Circumstances Change; Values Shouldn’t

Life is a funny thing and politics particularly so.

At the end of WWII and at the dawn of internal self-government in the West Indies, the region was rather taken with the idea of a federation, uniting the British colonies. Noticeably absent from the ultimately ill-fated Federation was British Guiana. Cheddi Jagan and company felt that joining the Federation would lease their power to others in the Caribbean, who were black, which would, to them, be disadvantageous to and unpopular with Indo-Guyanese.

In the early 60s, bowing to American pressure to prevent another ‘Cuba’ in the Caribbean, the British contrived the proportional representation system for general elections, which resulted in the electoral weakening of the Marxist Jagan’s PPP, and allowing Forbes Burnham and his PNC to ascend to government, in the early years propped up by the conservative and American-supported d’Aguiar and his United Force.

The present political situation unfolding in Guyana, therefore, is pregnant with irony. Today, the PPP welcome, with open arms, the sentiment, judgements, and interventions by regional heads, courts and other prominent persons. Now, too, the Americans and British, among other international actors, are telling Burnham’s political progeny in the APNU+AFC that it is time to go, to make way for Jagan’s successors in the PPP/C.

Politics truly is a funny thing.

When I reflected upon these shifting political sands, I recalled the sentiment of our own Prime Minister Mottley in an interview with Canada’s CBC News. In defending Barbados’ support for Canada’s bid for the then-vacant temporary seat on the UN Security Council, she said that Barbados does not permanent friends, but we have permanent values. This recognizes that states, organizations and people change over time in character and complexion and that it is folly to bind yourself completely to an entity for eternity. Rather, your support for an individual or an entity should be predicated upon their adherence to important values. In my view, that is not only a sound guiding principle for foreign policy, but it would serve individuals well also.

It is regrettable, therefore, that some in Guyana and elsewhere in the region would support in one way or another the machinations of APNU. That support represents an abandonment of basic values of integrity and fairness. Let us be clear, in its fourth month, the Guyana electoral saga has absolutely nothing to do with party, policy or personality. The time to litigate whether the PPP or APNU would make a better government is long past. To discuss the racialisation of Guyanese politics or whether a PPP government would be good for Afro-Guyanese is undoubtedly irrelevant. The only relevant consideration at this late hour is the winner of the recount exercise, and there is a near-universal consensus that that is the PPP/C and that GECOM must be allowed finally to declare that incontrovertible fact.

Is the fact that the fraudsters look like you sufficient grounds to abandon your values, I wonder? A person is little more than a fallen leaf in the autumn without holding fast to certain basic mores. Prominent among those are the same integrity and fairness. Most of life is comprised of a great deal of uncertainty and ‘grey areas’. Sometimes, however, an incident is so clear that there can be no room for debate; there is only one correct reaction. In this instance, that is absolute abhorrence at what is being perpetrated by APNU and their sycophants.

Circumstances change as they clearly have done since the 1960s. Sometimes questionable motivations for some geopolitical manoeuvrings aside, what must not change is our individual commitment to guiding principles. Yesterday, the PPP might have been wrong and tomorrow they may be. However, today, it is APNU at fault and it is against that kind of anti-democratic despotism that we must all fight. Therein lies the broader lesson. No matter the rapid change in the direction of the winds, or the shifting sands of political positions or the changed tunes of various actors, in all of that ready chaos which life and politics serves up, if an individual holds firm to basic principles, you will always be on the right side of history, in the end.

12 thoughts on “Circumstances Change; Values Shouldn’t

  1. Now they will stop cursing Mottley and Gonsalves and curse the Guyana CJ?

    CJ dismisses Misenga Jones application, says CCJ endorsed recount process

    -says Mingo declaration overtaken, Chief Election Officer is not `lone ranger’

    A screenshot from today's hearing
    A screenshot from today’s hearing

    Acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire today ruled that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) endorsed the recount of votes and that the ten old declarations from March 13 cannot be “resurrected”.

