What does exclusion from political power mean?
Stabroek News
May 3, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I read your editorial of 5/1/02 with interest. The following line drew my attention the most: "On the one hand African Guyanese feel marginalised because they have been excluded from political power..." I have heard this being bantered around so much that I think people in Guyana really believe this. But here are some statistics:

The head of the army and police and indeed the majority of soldiers and policemen in this country are Afro Guyanese. The head of the presidential secretariat is Afro Guyanese. The prime minister is Afro Guyanese. The majority of public service employees are Afro Guyanese. A clear 40% of government ministers are Afro Guyanese. The Guyana Elections Commission is largely Afro Guyanese. Recently the government appointed 50 PNC members to state boards. Anyone arriving at Cheddi Jagan International Airport or walking into a government ministry would believe that Guyana has a predominantly Afro Guyanese population when in fact it is largely Indian. And the PNC has been assigned seats in parliament commensurate with their 42% of the votes and they represent a largely Afro Guyanese constituency. The head of the GPSU is Afro Guyanese. Only recently my friend was telling me that he went for an interview for a government scholarship at the Public Service Ministry and all the interviewers were Afro Guyanese.

I hope that by political power you don't mean only the individual who has the title of "president", because in reality all the offices mentioned above are sources of political power.

So my question is, where is the "marginalisation" and "exclusion from political power" for Afro Guyanese? If anyone should be claiming marginalisation it should be the Indians. What has happened is that the PNC has kept their constituents in a constant state of fear by claiming marginalisation. This justifies violent street demonstrations, the harboring of criminals, the raising of wanted criminals to "freedom fighter" status, and the increasing resistance to the police trying to keep the country safe.

Yours faithfully,

Rohan Sooklall