Would Walter Rodney Have Been Tolerated In Guyana Today?


Commentary By Felicia Persaud

CaribWorldNews, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mon. June 14, 2010: Thirty years have already slipped by since the horrific killing of renowned Guyanese scholar, historian, activist and one of my iconoclasts, Dr. Walter Rodney.

Rodney, of the Working People Alliance party, was killed in a questionable bomb explosion in his car on the night of June 13, 1980 at the young age of 38 in Georgetown, Guyana. I was merely a kid then but his death helped to hasten the growth of my revolutionary spirit and would later in my life mark the reason why I worked with and became a member of the WPA.

Rodney for me represented the one person who had the power to mobilize all Guyanese of all ethnicities to rally against the then controversial dictatorial policies and programs of the People`s National Congress Government, led by President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.

And what a rule it was. The bitterness of those days will forever stay with me. It is little wonder that the allegation that Burnham arranged the murder of Rodney still remains so believable.

But having recently visited Guyana after a 15 year absence, and spoken to many nationals in the country, I could not help but reflect on Sunday whether the PPP`s current administration could have tolerated Rodney today or would have moved to possibly eliminate him?

On Sunday, the ruling Guyana People`s Progressive Party, remembered Rodney and lauded him for exposing the nature of the regime and the PNC dictatorship and its leader.

So what if Rodney was alive today and was vigilant in exposing some of the current alleged corruption and atrocities of the PPP? Would they let him be or move to shut him up?

From my conversations with many Guyanese in all quarters of society, including in the media, there seems to be a fear of speaking out against the current government or simply speaking out at all. We`ve all read about what happened when commentator Freddy Kissoon got too critical. He had feces thrown at him.

Then on May 26th, a man threw acid in the face of Assistant Treasurer of the Guyana Cricket Board, Preetipaul Jaigobin who was in a Strathspey, East Coast Demerara restaurant at the time.  Then there is a famous case of the alleged withholding of government ads from newspapers too critical of the government. The Organization of American States had said that the Bharrat Jagdeo Administration of Guyana is threatening press freedom by withholding advertising from Stabroek Newspaper. Many are also aware of the corruption at all levels of society even in the police force mainly because of the high inflation and cost of living in the country compared to the wages earned.

And of course of the fact that drug traffickers seem to be making a nest for themselves here while there is tremendous allegation of police brutality, nepotism and favoritism in contracts while protests are shut down and protestors jailed to quell any sector critical of policies.

Would Rodney have sat idly by and allowed such issues to go on without comment? And more importantly, would the PPP have let him? I think not!



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