Politics: October 5, 1992 destroyed Guyana; can it be reborn? – by Freddie Kissoon 

October 5, 1992 destroyed Guyana; can it be reborn?

 Oct 10, 2017 –  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon 

I don’t write about October 5, 1992 anymore. It has gone from my lexicon of historical milestones. Factually, it is a milestone. Philosophically it symbolizes everything that is ontologically defective about Guyana’s existence.

The closest analogy of October 5 in terms of degeneracy is the French Revolution. The rebellion of the oppressed in France led to a revolution that degenerated into psychotic excesses. The French Revolution led to dictatorship.    

The revolution on October 5, 1992 deteriorated into partisan, ethnic politics under Cheddi Jagan and his wife, Janet, then in what was to become the first instance of semi-fascism in the English-speaking Caribbean, it climaxed under the depravity of the Jagdeo/Ramotar cabals. How does the historian treat October 5, 1992? It has to be a bittersweet analysis.

You can glorify Burnham how much you want; Burnham’s authoritarian excesses forced you to participate in the politics of regime change. I will always maintain if Burnham was not autocratic, we would not have had Cheddi Jagan and Walter Rodney. Burnham created both men. Jagan got increasing international fame because Burnham became increasingly dictatorial. If Burnham had allowed Rodney to take up his job at UG, maybe there would have been no zero-sum struggle between the two men. Why Burnham chose in 1974 to deny Rodney a UG appointment must be one of the greatest mysteries of world history.

You can use complex analysis to justify the necessity of rigged elections from 1968 to 1985. Some would argue that free elections would have meant the permanent denial of power for one half of Guyana, and sempiternal rule for another half. But it is a fact that elections were not legitimate until 1992.

So we come now to October 5, 1992. It brought down the PNC which had ruled from 1964. The meaning of October 5 was that a new era of freedom had arrived.

Make no mistake; a scholar’s competence can be challenged if he/she does not see that October 5 was the release of flowers of freedom. But it was only for a day. That is why I think we have to be careful how we treat the significance and importance of October 5. PPP leaders, PPP supporters, PPP Indianized scholars (like the woman who is writing a biography of Mrs. Jagan and is not interested in any critical writings against Mrs. Jagan) will continue to maximize the importance of October 5. Theirs is a narrow interpretation of the event.

You cannot treat the fall of the PNC on October 5 in itself. The fall of the PNC should have been followed by the total opening up of the society, the total enjoyment of thought and idea, the reclaiming of liberties in totality. It did not happen. One of the methodological faults in assessing the historical uniqueness of October 5 is the shutting out of the Hoyte period. The scholar grasped the fall of the PNC and held onto that. There is no continuous context. But it should be.

The scholar needs no reminding that Hoyte set in motion positive aspects of the rule of law, good governance, ethical values in public service, professional values in the running of the state, dilution of ethnic focus.

October 5 dissolved these important pillars of democracy. And the erosion did not start with Bharrat Jagdeo. It began the day after October 5. All the reclamations of important values that Hoyte recovered for Guyana that were discarded under Burnham were discarded again under Cheddi and Janet Jagan. October 5 has lacerated the legacy of Cheddi Jagan.

It is virtually impossible to treat his four-year-old presidency as one of refreshing, profound changes; one of greater freedoms and liberties. Under Jagan, a harsh revenge mentality took over the PPP. During his four years, Cheddi Jagan took his government into five cul-de-sacs, the consequences of which have destroyed Guyana.

First, he contemptuously dismissed the sacred pillars of good governance that Hoyte reintroduced. Secondly, he unleashed a fury of ethnic preferences that became morbid under Jagdeo. Thirdly, he reinstituted what he learnt from his premiership days and what Hoyte had exorcized from governance after 1985 – installation of party people into the public service. Party people became Permanent Secretaries and chairpersons of state boards, the most egregious one being Roger Luncheon as Chairman of NIS.

Fourthly, he practiced a vicious form of hogging of power. The WPA, which bore the brunt of state violence under Burnham, was nastily cast aside. Fifthly, naked corruption began to emerge and though he and his wife were against it, he put party before country and did not act.

