The PNCR failed Bacchus PEEPING TOM
Kaieteur News
June 27, 2004

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It is now finally settled. Just over a week before the International Cricket Council decides on the countries that will host matches in Cricket World Cup 2007, the protestors took their unlawful behaviour to the main business street in the city of Georgetown. Not only were they successful in shutting down some stores, they have in so doing now shut this country off from the possibility of hosting any matches in the world’s premier one day cricket tournament.

What a shame! What a disgrace. Not that I had anticipated we would have had any major matches, but I would have preferred that Guyana be bypassed for reasons other than political protests over the death of George Bacchus.

In the circumstances, it no longer seems feasible for us to go ahead with the building of a stadium. I urge the government to instead immediately begin negotiations with the government of India to divert the funds to other projects that will benefit the people of Guyana.

The protests of last Friday have hammered the nails into the coffin that now holds our chances of ever hosting a match in Cricket World Cup 2007. It will deny countless Guyanese the opportunity to play or see cricket in an international stadium in their own land. What a shame and what a disgrace!

And this is one of the reasons why I am deeply upset with the police stating that the next time around they will take action against those protesting unlawfully. There is sufficient evidence available on video footage for criminal charges to be immediately filed against those participating in Friday’s events. I once again call on the police to take condign action against those guilty of unlawful conduct last Friday. We have already lost any chance of hosting a match in Cricket World Cup 2007! And yet, the police are saying that next time around they will take action. This is unacceptable. Next time around the evidence may not be there and the damage may be greater.

I call on the United States Ambassador to immediately recall the travel visas of those persons who were involved in unlawful actions last Friday. I urge the government to press the US State Department to take action against public terror and for the local embassy to be consistent in their visa revocation policy.

Even as we await the outcome of investigations into Bacchus’s death, we must also ask whether the PNCR failed Bacchus. In an interview he did with a Channel 9 talk show host, Bacchus was asked about his protection and he said he was well protected. This was echoed by a voice coming from the background. The question now to be asked is where was the protection that Bacchus said he had? Did he indeed have any protection? I ask this because days after that interview was aired, Bacchus said in another interview that he did not speak to the talk show host. Fortunately, sections of that interview were played on local television.

The PNCR had Bacchus’s affidavits since June 9 and had done an interview with him two days later. In the latter, he expressed concern for his life. The PNCR seemed to be moving once again towards Bacchus as its trump card in the campaign against Ronald Gajraj. You will recall that earlier in their campaign, they had shifted away from him and were focusing more on phone records, gun licenses and the stockpile of bodies with execution type wounds.

If his resurfacing and renewed allegations, presented the PNCR with an opportunity to utilise him in their campaign to de-legitimize the Chang Commission of Inquiry, the opposition was obligated to provide him with protection.

If the PNCR seriously felt that Bacchus needed protection, they should have provided it. So where was the protection from the PNCR?

By failing to provide adequate protection for Bacchus, by not giving him protective custody until he testified before the Commission of Inquiry, the PNCR failed Bacchus.

Mr. Vic Puran, the leader of the Guyana Patriotic Alliance has asked an important question. Why is it that the PNCR which had Bacchus’s affidavit since June 9, did not forward it to the police for investigation, like they have now done when Bacchus is no more? Why did the PNCR hold on to those documents?

The reason is simple, Mr. Puran. Both the PPP and the PNCR were playing politics with Bacchus. The PPP had a videotape of Bacchus in which he recanted that Gajraj was involved with death squad. But they too did not make that public because they wanted to use it as a trump card against the PNCR in the inquiry. The PNCR in turn had the sworn affidavit and they too wanted to use it to for political purposes. Bacchus was caught in the middle of this partisan crunch.

Now that he has gone to his maker, politics is being played with the one thing that can take our minds off our troubles: our cricketing future. International cricket is now a thing of the past when it comes to Guyana. We may never see another major one-day tournament in our country. And all because people are playing politics over George Bacchus.