Is Partition the Ultimate Solution to the Ethno-political Violence in Guyana? Implications for other violent multi-ethnic societies
Guyana has a long, bloody history of racial violence and murders. In 1964, the New York Times reported that 300 (East) Indians [3000 really] were beaten and driven from their homes in the Mackenzie mining district in the first ethnic cleansing atrocity in the modern Caribbean. In 1992, violence erupted again during the election campaign. In 1998, 200 Indian-Guyanese were beaten and assaulted in the streets of Georgetown in full view of the police; yet no arrests were made. Violence broke out again in 2001, and continued until 2008 after hundreds were killed. Just last year during the 2020 elections, the life of one young protester and three youths were taken. Indians are often the victims in this cycle of violence, triggered by the electoral victory of the Indo-based People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
The electoral system of Proportional Representation (PR) in Guyana has failed to bring social cohesion to this multi-racial society. Political scientist Ralph Premdas (1999) wrote that under this system “State power [is] so overwhelmingly powerful, concentrated and centralized, that it could be used as an instrument for promoting personal ambition as well as ethnic domination, even genocide.” This remains so after constitutional changes in 2000. What, therefore, are the other political systems that should be explored? The First Past the Post (FPTP) has failed elsewhere. Should Political Partition (PP) – not Ethnic Partition (EP) – in geographically large countries like Guyana, South Africa and even Fiji be considered? Partition theorists argue that when violent conflict is intense, and civil politics have failed to unite warring ethnic or political groups, they can be demographically separated into defensible enclaves.
Is Partition the Ultimate Solution to the Ethno-political Violence in Guyana?
Implications for other violent multi-ethnic societies
VINCENT ALEXANDER – Member of the Guyana Elections Commission, & Chairperson of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G)
VASSAN RAMRACHA – US-based, Trinidad-born, Indo-Caribbean activist and educator with a Master’s degree in Education and Political Science
DR. DANIEL GIBRAN – Professor Emeritus of International Security Studies, Tennessee State University, USA; Specialised in Strategic Studies & International Political Economy
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