Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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Window of opportunity
(Aired 4 February 2007)

     I would like to record my fear that the church leaders in this nation have not grasped the simple fact that the PPP and especially President Bharrat Jagdeo are not renowned for keeping any promises they make. In addition I do not understand how it can be that they were so adamant about their moral values being completely against Casino Gambling, but having sat with Jagdeo for a few short hours, their moral values changed to the extent that they accept that there will be Casino Gambling in this nation because Jagdeo told them that whether they like it or not he's going ahead and introducing it, surely moral values are made of sterner stuff.

    I speak from bitter experience, in 1999 Mr. Jagdeo who had recently been sworn in as President because Mrs Jagan was too ill to continue, called me he said that he would like to work with me and The Evening News to change things in this nation, that if given the chance he would allow inclusivity of all groups but to do that he had to win an election on this own merit and it would make all of the difference.

  Well, Bharat Jagdeo's popularity at that time being 61 percent virtually guaranteed that he would win any election since for him to be that popular even the PNC supporters had to have been satisfied that Bharrat Jagdeo was someone special. It was the first time in this country's history since independence when the person running for head of state was that popular and could put Guyana on a path of peace, reconciliation and prosperity, and be the greatest president this nation ever had, he has of course squandered that goodwill since just before the 2006 election his popularity was only around 50%. i.e. only the PPP supporters voted him as a popular leader, but not all of them since the PPP won by over 52%.

   But back in 1999 seeing this potential which Jagdeo had to heal this nation, I started to encourage some thawing of the bad feeling between Hugh Desmond Hoyte and Bharat Jagdeo, between the PPP and the PNC, I want you to look at this photograph, it was taken at the opening of VCT's new studios in Quamina Steeet and attending was President Jagdeo and Hugh Desmond Hoyte, ladies and gentlemen at that time the Ester Perriera matter was still going on and therefore Desmond Hoyte did not recognize the PPP government as legitimately elected, since he was awaiting the results of the case in our courts, I pride myself that at that time of turmoil there was no one else in this nation except me, who could have gotten Hugh Desmond Hoyte to sit at any function with Bharat Jagdeo and the reason that I had such warmth of feeling and regard for HDH was that he had a similar appreciation and warmth of feeling for me. Which made what happened afterward, all the more unacceptable to me.

    Then came Justice Claudette Singh's decision in the Election Petition case and the nation was instructed to have another election in 2001 instead of 2003 which was the statutory date.

   After the PPP won the 2001 elections held on the 26th March, there was much discontent in this country regarding the result and so the PNC supporters began to agitate, but on Friday 30th of March the day before Chief justice Desiree Bernard handed down her decision in the 2001 election petition matter Mr. Hoyte went on television and told the nation that he would accept the judge's decision and that he was prepared have dialog as to how this country can move forward, it was I who interpreted what Mr. Hoyte was saying and the context in which it was said, and I told President Jagdeo about it on Sunday 1st April 2001, one day after he was sworn in, when he attended a function at my home at Versailles.

   And so in a private written communication to Mr. Jagdeo I sent him a copy of the Hoyte speech, since he was not fully aware that it contained a clear invitation to a dialog and I attached my analysis of Hoyte's speech and I recommended that Mr. Jagdeo heals the nation and invite Mr. Hoyte to have the dialog. But Jagdeo nearly blew it, since he begun by sending various middle men to Hoyte to feel out the situation, now ladies and gentlemen Desmond Hoyte was a very proud man and he found this to be insulting, now I was in direct contact with Mr. Hoyte at all times and I copied everything I was recommending to Mr. Jagdeo to him, and so I suggested that Mr. Jagdeo be magnanimous in victory and invite Mr. Hoyt in a written invitation, signed by him as President personally, to a dialog aimed at sorting out the differences between the PPP and the PNC.

   This speech by Hoyte to the nation on the night of Friday 30th March 2001 i.e. the night before the court's decision declaring Mr. Jagdeo and the PPP the winners of the 2001 election was the single most important speech ever given in this nation since the PPP and the PNC split, it conceded the election results and it invited dialog to unite the nation and in addition it also diffused a potentially dangerous situation, and to tell you the truth ladies and Gentlemen for him to have recorded his acceptance for a decision that would come the next day, Hoyte had to have known what that decision was going to be.

    My conscience is clear; ladies and Gentlemen I tried to bring peace to this country by encouraging this dialog since it was the first time since independence that the leader of the PNC and the executive leader of the PPP were prepared to sit and have a chat in this nation.

   The dialog went nowhere in the end because the PPP did not understand what Mr. Hoyte was saying, they used the time it gave to frustrate and to sabotage the fruits of the dialog, Hoyte's speech to the nation that Friday night the 30th of March was a masterpiece of analysis of the current situation in the nation and what had to be done to correct it and to bring everlasting peace and progress. And he made it clear and I will quote him directly he said this "I wish to be very frank, a cosmetic gesture from any quarter will not be sufficient or SENSIBLE" he goes on to say that he wants "real comprehensive and permanent change. Nothing else will be good enough".

  Now ladies and gentlemen it was dangerous for Mr. Jagdeo to accept the engagement with Hoyte if he was not prepared to look at this issue as Desmond Hoyte was looking at it and that he had to dig deep into his presidential powers to create the conditions for the PPP and the PNC to work together.

   This is still a very highly racially polarized nation something which we will regret for generations to come, since it is not conducive to any sort of cooperation or development or peace in this nation and while this racial polarization is still alive and well in Guyana and based on the recent election results, it is; the battle continues.

   Now I come back to the Church Leaders and the casino Gambling matter, Mr. Jagdeo is just deceiving them as a subterfuge to delay protest action in this nation which could upset his Cricket World Cup plans; lets reason it out, if the granting of casino gambling licenses will indeed be delayed for 6 months, why continue to press to pass the bill through the parliament now, without one word being changed? Why pass it without telling us what the regulatory body will do and how it will be composed? Why pass a bill which like so many others passed by the PPP, gives the minister sole discretion as to who will constitute the regulatory body for Gaming, and what the regulations governing Gambling in this nation will be? Why bring such an open ended bill to the parliament? why insult us by telling us that we must trust him? Well we don't trust him because we remember that Hoyte did, and look what happened!

    it is happening again and it is just a subterfuge to keep the Church people quite until after the world cup cricket, since if they disrupted things now it would have a fundamental impact on his immediate plans. After the world cup cricket it would not matter.

    But he has put himself in a very vulnerable situation since he has virtually put all of his eggs in this one CWC basket and anyone who wants to bring him hat in hand to the bargaining table now, to implement some of the things which he promised Hoyte to implement and which would democratise this nation but which he and the PPP has frustrated at every turn, would have to be implemented.

   Hoyte and the PNC had to march and to agitate for years to get these concessions, and to forget the consequences of these disruptions by not honouring them was an insult to him and his supporters, so now, since Mr. Jagdeo has put himself in such a vulnerable situation by putting all his eggs in this one basket, he committed a cardinal error in the rules of engagement and the PNC, the Church, the Unions the opposition political parties and the people in this nation waiting for justice have an opportunity to threaten to upset Jagdeo's world cup cricket plans or force the implementation of the permanent changes necessary to bring a stoppage to the executive lawlessness and injustices which are going on in this nation. I will not even bring up the matter of the total dissatisfaction we have with VAT in this country at this time, so any protest, strike, or disruption anytime between now and say the end of February will inevitably force him to the bargaining table.