PPP has left Guyana in an ethnic trap – Dr. David Hinds

PPP has left Guyana in an ethnic trap 

After holding the reins of office for over two decades, some critics are of the view that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has left Guyana in a frightening ethnic trap.
Specifically making this claim was Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds.
In his recent writings, Dr. Hinds opined that the ethnic trap in which the PPP left Guyana will have an impact on governance and politics for a long time to come.
On the one hand, the University Professor said that the PPP’s mode of governance, grounded as it was in complete political domination, which in Guyana translates into ethnic dominance, ensured that African Guyanese developed a very deep fear and hatred for that party.   

On the other hand, he said that those who benefited from the transfer of state resources into private hands were almost exclusively Indian Guyanese. In addition, Dr. Hinds expressed that the PPP created a new class of mostly Indian Guyanese bureaucrats whose salaries, perks and power elevated them to elite status.
In other words, the political activist said that the PPP’s domination praxis was deeply ethnicized. He said that the consequence is that attempts to reform governance will be seen by most PPP supporters as ethnic revenge on the part of the current government.
“I think what the PPP did was deliberate. PPP leadership has always been more ethnically deliberate. Whereas the African Guyanese elites tend to have a simplistic attitude to race and ethnicity, their Indian Guyanese counterparts tend to be much more aggressive and calculated on these issues. Part of the explanation for this lies in the relationship of our political leaderships to their followers.”
Dr. Hinds commented that PNC leaders and the African Guyanese elites tend to be mostly urban in outlook and are usually out of step with the cultural motions of their followers. He said that race and ethnicity for them tend to be political tools to be used to gain power.
“There are very little ethnic emotions in their relationship to African Guyanese. There seems to be little confidence in the ability of African Guyanese masses to overcome.  Hence, there is no policy initiative aimed at empowering the group beyond the bare minimum.”
Dr. Hinds said that African Guyanese power elites, except for a brief period under Burnham, tend to accept the failed but convenient model of “one tide lifts all.”
He said that PPP leaders, on the other hand, have generally remained very close to the Indian masses.

WPA Executive Member, Dr. David Hinds

“Hence they are more sensitive to the ethnic reflexes of their followers. Many PPP leaders are rural people who even as they look out for themselves do not totally disconnect from the ethnic emotions of their followers. So, they are naturally less inclined to embrace the notion of “one tide lifts all” when it comes to ethnic empowerment. In that sense they are much more ethno-racially literate than their adversaries.”
Furthermore, Dr. Hinds explained that when the PNC left office in 1992, they left behind clusters of African Guyanese political enforcers and a class of government wage earning bureaucrats. He said that there was no new class of African Guyanese entrepreneurs or super-rich African Guyanese whose wealth came from the transfer of State resources. He said that this is not to say that African Guyanese were powerless in 1992. To the contrary, Dr. Hinds said that they controlled formal power in the military forces and the public service—political power.
“From the time the PPP took office, it set about dismantling those centers of African Guyanese power. It undermined the military and eventually co-opted its leadership. It further pauperized the Civil Service. It allowed bauxite to die a brutal death. They then encouraged a tiny cluster of African Guyanese hustlers by dangling before them individual wealth.”
On the other hand, the WPA Executive Member said that sugar was hugely subsidized as an ethnic gesture to the mainly Indian Guyanese sugar workers. Dr. Hinds commented that state assets were transferred into the hands of both the old and new Indian Guyanese economic elites. He said that Indian Guyanese bureaucrats loyal to the PPP controlled the levers of political power. In all of this, Dr. Hinds said that there was always a few African Guyanese, but they were mere masks.
“Indianists who sought to articulate an alternative Indian nationalism were bullied and eventually co-opted. By the time the PPP left office in 2015, practical control of all levers of formal power was firmly in the hands of the Indian Guyanese elites.”
“The PPP has left Guyana in an ethnic trap that would stymie any effort at correcting the PPP wrongs. What this has meant is that any turning back of the wrongs committed by the PPP has had ethno-racial consequences. Correcting the problems associated with sugar and to some extent rice means walking into an ethnic trap.”
Given the ethnic manner in which the PPP treated the sugar problem, Dr. Hinds said that any attempt to solve it is bound to have ethnic consequences.
In this regard, he remarked, “I don’t see how the government will do right by sugar and not face the politically devastating charge of racism. The issue has been framed as an assault on Indian Guyanese rather than an attempt to free Guyana from the debilitating clutches of an unproductive industry.”
Furthermore, Dr. Hinds stated that the removal of PPP loyalists from mega-salaried government jobs has also landed the government in the same trap. He said that most of these political positions were staffed by Indian Guyanese.
“Therefore, if one is going to clean the system, you invariably would have to go after those mostly Indian Guyanese political impositions. The same thing goes to for State Asset Recovery—who were mostly the recipients of State transfers? There cannot be an avoidance of the ethnic trap if there is going to be any serious State Asset recovery.”
On the other hand, the WPA Executive Member opined that African Guyanese were so battered under the PPP, it really would take some particular policy initiatives to correct that condition. Dr. Hinds stated that the ethnic imbalance in the commercial sector, for example, is so blatant, he does not see how that would be corrected without direct government intervention.
“But the government dare not go there. In any case, I don’t think there are many people in the corridors of power who have the courage to confront that burning problem. We are expecting oil wealth, but that wealth would be arriving in the context of an ethnically imbalanced political economy. That is problem that few in and out of government are talking about.”
In conclusion, Dr. Hinds said that Guyana will be in for some “serious times”. He stressed that the new elite empowered by the PPP would not sit by and allow its newly appropriated wealth to be recovered by the government.
“It would fight with ethnic fear, economic sabotage and even violence. That is what the push back against the State Asset Recovery Unit is mainly about. That is what the demonizing of the Special Organized Crime Unit is all about.”
The political activist said that even as one might want to criticize the government for its sloth in moving to dismantle the criminalized State, one must be mindful of the ethnic trap it has to deal with.

