Bayton Ramharack also responded to a letter writer in these pages who asked what ROAR planned to do to defend Indians. Dr Ramharack said that ROAR wold take steps to defend Indians. This was after the elections. So where are the steps?

Yours faithfully,

Balram Chaitlall

Editor's note

The Stabroek News did publish the letter from Mr Chaitlall to which Mr Mangru responded. It appeared in our edition of 25.9.01 under the caption 'The PPP does take responsibility for the future of the country.'