From the Diaspora… OLD HABITS HARD TO DIE – By Ralph Seeram

From the Diaspora… OLD HABITS HARD TO DIE

AUGUST 3, 2014 | BY  –  By Ralph Seeram

ballot boxIt was like an excursion; busloads of PNC supporters travelling from poll station to poll station in Berbice to vote. There was much merriment; everybody was so happy committing election fraud. But who could object, the entire electoral process was controlled by the PNC. It was blatant for all to see that the election was being rigged.

I had suggested to some friends not to waste their time to go voting as they have already voted. Many persons approached me saying they were turned away at the voting booth because they had voted already. On the Corentyne, PPP supporters were desperately trying to ensure that their representatives accompanied the ballot boxes. We know that some were murdered by GDF soldiers in that process.  

The ballot boxes were confiscated by the GDF, flown to the GDF headquarters, where after nearly a week, the results declared that the PNC had won the election.

Those election frauds in Berbice are a firsthand experience, not an account of what people said. I was there as a reporter back in the 70s. I knew the principal PNC players that engaged in electoral fraud back then. It’s not a period I like to relive.

Now do you know who was PNC point man in charge of the Berbice Region at the time? Oscar Clarke, the same Oscar Clarke who is in the middle of the allegations of electoral fraud at the PNC Congress last weekend.

Most of the older folks must have got over that sad period in Guyanese history. Certainly the young Guyanese who now comprise the majority of voters never experienced that and probably don’t care whether the PNC rigged elections, or how times were “hard” or how “suit case traders” and the “barrel” economy kept Guyana afloat back then.

I have said in these columns that the PPP cannot win elections by carping on the PNC past; it does not mean anything to the young voters of today; that was until this last weekend at the PNC Congress. It brought back vivid memories of the PNC dictatorship.

Just when I thought the PPP would be vulnerable at the next elections, when I think the PPP is at its weakest, the PNC handed it a great propaganda tool, and probably will ensure that the PPP wins the next election. The allegations that the PNC rigged its own internal elections are very creditable. This is coming from their most senior people like Carl Greenidge and the very people that were challengers to David Granger for the leadership of the PNC, Aubrey Norton and Sharma Soloman.

The fiasco of last weekend’s PNC Congress has been well publicized, but the party history of allegedly rigging it own election goes back to previous Congresses. There was a cloud over the previous one when Carl Greenidge and David Granger vied for the leadership of the PNC. After three recounts or so of a few hundred votes Granger was declared winner.

This last PNC congress had left the party badly wounded and probably reinforced into young voters’ minds that the PNC is a party that rigs election.

Young voters have heard of the PNC rigged elections “back in the day”. They heard of the difficult times lining up to get basic food items, as how they are lining up to see artistes at the Providence Stadium.

They only experienced the “good” times; they can go in stores and buy anything “foreign”. More of them own their own homes and cars etc. Now reports of the PNC rigging elections must have been recessed way back in their minds. After this last weekend many would now tend to believe that “the thing must be true, if they can do it to their own people to hold on to power, what would they do if they get in power again”.

After turning this over in their minds a few times I am sure they will come to the conclusion that they cannot take a chance on a party with a history of rigging elections.

All I am basically trying to say is that no single party in Guyana can get that magical 50% votes based on ethnic voting. They have to get cross over or some would say swing voters to win the election. Despite what some would say the PPP did achieve that; the party had to cross the racial divide to win elections. This recent episode at the PNC congress is not going to help the PNC attract these voters. In fact I am sure it will “turn them off” from the PNC.

Of course the PPP is going to “beat it to death” but the PPP should not flatter itself. It too indulged in a little skullduggery into steering who it wanted to be in the leadership at its Congress also.

And speaking of PPP, it was so laughable to hear the PNC blame the PPP for the fiasco at its congress. It is so lame. I am sure the PNC could have conjured up a better excuse. Blaming the PPP and at the same breath say Aubrey Norton and his Linden followers were well financed, is certainly implying that Norton and his Linden contingent were collaborating with the PPP to wreck the Congress.

They came in red shirts instead of Granger’s preferred color, green. Some branded him a traitor, so much for democracy PNC style.

If I were Norton I would have quit that party; there is no future for him there and he knows it. He has been sidelined from Parliament and is now being branded a traitor. If Norton is serious about helping his constituents he might as well align himself to a party that will assist him in that direction. It’s certainly not the PNC.

Norton for the most part was responsible for the PNC/APNU victory at the last elections. The PNC should not take the Linden voters for granted; it saw what happened at the 2006 elections when the AFC made inroads at Linden.

The PPP at the same time should not be gloating; it has been doing the same thing that is occurring in the PNC, pushing out the old stalwarts of the party for the “Johnnies come lately”. Besides, the PPP has quite a few “skeletons in its closet also”

Ralph Seeram can be reached at email: or on Facebook.

Also read: Editorial in Stabroek News:

Biennial Congress

Mr Granger, the newly re-elected leader of the PNCR seems to be operating inside a bubble .

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  • compton de castro  On 08/04/2014 at 5:32 pm

    Interesting analysis
    It would be interesting to know what tactics will be adopted
    for a victory….guyanese are very motivated voters and the turn out should be over0 70 80 or even 90%….
    Whose victory would a high turn out favour
    What % are the swing voters who usually decide
    at last minute.
    One can only speculate on the outcome but
    having local elections prior to national elections will
    certainly enhance the prediction of the general elections
    Lets wait and see !
    and focus our attention on the local voting especially in the capital GT.