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  • Richinds  On 04/26/2017 at 6:12 am


  • marc mattews  On 04/26/2017 at 7:32 am

    The opinion Is that the quote Below be seriously analysed without ‘bias'(non-partisan) as to its efficacy.

    The policy they masterminded-on employment, wages, taxation, health care, law and order, land settlement and development – were calculated to divide them, the better to rule them. In short, the planters succeeded in diverting attention from themselves as real oppressors. They shifted the responsibility for undermining African freedom onto the shoulders of those whom they had hired for the task. One hundred and twenty eight years later, the last representatives of European power in Guyana withdrew to leave the two ethnic groups haunted by mistrust and resentment, and locked in dangerous and sometimes mortal combat with one another over the right to inherit the ‘kingdom’
    Source: Judaman Seecoomar-“Contributions Towards the Resolution of Conflict in Guyana-page 53 published 2002 Peepal Tree Press

  • Bob  On 04/26/2017 at 10:14 am

    Dr. Hinds, I must commend you for Incitement and Shortsightedness. When another Party held power for Thirty years and not only penalised one Race but all the Races of Guyana where were you.? To speak in such a bold manner please research the History of Guyanese Politics. The PPP was the Brainchild of Two Prominent Sons Of Guyana. The Race Factor became Pronounced in 1954. Please educate yourself and stop attempting to create a bigger Rift Between The Two Major Races. When are Guyanese especially Intellectuals like YOU ARE GOING TO REALISE THAT UNTIL THE PEOPLE STOP VOTING RACE AND VOTE AS A UNITED NATION THEN AND ONLY THEN CAN GOOD COME TO GUYANA. HEAL DR.HINDS NOT CRIPPLE.

  • Ron Saywack  On 04/26/2017 at 12:34 pm

    Bob enquires:

    “When another Party held power for Thirty years and not only penalised one Race but all the Races of Guyana where were you.?”

    Answer: In jail.

    Dr. Hinds was at the airport ready to fly out of Guyana when Burnham had his luggage singled out for special narcotics inspection. Dr. Hinds could not fly out that day. Instead, Burnham threw him in jail for three years.

    I don’t think the Buxton scholar is trying to incite/create a rift between the two prominent races. Rather, he wants to see the rise and establishment of racial harmony in the country, in my view.

    P.S.: Dr. Hinds was not in possession of narcotics that day. He was simply an unfortunate victim of authoritarian rule.

