Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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Total Discrimination
(Aired 10 April 2009)

 

   This country is very badly divided racially, there is no question of that it is a fact and anyone who does not understand it is living in denial. At this time there is a huge national debate about this matter and I will answer some of the questions that have been raised in the media.

 

   To establish the racial division and the consequences of it for those within our midst who refuse to accept this simple fact, I will make tell you what our Ethnics Relation Commission [ERC], as tame as it is, has come up with over the past two years.

 

   What I will be quoting from are documents given to the Guyana Parliament in February 2009 by the Ethnic Relations Commission [ERC].

 

   The first study, dated July 24th 2007 and submitted to the Guyana Parliament by the ERC, was done by Dr. Melissa Ifill.

 

  Her mandate was to discover and assess whether there is any discrimination in the award and distribution of economic opportunities in Guyana.

 

   Dr. Ifill was unable to make a firm conclusion on her main theme since the contracts to do public works awarded to individuals by Government did not identify the race of the contractor but she did conduct a poll on perceptions of discrimination and in it she outlines in very specific terms, her methodology in doing it and it is completely acceptable to me, I have spoken to statisticians and they agree that the methodology is flawless, the PPP have grown so arrogant in their dictatorship, that they label as ridiculous any international or local report telling us what a horrible job of governing they are doing, they say that Dr. Ifill's methodology is flawed; I disagree!

 

   Here are Dr. Ifill's conclusions from that poll and I quote "Indian Guyanese far more than African, mixed or indigenous Guyanese believe that the state sector acts in a fair manner in their provision of economic opportunities, 80 out of 94 Indian respondents believed that the state acts in a fair manner, the corresponding figure for African respondents is 15 out of 73, while for the mixed groups the figure was 10 out of 40 and for indigenous respondents the figure was 6 out of 23" end quote.

 

 As far as our Amerindian brothers are concerned the Ifill study concluded that "the available evidence suggest that the group most at risk from discrimination in the distribution of economic resources, evidenced by their poverty levels, their isolated residential location, their lack of knowledge of the available lending institutions and the lack of sufficient NGO institutions serving their communities, is the indigenous population"

 

   In another study also done for the ERC and submitted by them to the Parliament is a work done by Pamela Rodney entitled "an investigation and review of employment practices in the public and Private sectors in Region four, Guyana". This is a very revealing study covering the period 2001 to 2006 which sought to review employment practices in the Public and Private sectors in Region Four Guyana, it was a research intended to discover if there has been an equitable distribution of employment practices to the Afro Guyanese; to fulfil the research the following questions were posed:

-What ratio of the various ethnic groups, comprise the current staff within the various employment sectors in region four?

- What proportion of staff's by ethnic groups, have been recruited and existed in the various sectors in region four?

-What policies exist within the participating organisations and the extent to which policies are utilised?

-What activities, processes and procedures were carried out in the procurement and termination of staff in the public and private sectors in region four Guyana?

 

   Ms Rodney conducted studies into 14 organisations in Region Four the organisations constituted the Public and Private sectors and the Trade Unions.

 

   The research data revealed that Afro Guyanese predominate all sectors Public, Private and Trade Unions in region Four, Guyana. Nothing unusual here, ladies and gentlemen since the Afro Guyanese race predominate Region 4 in numbers.

 

   Here is the part of the study which caught my attention and I quote it "analysis of staff levels was carried out, based on a four tier structure. The data suggests that in the public sector a higher proportion of Indo Guyanese occupies positions at the senior, middle and first levels of management than afro Guyanese, the majority of whom occupy ancillary positions"

 

   Incredibly Ms. Rodney's study also records the following and I quote "the data also suggests that Amerindians occupy positions at senior middle and first levels but not at the ancillary level. The Mixed race seem to be in a position similar to Africans, 50% percent of them occupy ancillary positions while approximately 17% occupy positions in each of the upper levels of management [senior, middle and first] On the other hand the "other Group" occupy positions at two levels only [Senior and First] 50% at each level." end quote

  

         In the private sector, higher proportions of Africans occupy the highest categories of positions, Senior, Middle and First levels, compared to East Indians where the finding indicates the reverse. In this [private] sector the proportions of Africans are 11%,12% and 24% in comparison to 7.9% and 22.8% at the highest three levels. The proportions in respect of ancillary staff is 62% for East Indians and only 53% for Africans. Ladies and gentlemen I conclude from this that in the private sector African Guyanese can and do function at senior management levels but not in the public sector, where they are being discriminated against and marginalised; as far as Amerindians in the private sector are concerned they occupy a position similar to that of the "other" group in the public sector in which they seem to occupy only two positions, the first level of management with a lower proportion of 37.5% and the majority 62.5% occupied positions at the ancillary level.   