Today, Guyana is paying horrifically for the failure of October 5.

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  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 10/11/2017 at 12:29 am

    I have come to the conclusion that Freddie Kissoon writes for strictly a young, uninitiated Guyanese readership. Any objective Guyanese reader who lived through the stormy late 50’s and 60’s would know that Kissoon is scarce on facts, as Dhanpaul Narine pointed out on Aug 27 (beating me to it) that Kissoon made no mention of the USA-instigated ‘dump Jagan’ destabilization program.

    Now, Kissoon claims ‘Burnham made Jagan’: “if Burnham was not autocratic, we would not have had Cheddi Jagan and Walter Rodney. Burnham created both men. Jagan got increasing international fame because Burnham became increasingly dictatorial.”

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hastily left Guyana in early1969. That same year, Dr Jagan appeared on a one-hour Canadian program, “Under Attack”, transmitted live from a Canadian university (perhaps University of Ottawa), where Dr Jagan (as would other international notables on other occasions) faced off against a tough student panel and the audience to defend his views on Socialism, Guyanese and international politics – where he chastised and excoriated the USA-CIA cum Britain imperialist complicity to get rid of his government and like-minded ones around the world. So popular he was, that Dr Jagan became a regular on the program, for at least two other years/appearances.

    I recall subsequently citing these appearances on the Under Attack program and his ‘international fame’ to the Toronto Star which had given front-page coverage to Norman Manley’s passing while Dr Jagan’s (same day passing) was relegated to a few lines deep in the paper. The Toronto Star realized their mistreatment of Dr Jagan’s legacy and so a few days later wrote an editorial piece on Dr. Jagan with my letter adjacent to the column.
    So, clearly, Freddie Kissoon, as is his ‘sempiternal’ modus operandi has evidenced, is a false prophet calling on the uninitiated/young (and of course drilling it into the heads of anti-Jagan forces and followers) to imbibe a twisted history of the Jagan era.

    Another trait of Kissoon is his penchant for tossing out words which very few (and likely he himself) hardly understands. He talks about “…ontologically defective about Guyana’s existence”. I am willing to wager that 99.9% of the his readers are unfamiliar with the word “ontologically”. Furthermore, he seems to have recently learnt the word himself as he used it just back on August 26, hoping repetition would cement its meaning: “I believe because of their Guyanese ontology, Africans may be more inclined to embrace a party that is not dominated by African leaders than Indians would.” Does anyone here know the meaning of the word “ontology” (and what he is saying), and prove wrong? If so pl explain it in under 50 words. In the meantime, here is an admission and attempt by an expert to explicate:

    “Ontology vs Epistemology
    Ontology and Epistemology are probably the most complex terms that one might come across while studying philosophy. Ontology and Epistemology are branches of philosophy. Let us try and simplify these complex topics.”



    Veda Nath Mohabir

    • Ron Saywack  On 10/11/2017 at 2:15 pm

      Greetings, Veda.

      “Burnham made Jagan.”?

      Cheddi Jagan made himself; he was not made by the opportunistic Burnham. That is Freddie Kissoon’s revisionist, pedestrian view of history. Burnham gratuitously weaseled his way into power at the expense of Dr. Jagan.

      But Burnham was no fool by any means. He full-well understood President John F. Kennedy and British PM Harold MacMillan’s visceral antipathy to a Jagan-ruled British Guiana and that he would ultimately be the beneficiary when they deposed him.

      The Burnham era, unfortunately, was a reign of terror, rigged elections, racial tensions, food shortages, corruption, economic stagnation and infrastructural indifference. The Guyanese people suffered immeasurably during this trying period. And the PPP did not fare much better, either, during their long 23-year tenure.

      When you pan the horizon and look ahead, Guyana’s future remains bleak. Sadly, most of the country’s best minds have long since departed. Today the country is thrust into the hands of substandard neophytes. When will that little gem in South America be governed fairly. Certainly not anytime soon.

