STRANGE SAD SAGA
We are now closer to the end-game of the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections in Guyana, after what has been a legal and political roller-coaster for a period of one-and-a-half years. But for many, long after the last legal curtains will have come down and a winner is declared, there would still linger bitterness in this ethnically-polarised country that these elections were neither fair nor credible.
The bitter pill in this sad saga dramatically imploded when the Opposition pulled off a brazen parliamentary coup on December 21, 2018, in what Guyanese believe to be a US million-dollar golden “cassareep deal” to secure the vote of a government backbencher for passage of a no-confidence motion by a one-seat majority.
No one at that time had suspected any intentional, direct overt or covert foreign involvement in Guyana’s domestic affairs, although the fingerprints of a hitherto friendly Commonwealth country were literally on our symbolic Parliamentary Mace, and subsequent events revealed an organised conspiracy against the elected government of President David Granger.
It has since come to light that the opposition PPP had invited foreign interference since 2013, whilst it was still in government, by retaining Cambridge-Analytica, which played a dirty role in the UK Brexit referendum, to conduct race-based interference in our national affairs.
According to former Programme Manager, Britanny Nicole Kaiser, President Donald Ramotar paid Analytica US$420,000 (G$80M) to activate a secret campaign to keep the PPP in office. The notorious London-based company invaded the privacy of Guyanese to gather personal data from telephone conversations, Facebook posts, WhatsApp chats, etc.
Kaiser, the whistleblower, who is the author of a fantastic book on the misuse of Facebook data that also featured in the movie, “The Great Hack”, described the smart-phone as a “spyware” that allowed the most intimate interference with the behaviour of our people, and set them up for manipulation on the basis of their race, culture and political persuasion. In effect, the PPP paid handsomely to compromise and undermine what the Guyana Constitution guarantees as the sovereignty of the people.
In addition to Analytica, former President Jagdeo retained Mercury Public Affairs LLC, another controversial and notorious foreign company that sits in the ears of high-ranking members of the Republican National Committee of the United States. He admitted paying sums of in excess of G$80M for what was described in the contract agreement as “strategic consulting and management services.” (KN, September 15, 2019)
Stripped of its technical lingua, all of that simply means that Mercury used a mix of personal data on voters and remotely-located propaganda from its so-called troll farms to aid in rigging Guyana’s elections in favour of its client, the PPP.
Mercury has been named as “Company A” in one or more of the investigative proceedings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who initiated some 40 cases against top American public figures for attempts at foreign-influence peddling and the undermining of US democracy.
It is clear that there are foreign footprints all over Guyana’s general and local government elections in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2020, and since there are no campaign financing laws, it would be, for now, almost impossible to trace the billions lavished by the PPP on dirty tricks.
BETRAYAL AND SURRENDER
For a party that declared in 1969 membership of the International Communist Movement, and has stoically maintained to this day adherence to Marxism-Leninism, this foray by the PPP into conspiracy with the so-called “economic hitmen” of foreign Big Business is not only baffling, but has set into motion a strange but sad saga of betrayal and surrender.
It is clear that the PPP has abandoned history and principle, in order to opportunistically create an artificial bridge between its past radical nationalism and its present-day unpopularity. After the death of its nationalist leader, Cheddi Jagan, there was a marked decline in his party’s electoral showings. The worse loss was in 2011, when it polled only 166,340 votes after Ramotar was foisted as the presidential candidate, and the PPP had to form a minority government.
DECLINE OF VOTES
With 220,632 votes in 1997, the records show the decline, as follows:
2001 – 210,013 (10,619)
2006 – 183,988 (26,025), and
2011 – 166,340 (17,548).
The PPP cumulatively lost 54,292 voters between the 1997 and 2011 elections. Prima facie, that was its reason for enlisting foreigners to effect voter manipulation. The evidence is emerging that interference and rigging were mainly responsible for the PPP grabbing 202,694 votes in 2015, or 36,354 over its 2011 performance. What is more incredulous is that, having lost 54,292 votes between 1997 and 2011, the PPP boasted of bagging 233,000 votes in 2020, that is, over 77,000 votes more than in 2011.
Unless there is a thorough probe, almost akin to a truth-and- reconciliation commission, no one would know how many phantoms had voted in Guyana’s elections for deceased persons and others who had migrated, but whose names remain on the bloated voters list.
Until recently, there were not many voices that were raised against foreign interference in Guyana’s elections. So, I am pleased that the outspoken Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Co-Chair of the Caribbean Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, have cautioned the international community, including the U.S., about interfering in Guyana’s internal affairs.
I am particularly pleased that Congresswoman Clarke, who visited Guyana before the March 2 elections, has intimated that she would hold hearings on foreign interference in Guyana’s elections.
LET GUYANA BREATHE
Writing on June 19 in the Washington Examiner, Bart Fisher, a lobbyist from the firm JJ&B, which was retained by Coalition supporters to counter anti-government bashing, said that “the U.S. did not appreciate foreign interference in its 2016 election, and should not interfere in Guyana’s election. Let Guyana handle its electoral process. Let Guyana breathe”.
Guyana must breathe, and also heal. To avoid disorder and division, Guyana must have shared governance. When the final results come, let these be without triumphantism; without recrimination.
For all of us, Guyana matters!