Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017


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(Aired 10 October 2002)

    On the 6th October 2002? the US ambassador to Guyana Mr. Ronald Goddard presented to this nation, through our attorney General Mr. Doodnauth Singh, a revision of all of the laws of Guyana up to 2001 on a single compact disc, the process of doing so started as far back as 8 years ago by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, it was gift from the US to us Guyanese to aid us to appreciate, to quote Mr. Goddard " when the rule of law is working in practice, as well as in theory, and individuals are behaving in accordance with legal norms and accept social values, conflict is more easily resolved" end quote. He then told us that and I quote him again "for the rule of law to work, citizens, policy makers, judges and advocates need to be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities"

  Let us examine what the US ambassador was telling us and what was intended by this magnamanous gesture. He told us that the rule of law is a critical pillar of any democratic society. I want to thank the ambassador for reminding us about these important issues regarding the law, they reinforce much of what I have been telling you, in all of these commentaries.

  Of course these niceties of justice as outlined by our US ambassador was totally lost on our Government, since less then three days after this carefully crafted speech by our US ambassador, telling us that the US had gone to this great expense to help us to better establish law and order in this country, someone decided to instruct the police to harass one Paul Fraser.

    It is alleged that on the evening of 2nd October 2002 One Chindanand Persaud started a shooting spree in the Palm Court restaurant, he discharged several rounds two of which hit the proprietor Jad Rahaman seriously wounding him in the process, one Paul Fraser who it is alleged to be in Palm court at the time of the shooting shot at Persaud, wounding him, the police have so far not openly stated that it was Fraser who shot Persaud, they are still investigating but Persaud WAS shot and is now hospitalized.

  What is a fact is that on Tuesday 8th October. 6 days after the shooting Paul Fraser went public as supporting the shut down of the country to protest this government's incapacity to contain the crime situation. The next day the police arrested Paul Fraser for shooting Persaud, if this was not an out right political victimization then Gajraj's and the Comissioner's timing sucks, this is typical of the transparent incompetence of this government, even if they intended to charge Fraser, then the timing was completely inappropriate. If they did it as a political tool to dissuade others from supporting the shutdown, then Minister Gajraj and the Commissioner are guilty of gross misconduct in public office.

   But there is little doubt that Fraser's arrest was a political victimization and this executive lawlessness did not stop there, business places were called by members of the PPP on Wednesday and Thursday and were threatened with every conceivable type of political reprisal because they exercised their constitutional right to associate themselves with a peaceful protest. Let me tell you what our constitution article 147 says and I quote it, "no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely or associate with other persons and in particular to form or to belong to political parties or to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests" 

   These businessmen are not prepared to go public with these threats but some of them have told me personally that it happened, who called them and what they were told. 

    So Mr. Goddard as well meaning as your embassy and the USAID gesture was, in revising our laws and your gracious reminder of the importance of it, it was completely wasted on the lawless persons who run this country.  

    Incidentally ladies and gentlemen if the US was giving us these revisions for free, why was Ramson and Permanent Secretary Ganga in the AG's chambers making shady deals with New Global to revise our laws? This process by the UDAID started 8 years ago, they had to know about it.

    Yesterday the 9th October 2002 the PSU called for the resignation of Minister Gajraj, the Commissioner of Police [ag], Ms Sita Ramlall our registrar of the supreme court who was already charged with contempt of court and has now been so charged again by the workers of the registrar of the supreme court for not obeying directions by a supreme court justice.

     I want to remind the public again that Ms Ramlall is not employed through the public service commission and has a direct employment contract with Mr. Luncheon at a salary and conditions which are equal to those of a judge.   

    Nowhere in our regulations does Dr. Luncheon have the right to do this, for the reasons he has done it. Luncheon also employs the secretary to the treasury on similar conditions and there are others.

   The events in this country over the past few days show that the Guyanese public, almost all of them are fed up, they are fearful for their safety, and rightly so, since the events of the past 10 months have established that they have every reason to fear for their lives. Does the PPP care? Of course not, they call these poor people who are terrified for their safety and tell them that if the criminals do not get them, they will!

  At the same time the Social Partners which consist of the Private Sector Commission, the Trade Union Congress and the Bar Association met with the major players including Oscar Clarke of the PNC and Mr. Ramoutliar of the PPP on Wednesday 9th October, Mr. Ramoutliar assures them that he is generally in agreement with the proposals that have been prepared by Major Generals Joe Singh and Norman Mclean and former Commissioner of police Laurie Lewis, to halt the crime wave, invoking article 13 of the constitution.

   Let us see what this article 13 says, now this is Burnham's socialist constitution and article 13 states that and I quote it "the principle objective of the political system of the state is to extend socialist democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens in the management and decision making processes of the state"

    In other words these business people and civil society have a constitutional right to demand better governance, so why the threats to them?  The private sector commission is aware of this duplicity by the PPP, since their own members have told them about the threats; one can only hope that they do something about it.

   But this is typical of the hypocrisy of the PPP, they agree to one thing and they do something completely different and despicable. That is why the talks with the PNC went nowhere, here again is concrete evidence that Hoyte's claims of bad faith may be well founded.

    So what do we do now, the PPP will not negotiate in good faith, they will tell the partners that they agree to cooperate to diffuse the current situation and then they will do nothing.

    I do not want to be the one to have to convince the PPP's supporters that their party leaders are incapable of keeping promises and that is why the country is in the current mess.     

   Believe me ladies and gentlemen the way forward is to tell anyone who calls you threatening you, to go to hell, stand united in your resolve they can't pick on you if you stand unified, record some of these threats and give it to the media, or if you fear identification give it to the US Embassy, the Guyana Human Rights Association and Amnesty International.

    This is why we are so poor and getting poorer, our people will not stand up to this aggression and it is hurting us as a nation. Return of democracy my donkey, there IS no democracy in this country and until we stand up and demand it, there never will be any.

   Here is my request to Amnesty International, the Guyana Human Rights association and the US embassy here, establish if what I say is the truth and let it be recorded in the CIA country fact site for Guyana and let the GHRA issue a release advising that any political victimization will be reported by them to the International Human Rights Association. I will be happy to provide the necessary information.