Sunday, May 18, 2008

PNCR's Goebbels cult --- destroying the Guyanese nation

Another load of Goebbels-style propaganda, from the PNCR cult in exile who can't win at the polls because the Guyanese people have rejected them. SO, the losers are hell-bent on destabilizing and destroying Guyana. You will fail, again. Read this.


The PNCR demonstrates a disregard for law and order

May 18, 2008

Dear Editor,
Once again the PNCR has taken to the streets in defiance of the police. The illegal protest in Georgetown on 16.5.08, demonstrates the complete disregard the party holds for law and order in Guyana. This coupled with a march a few days ago in which the party followed an unauthorized route in the city, and which ended with an effigy of President Jagdeo being burnt in front of Parliament, is an indication that the PNCR is bent on causing mayhem and disorder in the country, and instilling fear in the population. The PNCR was also instrumental in staging protests after the suspension of CN Sharma’s television licence after a woman’s threat to President Jagdeo on a call-in programme had been rebroadcast. These actions are reminiscent of another unauthorized protest the PNCR leader Robert Corbin led a few years ago, from the East Coast to Georgetown, again in defiance of the police. That the party has no respect for the police force, and is bent on chaos and stalling progress and peaceful relations in Guyana, is clear.

But what is more disturbing is the deafening silence on the part of the Guyana Human Rights Asssociation, ACDA, and others, who were so vocal when CN Sharma’s licence was suspended. Why are they not outraged at the PNCR’s illegal actions? Where is their condemnation? Where is their call for the law to be upheld?
Yours faithfully
Mohan Singh

THE fascist Minister of Propaganda in Hitlerite Germany Herr Gobels is on record as having said that a lie is more believed when it is a big lie. He is further reported to have said that the more often a lie is repeated the more it tends to be believed.

That seems to be the tactics of the political opposition in dealing with the PPP and the PPP/Civic government. Another glaring example appeared in the “Kaieteur News” of April 27 in an article by Khemraj Ramjattan of the AFC.

In that article he once again implied that our constitution was the “Burnham Constitution,” meaning that it was the product of the Forbes Burnham regime. He has made such statements regularly, sometimes even in Parliament.

This, however, is not true.
When the PPP/Civic took office in 1992 efforts were made to have a new constitution. A commission of the Parliament was established to carry out the task. A lot of work was done but it did not conclude its work before the Parliament ended in 1997.
QUOTE: ‘Despite all of these changes we have the opposition shamelessly describing our constitution as a Burnham Constitution. Again they are working to mislead our people by repeating the lie, Gobels like, over and over again’

The delay was due mainly to the fact that the PNC had refused to participate in the work of that body for a protracted period. The PPP/Civic government displayed great patience in working to get the main opposition on board to deal with such a fundamental issue.

Even though the De Santos (Bernard De Santos was the then Attorney General and chaired the commission) Commission did not complete its work before the 1997 elections, the effort did not go in vain. It was used by the commission established by the new Parliament, based on the Herdmanson Accord.

The new commission had very broad representation from political parties and from civil society. The Commission travelled extensively throughout Guyana taking evidence from organizations and individuals. It also drew on international experiences. Several constitutional experts from abroad, facilitated by the National Development Institute (NDI) of the US, came to Guyana during this period to advise the Commission.

The cost of this work was also very substantial. Based on all the above work a new constitution was drafted. It was laid in Parliament and was passed unanimously. Mr Ramjattan was a member of parliament and also voted for this constitution.

After all of this I find it baffling that anyone can continue to describe the constitution as “Burnham’s Constitution.” This constitution is truly a people’s constitution. Clearly the only motive was to repeat the lie often enough in the hope that people would believe it. It is designed to discredit the PPP which was the main force fighting for democracy and change in Guyana during the period of rigged elections.

Whenever the opposition wants to attack the President they refer to the immunity that the constitution gives to the head of state. Mr Ramjattan in particular tries to create the impression that all the immunities that were enjoyed by Presidents Burnham and Hoyte are still applicable today. The impression is also often given that when in opposition the PPP opposed the immunities of the PNC’s presidents, but now we are enjoying the same.

This is also untrue.
From the time that the 1980 constitution was promulgated the PPP expressed the view that the power of the president to prorogue or dissolve parliament even if he was being impeached was improper and in effect made it impossible to impeach the President even if the President grossly violated the constitution.

Other opposition forces expressed similar views at that time. Some said that this clause was creating a president for life. The WPA was the main proponent of this position.

The PPP promised to remove that power from the President whenever it took office.

The record would show that on both occasions when the PPP made presentations to the Constitutional Reform Commissions it recommended the removal of such powers. The resulting Constitution does not have that provision!

Moreover many other powers that the President had have now been changed or modified. Before 2001 a President of Guyana, could have appointed the chairpersons of all the Constitutional Commissions including Police, Public, Judicial and Teaching Service Commissions by just consulting the Opposition. Today the Appointive Committee of Parliament makes recommendations to the Parliament. When these are approved they are forwarded to the President for ratification.

In some areas the President must obtain the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition before he can appoint persons to certain key positions.

Despite all of these changes we have the opposition shamelessly describing our constitution as a Burnham Constitution. Again they are working to mislead our people by repeating the lie, Gobels like, over and over again.

Let us now deal with the immunities that the President has and ask ourselves are they unreasonable?

To determine this we should look at the immunities that heads of state have in the countries that are often upheld as bastions of democracy.

Any such examination will show that the immunities of the President of Guyana are generally the same or less then those enjoyed by other heads of states.

Let us begin by looking at the United Kingdom, the country that is described as the oldest democracy. The head of state is the ruling monarch. The head of state here is exempt from the jurisdiction of the criminal courts. The monarch is personally immune from civil lawsuits as well.

In the US according to a study done by the Legislative Council Secretariat, Research and Library Services Division, done in 2007, while there are no legal provisions of immunity for the President, “…the courts have developed a doctrine of official immunity for the President. The President is entitled to absolute immunity in civil suits regarding all of his official acts…”

The study went on to say in regard to the President’s immunity from criminal proceedings the matter is unsettled. “…However, no sitting President has been prosecuted for criminal charges…”

In France the President has great immunities and power. It was only in 2007 that a law was passed to make it possible to impeach the President. He or she cannot be prosecuted. The study found that the French President has more powers and immunities than all others in Europe.

In Germany the President enjoys immunity from prosecution. He/she has the power to appoint and dismiss federal judges, the federal civil servants, the officers and non-commissioned officers etc.

In India the President also has immunity from prosecution from both criminal and civil courts.

We can therefore conclude from the examples above that it has been internationally recognized that the immunities for a head of state are considered not as a privilege but as an essential tool for carrying out the functions of such a high office.

In relation to Guyana, in a general sense, the immunity of the President as given to the post by the framers of our constitution is no more than, and in some instances less than those bestowed on other heads of state.

To say that a President of Guyana has excessive powers is at best unobjective and more often than not; it is down right political dishonesty with the hope of misleading people.
Such behaviour is in the culture of Gobels repeating the lie to make it believable.


FOLLOWING REPORTS on the internet of the current mix of anti-government illegal demonstrations in Georgetown; drive-by shootings at police and police stations; plus this past Friday night's hurling of channa bombs at the Ministry of Culture, with the later repeated fire by gunmen at the WaterChris Hotel, a well known adage came to mind: "What you see by day, you do not wait to light a candlestick to see at night".

If the captains of industry and commerce in this nation, as well as the print and electronic media, are waiting to witness the end results of the current extra-parliamentary street politics of the main opposition PNCR's so-called "cost of living protests", before sounding their own warnings to an orchestrated threat to the rule of law, then they may have to light the proverbial candlestick to see the consequences.

First, there was the unsubstantiated and quite alarming claim by the PNCR leader, Robert Corbin, of the police having received instructions to use fire power and tear gas to prevent or quell a protest demonstration on the day his party supporters broke through police barricades in the city while Parliament was hoping to debate the cost of living situation.

Both the Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee and, more significantly, the high command of the Guyana Police Force, separately challenged the PNCR leader to provide the EVIDENCE in support of his allegation.

It is an allegation that carried the unmistakable potential for igniting political/ethnic passions in a society that continues to suffer the consequences when either of the two major political parties resorts to the weapon of race, however subtle the masking.

Mr. Corbin is yet to produce the requested evidence. Subsequently, having been firmly criticised by the police for violating the agreed routes for that same controversial protest march, the PNCR leader was to be involved in what the police first deemed an unlawful march last Thursday for which permission was not granted.

The PNCR leader was reported in the local media as explaining that having learnt that no permission was forthcoming for the originally planned "cost of living" protest march, he chose to walk back to his office since he had turned up without his car for the start of the event. What then reportedly happened, as claimed, was that those who had assembled to await Corbin's arrival, decided to follow him as he set about returning to his office.

The ensuing disorderly behaviour, including mocking of the police as the so-called "walk" turned out to be another not-so-clever political device, reminded me of that time of the Wynn Parry-headed Commission of Inquiry into the February1962 "disturbances in British Guiana" against the then PPP administration of Cheddi Jagan.

In addressing a response from then PNC leader, Forbes Burnham, why he had failed to respond to a request from the Governor to appeal to his demonstrating supporters in Georgetown to desist from acts of violence and cooperate with the security forces, he was to adopt the position that "the man who calls off the dog owns the dog."

The Commission's reaction to that very cynical contention by Burnham, was: "This callous and remorseless attitude is reminiscent of Mark Anthony's observation: 'Mischief thou art afoot. Take thou what course thou wilt'..."

Playing hide and seek with the police as they opted to make a farce of the rule of law in Georgetown last Thursday when the PNCR chose to continue its anti-government cost of living protest, may have been satisfying for those seeking to resort to some of the old tactics and strategies of now deceased mentors.

If Mr. Corbin's "walk back" to his office was amusing in the context of what ensued on the streets last Thursday, including the harrowing experience by the police to maintain law and order, then the statement issued later in the day that the police "will seek legal advice" on the unlawful protest, was even more amusing.

The law enforcement agencies would, of course, be aware that this is not a time for amusement; not with the signs pointing to "danger ahead". If the politics of "slow fire", of an earlier period is recalled and effectively doused by the politics of mature dialogue, then there should be no need to light a candlestick to see in the night what is so clearly viewed by day.
Question is: Will the representatives of the business community, the religious communities and other non-government organisations that claim to be committed to the rule of law and unity among all races, now step up to the challenge to remind the PNCR that there are other ways to respond to the cost of living problem -- a worldwide challenge -- than to engaging in politics that could provoke incitement to disorder and made worse by fomenting animosity with the police themselves?


Debt servicing down to four percent
President Bharrat Jagdeo, on Friday, said Guyana has reached a maximum of debt relief; and that debt servicing has come down significantly, from about 94 percent of revenue to four percent.

President Jagdeo has been instrumental in negotiating debt write-offs for Guyana. His efforts have seen Guyana’s debt move from US$2.1 B to less than US$700M. The stable macro-economic environment which Government has been able to create and maintain has removed the ‘highly indebted’ status from the country.

“We have been fortunate and we have been working hard and we have managed to get this down, but unfortunately many countries in Africa have not been so successful,” he said.

The Guyanese Leader said he was fasting in solidarity with the movement and its countless supporters and urged those international institutions to deal with Africa’s debt faster.

Guyana has benefitted from several debt write-offs which have been used for infrastructural development.
President Jagdeo had defined debt relief as “Better education, health care, providing better water supply, better infrastructure generally, social and economic infrastructure, helping to generate more jobs for our young people, getting more of them connected to the internet through the Information Communications Technology (ICT) revolution so our children could learn differently.” (GINA)

Are the young people arrested PNCR supporters?
THE recent arrest of youths in targeted areas created quite a stir with the PNCR and Corbin accusing the Police of racial profiling, harassment of its supporters and the usual ‘reasons for protest’. The arrest by the police no doubt resulted from investigations.

How it is that Corbin knows that that those arrested are his supporters? Do any of them carry a party card? What affiliation do they have with the PNCR? Or is Corbin intent on using them to garner support for his marches the way he used CN Sharma.