  • demerwater  On 04/26/2017 at 2:35 pm

    When I was old enough to read and make sense of the newspaper, I was drawn to a page in the “Sunday Chronicle” – the section devoted to the ‘League of Coloured People’. I grew up looking forward to the LCP Fair; an annual event of enjoyable entertainment. Here and there my (East Indian) parents and other elders appeared to accept what I can best describe as a “status quo” situation. There were White people, aspiring Black people; and East Indians who seemed to be more intent on preserving a diaspora culture (I do not think that ‘diaspora’ was a word at that time).
    My father would occasionally comment on an item in the LCP section of the paper; in a rather matter-of-fact way that led me to believe that he was resigned – to what, I did not know; I could not know.
    To be sure there were features about East Indians; cultural / religious activities of the ‘Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha’ and the ‘United Sad’r Islamic Anjuman’. But these were event centered – Phagwah and Eid.
    Imagine my surprise when I learned, later in life, that the League of Coloured People was quite an international organization.
    But it also appears that, even in its formative years, it had something of an identity crisis.
    Did “coloured” mean ‘not White’?
    Or did it mean ‘not pure Black’?
    I really do not know. You must understand that this was all before my time.
    But it did seem to have been an issue profound to our (I am a small part of it) Guyanese heritage.
    Edgar Mittelholzer, ended one of his books about the Van Groenewegen’s – poignantly and ironically.
    From what I can remember, the patriarch of the clan persuaded one of his descendants, conceived on the ‘other side of the tracks’, to change his surname from ‘Van Groenewegen’ to ‘Greenfield’
    And on this New Year’s Day, he was reading of the “King’s New Year Honours List” – and there he saw that a “Greenfield” had been knighted.
    But for his stupid and stubborn insistence on preservation of the “bloodline”, it would have been a “Groenewegen”.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 04/29/2017 at 11:32 pm

    It is unclear to me what Prof David Hinds means by Indians more “ethnically deliberate” but that he paints Indians as scheming and that they are “aggressive and calculated” while the Africans are easygoing, with a “simplistic attitude to race and ethnicity”.

    A significant fact that is forgotten by those old enough to know and unknown to the young is that May 26 is not only the commemoration of Guyana Indepenence Day but it also commemmorates the ethnic cleansing of Indian Guyanese from Wismar, May 24-26, 1964; and by the choice of that date at the independence conference Mr Burnham/PNC were sending a clear warning to Indians not to step out of line.

    Secondly, when a few years ago Indian women were stripped and or had their hair cut-off in the market places and other places along the East Coast Demerara, those were clearly not “simplistic attitude to race and ethnicity” as Prof Hinds asserts.

    He then speaks of a “brief period” under Burnham. Is 21 years, 1964-1985, or 40% of the years since 1964 brief?

    Professor David Hinds is not only poor at Math (likely some method to it tofoster his thesis) but is openly biased against Indian vis a vis African Guyanese.

    Veda Nath Mohabir

    • Micky  On 05/01/2017 at 10:27 am

      It is a well.known fact that when Guyana became independent the fortunate were able to migrate abroad because blacks were rioting and were generally aggressive for whatever reason

      I have come across aggressive Indian guyanese people as well, who I put down to being mentally ill and low nationally.

  • demerwater  On 05/02/2017 at 12:05 pm

    I have been trying, without success, to read Dr. Hinds’ exact text.
    I want to make sure that I understand his message.
    For instance:- “ethnic trap”. Is he meaning “racial trap”? The context, as portrayed by ‘Kaieteur News’ in the lead article, suggests the latter.
    The scientist in me (yes! I too, can be arrogant) would like to see some supporting evidence for contentions like:-
    “It allowed bauxite to die a brutal death.”
    I remember well when “DEM- BA” became “AWEE-BA”; when Cde. Haslyn Parris ordered some sycophants to take down a framed image of the Cde. Leader – to reinforce the idea that GUYBAU would be apolitical.
    My own thoughts are that bauxite ore in Guyana is the richest in the world; outside of Canada. The great disadvantage is that a vast amount of overburden has to be removed – at great cost – to get at that ore. Secondly, the limited use of aluminium and the ease of its recycling have caused an equilibrium. They balance out.
    And a country like Guyana can lose out.

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