   From this one can easily conclude that the PPP are placing the Amerindians in senior positions in the public sector with a political agenda, so that they can use them to get Amerindian votes without which they cannot win an election in this country. If this group of favoured Amerindians are influencing the majority, which are the poorest group in our society, they would be well advised to find out the truth.

 

   More of the mixed race occupies positions at the middle level 24% than at the other levels in the private sector. Equal proportions of them [Mixed race] occupy positions at the senior [23%] and first levels [23%] than at the ancillary levels 20%.

 

   Is there evidence of discrimination in the public sector in employment practices which excludes the African and Mixed races from assuming higher positions as compared to the private sector? Yes there is!

 

 Finally during the period November 13th -16th 2007 in a study also presented to the Guyana Parliament entitled "public consultations on the perceived needs of the African Guyanese Community"

   13 prominent members of the African Guyanese community were invited to give evidence.

The areas of concern highlighted by the 13 presenters were:

 a. marginalisation of the African Guyanese community.

b. underdevelopment of African Guyanese villages

c. Internal problems that contribute to the underdevelopment of African Guyanese

d. refusal of NCN to air African programmes.

e. reference to African Guyanese in derogatory terms.

f. Need for recognition of the Rastafarian community as a religious and cultural group.

g. repercussions for the African Guyanese community as a result of the delay in reviving Globe Trust operations.

h. need for adequate street lighting, proper drainage and a community centre in the Tucville area.

i. the promotion of racism through education.

j. lack of industrial arts training equipment in the majority of community high schools located in African Guyanese communities.

k. need for a review of the laws in relation to narcotics and marriage in particular bigamy law.

l. lack of political representation for the African Guyanese community.

m. the negative impact of VAT on old age pensioners.

n. a call for government to support the application for compensation for slavery.

o. Discrimination by the army, police and judicial system against the African Guyanese.

p. Introduction of a strong remedial programme for school dropouts

q. prejudice by the African Guyanese middle class against other members of the African community.

r. a call for the establishment of a Development fund.

s. the damage of the "black male" psyche caused by practices of the state

t. a call for affirmative action to bring African Guyanese up to the level of other groups in the society.

 

   One presenter highlighted that there is clear evidence that the African villages did not have the same level of infrastructural development as Indian areas. Another presenter also argued that there was no political representation for the African Guyanese man in Guyana. He added that post 1992 African Guyanese have been experiencing a regime not only of discrimination but of revenge.

 

  The situation regarding contracts for African Guyanese is negative; according to one presenter this has forced African Guyanese from a position of marginalisation to one of exclusion.

 

   In education it was felt by presenters that the schools in the African Guyanese communities were in worse condition than schools in the East Indian communities. They also observed that the African Guyanese teachers are appointed to teach in East Indian Communities, whilst East Indians are not put to teach in the African Guyanese communities.    

 

   These are serious and dangerous allegations and perceptions by the mixed and afro Guyanese communities contained in these studies ladies and gentlemen; in the newspaper of 5th April 2009 we see that our President is insisting that Mrs Jagan was not a hindrance to national unity, I am not prepared to question or offer an accusation or an opinion as to whether Mrs Jagan was or was not contributing to national disunity, but that there is gross national disunity is well documented above and the data was presented to Parliament by the ERC and only reported here by me.

 

   The government has been disputing the recent findings of Ms. Gay McDougall this study sanctioned by the United Nations' General Assembly Human Rights Council sums up our position in this way and I quote "In July 2003, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, irrational dislike and related intolerance; highlighted that he found that every level of Guyanese society is permeated by a profound moral, emotional and political fatigue, arising out of the individual and collective impact of ethnic polarization. In 2008, the independent expert witnessed a continuing societal malaise that shows evidence of having deepened and transformed in some instances into despair, anger and resistance. This is particularly evident among Afro-Guyanese individuals and communities that reported feeling excluded, discriminated against and criminalized"

 

    The report goes on to say that quote "a bitter and destructive political environment has infected the wider society and is failing the people of Guyana. It must give way to a climate of truth, reconciliation and compromise. Reforms must be far-reaching and highly consultative."

 

   Ladies and gentlemen, I think that the government and their supporters must pay attention to these facts, rather than denying them, the repercussions are too dire for this nation for them not to pay attention to it, and it puts all of us in danger.