Congressman Jeffries, no anti-Black Racism in Guyana
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, representative of a district in comprising thousands of Afro-Guyanese, made a generalized remark on June 11 in Brooklyn to a small Guyanese grouping that not everyone in Guyana “is treated consistent with the principles of equal protection under the law”, adding that he “will not tolerate racism in Guyana”. The Congressman offered no illustrations or examples or cases of alleged racism in Guyana. The truth is that the present government of Guyana, from August 2, 2020 till now, has not exhibited any acts of racism or bias against any community. The government has embraced strong pro-equality practices and has set out to reverse the racism practiced by its predecessor in order to build an equal and just society. Everyone in Guyana is treated with equality and fairly before the law and with dignity regardless of ethnicity and faith. The charge of racial bias has no validity.
In his remarks, Mr. Jeffries mentioned his close friendship with one Rickford Burke, a well known supporter of the PNC and perennial critic of the current PPP administration, and who himself has been accused of uttering racist remarks against supporters of the PPP and violence against the government.
There is no evidence that the PPP government is engaged in racial discrimination against group. Lies and deceit are being told by a provocateur to spread disunity among Guyanese. It appeared that Mr. Jeffries uttered remarks with a preconceived notion about governance in Guyana that is in dissonance with reality. Apparently, the Congressman was ill-informed and ill-advised about racial equality in Guyana and fed a staple of untruths.
The governing PPP has done more for Afro Guyanese than the PNC did during its 33 years in office. in the 22 months since President Irfaan Ali has been in power, there has not been one act of bias against any group. The same can’t be said of the preceding administration, during which tenure perceived non-supporters faced racial and political discrimination.
There is no truth to the remarks about racism in Guyana made by Mr. Jeffries. The opposite is true. Africans make up just under 30% of the population but constitute 90% of the armed forces, 80% of the police force, 85% of the bureaucracy, 65% of nurses, 65% of teachers, 80% of UG lecturers, 28% of the Ministers, 25% of CEOs of and appointees of state-run companies and membership of state boards. The state media is 70% African. The Chancellor of the Judiciary is a female African. The Chief Justice is also a female African. The Prime Minister is African. Guyana Ambassador to the US, Sam Hinds is African; Mr. Hinds has the record as the longest serving Prime Minister of Guyana, during PPP tenure, in the Commonwealth. At the institutional level, the PPP government has enacted legislation and amended the constitution to strengthen the laws to guard against racial and ethnic discrimination in any form and fashion. Guyana is one of the few countries globally that has a constitutional commission to deal with ethnic discrimination. This commission is established by the constitution and its members are selected through a parliamentary process which involved both the government and opposition. Any person can go before this commission to complain about discrimination. This commission has a wide array of powers. Race hate language and any manner in which that is expressed are serious criminal offenses that carry long term of imprisonment under laws enacted by the PPP administration. The PPP as a government, has signed on to every major convention in the western hemisphere dealing with racial and other forms of discrimination. These conventions are now part of Guyana’s constitution through amendments made to that constitution while the PPP has been in government.
In terms of policy, the PPP’s policies and budgetary allocations are available to the public and they can be critically examined from an ethnic perspective. And if that were to be done would find no evidence whatsoever of any ethnic bias.
Policies in Guyana are all issues and not ethnic driven. This is reflected in its annual budgets, housing policy, and in other areas.
So in what areas are there racism and lack of fairness and equality in Guyana?
Congressman Jeffries should not allow himself to be misled and misguided by a character that is engaged in demagoguery, working with relentless passion and purpose to spread myths and malicious falsehoods and hatred of people on account of race. If Mr. Jeffries were to speak with fair minded objective well informed Guyanese about aspects of governance in Guyana, he would learn that the PPP administration has been very inclusive in all aspects of governance.
Dr. Vishnu Bisram (PhD Pol Science)
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