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This past week we observed another anniversary of Guyana’s republican status. As we do every year, we wrap ourselves in the flag and put on our patriotic smiles as if everything is alright. It is an exercise that betrays a yearning for what we could be, but it also betrays our capacity to fool ourselves as a nation. Even a little child knows that there is nothing much to celebrate as far as republicanism is concerned. So, the PPP used the occasion to celebrate its return to office and quite rightly disinvited the Opposition. As for the Opposition, it used the occasion to reach for an elusive Guyanese nationalism even as its supporters headed to the National Stadium for the big “Stink and Dutty” bash that was co-sponsored by their political nemesis.
And so, we march on from one farce to another. We know that our Republic is a farce. If Republicanism means rule of the people by the people, then Guyana must be the least republican of contemporary republics. Seriously, what do we have to show for fifty-two long years as the Cooperative Republic of Guyana? Where are the thriving Cooperatives? Where is the socio-economic and political transformation envisaged by the founders of our Republic? How liberated are our legal system from the clutches of the Monarchy? Where is the new democratic architecture envisaged by our idealists five decades ago? Where is the Guyanese nation spawned by five decades of self-governance?
Let’s get real Guyanese. Our Republic has been stifled to death by a convergence of Ethnopolitics, External Intervention and Authoritarianism—a dreadful brew that we have become addicted to. I read the Republic statements from our political parties, and I wonder which country are they really referencing. Surely, it can’t be our Guyana. But then again, our politicians have a healthy capacity for delusion.
They would, as the did, ignore the fact that the most profound commentary on our Republic came from the American president, Joe Biden. It is a similar statement to the one issued by President George Bush in 1989 as the Cold War was coming to an end. Biden’s statement echoed the tenor of the USAID report published a week earlier. Taken together, the two statements are in fact telling us that we are on the brink of another implosion if we do not make a swift leap to a functioning Republic. In any other country, this would have been splashed across the pages and screens of our print and electronic media. But Guyanese, from elites to followers, are experts at silencing the obvious. We don’t just bury our heads in the sand—we bury everything.
We choose to forget that our “First Republic” was put down in 1953 by British “booths of steel” to quote our revered Martin Carter and ignited the end of our Nationalist hope. Our “Second Republic” of 1964 vintage was spawned by three years of ethnic violence along with external machinations leading to an Authoritarian Order that overshadowed attempts at post-Colonial social reform. Our “Third Republic” of 1992 fame was mediated by External Intervention which gave us a Democratic Mask that would hide two decades of mayhem. And our current “Fourth Republic,” triggered by the Oil-Find, was also fixed by overt external entanglement in collusion with Ethnopolitical forces of domination.
If we do not understand the above paragraph, we cannot understand the significance of Biden’s statement. The Americans make no secret abut their interests in Guyana—they have big economic investments in our country. And consistent with their settled foreign policy thrust they seek to influence Guyana’s internal motion which whether we like it or not is tied up with geo-political considerations. That is why the USA and its allies acted in 2020 at the level of the USA Secretary of State. And that is why Biden and the USAID issued the two statements. And that is also why the USA journalist journeyed to Guyana to plant Mr. Su in our public consciousness.
In the coming days we will be treated to a diet of chat about saving democracy two years ago. Every dog has his day and its bark we are told by folk wisdom. The “ foolers” will fool themselves and the gullible. But remember it’s the Americans who first told us that the current government was “installed” and it’s the USAID that described the 2020 election as “disputed”. And it is Biden and the USAID who by calling for the sharing of Guyana’s oil revenues by its ethnic and political groups are hinting that all is not well in the post-2020 regime.
It is the calypsonian Chalkdust who in his calypso “Sea Water and Sand” allows the narrator to opine that while the government and opposition leaders of the Caribbean fight and the national leaders squabble among themselves. “Bill Clinton is my leader.” I borrow from Chalkdust and declare that while the PPP and the PNC fight to singularly control Guyana’s oil revenues, “Joe Biden is my Leader”.