Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Victimisation 2
(Aired 18 June 2004)

   In 1964 the two main political parties vying for the right to lead us to independence were the PNC and the PPP.

   The PPP was perceived as a rabid communist party which would form an immediate alliance with the USSR and launch communist ideology and propaganda to Brazil and Venezuela from Guyana, and please don't tell me that the Jagans would not have been able to pull this off, because the Indo Guyanese would not have accepted it, they would have had no choice, Cheddie and Janet Jagan saw themselves as the leaders of the biggest communist movement in South America situated as they were on this continent they would have been bigger revolutionaries than Castro and aided by Russian and Cuban troops they would have seen to it that nobody could do a thing and we would have become another Cuba.

    Both the Americans and the British but especially the Americans did not want the Jagans in power here in 1964, the only alternative was the socialist Forbes Burnham who was not seen as a threat to American interests in the region since he was not closely aligned to the USSR, and with the capitalist Peter D'Aguair to support him in a collation, the Americans heaved a sigh of relief when they were successful in getting Burnham and D'Aguair to form the government in 1964. And only then did they give the OK for the British to give Guyana independence in 1966. The rest is history.

     But Burnham was a socialist at heart and so many of the principles which highlighted his tenure in office were punctuated with the socialist ideology. One of these was the question of land ownership. Minister Baksh running all over the place giving a few house lots here, a few house lots there, is really ridiculous given the area of this country and its small population.

  Both the PNC and the PPP have been very reluctant to give land to its Guyanese citizens and we find that most freehold land of considerable acreage predate independence.

   The National Development Strategy, the study carried out by the local business community and financed by the Carter Centre, tells us that housing and other development has been painfully slow because the Government owns all of the available housing land, so there are no private land developers who own the land involved in building these housing schemes, in competition with each other, so with the Government as the land owners with a virtual monopoly to housing lands awarding contracts to corrupt and incompetent developers in villages like Farrier's ‘Cracks Ville' in Berbice and the numerous areas highlighted by C.N. Sharma's roving camera tells the story, some of these schemes are less than 3 years old but their infrastructure water, lights, roads have completely collapsed a lot of the buildings have started the collapse. And it is due to one thing these poor people who have to pay for a house lot in these developments are being given a bad deal, since for every million allocated to do the infrastructure 1/3 of that amount is actually used, the rest goes into someone's pocket. I don't have to tell you whose pockets. So the poor Guyanese the poorest in the Caribbean are being ripped off by their own government. Some months ago in one of my weaker moments I decided along with two other friends that it would be nice to buy a piece of land on the Essequibo River and build a small two bedroom structure there at a place which has a beach or the potential of having a beach so that we can take our families there for a picnic a couple times a month, but I soon discovered that no land owned by the state is available for sale in the Essequibo, it is only up for lease, and only to special people, now why is this? This is our land why can't we buy it; well the socialist's ideology of the PPP and the PNC is showing through, no land to anyone except for a primary housing lot. Of course the hypocrisy is that the PPP tells the public that so and so area is being developed as a housing scheme and that the criteria is that you must be married with at least two children to qualify for one of these lots but somehow or the other people associated with the PPP end up with two and three house lots for their children who are still in school.

   My family owns lands these lands were sold by the colonial government over 100 years ago, but today try buying 1000 acres anywhere in this country today and see what happens, these successive socialists governments have been afraid of developing a land owner class in this country since this goes against the socialist ideology and to my mind it is hampering development and investment, if someone owns 1000 acres in the Demerara, Berbice or the Rupununi for example he will have to pay rates and taxes for it, that is income to the region and to the state and no madman would buy land for the sole purpose of owning that land he would find someway to make it gainfully utilised that would mean employment for people it would mean opening the country to development, but with this closed policy of not selling land to our nationals is creating a situation which is acting against our national economic interest.

   Since the 60's land owners have by and large been supporting anyone other than the PPP since they agreed with the US that the PPP was a communist party which was against private land ownership, but this did not end here when the PPP finally came to power in 1992 they began to systematically destroy all big landowners and my next commentary outlines the destruction of such a family who live on the West Bank of the Demerara River, what this government has done to this man and his family is obscene.

   At the same time there has been the systematic destruction of the economic support base of the PNC, it is being done to ensure that the supporters of the PNC, the Afro Guyanese, are not economically equipped to launch a legitimate campaign against the PPP whose coffers after only 12 years in office is bursting at the seams.

   To keep a people in subjugation you impoverish them to the extent that they cannot effectively mobilise for their rights and to ensure that anyone who is not afro Guyanese but support the PNC is also victimised so that they would not be able to help the PNC to mobilise, this is in my mind the worst form of democratic destruction and the afro Guyanese and their organisations must look for mechanisms to counter this economic genocide that is being perpetrated on them.   

   One fair way to settle this matter so that all can have a fair chance and is in fact being implemented in countries where the governments are corrupt to the extent that the PPP is corrupt, is to demand that not more than a certain amount of money be spent by any party in an election, in this country let's say 50 million dollars, this levels the playing field somewhat and gives the opposition a fighting chance, but to get it the PNC and the other opposition parties must start from now to agitate for this condition. These conditions can be seen for those who want to study it at www.democracywatch.org