Guyana’s elections- It is all about numbers – analysis by GHK Lall + video interview

Also view video: GHK Lall being interviewed (June 2013), by Christopher Ram on his book “Sitting on a Recial Volcano” – a discussion on racial politics in Guyana.

Guyana’s elections- It is all about numbers – analysis by GHK Lall

Friday, 20 March 2015 –  Written by  GHK Lall

It is all in the numbers, and numbers don’t lie.  Guyanese know that talk of numbers during an election season is talk of race.  When the numbers were comforting, and a solid cushion of confidence existed, there was no need for any appeal of any kind at Babu John; or anywhere else for that matter.  Or to identify the ruling PPP as being of this or that particular kind of party.

Instead, all efforts were focused on trashing and demonizing the opposition.  But now there is open appeal, crude appeal (no matter how sanitized), and desperate appeals that start with the numbers.  What follows is a close scrutiny of the environment, and utilizes the few available figures, to extrapolate and arrive at some reasonable positions.

First, there is the following table, extracted from a U.S. government website identified hereunder, which presents the number of immigrant visas issued at Foreign Posts-in this instance the Georgetown Consulate-to local residents.  As can be noted, the figures are for the last 10 years.

Immigrant Visas Issues at Foreign Posts
(By Foreign State Chargeability) (All categories)
Fiscal Years 2005-2014

Year Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
2005 6887
2006 5806
2007 3197
2008 5214
2009 4357
2010 5185
2011 4934
2012 4394
2013 4750
2014 4644
Total 49,368

The total of 49,368 Guyanese permanent migrants is for the U.S. alone.  Nothing is offered here in respect of Canada, or other ports found hospitable by Guyanese.  It should be sufficient to say that, while the exodus would be nowhere close to the American figure, it would be fair to approximate it in the high single-digits thousands.  Now the U.S. Consulate environment provides a telling picture of local movement.

During regular opening hours, there is a crowd.  Even the most cursory inspection would indicate that a good majority of those waiting in line, day after day, are Indian Guyanese.  Thus, it would be fair and reasonable to state that most of the forty-nine thousand plus leaving on a permanent basis for the last ten years would be Guyanese of Indian extraction.  That number could be as low as 60% of the visas granted, or as high as 75-80% of the same total.  This would add up to anywhere between 30,000 to 40,000 Indians who have left this country for the United States on a permanent basis.  A picture should be emerging, but it is still incomplete.  In a land with sparse official numbers available, there is another piece available for contemplation.

Attention is now drawn to a Stabroek News article dated October 15, 2014 and titled “T&T has 25,884 Guyanese illegals.”  No one has challenged the accuracy of that number released by Gary Griffith, Trinidad’s National Security Minister.  If there are these many illegal Guyanese citizens in neighboring Trinidad, there easily could be-erring on the side of caution-another 20,000 Guyanese residing there legally.

Further, there might be, perhaps, a minimum of another 10,000 legal and illegal Guyanese who are in neighboring Suriname.  Even further, it is highly likely that, because of the ethnic composition of these two neighbors, Indian Guyanese are more likely to feel welcome and at home in both places, and there is a strong pull factor.  It is not unreasonable to extrapolate, therefore, that combining Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname could present a figure of some 55,000 Guyanese (25,884+20,000+10,000) living in those two societies, and most of whom are Indo-Guyanese.  Using the same range of 60-80%, as before for the U.S. could translate to another 30,000 Indians existing outside of Guyana, and not voting.  When added to the U.S. figure, this means there could be somewhere between 60,000 to 80,000 Indians who are not here.  This is a not inconsiderable figure; in fact, it is significant and representative of a concerning percentage of voters no longer in the fold.

In the interests of fairness, it must be said that Afro Guyanese have also departed, but nowhere near the numbers of their Indian brethren.  Also, some of those leaving would be children, but that is offset by not counting any departures for Canada, Venezuela, and other parts.

In addition, there is the Jagdeo factor: He is both magnet and repellent.  As magnet, those Indians were already there and accounted for; they are still there.  But those Indians repelled by his actions, policies and standards are a growing number and not going back to the party.

