PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, April 28, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
 In this centenary year of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, the father of Trade Unionism in Guyana and the Commonwealth, the PNCR urges the workers of Guyana to continue the struggle to ensure that the present Regime does not reverse the gains made by Critchlow and the many others who succeeded him;

 The PNCR salutes the contribution of Guyanese of Indian descent on the commemoration of Indian Arrival Day;

 The PNCR salutes the contributions of Party stalwarts Jean Persico and Roy Marshall. Their selfless and lifelong service is an inspiration to us all;

 Ronald Gajraj’s resignation does not remove the stain from the entire Jagdeo Government that endorsed his return to Office despite the damning Inquiry Report nor does it substitute for a proper Inquiry into Death Squads in Guyana and who masterminded these activities. Will those who endorsed his activities now follow and resign;

 The PNCR is deeply concerned about the resurgence in violent crime. The party will soon begin consultation on its Crime Reduction plan that it proposes to introduce after the 2006 Elections.

 Despite the misleading headlines in Stabroek News about a Commonwealth Report on Elections, the PNCR reiterates that there can be no proper Elections that are free and fair without a proper house-to-house verified Voters List and biometrics to remove multiple registrations. Postponement to 2011 is a non-negotiable;

 The citizens of Georgetown have rejected Jagdeo’s proposal to impose an IMC in Georgetown.

MAY DAY MESSAGE, 2005

The People's National Congress Reform salutes the Workers of Guyana and their Unions on the occasion of May Day, 2005. Regrettably, workers have little to celebrate since they have had to endure another year of spiraling cost of living, low wages and salaries and the continuous assault on their bargaining rights and agreements by the incumbent PPP/C Administration.

The recent 2005 Budget is not expected to alleviate the plight of workers. Recent history has shown that, in spite of the sums budgeted for wage and salary increases, the Government stymies negotiations with the Trade Unions and ultimately imposes paltry or negligible increases at the end of the year that are below the rate of inflation, and incapable of enabling workers to support their families. However, unless workers resolve to collectively deal with this perennial problem the Government will again this year continue to trample upon their rights and the collective bargaining rights of the Trade Unions.

The PNCR notes that the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) continues to be the target of attacks by the regime that continues to deny it the traditional annual subvention and its representation at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Annual Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The introduction of the Annual Subvention to the GTUC was a deliberate policy of the PNCR Government to ensure the independence of the Trade Union Movement from both foreign and local influences and to promote worker development. Regrettably, the present regime is attempting to use the very subvention to undermine the GTUC and control the Movement, the very opposite objective of the original intention of the Subvention. The arbitrary identification of representatives to attend the ILO Conferences is also another divisive tactic of the PPP/C Government, intended to maintain the split in the Trade Union Movement.

In this centenary year of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, the father of Trade Unionism in Guyana and the Commonwealth, the PNCR urges the workers of Guyana to continue the struggle to ensure that the present Regime does not reverse the gains made by Critchlow and the many others who succeeded him.

The PNCR reiterates its solidarity with the struggling workers for a living wage. The Party continues to support the struggle against widespread corruption, mismanagement, lack of accountability and injustice. We will continue to play a leadership role in the pursuit of working class empowerment in Guyana. We believe that the seemingly intractable problems of our country could only be resolved by a system of shared or inclusive governance and reiterate our commitment to working with all stakeholders, civil society, religious organisations and NGO's to achieve such a goal.

HAPPY MAY DAY TO ALL WORKERS OF GUYANA

THE PNCR SALUTES THE CONTRIBUTION OF GUYANESE OF INDIAN DESCENT ON THE COMMEMORATION OF INDIAN ARRIVAL DAY

The PNCR salutes all Guyanese of Indian descent as we prepare to commemorate Indian Arrival Day and to celebrate the tremendous contribution made by all of these valuable persons, who shaped every area of national life and helped to make Guyana a much richer place. We salute all of our Indian brothers and sisters as we celebrate this special commemorative day.

The PNCR is happy to be identified with all groups in society who seek to celebrate the achievement of our ancestors whose courage, personal sacrifice and commitment have helped to create a unique tapestry of people called Guyanese.

We will be celebrating the richness of Indian talent and culture by showing on our “Nation Watch” programmes, Monday and Tuesday, a film considered a classic in Indian cinema by the world renowned Satyajit Rai entitled “Pather Panchali”. We trust you will enjoy it.


