Friday, June 19, 2009

No published accounts of evidence of communist funding for PPP prior to 1969

No published accounts of evidence of communist funding for PPP prior to 1969

Posted By Stabroek staff On June 19, 2009 @ 5:04 am In Letters | 3 Comments

Dear Editor,

Indeed, in an earlier letter, I did not name the parties that sought funds from the CIA for its destabilisation campaign against the PPP, but that does not mean that I am not willing to name them.

Mr Nazir’s historical beliefs (‘Guyana Revue article on Janet Jagan was instructive’ SN,17.6.2009) cements my views of the guinea pig nature of our politicians and what a high cost they are to Guyanese. Mr Nazir can hold onto his historical beliefs, but I will nevertheless refer him to page 130 of Stephen G Rabe’s 2005 book, US Intervention in British Guiana, a cold war story, which makes exhaustive use of all declassified documents on Guyana as well as the private archives not researched before to draw conclusions. I quote for easy reference:

“The CIA settled on Jai Narine Singh and Balram Singh Rai to lead the new Justice Party. Jai Narine Singh asked the United States for $75000 a month in campaign expenses to be deposited in the Royal Bank of Canada. In conjunction with the British, the CIA also helped create a political party for Muslims, the Guiana United Muslim Party or GUMP led by Hoosein Ganie.” The original source of the information is the Memorandum of conversation between Jai Narine Singh and William B Cobb of the US State Department dated June 16, 1964 as well as the minute of the meeting of the Colonial Office (POL 19 BR GU, DSR, NU) with Duncan Sandys on the new political parties in British Guiana, dated February 25, 1964.

Nazir’s statement “as far as I am aware” can be construed to be either that Mr Nazir has limited awareness or that he is hoping that the declassified CIA documents are all that there is to historical accounts of what happened in Guyana. There are numerous other archives if you are determined enough to find information.

There have been no published accounts of evidence of communist funding for British Guiana or the PPP until after 1969.

The accusations of funding were all part of the destabilisation plot with no evidence to back it up. Cheddi Jagan in 1969 joined the international Communist Party because he said he felt cheated by the British. Thereafter, the PPP transformation into a rigid communist party began. If Mr Nazir is willing to provide the funding, I will take a trip to the Soviet archives to search out any links of funding for the PPP pre-1969. Casting aspersions comes easily to us.

We use words like “were believed to have enjoyed” to suggest relationships, which may never have existed or which we cannot prove. The animal that the PPP became post-1969 is another story of equal interest.

No one can deny that Balram Singh Rai was cheated by Dr Jagan and the PPP. The closest explanation that seems to fit the scene of what happened was given by Rakesh Rampertab in 2005 and fits within Ernst Halperin’s (1965) investigations. Halperin found that Rai, then the Home Affairs Minister and a very respected member of the Indian community, had been elected chairman of the PPP in 1962, but Dr Jagan declared the results of that election null and void and forced through the re-election of Brindley Benn as the chairman of the PPP at special meeting packed with reliable Jagan supporters.

It is no wonder that Donald Ramotar could not find any evidence of rigging. There was none. It was the hijacking of the process. Jagan acted in the manner he did because of the loss of Sydney King and Rory Westmaas earlier due to ideological differences (all of them communist to different degrees) and the potential effect of the loss of these prominent Blacks (after the split with Burnham) on the elections results. While not a racist at heart, Dr Jagan, according to Halperin (1965), switched over to a policy of racism and appointed prominent Blacks to his cabinet.

Halperin said Dr Jagan had a difficult time getting the Indians to accept Benn’s chairmanship of the party and Mrs Jagan called a meeting of the pandits to get them to support the party in return for a promise of policy of support for Indians. This is no doubt how the demonization of Blacks took place – in the struggle for power and as a vehicle of Apan Jhaat. My father told me that Blacks were ‘Ravanas’ (the demonic race whom Lord Rama fought against). This, he obviously got from the pandits campaigning for the PPP, as my father at the time, was not considered religious much less spiritual. Rai, an Arya Samaj, resigned from the PPP in disgust. One would have expected that if Jagan desired a multi-racial party, as he very well may have, he could have counselled Rai in this direction. But it appears that the relationship between Jagan and Rai was not without its own dynamics and friction, and indeed a larger force may have been at work.

Now onto Mr Nazir’s grouse on the caste system in Guyana. Logic will tell you that what operates in Guyana is a class system and not a caste system.

The Indians who came to Guyana were forced on their voyages to eat from the same utensils and use the same facilities.

This is unheard of in the caste system in India. The voyage to Guyana was the beginning of the breakdown of the caste system for Indians in Guyana.

Their lives in crowded logies went a step further, as did their lives as plantation labourers with no distinction. But what went one step further in some cases was the intermarriage between Indians and Blacks.

There remained no caste system to speak about after all of this. For more information on this, read the work of retired Professor Raymond T Smith who studied Guyana; Halperin and others.

The only remnants that were brought forward into modern Guyana was that of the Bramhins being seen as the only ones with a divine right to read the scriptures, and even this is being overturned on its head.

The wide support for Prakash Gossai is a testament to this. I have not read the work of Dr Kean Gibson but I intend to when I have the time.

The dynamics of Guyana have been such that one can easily mix the injustices of the class system with those of a highly negative caste system.

All things white being of superior value and all things Black being of very low value was replaced in British Guiana with a struggle for representation and clashes between two dominant ethnic groups.

The causes of these clashes were never the caste system, as this was basically stillborn. Politics empowered the races to feel better about themselves, but the reason for the disquiet among the two major ethnic groups, in the words of the Waddington Commission Report, was when Indians, earlier apathetic about Guyanese politics, began to “compete for positions which they had not hitherto sought.” This, the report says, “stimulated the other races into closing their ranks” (Halperin, 1965).

Yours faithfully,
Gitanjali Persaud
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