      “Another trait of Kissoon is his penchant for tossing out words which very few (and likely he himself) hardly understands.” I, too, thought it was a weird choice of words.

  • guyaneseonline  On 10/11/2017 at 1:01 am

    The inglorious days of the PPP’s rule
    Oct 11, 2017 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

    Former President, Donald Ramotar, wrote last week that the rule of the PPP was a glorious period. His adumbration set off a furious series of rebuttals that is still going on. What is noteworthy is that there have been responses to this type of praise of the PPP days in government.
    I have always contended that it is important that when PPP leaders write about governance and democracy, those “alternative facts’ should be countered with the facts of twenty-three years of PPP’s misrule.
    Any leader from Independence onwards can select accomplishments and obfuscate the negatives. From Burnham through Hoyte to the PPP presidents up to Granger, there are achievements that could be highlighted but the sordid dimensions of governance will remain unspoken.
    It is alright, and perfectly so for party mandarins and party fanatics to speak of glorious days of their organization when it ruled. It is for the independent mind to correct the myths that are perpetuated. My deeply held belief is that Guyana saw two periods of authoritarian rule – under Burnham from 1968 -1985 and the two PPP presidents, 1999 – 2015.
    If I were to select achievements and depravities of both periods, I would say the Burnham/Hoyte era accomplished more.
    President Burnham had his faults but he had vision. There is no space to elaborate on this aspect of Guyana’s history but the Jagdeo period had venalities and depravities that should take away the use of the word “glorious” to describe the reign of the twenty-three years of PPP in power.
    The list of horrendously wrong directions of the Jagdeo Government is certainly not a short one. The moments of madness were plentiful.
    It is difficult to enumerate the inglorious moments of governance in Guyana, 1999-2015 in a newspaper column but some abominations were too terrible to contemplate. If I had to pick a few on the list, I would definitely include the construction of the Marriott Hotel. If the Marriott wasn’t built, in a small, impoverished economy like Guyana’s US$60 million into education, health and policing would have created a better Guyana.
    When long from now, the PPP’s time in office finds itself in the history books, the building of the Marriott Hotel would be a mystery to readers. This had to be one of the lowest periods of dispiritedness in Guyana. Why would an economy like Guyana’s need a Marriott Hotel? Where was the flow of visitors whether from business, sports and tourism to enable the hotel to be a profit-making venture given the fact that there were already two huge hotels of similar kind? If anything in the twenty-three years of PPP’s domination has dented its credibility it has to be the Marriott. It was an act of total incomprehension.
    Then there was the Skeldon sugar factory. A letter writer last week wrote that Jagdeo was no Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore; that he was in fact a failure. The writing was on the wall since the advent of globalization that the sugar industry in Guyana was no longer viable.
    Globalization, in fact, killed Guyana’s sugar industry. Globalization has killed many industries in the Third World. Right here in Guyana, it killed the tobacco industry at Laluni. The Skeldon factory cost US$200 million. Put that money with the US$60 million for the Marriott into the economy and the PPP could have been in power today. Such huge sums in an economy like this had to produce positive results.
    Next – corruption. Guyanese woke up one morning and met on their doorstep a cancer we heard about in places like Nigeria, Mexico, Angola etc. This country had become a bottomless pit of corruption. In a small society there are no secrets. Ministers, their friends, their relatives, bureaucrats with party connection suddenly became prodigiously rich overnight.
    I still believe that the APNU+AFC advisors, (if there are such people) made a huge strategic mistake in not early in the rule of the new government, concentrated on the exposure of corruption. It could have dented the barefaced recidivism we are seeing from the PPP.
    Finally – the criminalized state. It was Professor Clive Thomas who popularized the term. It consisted of people in drugs and money-laundering and their labyrinthine overlapping with the State.
    This nexus took in politicians, public servants and police officials. It has to be a shock to the system to hear that the era of the PPP in office was a glorious one. There is absolutely no way President Burnham and Desmond Hoyte would have accepted this kind of state criminality.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 10/11/2017 at 9:43 am

    My boo-boo: I should have written Michael not Norman Manley.

    Veda NM.

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