Tuesday, January 29, 2008

PPP/C playing politics with lives

Freddie Kissoon column

Symbols of power, symbols of failure

At the time of writing, there are tyre-burning and road barricade activities at Bath Settlement at West Berbice. I have been informed that a large crowd of protestors, agitated over the Lusignan massacre, are highly incensed. The police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas at them. Political commentators should not rush to judgment but should wait until the ashes are dried to make their analyses.
Something does not look right here. Why did the movement skip dozens and dozens of villages in region 4 and 5, and settle in a hot bed of PPP support, Bath? Is it possible there are machinations being cooked up to divert attention from the failure that will accompany the pursuit of the perpetrators of the Lusignan mayhem?
If the fires keep raging then the Government has an excuse for their inability to provide security along the corridor of death, the name I gave five years ago to that troubled part of the lower East Coast.
Before I move into the main point of this essay, I want to go on record of showing my disapproval at the President’s inference about an ex-army officer. It was not hard to find out who he was referring to. There is a danger in what the President did. If you speak about a UG lecturer that writes a daily column in one of the newspapers, even a fool would know it is Frederick Kissoon you have in mind. Likewise, most Guyanese that follow the news would know the identity of this very well known former officer of the GDF that the President pointed fingers at. The man is entitled to protection from the society in which he lives.
The kind of accusation the President made against him is extremely troubling. He insinuated that this guy is into violent activities in Buxton and arming marauders there. I may not agree with you but I will defend your right to have your freedom respected.
I took that stand with Benschop. I know in my own heart if Hoyte or Burnham had said that about one of my WPA colleagues then the opposition at that time, including the PPP, would have lashed out.
My deeply felt opinion on what the President said is that it may endanger the life of this man. That cannot be accepted in a country where the rule of law reigns. Does it in Guyana? There is only one type of reign in Guyana, if you know what I mean.
Despite the cascading events in West Berbice and what the President said about the former officer of the GDF, political commentators need to assess the rough treatment the ruling elites got from the East Coast residents on Saturday. The Lusignan massacre brought into view how the angry residents of Mon Repos, Good Hope, Lusignan and Annandale felt about the PPP leadership.
For those foreigners who are not familiar with local parlance or the lingo on the streets, we Guyanese have something we call “eyepass.” In universal terminology, it connotes a type of behaviour where there is the combination of being used and abused. Not only were you hurt by your enemy but the perpetrator has the gall to tell you that they sympathize with you.
There was Priya Manickchand holding the arm of one of the victim’s relatives. There was Clement Rohee going inside one of the besieged homes. There was PM Hinds walking about the area where the crimes took place. Robeson Benn, Shaik Baksh, Ronnie Nawbatt and Neil Kumar also put in an appearance. All of them were humiliated and assaulted. I am going to break with media protocol here and say that though I do not condone violence, I will refrain from condemning the mistreatment of some of these ministers. Baksh and Benn were assaulted. All the others were hounded down. What were they doing there?
Any moron could have seen the anger in those people’s expression. They didn’t want to see the people who controlled the government. So why did these high opportunists go anyway? Because at the Freudian level, they have nothing but disrespect for these supporters.
Some of these villagers are foolish people. On Sunday at a gathering, the President asked them if they want the PNC back. Instead of shouting him down to tell him that the issue was not the PNC, they idiotically yelled out no, much to the delight of Mr. Jagdeo. They couldn’t see in exposing themselves so tragically, they were courting more danger.
The PPP mandarins, princesses and monarchs went up to Lusignan on Saturday because they know they could fool those people. They know they could up the racial ante and the people will buy it. President Jagdeo may be incompetent as a president but he knows the psyches of those villagers. They respond in Pavlovian ways to subtle and not so subtle hints of racial demagoguery.
The President keeps preserving the link between the old, rusty guns that went missing before Noah built his ark, and the Lusignan butchery. There is no connection. This writer does not accept the theory that gunmen with savage intention bestially ripped apart eleven people including five innocent children all because it was a stratagem to side-track an inquiry into gun-running in the seventies. It is not just plain nonsense. It is nasty, ugly nonsense.
Things fell apart on Saturday. The slumbering giants of Lusignan woke up. The queens and kings of New Garden Street and Freedom House were given a good cussing out. Some said it was “Licks like peas.” Shaik Baksh, the busiest minister the world has ever known, found time to be in Lusignan. He narrowly missed a mauling. The intention was to send the new face girl, Priya and the just arrived kid, Robeson. Both were greeted with a scatological vocabulary that must have sent both Priya and Robeson to the detergent shop to wash their faces and to the ENT specialist to clean their ears.
Mr. High and Mighty, the Hon Minister that does not see torture in Guyana as a serious thing got some adjectives that almost lacerated his visage. Not to be left out was Ronnie Nawbatt who just missed being spat upon. I was told the saliva would have caught him flush in the eyes but the Atlantic breeze, originating from a SIMAP project he supervised when he headed that organization, came to his rescue. The most silent Prime Minister in the world went up to Lusignan too.
He got his share of verbal abuse. The title of Woman of 2008 will have to go to the lady that made a garland out of the newspaper sheet with the victim’s faces and insisted that the President hang it around his neck. What a brave woman. I hope I can meet her this week to show my admiration.
The failed kings and queens were raced out of Lusignan on Saturday and Sunday because the villagers know that their presence symbolized power but power that has failed this country so tragically.

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