While I do not wish to debate the ‘right and or wrongs’ of the Police action, I wish to point out that the Police are the law enforcement agents of Guyana. They are the ones vested with the responsibility to maintain law and order, despite what is claimed by Corbin and the PNCR.

The persons I understand were arrested while ‘liming’ in the streets, which in itself is an offence and Corbin is well aware of that. The police need to be proactive to reduce the amount of unsolved crimes.

Corbin and the PNCR leadership tried to create discontentment in the village of Buxton when the Joint Services began to clear the lower East Coast Demerara backlands. They did not succeed.

With the presence of the Joint Services in Buxton and with the clearing exercise in progress, there has been a visible reduction in the number of brutal and vicious crimes. The Joint Services have been vindicated in that regard. Let us give this new measure time to see the results.

This action is nothing new to policing tactics. It was practised during the 70s under the PNC Burnham regime. I could remember raids being carried out in those same areas and in villages on the East Coast Demerara and the older persons who want to be honest would speak out. This also happens in other countries.

I have copied parts of an article from the World Socialist Website ( for the information of readers.

“In a massive dragnet, U.S. Marshals led more than 90 state, local and other federal police agencies last week in arresting over 10,000 people across the country…

Code-named Operation Falcon, for Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally, the unprecedented federally-coordinated mass arrests were staged for maximum political and media impact. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used the operation as the subject of his first news conference since the confirmation of his controversial nomination.

Attorney General Gonzales told reporters, “Operation FALCON is an excellent example of President Bush’s direction and the Justice Department’s dedication to deal both with the terrorist threat and traditional violent crime.” He added, “This joint effort shows the commitment of our federal, state, and local partners to make our neighbourhoods safer…”

This was an operation in the USA and it was effective. Why should things be different in Guyana? We compare ourselves to them in every sphere.

Robert Corbin and the PNCR seem to have a penchant for protecting criminals, it was not surprising therefore when the news broke that his driver was arrested for being involved in robbery and murder. I bet that would be a reason for one of his protests – claiming that he is innocent.

I wish to ask all fair minded persons to say honestly if they could truly vow for the character of any person who is not with them 24 hours a day. That is what Corbin is doing and asking others to do.

As a politician and a lawyer, Corbin should know that people will tell you what they think you want to hear. I once heard someone say ‘prisons are filled with innocent persons’. Corbin seems to have some divine ability that tells him who is guilty and who is innocent.

Maybe he should offer his services to the Police and stop the confrontational approach that he seems to be adopting of recent. It is dangerous for him and his followers. When a crowd gets agitated it is difficult to control. We remember what happened in July 2001 and do not wish for a repeat.

If Corbin could be so bold to publicly commit these minor offences and find a reason for so doing, why is it that he would not dare to do more in private.

The question that must be answered is who has most to gain by creating chaos in Guyana?

Police were right to say no
THE police, quite uncharacteristically, explained the reason for not approving the request for the PNCR protest march planned for Thursday, saying that on the party’s previous march, they had diverted from the specified route and had thrown down police barriers. While it is not normal for the police to explain why approvals are not granted, it could have been expected.

The week before approval was granted for a similar protest march, this resulted in the protestors generally behaving in a disorderly and vulgar manner which seems to be the way the PNCR protest. They were given permission and they broke the law.

The PNCR has had a history of destruction and mayhem during their protest marches. Corbin and the leaders of the Party are well aware of the increased chances for mayhem to break out once the protesters reach crowded parts of the city.

The Guyana Police Force has a responsibility to all Guyanese, it does not have the luxury of deciding whom to protect or arrest based on party affiliation, they are required to protect the citizens of Guyana.

If Corbin and the PNCR leadership think it is alright for them to break laws that they choose to break to achieve their political objective, then what would happen should they return to power?

Every Guyanese is entitled to the same protection under the law, protection from individuals threatening, harassing or disturbing them.

The PNCR need to let the police do their job and respect the law.

Stop the indecency
THE late leader of the PNCR Hugh Desmond Hoyte had spoken out against what he termed the ‘putagee mafia’. This was at a time when he was trying to attract foreign investors to Guyana and was getting much criticism and resistance from a certain section of the society.

