What was Mr Persaud getting at?
Stabroek News
February 23, 2004

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Dear Editor,

In a column titled "An email from Trinidad with lessons for Guyana" in the government- owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper on Sunday, February 15, 2003, Robert Persaud, Information Liaison to Guyana's President, Bharrat Jagdeo, called on political supporters of the government to "learn the lessons of Trinidad." He was referring to the defeat of former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Basdeo Panday. It is believed throughout the Caribbean Region that the PPP government in Guyana was striving towards the creation of an axis with the UNC government in Trinidad and Tobago during Panday's tenure.

Persaud claimed that his article was based upon an obscure email he found on the internet. He however used his email tale as a subterfuge to stage an outright racial supplicate and a subtle call to arms that was tinged with sheer superciliousness.

One aspect of Robert Persaud's article stated that under the Basdeo Panday government "Trinidad was booming, the country was unifying. Government was being run like a business by an action-oriented administration........The media of course never celebrated all these achievements, they were owned by the business groups who favoured dividing Afro and Indo-Trinis so they could rule and reporters were on the main anti-UNC. Everything was tried to bring the government down; there were strikes, demonstrations, racist talk shows, use of criminal elements - but the government stuck to its task until." The email went on to add: "From right within, the most dangerous enemy of all lurked....... It is folly to close one's eyes to all possibilities and probabilities."

Persaud then contended that "Guyana is not Trinidad and Tobago. Certainly, the PPP or PPP/C government of President Bharrat Jagdeo stands tall in relation to counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago. Is the PNCR betting on a Trinidad and Tobago situation? I think not as the history and experiences of the PPP will tell them that this can be an illusion of grandeur. The PPP party is rooted in struggle and in the working class, not in crass political opportunism. But for any peace-loving Guyanese especially members of the PPP, dropping one's guard is not an option. Trinidad and Tobago has a story to tell, learn the lessons, Guyana, and learn the lessons well."

What does Persaud mean by "the PPP or PPP/C government of President Bharrat Jagdeo stands tall in relation to counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago?

Had such comments emanated from an African-Guyanese leader, the many subscribers to the anti-black agenda would have been "spitting fire" in their expressions of outrage. I will not attempt to translate in political and racial terms, the obvious message Persaud is attempting to send nor its concomitant implications. The Guyanese nation and the people of the Caribbean will, nevertheless, judge whether he was engaging in unabashed race-baiting and ethnic bashing, bearing in mind the old axiom "when blin man say he gu pelt yu, he don ga brick ah he han."

I will say, however, that the Diaspora must take note and make the lessons of Trinidad and Tobago, which Robert Persaud so abhors, the new paradigm for today's political dispensation. Preparedness must be the watchword!

Yours faithfully,

Rickford Burke