IN most controversial situations, there are generally three reactions. There are those who speak out, those who speak out selectively, and those who do not speak out at all. The latter situation irks me the most – not to say that the two other situations are irrelevant – when I examine the failed attempt to rig Guyana’s general elections from March 2, 2020, to July 31, 2020. Many people and organisations fought hard in the middle of a pandemic to ensure that the riggers did not plumb Guyana to the depths of odium. I understand some people are shy and therefore do not feel comfortable speaking out. Likewise, some people fear speaking out because of reprisal. However, some so-called influential individuals and groups have been roguishly silent on the failed attempts to rig the general elections. This silence is deliberate, if not conspiratorial, which requires attention, even a blind analysis.
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I might be stepping over the line if I equate the attempt of rigging the general elections with evil. I do believe, however, that the labyrinthine consequence of rigging has plunged Guyana into a state of irreparable ambiguity and anxiety. I will address this situation in a separate column. If the rigging were successful, we would have seen evil dished out daily. The democratic-minded individuals would have challenged political brigandage and the washing away of Guyana, and subsequently, the State would have reacted and engaged in evil ways to justify its legitimacy to rule. A chill of déjà vu of Burnham’s dictatorship just swept through my mind, consonant with what Sir Walter Scott said in his epic poem, Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field, “Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive.”
So, who are these individuals and groups that have been roguishly silent about the failed attempts to rig the general elections? Since August 2, 2020, they have come out in droves speaking and writing about social justice but not on the failed attempt to rig the general elections. Allow me, however, to start with what I submitted to the Stabroek News (03.28.2020) during the attempt to rig the general elections. “I would like…my participation at the thirteenth research conference of the Guyana Institute of Historical Research on hold…until and unless the editorial board declares, like other institutions, the rigorous call for the restoration of democracy in Guyana through a fair and free electoral process. Silence from these academics and my attendance to and participation in this conference will be abetting and condoning the blatant rigging of Guyana’s general March 2, 2020, elections. I am anxiously awaiting a response from this highly regarded historical research institute.” I have not heard anything from these members of this yearly conference. It took me three attempts to have them remove my name from their mailing list.
Some members of the Guyana Historical Institute are also attached to the University of Guyana and the Caribbean Studies Association (CSA). They are permanent fixtures at these regional academic organisations and conferences. I brought up the CSA because the 2020 conference was scheduled to be held at the Marriott in Georgetown and thousands of presenters, including the so-called social justice group of 65, were expected to attend. That conference was cancelled because of the pandemic, but it is rescheduled for this year at the same venue. The presenters, plus the social justice group of 65, at the CSA conferences, love to present on issues affecting the Caribbean. Haiti, for example, is always on the conference programme. However, when I perused the CSA website, there was one vague line on the “current political situation in Guyana” and nothing on the failed attempt to rig the general elections.
I believe that CSA conference should say more on the failed attempt to rig the general elections in Guyana in 2020. There should be a call for papers on Guyana’s election fiasco. I have said some time back that the Diaspora Conference at the University of Guyana was a self-centred exercise heading nowhere. I say here, repeatedly, that it will be a miracle if there is one panel on the CSA five-day conference programme on the failed attempt to rig the general elections in Guyana. You would think that the theme of rigging the general elections in Guyana would be a top priority given that (a) the conference will be held a stone’s throw away from where the attempt to rig the general elections occurred, (b) the rigging event happened last year which means it is still raw and ripe for analysis, and (c) the Caribbean region was involved via CARICOM to find a solution to the impasse of the general elections. Tell me, which theme, other than the pandemic, competes with the failed attempt to rig the general elections to favour the APNU+AFC Coalition for utmost attention at the 2021 CSA conference in Guyana? Where is the social justice group of 65? (firstname.lastname@example.org).