We see today that this group of persons is still active with the indecent attack that was launched on Buddy Shivraj. I do not know the man, but the reports in the Stabroek News seem to suggest that something more is going on.

Government had issued leases to two persons to construct hotels (Buddy’s and Casique) in the stadium area to facilitate visitors during the CWC in 2007. The playing field for both persons was the same. Both investors took the risk and they were given the same concessions by Government.

Buddy’s (thank heavens) was able to complete his hotel in time for the CWC but Cacique was not, and still isn’t. The benefits of an investment are to the fortune of the investor. If Buddy’s or any investor is offered a price that is worth his while then it would be incomprehensible for him to have refused it.

Why the indecency of exposing how much was paid and how much made beats my mind, especially in a society as ours where criminals are willing to risk their lives for a few dollars. Is it that Buddy’s is not of the ‘class’ that should benefit from that kind of profits from a ‘buy out’?

With an investor like Ozkan in Guyana, maybe he would attract other investors; is that the fear of the ‘mafia’ Stabroek News and others like them could consider benefiting from a ‘buy out’ to their benefit?

Whatever is their problem, this indecency in the media needs to stop.

Corbin respects the law?
LEADER of the main Opposition Party, Robert Corbin claims that he respects and obeys the laws of Guyana. However, during his planned protests the police did not grant permission for this exercise to continue.

Mr. Corbin, nevertheless, gave his followers this information, then proceeded to say that since his driver had left he would have to walk back to his Chambers.

Utter nonsense! Why not just order his driver to return? This is a silly transparent ploy to break the law!

It is quite obvious that he was bent on finding a way in which to ensure that the protest continued, although it was now termed a ‘walk to my chambers.’ Mr. Corbin knew that he was breaching the same law that he claims to obey but he still continued despite several attempts by the police to halt the protest.

The routes taken by his supporters/picketers included stopping in front of the Magistrate’s Court to picket with the plaques which was inclusive of ‘his walk home.’

While protesting is an effective way to highlight a situation, I think the PNCR’s culture of protesting is becoming quite tiresome and downright irritating to the Guyanese public.

Why can’t Mr. Corbin find a more constructive manner in which to highlight issues? The few hundreds of people he is manipulating may be enjoying themselves. But what about the majority of Guyanese who have to face this stress day after day?
Doesn’t Mr. Corbin have any regard for them? When will he become tired of his selfish obsession?

Let us today give some history to participation levels in the Public Service.
Race and ethnicity as a determining factor in the composition of the Public Service have an imposing and penetrative character on Guyana’s history. This factor has its roots in the stratification system of Guyana: the White colonial elite dominated the society through its control of sugar and other commercial activities.
Most of the Public Service positions attracted an urban-based population before 1953, and so the groups most likely to absorb these positions were Africans and the Mixed. Africans and the Mixed were predominantly concentrated in Georgetown and New Amsterdam, the two main urban centers at that time. In 1946, Indians comprised 16% of the urban population that increased to 22% in 1960. But Africans constituted about 54% of the urban population in 1960 while the Mixed was somewhere around 53% in 1960.

And so not surprisingly, colonial Whites dominated the higher echelons of the Public Service, with Indians and Africans at the bottom of that hierarchy. Compared to other ethnics, Indians carried the lowest hierarchical status in the colonial public service in 1925: only 4 percent of Indians employed, given that they constituted almost 42 percent of the total population.

Table 1: Racial Distribution in the Public Service, 1925
Ethnicity % in % of Pop. Employ
Europeans & descendants 3.0 1.11
Portuguese 0.2 3.08
Chinese 0.2 0.91
East Indians 4.0 41.97
Negroes 84.7 39.36
Mixed 7.3 10.28
Not stated 0.6 .22
Source: Daily Argosy, August 13, 1925
Lutchman (1972, p. 2) noted in describing the colonial Public Service that “Unlike the society where the base was occupied mainly by the East Indian and Negro sections collectively, in the public bureaucracy it was monopolized by the latter. In other words, East Indians were not only under-represented at the top echelons of the bureaucracy (as was the case with Negroes) but they were also under-represented at the lower echelons.” The under-representation of Indians is further underscored in Tables 2 and 3.
Table 2: Fixed Pensionable Establishment of the Public Service with Salary of £150 and over in 1925
Year Non-Indian Indian

