Could the progressive leaders in both parties unite and take a new line?
Stabroek News
February 28, 2004

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Dear Editor,

At the height of the escalating violence in Haiti this past week, I heard a passing remark in a CNN news item that the United States favours a power sharing arrangement between the Aristide government and the rebel faction that is seeking to oust him completely. Then I read your editorial of Friday, February 27, "Haitian anarchy," and got the confirmation of what I heard in passing.

Assuming the rebel leader did not refuse to share power with Aristide, then what sort of formula would America have suggested, and who would have served as political monitor or referee - America or the United Nations?

The power sharing suggestion took me by complete surprise, especially since I haven't heard anything to this effect from America before this Haiti turmoil. I must admit, though, that my mind raced to the Guyana situation, in which the two major political parties - the PPP/C and PNC/R - are having such intractable differences affecting Guyana's political stability and economic growth, that I began wondering if the American government would ever suggest a power sharing arrangement in Guyana?

Both major political parties, on different occasions, have been helped to power with input from the United States - the PNC in the sixties and the PPP in 1992 - yet both have given the impression they'd prefer to do their own thing once they got in power. In fact, the PNC turned its back on the West, being particularly harsh on America, and the PPP now seems bent on using communism as its ideological vehicle for economic development.

But assuming America would ever be interested in such an arrangement for Guyana, the obvious question has to be: why would it be interested in Guyana's political affairs to such an extent?

Well, for starters, speculation has it that Cuba's Fidel Castro is being antsy about spreading communism in the hemisphere by taking advantage of governments that are experiencing political instability brought on by economic hardships, so America sees there is need for political stability and economic growth in the region.

More precisely, Guyana's neighbour to the west, Venezuela, is America's fifth largest oil supplier, but has a rather volatile political leader in the person of Hugo Chavez, and this does not augur well for consistency in oil supplies to America from that country.

This could then open the door for Guyana to get help to engage in large-scale oil production. But then Guyana itself needs political stability, which neither the PPP/C nor PNC/R seems capable of delivering alone or even through any form of power sharing.

The next best step, then, would be for the progressive minded leaders of both parties to maneuver a no confidence vote in current leadership and assume the mantle of decision-making, thereby paving the way for a new-look PPP/C and PNC/R that would be amenable to the idea of a power sharing government.

Failing that, lure the progressive minded leaders from both parties to form a third political party made up of Indian and African Guyanese to end the stranglehold both major parties have had on power via racial voting, and have that third party play the, if not a, major role in a new government.

The Khemraj Ramjattan expulsion from the PPP/C may well turn out to be the straw that broke the camel's back, setting such an idea in motion, because it is clear that even though the PPP/C appears not to have a leader, it actually does have one who is irrevocably committed to pursuing communist policies to guide Guyana politically and economically, much to the detriment of the nation and the nation's shared ideological views with America.

The PNC/R, meanwhile, has exhausted its energies fuming and fussing with the PPP/C for the past eleven plus years, not realizing that its true relevance to Guyana's politics has been relegated to elections time. It has failed miserably to seize opportunities to rebuild and reshape itself as a party, in the post-Burnham and Hoyte eras, with new thinking and new attitude that could attract Indian Guyanese who are disenchanted with the PPP/C.

If the speculation that gave rise to the foregoing scenarios holds true, then a "broad-based" government in Guyana, with America's backing could go a long way towards changing Guyana's political landscape to make it more attractive for new political leaders, new ideas and a new direction.

Change may be on the horizon, but can we envision it? Are we ready and willing to experience it in our lifetime?

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin