• 13 Apr, 2024

Rashleigh Jackson Was Silent on Rigging and Rights Violations in Guyana

Rashleigh Jackson Was Silent on Rigging and Rights Violations in Guyana

Rashleigh Jackson Was Silent on Rigging and Rights Violations in Guyana

Glowing tributes were paid to Rashleigh Jackson, the former Foreign Minister of Guyana and Permanent Rep at the UN. One does not say bad things about the dead. But the country must not forget that Mr. Jackson condoned election rigging from 1968 thru 1992, and he served an illegal regime that was not democratically elected. Mr. Jackson was also silent during the banning of basic foods, violation of human rights, and persecution of Indian Guyanese on account of politics and race. 

Mr. Jackson served at Foreign Affairs from the 1960s thru 1990s. He was PS at Foreign Affairs Ministry and was head of various Guyanese overseas missions that were responsible for overseas rigging in 1968, 1973, 1978, 1980, and 1985. The Ministry and the missions gave the PNC almost all of the overseas votes including those of traditional PPP supporters (read Indians) who would have accounted for some 60% of Guyanese settled abroad and who the PNC claimed voted for it. That was and is preposterous. 

Mr. Jackson never apologized for the rigging unlike his immediate predecessor Fred Wills. Willis had a fall out with Burnham. He served as FM between 1975 and 1978 before he was sacked and replaced by Jackson. I do not recall if Wills was FM during the July 1978 referendum rigging. But in lectures in New York, when he was a visiting scholar at Rutgers University, Wills and I had several exchanges when he would come to City College for guest lectures organized by the Black Studies Department and co-sponsored by the Student Government where I was an elected leader. He publicly condemned Burnham and Hoyte’s elections rigging. He apologized for serving Burnham’s illegal government. For the 1992 election, he advised that Jagan’s PPP and other political parties should not participate unless the ballots were counted in the presence of observers at the places of voting.

Unlike Wills who expressed regrets, Jackson never dissociated himself from Burnhamism and never repudiated election rigging. In fact, he also did not chastise those who attempted to rig the March 2020 elections. May his soul rest in peace!

Dr Vishnu Bisram

Dr Vishnu Bisram is Guyanese born who received his primary and secondary education in Guyana and tertiary education in the US and India. He is a fourth generation Indian. His great grandparents from both his mother and father’s sides were born in India -- Gurbatore from Ghaizpur, Amru from Azamgarh, Sau from Chapra, Mangri from Mau, Bhuri and Bhura Singh from Bharatpur, among others. They all came at different times to then British Guiana (1880s and 1890s) to work on sugar plantations as indentured laborers. After serving ten years, they were freed laborers. They remained on the colony rather than returned to India, married and had children. They used the savings from indentureship to purchase landholdings to cement their ties to their adopted land. They were not given free land. Vishnu Bisram is ninth of twelve children of Gladys and Baldat, rural farmers, she also was a seamstress and he a taylor and they attended to a kitchen garden as well. Vishnu attended the St Joseph Anglican (called English) primary school from 1966 to 1972. In 1972, he passed the annual nationwide Common Entrance exam winning a scholarship place to attend the government Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, some 17 miles from his home village of Ankerville, Port Mourant. He declined the placement scholarship and opted instead for the private Chandisingh High School to which his family pad to pay a tuition. He entered for eight subjects at the Cambridge University Exam in 1977. Vishnu migrated to the USA in 1977 to further his studies. He enrolled at the City College of City University of New York September that year at age 17, studying Bio-Chemistry and also completing a major in Political Science. After his BSc in Bio-Chem, he pursued graduate studies in International Relations earning a MA. He went on to complete multiple post graduate degrees including doctorates in Economics, Sociology, History, Political Science and Educational Administration. Dr Bisram taught for over forty years in various subjects in the US. He also served as a newspaper reporter and columnist for over four decades and is a well-known pollster in the Caribbean region. He is a specialist on the Indian diaspora traveling extensively around the globe to research and write about Indian communities. He published countless articles on various subjects in the mass media, journals, and books. He also organized international conferences on the Indian diaspora and presented papers at many conferences. He was a guest lecturer at universities in Mauritius, India, Fiji, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, USA, and other countries. He is a well regarded political analyst on American and Caribbean politics. He makes him home in Guyana, Trinidad, and America and travels frequently to India.