1913 288 1
1921 323 8
1924 358 23

969 32
Source: The Kunwar Maharaj Singh Report, 1925

Table 3: Fixed Pensionable Establishment of the Public Service with Salary under £150 in 1925
Year Non-Indians Indians
1913 94 8
1921 112 27
1924 97 14

303 49
Source: The Kunwar Maharaj Singh Report, 1925
The small White planter elite in the colonial era widely practiced ethnic dominance in the Public Service. This dominance created a dual stratification system, one exclusively for Whites, and the other at the lower level for Indians and Africans; with Africans having greater numerical strength in the Public Service. But the race and ethnicity factor cannot convincingly explain the greater numbers of Africans in the colonial bureaucracy.

Most of the Public Service positions attracted an urban-based population before 1953, and so the groups most likely to absorb these positions were Africans and the Mixed. Africans and the Mixed were predominantly concentrated in Georgetown and New Amsterdam, the two main urban centers at that time. In 1946, Indians comprised 16% of the urban population that increased to 22% in 1960. But Africans constituted about 54% of the urban population in 1960 while the Mixed was somewhere around 53% in 1960.

The imbalance against Indians in the Public Service did not materialize as a political issue until the 1960s because the nationalist movement, comprising both Indians and Africans after the Second World War, focused attention against colonialism. To do something else would have fragmented the nationalist efforts against colonial hegemony.

But the split in the People’s Progressive Party in 1955, aimed at disintegrating the nationalist movement against colonialism, and increasing competition and conflict between Indians and Africans, was not solely self-directed, but was cushioned and activated by external forces, as attested to by several commentators.

The then Prime Minister Burnham himself drove the racial antagonism between the two major ethnic groups. He said that the rapid development of education among Indians and their occupational penetration into the traditional preserves of Africans, made it inevitable that Indians would constitute a threat to Africans. Burnham felt that Africans would then be required to protect their vested interest.

The governmental agencies were perceived as the catalysts for change. Specifically, each major ethnic group saw governmental agencies, especially the Public Service as a sanctuary for promoting better living standards for its group. The Moyne Commission in 1945 diagnosed the West Indian problem as one of seeking better living standards. Thus, the prevalence of increased ethnic competition and conflict in the quest for better living standards became the norm. However, Lutchman (1972) concluded that after the PPP split in 1955, Africans were more favorably placed than Indians in governmental agencies.

The frequent PPP’s criticisms on the ethnic imbalance in the Public Service and the security forces led to an investigation by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). One of the ICJ’s recommendations was that Indians should be recruited at a greater rate than Africans until an acceptable ethnic balance was reached. The PNC Government during its 28 years failed to correct this imbalance.
Table 4: Public Service-Senior Administrative and Executive Ranks

Total Nos. I A O %
I %
A %
Ministers 29 7 20 2 2

69 7
Other Senior Positions 66 3

25 1


38 1

Permanent Secretaries 29 2 25 2 7 86 7
Principal Assistant Secretaries 38 1

21 3 3

55 8
Personnel 22 5 17 - 2

77 -
Accounts 19 9 8 2 4

42 1

Other Departmental Heads 139 1

102 1


43 1

Source: Debiprashad & Budhram’s East Indians in the Caribbean (1987)
I=Indians; A=Africans; O=Others Table 4 shows that in the Ministries in the 1970s, only a small number of Indians occupied senior administrative positions. In 1973, there was only one Indian Permanent Secretary and two in 1979. About 37% of Principal Assistant Secretaries and only 23% of Heads of Personnel Divisions were Indians. There were 7 Indian Ministers and 20 African Ministers. There was some ethnic balance in the Accounts Division. Africans clearly dominated positions of Other Departmental/Divisional Heads, including Regional Development Officers during the PNC ruling years. …To be continued.
Pull Quote:
Most of the Public Service positions attracted an urban-based population before 1953, and so the groups most likely to absorb these positions were Africans and the Mixed. Africans and the Mixed were predominantly concentrated in Georgetown and New Amsterdam, the two main urban centers at that time. In 1946, Indians comprised 16% of the urban population that increased to 22% in 1960. But Africans constituted about 54% of the urban population in 1960 while the Mixed was somewhere around 53% in 1960.

