The 14-member fact-finding mission from the United States (US) that is investigating claims of racism in Guyana, has been called out by President Dr Irfaan Ali for its lack of objectivity, with the President further making clear his goal of ensuring everyone benefits from Guyana regardless of their demographic.
During a press conference on Saturday, President Ali confirmed that he had previously been in contact with the Chairwoman of the fact-finding mission, former Georgia House Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler.
“The Chairperson of the fact-finding mission did make contact with me when I was in the US. She did communicate with me and I said to the Chairwoman of this mission that the basis of your press release is fundamentally flawed. And has to be influenced by some actors who have a particular agenda. And I then proceeded to send to her every single report.”
The ‘fact-finding’ mission being addressed by PNC’s Deron Adams during its Linden meetingAmong the reports Ali revealed he sent were the Commission of Inquiry (CoI), European Union (EU) and Organisation of American States (OAS) reports on the elections. According to him, however, the communication between him and Dawkins-Haigler went blank.
“I then invited her to examine the three branches of Government. To examine our house lot allocation programme. She then told me that this seems to be like the problem they face in the United States. Of propaganda and mistrust. But she never corrected that press statement, which I found to be very dishonourable.”
“Then, like an open book the cover was blown open. They arrived here and what we saw? We saw that their entire handling was prearranged by the Opposition. They were picked up by Roysdale Forde. And guess what? The agenda mysteriously does not take them across the country. It takes them to a handful of people.”
The President pointed out that the ‘fact-finding’ mission could have gone and checked with the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) to see if reports of discrimination have made their way there. He noted that for the mission to issue a statement mischaracterising Guyana as being overshadowed by discrimination, based on mere reports, is irresponsible.
Ali questioned whether the group would examine the hundreds of Community Service Officers (CSOs) and Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) workers who were fired. He also questioned if the group would examine the distribution of house lots under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, versus the house lots being distributed now.
“How many roads were built in Buxton? Go to Barakara, let the people tell you. This isn’t magic… I want the report to list all the roads done in the last three years. And list all the roads done in the five years… who shut down the bauxite industry? In 1992 they shut it down. The PNC. We came back. We rebuilt. We got an investor to come back and invest. We gave the subsidies and invested in the community.”
“They came in five years, chased the investor. Hundreds of jobs lost in Region 10. We brought the investor; they couldn’t keep the investor. The call centre we built in Linden, they shut it down. More than 100 people sent home. I want a report on the structure of the two Cabinets. Don’t go far. Go in Parliament. I want a report on the structure of different departments and agencies.”Linden
Soon after their arrival in Guyana, the fact-finding mission had met with leaders in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). However, some of the issues raised during that meeting is facing push back from former Alliance For Change (AFC) parliamentarian Audwin Rutherford.
During a video broadcast bringing together Afro-Guyanese who debunked the mission’s narrative, Rutherford said that claims made during the meeting of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government denying the people of Linden a broadcast station were patently false.
He recounted that there was a 15-member committee composed of People’s National Congress (PNC) members who were supposed to make a decision on having the station, which ultimately failed to reach a consensus. Further, Rutherford noted that there are questions of accountability when it comes to money for this station.
“There was a golden opportunity for this station to be a community-based station. How can they now look the people in the eyes and lie? You cannot change the facts. To tell the people this was denied them by the PPP. They had a full chance. And what the public should know too, in addition to the mismanagement administratively, there were equipment that monies were voted for, for that very station. What was done with that money?”
“And you in the public, you should look at your leaders. You voted for them, you put them in office, but ask them. Where was the monies voted for that project? Why were they not able to sit and say, you know what? Let us have, whoever would lead the committee. And progress to have the station as a people station,” Rutherford said.
The fact-finding mission was also accused of bias by a group of New Amsterdam residents, following a meeting the mission held there. According to one resident, the mission appears to be led and influenced by the PNC.