The ruling PPP is more than aware of where it stands.  It is desperate, and is scrambling though appeals-naked, tribal, and reckless-to capture every Indian vote.  Even if this were to happen, the party might still be short, and it is why it needs non-Indians to regain its hold on power.  Appeals notwithstanding, the PPP appears to be a day late, and many votes short.  Remember: The numbers don’t lie.

———————– VIDEO INTERVIEW —————–

Here is an interview Mr. GHK Lall had with Christopher Ram recorded in June 2013 discussing Mr Lall’s book “Sitting on a Racial Volcano”. The interview was on Plain Talk, a weekly TV program aired by Christopher Ram:

Published on Jun 10, 2013 – GHK Lall discusses his book on race in Guyana which was launched on June 1, 2013.

Read more on Guyanese Online entry: Race Relations: Genuine talk or open conflict – GHK Lall

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  • Thinker  On 03/21/2015 at 11:10 am

    Can someone talk sometime, somewhere, about the Indigenous (Amerindian) community?

  • Ram Jagessar  On 03/25/2015 at 9:53 pm

    This is a very disappointing and self serving article by Mr Lall, with the obvious intention of putting a lash on the PPP. He says the figures don’t lie, and they show that the PPP is in big trouble and needs non Indian votes, but no revealing statistics are presented.

    Sure he shows migration to the US since 2005, estimates of Guyanese living in Trinidad and Suriname and estimates that Indo Guyanese are as much as 70% of those people.

    But where are the statistics of Guyanese migrants since 1964 or so? Where are the estimates of total numbers of Guyanese living abroad, and their proportion by race? Lall shows none.

    Where does he quote revealing stats such as the PNC proportion of votes in 1964 at 40.5 actually increasing to 40.8 in 2011, or that the PPP increased its vote from 45.8% to 48.6% in 2011 in the same period? That hardly shows the PPP losing support. What would seem to have made the difference in 2011 is that the AFC took 10.3% of the vote in 2011, most of it away from the PPP.

    Lall doesn’t have the nerve to say that the key for the PPP in the coming election is not getting non-Indian votes, but taking back the votes from the AFC. What really are the chances that the PPP could get any significant numbers of black votes from the PNC=APNU base, given the statistic that the PNC has lost none of its voters since 1964? I would say pretty much zero, and if true, this would completely negate Lall’s argument.

    My analysis of the numbers and the political situation in Guyana differs markedly from Mr Lall’s. The PPP-Civic lost the 2011 election for the simple reason that a small sliver of its voter base deserted and linked with some on-aligned/disgusted voters to give the PNC=APNU and AFC alliance a narrow one seat majority. But in the last four years the AFC has gotten none of what it sought going into the 2011 elections, which must be very disheartening to its voter base. So instead of trying to gain black votes ( very very small chance) the PPP-Civic would be better served by trying to chip away just the tiniest portion of the votes from the AFC while retaining its old base. Not a very difficult thing to do for a sitting government, I would say. There is almost no chance of the PNC getting new votes in 2015, and probably the same chance of the PPP losing a significant amount of its old base. So all the PPP has to do is get the tiniest change in AFC votes, maybe one percent to take the AFC down to 8 or 9%. That should be enough to take away the one seat majority of the PNC-APNU alliance, and transfer it to the PPP. The PPP can govern quite happily with a one seat majority.

    As for the repeated allegations of corruption, incompetence and lack of transparency of the ruling PPP, that shouldn’t be so hard for the PPP election machine or whispering campaign to handle. All they have to say is sure we have some blemishes, but the alternative of the PNC are no angels either, so pick the lesser of two evils! A vote for the AFC is nothing more than a vote to let in the hated Burnham PNC back into power!

    This entire election hinges on the ability of the PPP to move one or two percent of the voters who voted for the AFC in the last election. Can the PPP do it? Or are they doomed to another ineffective minority government or even an outright loss?

    I would say the PPP have a fair chance of pulling it off. The only relevant numbers for this election would be the one or two percent of the AFC gang on voting day. If the PPP can’t do it, then the statistic to note will be the number of Guyanese, mostly Indo Guyanese, who are fleeing the country to escape the rule of the PNC.

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