AUTOCRATIZATION IS PRESENT IN GUYANA SINCE 2015

Protesters outside Guyanese Parliamen
Protesters outside Guyanese Parliament

[KAIETEUR NEWS, GUYANA]  In political theory, autocratization is the gradual erosion of rights and freedoms whose beginning is almost indiscernible, and by the time the society sees its creeping nature, essential freedoms and important pillars of the rule of law have been dissolved.
Autocratization is the dialectical supplanting of what Samuel P. Huntington referred to in his famous book, “The Third Wave” with the emergence of perestroika in Eastern Europe and abertura in South America from the late eighties. The role of perestroika is now being reversed in many states in the world, with nascent autocratization in process at the moment in the US under an ideologically extremist right wing cabal.
The first sign of autocratization occurred in Russia after the death of Boris Yeltsin. Russia is an autocratic permanency under Putin, a very serious oligarch. In Eastern Europe, autocratization in Poland and Hungary has dangerous traits that are more sinister than when communism ruled those lands. It has the European Union very worried. In Poland, the independence of judges has been virtually removed and judges can be hired and fired by the government of the day. There are open racist diatribes from the leaders of Eastern European countries.
In Turkey, there is a version of Putin in power. The Arab Spring has ended in the winter of nightmare and the nightmare of winter. There is an autocrat in Egypt that has just rigged the presidential election. So far, Samuel P. Huntington’s Third Wave is holding strong in South America. One hopes the summer of abertura in South America lasts forever. In Guyana, autocratization is real.
Tracing autocratization in Guyana is a journey into pessimistic philosophy. After the British allowed self-government once again in 1957, democracy didn’t come. The victory of Dr. Jagan saw a zero sum ethnic and political struggle that finally ended in 1964. But even after 1964, democratic emergence moved slower than a sloth. The 1964 coalition regime dissolved in 1968, and a series of rigged national elections started that only came to an end in 1992.
There were flashes of hope after 1968. The European/Portuguese domination of aesthetics, culture, religion and commerce came to end. The University of Guyana was prodigiously expanded and became a centre of learning. Caribbean integration began first with CARIFTA then CARICOM. By the time the seventies came, Walter Rodney emerged on the scene and the shape of his praxis led to a deepening of autocratization that eventually led to his murder.
Hopes of perestroika and abertura filled every dining room in Guyana with the style of leadership of President Hoyte in 1985. Many authoritarian features of the Burnham epoch were removed. Three optimistic highlights of the Hoyte period were the prosecution of the House of Israel for violent crimes, the stepping down of a Vice President to allow an investigation into wrongdoing and a criminal investigation into an allegation against the then head of the army by a city businessman. The Hoyte moment in politics came to an end with the victory of Cheddi Jagan in the October 1992 elections.
Jagan’s role was short-lived, because he died a little over four years later, but in power as President, he succumbed to the politics of ethnic patronage, political witch-hunting and the ostracization of the PPP’s political ally, the WPA. If Jagan had intentions of bringing to Guyana what it never had since self government – democracy – President Jagdeo decapitated that process. Under the presidencies of Jagdeo and Ramotar, the depraved exercise of power catapulted Guyana into the category of the most sordid polity in the history of the English-speaking Caribbean.
The PPP lost power in May 2015 and just as in the second self-government election in 1957, the Guyanese people saw the coming of perestroika and abertura. When ruling parties govern for too long, emotions run wild against them at election time. Guyanese wanted the PNC out in 1992. Guyanese wanted the PPP out in 2015. Sadly, what came in from the 2015 election was not democratization but autocratization.
It is outside a mere newspaper column to document the development of autocratization since 2015. I will have to be content in the remaining paragraphs with a broad generalization. It is my considered academic opinion that the people who won the 2015 elections are not essentially driven by ideals of a free Guyana.
I don’t think the entire leadership from top to bottom is instinctively and passionately moved by thoughts of deepening freedoms in Guyana. On the contrary, under their leadership there are increasing setbacks, of which the Hinds/Lewis/Chronicle imbroglio is dangerous sign. It is an egregious indication that autocratization is going to spread and embed itself. Nietzsche’s Übermensch has to intervene after 2020.

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