    This finding was a major defeat in the latest attempt by an APNU+AFC supporter to prevent a declaration of a result from the March 2nd elections based on the recount results.

    The recount had been done by agreement between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and was observed by a CARICOM mission.

    This newest in a series of cases connected to the elections was brought by Tucville resident Misenga Jones who wanted the GECOM Chairperson, Claudette Singh to be prohibited from using the results of the national recount to declare a winner.

  2. A very balanced and statesmanlike contribution. A clear improvement compared to the Hong Kong article. In line with our great Prime Minister. Bravo! Guyana is not about the rights of black OR Indian people, but about the backwardness and self-destruction of a WHOLE society.

    In Guyana, two parties are facing each other. One party stands for dictatorship, rigged elections, corruption, starvation, murder of the opposition, mass murder of Guyana Jones, the other for corruption, organised drug trafficking, Roger Khan, Phantom Squad and also murder of the opposition. Both parties behave like Scylla and Charybdis, like plague and smallpox, like lice and roaches.

    The agonizingly long election process could continue for months or even years. However, that does not matter anymore. The Guyanese – with their childish, retarded way (“the majority of 65 is 34”, “all blacks are evil”, “all Indians are evil”) have already scared off all international investors. Exxon will turn to other countries that are less criminal, less corrupt, and less problematic.

    The whole Caribbean will bear the damage, because the Guyanese will not have the funds to invest in other CARICOM member states.

    Looking at Guyana has one merit: Those who rant about the BLP-BLP duopoly should seriously ask themselves whether they want the same conditions as in Guyana, where two parties fight each other to the hilt without regard for losses.

  3. @ KK

    Another thought provoking article. The caption can be misleading. But I am reasonably sure you did not choose it.
    I lean towards the opposite: that circumstances influence principles in the sense you used it in the article. Rules,law. accepted standards of behaviour change according to circumstances.The Slave Era vs the Post Emancipation Era. Old testament Jewish rubrics vs New Testament Christian rubrics etc.

  4. @ David BU

    My apologies for inferring that you chose the caption.
    The scientific method ,which our education system attempts to inculcate , requires that in the light of new information and compelling logic that new principles/values become dominant. It appears that, whatever system of election for change of government is employed ,the basic environment peculiar to Guyana results in stalemate.

    • @Vincent

      Have to agree with your comment. Guyana is not a solvable problem in the medium term. What will it take for the groups in that country to appreciate the importance of agreeing to a plan that supports coexistence. This is a country of intelligent people however the decision making suggest differently.

  5. In this context I would like to mention a compliance problem of UWI.

    On the one hand, Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles is calling for a peaceful transfer of power in Guyana.

    On the other hand, his own staff openly supports the dictatorship and electoral fraud in Guyana. I am talking about Mr. John Jeremie, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law of the UWI in Trinidad. He has been acting as a lawyer for the Granger regime since March 2020.

    Sir Hilary must resolve this problem quickly. Professor Belle Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law in Trinidad, must also ask herself how long she will tolerate the actions of her Vice Dean.

  6. @Tron
    I must confess I haven’t followed the situation in Guyana and can’t really comment on what is going on there but doesn’t the action of the Vice Dean fall under the umbrella of academic freedom?

  7. @ Sargeant July 21, 2020 9:41 PM

    There is a fine line between legal and legitimate action. A vice-dean of the UWI serves as a role model.

    Moreover, being a lawyer is not part of academic freedom. This includes lectures and publications. The vice-dean represents the Guyanese dictators for private financial gain. I wonder if he has the permission of UWI for that. That would be a real scandal: UWI supports election fraud.

  8. @David
    “What will it take for the groups in that country to appreciate the importance of agreeing to a plan that supports coexistence”

    Erego, nothing will change. A under performing state with billions of resources. Sad.

    Just Observing

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