Dr. Henry Jeffrey has it wrong again

Dear Editor,

IT is regrettable that Dr. Henry Jeffrey has published yet another letter to the editor that is full of elementary errors and racialised exhortations. This is quite regrettable in a time when there is a foreign enemy masquerading at our front gate.
Instead of authoring a piece conducive to national unity, the former PPP Minister opted to dig up old bones and reassemble them in ways that give succor to his racialised incantations.
Dr. Jeffrey’s first error is that he thinks that the Guyana-Venezuela matter before the ICJ is a bilateral matter. Nothing could be further from the truth.
An MA thesis done at CUNY by Aaron Homer (2018) correctly characterises Venezuela’s “predilection for bilateral negotiations” versus Guyana’s insistence for a “judicial solution” through the ICJ. The ICJ is the quintessential multilateral institution in the modern state system, and certainly in the current world order.
Jeffrey’s next jeopardy concerns the PPP’s supposed ethnic ideology. It is more than an error. It is more like plunge in a black hole where truth, as is the case with matter, has no possibility of survival.

The case of ethnic ideology is built bizarrely on an ancient letter written by Cheddi Jagan in 1951. In that letter to the Czechoslovak Communist Party, Dr. Jagan belted out some political positions popular in anti-colonial struggles. There is no mention of race. None. Yet, Jeffrey massages the document into a racial text despite the complete absence of anything resembling race.

Those who study linguistics, semiotics, and grammatology (the latter in the sense used by Derrida) know that signs are constituted by linking a signifier with a signified, and that the sign, therefore, is arbitrary. Signs are invented.

They take on further meaning through communicative investments, that is, by someone loading up the sign with their own representations.
Instead of responding to Robin Singh’s characterisation of LFS Burnham based on the history of that era, he chose to convert Jagan’s anti-imperialism into anti-African racism. This is nothing short of an intellectual swindle and it should be condemned. This racially tinged bullyism has no place in Guyana today.
Finally, let me say that to try and blame Burnham or Jagan for what Maduro is doing is ridiculous.
It is time to treat the historical record with some intellectual decency. To label the critique of Burnham’s authoritarianism as racist, is the equivalent to those who equate the critique of Netanyahu as anti-Semitic!

Dr. Randy Persaud

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