But to begin at the beginning. Exactly what the PNCR took to the streets for in the first place is not altogether clear, since they seemed to latch onto any topic that was in vogue at the time, including the ban on Channel 6, the cost of living, and, most mysteriously, Carifesta, which was founded by the late Pres-ident Burnham no less. Considering that President Jagdeo was under pressure on all fronts, no great action was required on the part of the main opposition; they just had to sit and wait, and say their piece in Parliament and elsewhere while the government floundered. As it is now they have made themselves the centrepiece of criticism, and the PPP/C can mount its favourite hobby-horse spouting its usual florid rhetoric – which is not to say that the PNCR has not had some florid rhetoric of its own to spout.

Exactly how the PNCR thought it would dissuade a significant segment of its own constituency from attending Carifesta is not clear; in a city notoriously lacking entertainment, music and dancing of a high standard would be too much of a temptation to resist. Be that as it may, it hardly does the Leader of the Opposition any credit that he would seek to make a major regional festival “unmanageable.” That is not the occasion or the issue on which to confront the government. One might have thought the party would have worked out that they cannot afford a fiasco involving the region which is blamed on them.
And then there is the present cost-of-living protest. As far as the price of food staples is concerned, the government has little purchase on that situation in the short term, as the PNCR well knows. Where the cost of living generally is concerned, there is the matter of VAT, which aside from the increase in the number of items zero rated, the government has to date declined to review. Having said that, however, once the protestors are undisciplined – which they have been – the PPP/C doesn’t have to bother itself about any issues they may be highlighting; the whole focus then becomes the PNCR’s behaviour.

Now one must presume that Mr Corbin has been under pressure from his grass roots supporters to go out on the streets, and they probably are not too fussy about the issues he selects for protest. There is enormous frustration among opposition supporters and no doubt others too with the government. (It might be said in passing that the administration, which seems to be fitted with cast-iron earplugs, is oblivious to just how unpopular it is in some quarters.) In addition, Mr Corbin’s standing in the party is nothing like what Mr Hoyte’s was, and it may be he felt that leading a protest would revive his reputation which after all had taken a public battering during the leadership contest. Whatever the case, leaders are supposed to lead and not be led from behind; their decisions should be rational and should be based on what is best for the party, and, it must be added, the country as well.

Whatever the rationale behind the protests, whether justified or not, there was absolutely no excuse for the behaviour that the PNCR protestors displayed on the road on May 8, not simply ignoring the authorized route, but burning Mr Jagdeo’s effigy outside Parliament. No matter what his shortcomings, there is simply no excuse in our present situation for that display of vulgarity. And as for, pushing down police barriers, frightening shoppers and panicking shopkeepers, how can that possibly be defended? At the very least, it will certainly do nothing to help the cost of living.

In a general sense, the police commendably have been very restrained in their response to the protestors. Whether they could have done more when a segment of the marchers broke away from the May 8 protest, is not clear. All that can be said is, they were hardly in a position to use tear gas in a crowded area with children around. In general, however, at a time like this confrontation should be avoided if at all possible, and the police seem to have managed this successfully. However, refusing permission for the last march – no doubt on political instructions – was futile since it went ahead anyway (although it was not called a march). Withholding permission creates conditions for possible disorder, and it is better to have an official route and leave the pressure on the PNCR to see the protestors behave in a disciplined way.

The matter of the arrest of Mr Corbin’s driver last week for advertising an illegal march through a loud-speaker on his car is a problematic issue. In the first instance one wonders why he should have been sent to undertake this task rather than some other driver; it seems at best unnecessarily provocative and at worst specifically intended to produce a reaction. This notwithstanding, arresting him could only up the temperature, and the preferred wisdom would have been for the police to resist zeal in this instance.