There was a time in Guyana – pre-1992, when the average Guyanese faced a starkly hopeless future.
Real estate was owned by some entrepreneurial dynastic families through great sacrifices and astute investments, some descendants of slaves and indentured immigrants who had the foresight not to sell their ancestral patrimony to others for short-term gains, and the privileged elite who were gifted large acreages of State lands in return for loyalty to the administrative construct of the day.
But the average rank-and-file Guyanese masses had scant hope of ever owning their own homes, or of emerging out of poverty; especially with the PNC Economic Recovery Programme which, among other inhibiting strictures to personal development, had frozen the wages of public servants at an approximate $2,000, while the toothless poodle that was the Public Service Union then and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) stayed inactive, until Dr. Cheddi Jagan, post-elections of 1992, engaged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on their very unfavourable conditionalities and restored bargaining power to trade unions.
The subsequent drive to reduce and/or altogether eliminate Guyana’s debt burden and simultaneous developmental interventions was done through engagements at various fora – nationally, regionally, and internationally; but the Jagans and their loyal comrades-in-figurative arms had achieved their hearts’ objective and restored democracy – real freedom to Guyana and the Guyanese people before being forced to succumb to their mortality.
However, the Jagan icons had charted the course of this nation’s future through the political infrastructure they had created and they placed this machinery into the hands of someone they hand picked.
Bharrat Jagdeo had the simple humility of the Jagans; but he also had the vision, the strength, the courage and the commitment to chart the course of this nation forward as outlined in the National Development Strategy and the Poverty Reduction Strategy, crafted by the PPP administration soon after assumption of office in 1992.
Jagdeo, after stakeholder consultations, made no compromises to deliver to Guyana and the Guyanese people all that Dr. Cheddi Jagan had promised in successive PPP/C Manifestos; albeit with some detours along the way to fit new and emerging challenges.
As then PPP General-Secretary, Donald Ramotar, said at Babu John, one year during commemorative observances for the Jagans, the PPP has never diverted from the course of progress charted by its founding leader, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, although some characteristics had been re-structured and re-formulated to address requisite changes in the administrative constructs and implementation of programmes created in the original PPP blueprint of Guyana’s development paradigm.
The charge laid on the then very young shoulders of Bharrat Jagdeo by the patriarch and matriarch of the land has been executed, maybe even beyond their expectations, during his successive tenures as President.
It has not been an easy road, because his stewardship of the land was severely constrained by violent protests, crime waves, volatile and inhibiting opposition factions, including hostile media and opposition-supported NGOs, all of which have strong links to powerful lobby groups in international spheres, and which did not engage in constructive ways with the PPP/C Government to advance the interests of the nation, but instead devised strategies intended to derail (and sometimes succeeding) the Jagdeo-led Government’s thrust to rebuild all the destroyed and devastated demographics of this nation.
As Dr. Jagdeo embarked with the PPP/C ship into another battlefield to again restore democracy from the re-configured PNC dictatorship, and subsequently to re-join the presidential leadership partnering His Excellency, Dr. Irfaan Ali, he can stride with head held high for a job magnificently done during his first successive tenures as President, and the hallmark of excellence stamped upon his leadership; despite the best attempts of his detractors and the pessimists of the land, all of whom are continually pursuing self-serving agendas inimical to the general welfare of the nation.
The sad reality is that the destructive elements in this beautiful country continue to intentionally propagate hatred among the peoples of this land on the erroneous premise of discriminatory practices by the former and current PPP/C administrations against some communities, despite overwhelming and abundant evidence to the contrary.
However, most Guyanese – across every divide, throughout the land, have gotten wiser and are rejecting calls for division and strife in the land, opting instead for peace that they know will lead to prosperity and a posterity of promise fulfilled to the maximum of Guyana’s potential for greatness under the mantle of another PPP/C administration.
The PPP/C’s even-handed administration is now being recognised for its progressive governance by the people, who have now largely embarked on a course whereby most are eschewing divisive politics and opting for a developmental paradigm where everyone can eventually stand up and say with pride, “I am a Guyanese citizen”, and stand and applaud the achievements of leaders all their own, who have brought glory and recognition to the Guyanese people – collectively.
In the words of Dave Martins, albeit used in another context, Guyana’s Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo and his remarkable achievements, which are being lauded at world fora, “is we own”, and, fittingly, in 2020, the leader that is “we own” has once more taken his rightful place at the helm in partnership with the President and team-players of the nation’s ship to steer us once again into safer socio-economic waters. The Jagan legacy of struggle for restoration of democratic norms is in safe hands.