Decked in his trademark red shirt and drenched in sweat from the heat of the night, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo urged Guyanese to fight against all the ills that have plagued the country for generations.
The former President made the charge as he addressed scores of Guyanese who gathered at Robert Square in Enmore last evening (June 14, 2017) to participate in the Peoples Progressive Party’s (PPP) annual public meeting in commemoration of Enmore Martyrs Day – an activity that proceeded hours after the sunset.
Inspired by the spirit and unity that underpinned the massive movement against the imposition of parking meters in the capital city, Jagdeo called on Guyanese to take similar stands against actions of the government that are not in the best interest of the country and its people.
“Across race and across politics, they joined together and said this can’t happen! They said they have to fight it and the government caved in. We need the same spirit in the communities across Guyana,” he stated.
The parliamentarian bellowed that Guyanese “have to stand up and ensure we do not succumb to any bullyism”, noting that the Enmore Martyrs were killed not just because they were fighting for sugar rights but in the entire nation’s best interest.
Jagdeo explained that the fight to change the colonial mindset to pave way for better working conditions in the sugar industry was led by the five workers who had limited rights. He recalled that the PPP later joined the battle and that this united struggle led to the achievement of independence.
“We became the masters of our own destiny! And then when those freedom we fought for were taken away from us, we didn’t lose hope. We continued to struggle. Many people lost their lives,” the former President reflected, also acknowledging the contributions of Guyanese activist, Dr Walter Rodney who was assassinated during the height of a civil rebellion against the Forbes Burnham – led Peoples National Congress (PNC) dictatorship.
Reflecting on the past struggles, Jagdeo asked “if we allow them to snatch these rights again, how will we be able to look our children in their faces and say we fought against this?”
Cheered on by rounds of applauses, he continued “even if we fail, we fought! Parents what are you going to say to your children when you can’t send them to school, look at what is happening to Wales, what are you going to say? That daddy or mommy sit down at home and allowed this government to run amok and not say a word?”
The Opposition Leader warned that conditions in Guyana will only worsen and that Guyanese cannot afford to suffer in silence.
“The only thing I can be certain about is that it will get worst in Guyana. I don’t like to take that message to people but we have to be realistic,” Jagdeo declared as he highlighted flaws in numerous government policies particularly as it relates to the burgeoning oil sector and the crippling sugar industry – which is at the heart of concern of his direct audience.
Other issues alluded to during his lengthy presentation included the 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education, the appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), several blunders by the Attorney General including the issue with the High Court Judge, among others.
Jagdeo underscored the need for better conditions in the country but noted that such a change cannot be effected if the population sits silent.
“We only live in the type of country we fight for and therefore, I want to ask you to make sure that you take part of that struggle,” the PPP General Secretary encouraged.