  • Brian West  On 08/04/2014 at 9:46 pm

    Man, you really brought back some real memories that I have tried so hard to forget.

  • Albert  On 08/04/2014 at 11:49 pm

    Reopen old wounds, sway votes, continue the existing order. No creative solution for existing problems.

  • compton de castro  On 08/05/2014 at 5:50 am

    Am sure there are ‘next generation guyanese’ who are interested in entering the political arena….a day week month
    is considered a ‘long time in politics’…or one ends up with
    more ‘dead wolf’s than ‘green forrest’….it is the way forward.
    To avoid political stagnation ‘armageddon’…
    Youths of today are leaders of tomorrow !
    Encourage and support them.
    Guyana politics has too many ‘dead wolf’s
    which is destroying its Forrest !
    My spin

    • Albert  On 08/05/2014 at 2:17 pm

      Youths interested in Guyana politics.The last I heard was the youths Are not even finishing school but joining the line to the US embassy. There are nuff losers in the US glad to hold on to a young Guyanese man.
      Now that a Spanish Armada is invading at the borders Guyanese youths must be more eager to come before entry become harder.

      • de castro  On 08/09/2014 at 9:34 pm

        There was a thinking that if you wish to stem the flow
        of economic migrants you create a situation which encourages them from leaving in the first place….
        Economic aid to the countries they are leaving.
        Today that has all been brushed aside/flushed away.
        Most economic migrants are welcomed with open arms…
        especially the young /single.
        The illegals are a few who do not wish to do so legally….
        When caught they are turfed out/blacklisted yet they try
        again and again….most countries have a quota of how
        many they accept yearly…which are vetted via their
        I witnessed a border crossing into Spain from Mellija a
        Spanish proctectorate in North Africa….
        The border crossing had two policemen checking passports
        with a small office….as we were ushered forward with our
        Passports in hand from the crowd of onlookers a sudden
        rush and at least 50 persons crossed into Spanish territory.
        This was an example of how not to control economic migration.
        Granting these people easier and legal entry would discourage this type of ‘forcefull’ illegal entry.
        Its my opinion….put up a sign ‘wet paint’ then observe
        how many will touch it….human nature.
        27 countries in euroland have no resfrictions at border crossings….within countries……there is no exodus of
        economic migrants within euroland….is there any exodus
        within the states of America….
        Yes i am pro-migration but control/monitored migration.

        My spin

  • compton de castro  On 08/05/2014 at 5:51 am

    Dead wood..

  • Deen  On 08/05/2014 at 6:51 pm

    Good article. Well written and informative. Thanks for spotlighting the most egregious and undemocratic times of subterfuge during the PNC’s ruling of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

  • gigi  On 08/09/2014 at 6:43 pm

    I used to hear these stories growing up. Many of the people we knew didn’t vote out of fear. There were always whispers of govt watchmen and beatings that kept people from voting. I was 22 when I left Guyana and I had never once voted in Guyana’s elections. My mother was caught in the crosshairs of the 1964 racial violence (my father saved her life) and this fed into my belief, and probably that of many who were aware of the racial violence, that non-Negroes were not allowed to vote in Guyana.

  • de castro  On 08/09/2014 at 9:57 pm

    Fear and intimidation was the tactics used by dictators…Still
    practiced in most non democratic countries today
    as per gigI s comment above.
    I remember the Clinton Castro confrontation on the
    Freedom issue…
    Castro claimed Cubans were free to leave Cuba if Clinton
    granted them permission thus proving Cuba was freezer
    than America. Americans were and still are not allowed
    to visit Cuba directly.
    Castro emptied his jails of political dissidents.
    Castro won that round.
    Why hasnt obamarama lifted the embargo on Cuba..
    Another David v Goliath scenario……
    Politricks !

  • Albert  On 08/10/2014 at 12:02 pm

    As per Gigi comment the problem with these kinds of discussions is that they are emotionally driven, based on personal localized experiences, and always backward looking. Everyone suffered during 1962-64 period and many could tell stories of atrocities. See related article on Linden. You cannot live on anger and hate you destroy yourself, not the people you hate.

    Some Americans with families in Cuba are allowed to travel and send limited amount of funds. There are regular flights between Miami and Cuba. In fact I read that American tourists visit Cuba via Canada. They don’t stamp their passports in Cuba. Otherwise one may need State Dept. authorization to visit that Island.
    There are secret discussions between the two countries. My guess is that the Obama side need some democratic change in policy on the Cuba side before lifting the embargo. I would love to visit Cuba before things change.

  • de castro  On 08/13/2014 at 9:47 am

    Just short resume/history of Cuba.
    Cuba was the ‘play ground’ of the ‘rich gamblers’
    On comes ‘Jesus’ kicks the gamblers out
    of temple changing Havana s name from city to
    Good(God) city…..
    If trade embargo was removed from Cuba by USA
    today it would return to its original habitat..and maybe the
    How ‘short sighted are the political class’

    My spin

  • de castro  On 08/13/2014 at 9:49 am

    Havana was ‘sun’s city
    Today it is goog(God) city…See above.

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