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By GHK Lall
The People’s National Congress (PNC) gathering is almost here. Because this Congress is so crucial, matters come down to one bus stop on Saturday: where will this fateful Congress lead? Because the PNC means so much to many Guyanese, it is not merely a party affair, but a national matter of interest and consequence. And because of that, the determinations and conclusions for Leader of this pivotal party terminates with the choice that delegates make. In a single question: for whom will they cast that ballot? For in that action rests their individual visions for more than a party wrenched and wounded, but of one that must be of national relevance to give the peoples of this country a chance of being something other than peasants and bottom-feeders.
For whom? I have no preference, but I do discern those who have the potential to be more of a significant difference-maker. I examine this not as a delegate, but as a nationalist. I observe this not as a traveler, but the clinical detachment of one who cares about this country. What is placed in the public does not pretend to be political science. It is earth science -raw, straight, piercing in parts; perhaps, outrageous in others.
From my perspective, it is a three-horse race. I have given my little contributions on all three. But what of the delegates, who have it in their hands to be kingmakers, given their role as decision-makers, icebreakers, compromisers? Reduced to its simplest, and yet most profound, the challenge before delegates is this: which one of these three offers the best formula for a better Guyana? Not for the party alone, but Guyana in its entirety. It is nothing more, represents nothing else. This is the first, last, and only stop of Congress.
As said before, I think this race is one man’s to lose. It is also another’s not to lose. The wise call it the reality of the machinery in place. And of the third, the results will relay just how much of a trader he has been, a persuader, a negotiator. The stealth horse in this race is not some surprise internal candidate. It is that American oil power now almost in total control of this land, while the second is the orchestrator in the PPP. The have the best card of all. It is called endless cash, and what is solution for both, is the problem for the PNC, and this now enslaved country.
From the thinking of Exxon and the PPP, there is one candidate to be feared, for he can proved to be a problem, a militant marshal of people, who uncoil and stand in the way. They will pay what it takes, influence peddled for as much as it costs. Think a start of 10 million American dollars, and what we have left are not patriots, and a leadership race anymore, but a compilation of circumstances that is as old as Guyana: Indian and African (coolie and black man), left on their own, and in their despairing, knowing and resorting only to take their wrath out on each other. Though I hesitated to use the hard racial identities, I err on the side of raw reality, to emphasize what is before the delegates. The Americans have a history of operating this way in other societies.
In the second instance, I think that both outside forces are aware that there is a candidate, who can be made to see things their way and, hence, not give them much of a fight, beyond the verbal, the cosmetic. So, it is the same impotent PNC, the same ugly Guyana, the same wretched plunder of our promise. As an example, long before oil arrived in Guyana, our two major political parties made an electoral living off the vote of our Amerindian demographic, through sweeteners and lush incentives. In view of what is at stake in this PNC Congress, I invite the delegates to consider the overtures made to them, the baits dangled, and that they have the wisdom to appreciate how their self-interests are being cultivated. It is termed leaving no stone unturned for a certain outcome desired. But enough of this.
The delegates themselves must know what they want for a Guyana. They can have democracy and local content, as such exist now; and always that rich, but elusive, promise dangled. Or they can be content with a bottom of the barrel place in Brooklyn or Atlanta (or wherever else they find a welcoming harbor) and the potential to flourish, of course. Or they can say: this is home, and it will be what we make it, and it must be our way, by our hand, our pace, our direction. Those will only be galvanized by the kind of destiny envisioned. All three scenarios present tempting possibilities, with rich lures somewhere in them, just a matter of degree and how patient and hardworking they are, be it here at home, or in somebody else’s hood.
It is a matter of which candidate they settle for as their leader, who they fervently believe can take them places, other than where they are today, this country is. Places that this rich country doesn’t know now, and which, if Exxon and leaders of the ruling PPP have their way, the poor and struggling will never know.
I close: this Congress is more than a vote for a leader. It is of what will become of Guyana, for better or worse. And now the clock ticks.