THE PASSING OF JEAN PERSICO AND ROY MARSHALL

The People's National Congress Reform received the sad news of the passing of two of its dedicated activists, Jean Persico, A.A. of Kitty and Roy (Babu) Marshall of Linden and extends sincere sympathy to their families, friends and other organisations to which they belonged.

Jean Marjorie Gloria Persico, A.A., teacher, church worker, trade unionist, politician, women’s rights activist, former Minister of Government, Member of Parliament, Trustee and stalwart of the People's National Congress Reform died on Friday April 22, 2005 in New York after a short illness. She was 74 years old when she died.

In a published tribute to her, the Party earlier this week highlighted her exemplary work as a teacher, trade unionist, political activist and church worker. She entered the national political arena after the 1985 elections when the late President Hugh Desmond Hoyte appointed her Minister in the Ministry of Education, Social Development and Culture. In 1989 she became Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture and Social Development and later served in the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security with responsibility for Women’s Affairs.
As a Party activist, Jean did consistent fieldwork, her last area of assignment being in the Lodge area. She worked closely with the women’s arm of the party and served on several Committees. At the time of her death she was one of the Trustees of the PNCR.

Roy Marshall died in Linden on Saturday April 23rd. He was a foundation member of the Party in the Linden area who remained dedicated and loyal, “in season and out of season.” He served in several capacities at group and Regional level over his long years of association with the Party and could have always been relied upon by the leadership of the Party to carry out any assignment.

The funeral of the late Roy (Babu) Marshall will take place tomorrow Friday April 29 at Linden while the funeral of Jean Persico will take place on Saturday April 30th at St James-the-Less Anglican Church, Kitty.

The Leader of the People's National Congress Reform, the Members of the Central Executive Committee, and the entire membership of the Party extend deepest condolences to the families of Jean Persico and Roy Marshall.

May their souls rest in peace.

THE GAJRAJ RESIGNATION

It is now obvious that the PPP/C has been finally pressured into taking some action against Gajraj and, in doing so, they hope that the attention of the people of Guyana will now be diverted from the many unanswered questions about the death squads and the deaths or disappearance of several Guyanese sons and daughters. This, however, will not happen. Guyanese will not rest until those answers are provided.

At its last weekly Press Conference the PNCR stated that it would not recognize Gajraj as Minister of Home Affairs. The combined opposition parties in Parliament walked out of the National Assembly in protest at his return and the Party also pointed out that the arrogance displayed by both President Jagdeo and Gajraj had serious implications for national development, the morale of the Police Force, the security situation and Guyana’s international relations. The PPP, after placing party interest above that of the Nation, found itself in a serious dilemma where they were condemned by the majority of decent-minded citizens and their organizations and faced economic pressure from the International Community. Consequently, the resignation of Ronald Gajraj as Minister of Home Affairs came as no surprise to the PNCR. Our only amazement is that it has not been with immediate effect. The delay until the end of May effectively creates a one-month period during which the Ministry will be without any recognizable and accountable political leadership at a time when our security situation is still a matter of grave concern to Guyanese. Surely, this could not be the action of a responsible Government.

It is evident that President Jagdeo and his Government are still bent on avoiding a proper investigation into death squads in Guyana so that the many questions can be answered. Recent statements by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger luncheon have enabled Guyanese to understand why the Jagdeo Regime has refused to have any proper Inquiry and limited the scope and Terms of Reference of the Gajraj Inquiry. According to Luncheon, the Government knew all along of the activities of Gajraj and endorsed his action. It follows that President Jagdeo and his Cabinet are equally answerable to the people of Guyana. The big question is how much is the Government covering up of its involvement in death squads and how much did Jagdeo know and endorse. The issue, therefore, is no longer Gajraj but the entire PPP/C Government that refuses to investigate the deaths of its citizens and collectively endorsed the return of a Minister to Office after a Commission of Inquiry had identified several acts of impropriety.

The PNCR will not allow this issue to rest and calls upon all decent minded Guyanese to continue the struggle until these answers are provided and justice done and is seen to be done.

RESURGENCE IN CRIME

The reinstatement of Ronald Gajraj as Minister of Home Affairs appeared to have been greeted with a sudden resurgence of violent crime in Guyana. These violent crimes continue almost unabated to the extent that we may be experiencing a resurgence in violent criminal activity of the kind perpetrated at Princes Street, Lodge where Donovan Hailes was killed in the first of two drive–by shootings in the last week.

