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Last Sunday, August 15th, in Brooklyn, New York there was an “Anti-PPP Racism March and Rally.” Local politicians, parliamentarians, mayor, vice chairman and regional chairman travelled to the United States (U.S) to participate with members of the Diaspora. Rickford Burke, one of the organisers of the event, posted on his Facebook page that the New York Police Department (NYPD) reported the march had 10,000 in attendance.
A rally in the U.S hosted by the diaspora to bring attention to things affecting Guyanese at home confirms the interrelation of the two. Love for the country is not only confined to those within. If recognition of this could help inform local policies and programmes to include the diaspora at home it would do well for the development of Guyana.
The August 15th event further suggests the diaspora is not without significant influence. In attendance at that rally were U.S’ state and national politicians. None other than Hakeem Jeffries, Congressman and Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives, spoke at the rally. Some of his remarks created a stir from the government and a sense of being heard by the affected.
Jeffries signalled, “We [Members of the U.S political community] stand in solidarity with each and every one of you to deal with the situation down in Guyana.” Unequivocally he made known, “We will not tolerate racism, we will not tolerate intolerance, we will not tolerate bigotry, we will not tolerate hatred, we will not tolerate xenophobia, we will not tolerate racially-motivated violence, we will not tolerate discrimination, we will not tolerate injustice and we will stand together.”
The Congressman’s address elicited swift response from the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government. A statement was issued, via Prime Minister Mark Phillips, denying the aforesaid and requesting a meeting to discuss issues of “mutual interest” with Jeffries. Phillips’ invitation to have discussion on “mutual interest” pre-supposes the discussion would include the areas of interest Jeffries highlighted.
It is however noted the government’s statement purports “Evidence exists that we [the government] uphold democratic principles, adhere to equitable practices, embrace diversity and inclusivity and promote transparency at all levels. We continue to show strong leadership to the people of Guyana and abide by the principles as reflected in our national motto- One people, One Nation, One Destiny.” Many will find disagreement.
Last June, U.S Congressman Hank Johnson issued a call for all to be included in decision-making, outrightly stating, “Guyana’s wealth is for all the people of Guyana, irrespective of their ethnicity…[and he] urge the current government and leaders of the opposition in the National Assembly to work together towards further strengthening Guyana’s democracy and building a more inclusive nation.”
Johnson’s statement came on the heels of Albio Sires’, U.S Congressman and Chairman of the Congressional sub-committee on the Western Hemisphere. Sires had earlier called for all Guyanese to benefit from the country’s growing oil wealth. He noted that “we [the U.S included] should work to ensure that proceeds of oil revenues benefit the entire population.”
It is difficult to believe Congressman Jeffries would have spoken without being briefed about what is happening in Guyana. Likewise, it would be difficult to believe other U.S politicians would be making public statements urging an inclusionary form of governing were they not concerned about what is happening in Guyana.