Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Economic Civil War 11
(Aired 19 May 2006)

 

    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:

  1. 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?
  2. Do I think that after Burnham got into power and started rigging elections that the US should have taken a hand in the matter?
  3. If Jagan was that big a headache to Forbes Burnham and the Guyana economy, why did Forbes allow him to continue with it?
  4. Why did Burnham not make it plainer to the Guyanese people that Jagan was the real instrument of our woes and not him?

     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 of Jagan.

   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.