In the last week also, 17-year old Shenalla Williams was stabbed to death in Plaisance, two youths attempted a hijacking at gun point at the junction of Camp and Middle streets, four armed bandits were unsuccessful during a robbery spree in Coldingen Housing Scheme, and a robbery under arms was committed on Rohit Singh, a fish vendor, somewhere on the Turkeyen railway Embankment yesterday. These are a few of the crimes committed in a small geographical area of Guyana and the PNCR is deeply concerned about these developments.

Regrettably, the Guyanese society has become so deformed that we can produce a Minister of Government, like the unapologetic Ronald Gajraj, who, according to One Commissioner in the recent Inquiry, at best gave ‘tacit encouragement’ to extra judicial killings or was ‘indifferent’ to the activity of deadly operatives.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry has ended but its findings have not resolved the burning issue of Death Squads. Nor, has it given any satisfaction to the dozens of mothers of the murdered men and boys that justice has been served. If there is any consolation to be had in the aftermath of the inquiry, it has to be that the world now realizes that the PPP/C government has an extremely cavalier attitude to threats to this nation’s internal security. In this sense the PNCR has been vindicated. The fact that the entire cabinet voted to reinstate an incompetent and discredited Minister of Home Affairs must be a matter that indicts the entire Government.

The PNCR has just completed the first draft of its 5-year Crime Reduction Plan or CRP details of which will soon be published in order to invite comments and suggestions for improvement. There will be consultation with a wide cross section of stakeholders on all aspects of the plan once the working document is completed. In consequence it is now clear that Guyana must await the PNCR’s return to political office in 2006 before real improvement in the crime situation takes place.
ELECTIONS UPDATE: MISLEADING HEADLINE IN STABROEK NEWS
The headline in last Sunday’s Stabroek News, Sunday April 24th on an alleged Commonwealth report under the caption, “Commonwealth Report Recommends Urgent Elections Push” is most misleading. The headline infers that there has been some new report from the Commonwealth Secretariat in London on the subject matter of Elections. This is farthest from the truth as the Report being referred to is the controversial Hathaway Report on the Needs Assessment for the 2006 Elections for GECOM. This Report, which was long over due, was submitted to the Elections Commission several months ago and has been the subject of several commentaries by various stakeholders, including the PNCR. Interestingly, however, is the fact that the Elections Commission has not yet accepted this report and the PNCR is curious to know how this report was made available to the Media and by whom. The combined opposition parties have already made their views known on the Hathaway report and have requested a meeting with the Elections Commission to discuss this and other matters of concern. The Stabroek News headline on Sunday did not therefore do justice to the issues involved. The PNCR has repeatedly stated that it has complied in a timely manner with all requests by GECOM. Consequently the PNCR will accept no compromise that will undermine the integrity of the Election process. Many of these issues have been raised since 2002 and the PNCR will bear no responsibility for GECOM`s possible excuse that time will not permit the implementation of essential electoral conditions which GECOM itself articulated over the period since 2003. The suggestion that some of these matters should be postponed to 2011 is therefore preposterous and unacceptable.
GEORGETOWN CITIZENS REJECT JAGDEO’S CONSULTATION ON PROPOSED IMC

The citizens of Georgetown have by their response to the proposed consultation by President Jagdeo clearly rejected his proposal to impose an Interim Management Committee (IMC) in Georgetown. The few who attended made it clear that nothing short of Local Government Elections will suffice.

The Laws of Guyana are clear and unambiguous about dealing with municipalities, which are in default. In that regard, the Minister must hold and Inquiry and the Inquiry must find the Council to be in default. It is only after the aforementioned process has been observed that the Minister may seek to remedy the situation using one of a number of measures, which the law specifies.

How does one hold consultations to determine whether the citizens want an IMC or not when it is still to be determined, by way of an Inquiry, whether or not the Council is in default? The President and his Minister have attempted to hoodwink the nation into believing that they are being democratic by calling for consultations. The reality is that they are being most undemocratic as they seek to pre-empt the required legal processes. To start off the process by suggesting the need for an IMC is an act of democratic centralism rather than democracy. This is further exemplified by the manner in which the consultations were planned in areas where the PPP/C are known to have obtained their maximum votes in Georgetown. Even worse is the fact that a consultation for Alexander Village was scheduled to be held in West Ruimveldt while there were no plans to consult the people of West Ruimveldt. The situation could hardly be more absurd.

The PNCR had predicted that the people of Georgetown were not gullible and would see through the hypocrisy of the Government. They understood that the exercise was all about electioneering and an extension of Jagdeo’s activities to bring the PPP/C in contact with communities that are not known to support the PPP/C. The people of Georgetown have, however, already spoken and it is to be hoped that Jagdeo and his Government have heard.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, April 28, 2005