Continuation of Transforming the Democratic Culture in Guyana

Dear Editor,

I would like to build on a topic I wrote on a few weeks ago, ‘Transforming the Democratic Culture in Guyana.’ Stephen Covey in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ stated that there are four dimensions of our human existence – spiritual, mental/intellectual, and social/emotional. As one analyse the political culture of the current People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government one can easily conclude that they govern essentially in a one-dimensional context, in the physical dimension. Their governance approach is less about the spiritual, mental/intellectual, and social/emotional and this is of grave concern to many of us. When a government governs in the manner in which this PPP/C government is operating it leaves citizens unfulfilled, even with a feeling that is devoid of human dignity.

This PPP/C government is racist and discriminatory and has become soulless in the worse of ways. I have been travelling the world for decades and I have never felt racism, disrespect for my race, as I feel in Guyana, my own country, from 2020 to now. I do not think that this government, President Irfaan Ali, and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo really understands the impact of their approach to governance on Black people. You see, when a government operates in this racist and discriminatory manner, it does not stop at those in high offices in government if filters down into every aspect of our society.

I have been analysing the level of understanding of the government’s approach to governance and the possible negative responses. I think that Khemraj Ramjattan understands how provocative the government is being. As I listen to him, he says things like what the government is doing to Black people is wrong. I think that GHK Lall understands.

Let me share how bad things are for Black people and some of what they discuss. Young Black people are asking why the PPP/C thinks that they should suffer for whatever they think that Forbes Burnham did and that they were not pleased with? What does the PNC’s governance in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s have to do with them in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024? Black people are asking if the PPP/C government have so many issues with Forbes Burnham and the PNC, how come it chose Forbes Burnham’s son-in-law as the Ambassador to Venezuela? How is it that the PPP can be forgiving to Burnham’s son-in-law but still have no respect for the PNC and their supporters who are citizens of Guyana? Is this only about politics or about the growth and development of citizens, irrespective of who they support, vote for or their race?

Let me share some of my own experiences of how our society has changed. Two weeks ago, I went into a store on Regent Street to purchase some things, I gave the cashier a $5,000 bill and I was shocked at what happened next. The cashier took the $5,000 bill and raised it up to examine if it was fake, I was shocked. I responded to her ‘Did you just take my $5,000 and examine it to see if it was fake? I further asked if this is done for every person who comes into the store. It could be one or two things or both, either she thought that the likelihood of someone who looks like me may have fake currency or there are a preponderance of fake $5,000 bills circulating in the society. If there is a preponderance of fake $5,000 bills circulating in the society, I would hope that the Guyana Police Force will take note and address this matter, so that citizens can be spared the indignity of having their monies examined as they go about their regular business.

Not so long ago, I went into another store on Robb Street and one of the salesgirls started following me around the store, I ask her if there was a reason why she was following me and she responded that they followed everyone around. That I found to be strange because it was around Christmas time, and they did not have enough salespersons to follow everyone around.

I could not help but wonder what was it about me that made the cashier examine my $5,000 and the salesgirl decided to follow me around in the store? I could not help but wonder if it was because of my physical appearance since that was all they know about me, and these are new experiences that I am having in Guyana.

Some Black young women have indicated to me that whenever they go to a supermarket around Water Street area, the security guard would be following them around, so they have stopped going to that supermarket. Now what is interesting is that these young women went to schools like Bishops High, other top secondary and private schools. They have completed their university education, have good jobs, some of them have their own vehicles but the security guards do not have all of that information, the only information they have is who walks through the doors of the supermarket.

The government on the other hand has gone so far, that they are now telling international organizations who to employ and who not to employ, either directly or by using manipulative tactics so that people who are either Opposition supporters, or perceived Opposition supporters cannot access opportunities in international organisations. I know of at least five such cases between 2020 to now.

Recently, I met someone who was fired from a senior government position in 2020. The person has a masters degree and said to me that one day, they were so hungry that they went to a relative and asked for something to eat. The part that bled my heart was when they said that they told the relative that even if it was a packet of corn curl. Editor, I started the programme to assist the ex-public servants, so I hear the stories.

My question to President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo is ‘what is the end game?’ Is this going to end somewhere? Do they have a plan for these citizens whose lives you have disrupted for no reason? This government has messed up and is messing up people’s lives.

Politics has become even more important today for the average Guyanese. Politics refers to the activities of a government or people who try to influence the way a country is governed. Political parties such as the PNC/R, PPP/C, AFC, WPA, etc., are mechanisms through which a government is formed in Guyana and decisions are made about how the country will be governed and what kind of quality-of-life citizens will have.

We have to transform our political culture. The current political culture that is practiced by whichever party is in government, is to focus on the elimination of the opposition rather than on practicing good governance, so that the people would give the government a mandate to continue.

The goal of my government is for every citizen to enjoy a middle-class quality of life in Guyana by 2035.

In another one of my letters, I will address racism and discriminatory practices in some of these recruitment agencies.

Yours faithfully,

Citizen Audreyanna Thomas

Presidential Candidate 2025