I judge Burnham's legacy on the state of the nation he left behind
Stabroek News
February 23, 2004

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Dear Editor,

Walter Jordan's letter, captioned "Burnham had an optimis-tic view of the future" (19.2.2004), portraying the late Forbes Burn-ham as an "optimistic believer in a future for Guyana" and as a "strong man, but not at all a demon," really is a bold attempt to cut too close to the truth for my comfort.

If he were such an optimistic believer in a future for Guyana, why was such optimism to be found only in and through the paramountcy of the PNC, resulting in unheralded pessimism across Guyana at the time of his death?

And if he were such a strong man, but not a demon, why didn't he use his strength as a real man and respect those who disagreed with him when his party was making idiotic political decisions, rather than demonize anyone or organization that openly opposed him and the PNC?

Unlike some Burnham loyalists, I judge Burnham's legacy on the state of the nation at the time of his demise, and not on his eloquent speeches or attempts at fighting for certain international issues (laudable as they may be), because neither of the latter two did any good to make Guyana and Guyanese better off at the time of his death. Charity always begins at home, and home (Guyana) really was in need of every bit of charitable help in 1985.

I have nothing against Mr. Jordan, as I do not know anything of him, except for some of his letters which I read, but I wonder what it is about the deceased "Founder-Leader" of the PNC that inspires people to write the kind of stuff Mr. Jordan (as well as Marcus) has written? Is it the despair of the PPP/C's bungling attempt to better the Burnham or Hoyte PNC at governing Guyana that sparks nostalgia and a craving for those days gone by?

Mr. Editor, even though I have precious little admiration for Burnham, I firmly believe he made his mark in Guyana's contemporary history. In light of this indisputable fact, I wonder, rather than being regaled about general perceptions of his political leadership, if it wouldn't be better if we had must-read details in a book about his life, dating back to his schooldays, his years studying law in England, his political decision to join and then split from the PPP, his role in the formation and development of the PNC into the single most powerful organization in Guyana during his time, and his stated views (regrets or wishes) in the days, weeks or months before dying on August 5, 1985?

More specifically, let's get some inside scoop on how he handled domestic and international problems, how he dealt with or viewed certain persons and organizations, whether or not associated with the PNC, and anything that would vaporize the mystique in which he managed to cloak himself, even as he emerged as the embodiment of power in Guyana. In essence, things we don't al-ready know about or don't already have a general perception of.

Any takers?

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin