After my last commentary many people
called me and asked me if the impact of the Jagan sabotage to the Guyana economy was as great as I had outlined, why did Burnham allow it? There were mainly
4 questions broadly defined as follows:
- Why were the British and the Americans so
against Jagan? Why were they so afraid of him getting control of this
country during the cold war?
- Do I think that after Burnham got into
power and started rigging elections that the US should have taken a hand
in the matter?
- If Jagan was that big a headache to
Forbes Burnham and the Guyana economy, why did Forbes allow him to
continue with it?
- Why did Burnham not make it plainer to
the Guyanese people that Jagan was the real instrument of our woes and not
To understand what happened here in
the 60'ds 70's and 80's one has to understand the US and what is known as the
Monroe doctrine, this doctrine was especially influential in shaping the
history of Latin American countries. And it came about this way; during the
early 1800's; many Latin American countries had declared their independence
from the controlling powers in Europe. These new countries lacked the military
strength and experience to fight off their old masters. However, when the Monroe doctrine was put into effect in 1823, they no longer had to put all their energies
into possibilities of avoiding war with foreign powers. Had the Monroe Doctrine
not been adopted, Latin American as well as world history would have been very
different from what it is now. The situation may have been similar to Africa,
in that Latin America would have been carved up by the European powers into
small holdings causing many short and long term undesirable results. For
example, Spanish would not be the main language spoken; there would also
be German, French, English, Belgian and others. The current borders would also have
been very different. They would have been divided according to the colonies
that had been staked out. In conclusion, the Monroe Doctrine had a profound positive
effects on many South and Central American countries when it was implemented,
but the greatest consequence took place in Latin America because this doctrine
allowed it to develop without any foreign influences as the US played more of a protector's role to its neighbours.
So simply put, the Monroe doctrine
placed before the US congress by President Monroe in 1823 stated clearly that
the US will not tolerate any shenanigans from the European countries in this
hemisphere, and that it will adopt a protectionist attitude to its independent
American neighbours, to guarantee stability in the region around America, thereby
protecting the continental integrity of the United States of America itself.
And the US was very serious about their
continental integrity, that is why they helped Puerto Rico and Cuba from gain independence from Spanish aggression in earlier wars and that is why she nearly went
to nuclear war when Kennedy turned the Russian ships back from Cuba in the 1962 missile crisis. This put the American fears of the 60's in perspective for
all and should have warned any person with a functioning brain that the US would not have stood idly by and allowed a communist puppet like Jagan to get into power
here in 1964. That is why the US opted to encourage the British to support
Burnham instead of Jagan in keeping with the Monroe doctrine activated since
1823 over 140 years before.
The USSR was reluctant to accept this
long standing US policy of no messing around in their backyard, and so they got
people like Jagan and Castro who were puppets of the Soviet Union to seek power
in places like Guyana to spread communism into this hemisphere. Castro was
contained in Cuba on an island very close to the US from which it was nearly impossible
to spread wholesale revolution into South America but not Guyana, a foothold
here could have had the effect of establishing an uncontrolled conduit to the
flow of Russian and Cuban revolutionaries into Brazil and Venezuela, that is
why Guyana was so crucial to the Russians. And that is why I say that were Mr.
and Mrs Jagan not communist and Soviet puppets this would have been a far
different country, and that it was because of them that we had to endure Burnham,
since Burnham no matter what he did here, he never allowed any Cuban or Russian
troops on to our territory. So in the end despite all of his rhetoric he did
exactly what the US wanted.
Against this background it is not hard
to understand why the Americans were so afraid of Cheddie Jagan, why they did
everything in their power to keep him out of power in Guyana and why they never lifted a finger to protect our democratic elections from being
trampled upon by Burnham. They allowed it because he was the lesser of two
evils and they preferred him in power than Jagan.
As to why Burnham tolerated Jagan financed
by his Russian bosses at all, is another story, I don't think that I have the
answer to that one, but Jagan was having a very significant negative impact on
the Guyana economy, there is no doubt of that, at a time when the price of
sugar was highest ever during 81 to 87 the Guyana exchange rate rose from 2.81G$
to 1 US$ to 9.97G$ to 1 US$ in those 7 years, that was a devaluation of 354%.
So Jagan was hurting the country's economy and hurting it badly, begging the
question as to why did Forbes allow him to do this? Why did he not simply get
rid of him? Burnham was openly accused of getting rid of Rodney at the time, so
why not Jagan was well? Perhaps he was afraid that since most of the highest
ranking PPP people of the time were all trained in the USSR and since Janet Jagan was still around, getting rid of Cheddie Jagan would only make him a
martyr and make things worse.
I don't know, but Burnham had to have known
that Jagan was gumming up the economy of Guyana totally; maybe Burnham was not
as big a monster as we make him out to be to be, and so did not order the assisination
The forth question was why did Burnham
not make it plain to the Guyanese people how difficult it was becoming to
manage the economy with Jagan sabotaging it the way he was? Again I do not know
but perhaps he officially turned a blind eye to it since acknowledging it was
an admission that Jagan was mutilating his administration and winning the cold
war and Burnham was too proud and arrogant a man to admit; it perhaps he
thought that by ignoring it, it would go away.
Even when Burnham died and Hoyte came to
power and launched his economic recovery programme with the 1989 budget, Jagan
called a 6 week strike in the sugar industry and nearly 800,000 man hours were
lost, it is recorded in the GUYSUCO annual reports as quote "strikes for budget".
Luckily the communist money ran out in 1989 and the economic recovery programme
was allowed to move forward, or I have no doubt that Jagan would have found a
way to sabotage that as well.
The Indo Guyanese and the Afro Guyanese continue
to leave Guyana for better, greener pastures and I don't blame them, but even
when they do migrate, they do not go to India or Africa they go to the US, to
Canada and the United Kingdom and they take with them this hatred of the indo
Guyanese for the PNC and the hatred of the afro Guyanese for the PPP, there are
Indo Guyanese who have fled these shores since 1992 after the PPP got into
power due to the inability of their own PPP party now in power to protect them from
crime in addition to their complete failure to develop this country, and they
see noting wrong with continuing to support the PPP morally and financially
from the safety of the US the UK or Canada.
I would like to say again that the
winner take all nature of our politics makes it inevitable that elections are
going to be rigged, that there will be continued hatred between the two main
races, and only you the people can change this, the winner must rule but not to
the exclusion of the others. Therein lies disaster.