The story of Red Thread: Part 1

THIS is a short series on a WPA fronted organisation born in 1988 named Red Thread. The series was motivated by the exclamation of Red Thread that in April, it received a threat and last month it received a warning that businessman “Shell” Mohamed and his son are sending a hitman to harm them.
Red Thread informed the media that the message came from Mikhail Rodrigues, popularly known as “Guyanese Critics.” Rodrigues told this columnist that he has already contacted his lawyer and he intends to sue Red Thread.

When I was growing up, all the time in our home, I would hear the elderly folks, while talking about people and events, say: “Pick sense out of nonsense.” That saying has stuck with me. I say the same thing to my wife when we are discussing events.

So, we will pick sense out of nonsense as the series unfolds. In this country, what work does Red Thread do that is of a controversial nature for people to want to harm the organisation? I have lived in Guyana my entire life, except for studies abroad. I have spent 35 years in the media and have chalked up about 55 years in political, social and human rights activism. The point I am making is that I know the politics of publicly known individuals and organisations. My job as a columnist is to study them. And I have been writing about them over the past 35 years.

I ask again what Red Thread is engaged in to warrant an attack on them? Red Thread was formed by the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) as a front organisation in 1988. It was essentially a WPA arm but its astute arrangement took the form of a woman organisation. By that time, the WPA was facing financial troubles because Guyanese politics had changed considerably with pressure from the internationally powerful countries. The next general election was one year away with most Guyanese knowing that the age of rigging was nearing its end.

The WPA then faced a huge election battle in 1990 (later postponed to 1992) in which most Guyanese thought would be the most decisive election since 1957.
WPA believed it stood a chance of victory. But it was living in another world because the sources of its resources in the 1970s were dead and gone. To compete with the PPP and PNC, the WPA knew it had to get resources. With the birth of Red Thread, WPA was able to have reliable funding.

WPA’s birthing of Red Thread was an ingenious act for which the talent of Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine stood out. However far Dr. Roopnaraine has strayed from his Rodneyite, revolutionary politics (God knows; he strayed too far away), he had a very creative political mind. He will be remembered for his role in the birth of Red Thread and APNU.
Forming a woman group without the trappings of politics was bound to be successful in attracting international funds. Red Thread, from the inception, was in receipts of donations from international NGOs through which it was able to purchase a large building in Werk-en-Rust for its head office.

Like its parent body, the WPA, Red Thread was, from the inception, a highly elitist Mullato/Creole class operation. Go to the Red Thread webpage and you will see the class basis of the organisation.

From 1992, when the WPA’s electoral prospects died, to 2002 when the Mash Day jail break occurred, Red Thread was the WPA and the WPA was Red Thread.
The two organisations overlapped and Red Thread became the definitive financial backer of the WPA. The parting of ways came about for three reasons. One was that the main voice of Red Thread, Andaiye, began to distance her organisation from the WPA for reasons we may never know and I can only speculate.

Here is my speculation. She was diagnosed with cancer which she made public. When people take ill, they seem to see things in different philosophical light. I think Andaiye felt that the WPA she knew and participated in founding in 1974 as a pressure group then in 1976, then, as a political party was not the WPA of the 21st century. I did not know how she felt until I got a revealing email from her.

In one of my columns, I named her as one of the executives of the WPA. She asked me to state in my next column that she is no longer part of the WPA. So I called her and in our conversation, she told me she wants nothing to do with the kind of politics the WPA was now into. Of course, I wrote about this twice before. To be continued.


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