General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has once again highlighted the potent tactic utilised by the PNC-led APNU + AFC opposition in using racism to cause division among Guyanese.
He was speaking during his weekly press conference at Freedom House on Thursday.
“This party cannot move away from its history of using race to divide our people, and that is another defining characteristic of the People’s National Congress,” he said, adding that there are mechanisms in place to address any instances of discrimination in Guyana.
One such mechanism is the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), which was sworn in earlier this year with a mandate to promote ethnic harmony and security in Guyana.
The GS said that inspite of the multitude of accusations of racial discrimination hurled by the opposition, there is no such report before the ERC, even though the body is constitutionally empowered to investigate complaints of racial discrimination in Guyana and make recommendations.
He lamented that the opposition has not demonstrated any interest in eliminating racism where it exists.
“If there was such a big set of discrimination in this country, you can use the two mechanisms that are there to address this, the ERC or our courts, and I would urge them to do that, but they are not interested in finding real cases of discrimination where they exist,” the GS pointed out.
While recognising that there may be cases of individualised racism in certain sections of Guyanese society, the general secretary stressed that this is not institutionalised, as the opposition insists.
According to Dr Jagdeo, collective focus must be placed on identifying and eradicating these instances of individualised racial discrimination to foster greater equality countrywide.
“The People’s Progressive Party has ensured that we work to make sure that all of our institutions serve all of our people. But there could be cases of individual acts of discrimination. I’m not saying they don’t exist. We should all be interested in finding those cases and making sure they don’t survive. But APNU is not interested in that, they are interested in propaganda,” he said.
Contrastingly, he maintained that the PPP has demonstrated a commitment to inclusivity and equality in crafting its programmes and policies.
He reminded that since the PPP/C assumed office, there have been more opportunities available for all Guyanese, regardless of ethnicity or any other cultural or social distinctions. These include opportunities for employment, education, and housing.
“All of our people have seen a growth in disposable income, including afro-Guyanese. All of our people have seen improvement in social and economic infrastructure, including Afro-Guyanese. Our children, all of them are treated better, they got back the cash grant…our pensioners, people living with disabilities…those are the facts,” he said.
Dr Jagdeo added that even in APNU strongholds, such as Linden, Region 10, this commitment to development is demonstrated by the PPP/C.
“You didn’t see the government start firing people in Linden, compared to what they did in the sugar belt. In fact, 1,550 persons are working on a part-time programme in Linden, who didn’t have full time nor part time jobs when the PPP got into office in August of 2020. You will have 1,400 people in Linden who will have access to a piece of land and a house under this government, because that is what we are doing there, when you didn’t have a single new housing scheme being built in Linden under APNU,” Dr Jagdeo noted. (DPI)