PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress/ Reform Press Conference on August 29th, 2002 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.

The CANU Assassination
The PNC/R was shocked to hear of the brutal slaying of the acting head of the CANU. The death of Mr. Vibert Inniss adds to the long list of Security and Police Officers who have died violently as the security situation spirals out of control. We offer condolences to his loved ones and friends. We also feel deeply for his fellow officers who have received another blow to their morale. No society, in which senior and respected officers of the Security Forces are victims of periodic and unsolved murder, can feel safe, nor can these forces command the respect and confidence of the community when they appear to be so vulnerable.

The Crime Wave
It is a source of great pain for our Party to have to comment to the nation so repeatedly on the deteriorating crime situation and the pusillanimous and incomprehensible governmental responses. Yesterday’s rampage in Non Pariel and the violations carried out in that community represented a new and disturbing escalation in the deterioration of our situation here in Guyana. We take no pleasure in discussing these sad events. There are some matters we believe to be above and beyond the sphere of party political confrontation and manoeuvring, this crisis is one of them. We in the PNC/R have no hesitation in declaring the situation one of crisis no matter what evasions or twittering the government may wish to utter in the matter. Citizens of all classes and social groupings are outraged and terrified. They cannot feel safe for they can discern no end to the mayhem nor can they understand the disorganised and ineffectual government responses.

Government Policy
The government’s response to the tragedy is a curious and alarming mixture of inaction and propaganda. The President claimed in his visits abroad recently that he was dealing with a minor increase in crimes with handguns. The Minister of Foreign Trade tells an audience of US based Guyanese that the Government has the army and police in its pocket and they only had to tell the Security Forces to jump and they would ask how high! A truly amazing piece of balderdash. In the first place, it is inconceivable that a Minister of Government in his right mind could utter such an unconstitutional and undemocratic assertion. In the second place, it reflects the contempt with which the government holds the Security Forces and its Officers in this country. In the third place, it represents an alarming admission of guilt and complicity in the many abuses committed by some sections of the Security Forces.

PPP/C Policy
The PPP/C has pinned their hopes on their propaganda machine, their weapon of first choice in any governmental crisis. At one stage, you will recall that they sought to confuse the public with the absurd allegation that the PNC/R was somehow responsible for the crime wave and that the main criminal gangs were harboured in this building. That allegation was made by Government spokespersons who were in a position to know that the allegation was false and baseless. It was intended to distract the citizens of this country and to fool the public in the hope that attention would turn from their ineptitude to focus elsewhere. This was a vain hope for the problems were not addressed and the consequence of Government’s neglect has exceeded the predictions of the most pessimistic prophets in Guyana. As the criminals run riot and Policemen and Security Guards are shot like targets, bandits roam the streets and drug traders control the agenda, the Government has now come forward with another propaganda ploy; their so-called “Consultation on Crime”.

This is just another PR exercise, which was convened with no intention of solving any problems or taking us out of our current morass. The Consultation was hastily organised and unprepared. It did not have the level of seriousness and critical focus to solve any problem or bring any relief to our deteriorating situation. It is interesting that the President and the Minister of Home Affairs were not able to cook up a consistent story on the nature of PNC/R participation, one claming our invitation was suggested at the last minute the other suggesting that the occasion was held in response to our suggested national dialogue. The tangled web of deception surrounds this whole episode. As we predicted, the Consultation was a waste of time merely providing the required photo opportunity for the dignitaries of the PPP/C. Crime, in the interim continues to spin out of control.

The Carroll Affair.
The undisposed carcass of the Carroll affair continues to pollute the atmosphere in Guyana. The PNC/R will not rest until this matter is properly and justly resolved. The facts are clear. Officials and Security Officers of the Guyana governmental and security machinery were named as being involved in the Carroll visa racket. The documents from the court hearings in Chicago make it clear that allegation of complicity including the use of Guyanese Policemen as hit men and enforcers for the scam are stated baldly and without any possibility of misunderstanding. A Guyanese Officer pleaded guilty and was jailed for his part in the scam.

The PNC/R has irrefutable evidence that the FBI were working on this case in Guyana for two years before the matter was made public. Neither the Minister of Home Affairs nor Mr. Jagdeo can claim that they were not aware of these happenings. They are either incompetent or dishonest or both. They cannot hide behind vague ramblings about inconclusive evidence or that they are still investigating. Nothing will satisfy the requirement of cleaning up this affair but a thorough investigation of this scandal by competent agencies and the trial of those who were complicit in this affair. Mr. Jagdeo’s claim that he is looking into the matter is ludicrous and his reference to the American Ambassador to back up his claim is an insult to that gentleman and denigrating of his office and the country he represents. The US Ambassador cannot be held accountable for the sins of the Government of Guyana!

The PNC/R finds the limits to which the Government will go to protect disreputable and criminal members of the GPF truly amazing and incomprehensible. One wonders who in the Government feels threatened by the clean up of the Police Force and the revelation of evil and the prosecution of evildoers.

The PNC/R Position
The PNC/R position on the current crime wave is straightforward and we repeat it this morning for emphasis:

• We believe that the current security situation is so serious and so threatening to the existence of the state and the people of our country, that it requires a national, non-partisan, consensual response at the highest level
• We are convinced that there can be no improvement in the situation without a thorough and effective inquiry into the operations of the Police Force, which would take evidence and views from all competent persons including members of the force itself.
• We are convinced that such an enquiry should include in its ambit the conditions of service in the force including pay, recruitment, promotion, and training.
• We believe that the Police must take the necessary steps to restore public confidence which is essential to its successful operation
• The Black Clothes must be disbanded and replaced by properly trained officers. Those in the squad guilty of crimes must be disciplined or prosecuted.

Regime Continues Policy of Undermining the Bauxite Communities:
The PPP/C regime’s chief hatchet man for the destruction of the bauxite communities and Region 10, Prime Minister Sam Hinds, has now delivered the fatal blow to Bermine and the communities at Kwakwani and Everton, which depended on the company for their survival. He has given instructions to close Bermine and to immediately hand over all operations and financial resources to his friend Mr. Morris Stuart whose claim to bauxite fame is that he presided over the ruin of Linmine.

Like Mr. Jagdeo and other functionaries of this regime, Prime Minister Hinds has imperiously disposed of the assets of Bermine, which are owned by all of the Guyanese people, as if they are his personal fief. Ignoring the Companies Act as if it does not apply to the Government, the executioner and his band of merry men have once again demonstrated their contempt for the Laws of Guyana by unceremoniously sweeping aside the views of the Board of Bidco, the legal supervisory company, and disbanding the legally constituted Board of Bermine to install his friends! The Prime Minister’s Board is now chaired by Mr Winston Brassington, of GPL fame, with his friend Morris Stuart and the newly anointed Dr Ashni Singh as Directors.

In the meantime, the already depressed Kwakwani community like Linden and Ituni in Region 10 are increasingly feeling the full effects of the deception inflicted on them by the President himself. The letters of termination have been received and the now ex-Bermine employees have come to recognise that “a promise is comfort to a fool”. A Jagdeo promise is just that! The severance pay package, without the prospects for alternative employment or the possibility to become self employed, will soon disappear.

We say it again, for all who have ears to hear and eyes to see, that the end game of the Freedom House managers of the Jagdeo regime is the punishment and destruction of the communities of Region 10, which they perceive as supporters of the PNC/R. The final blow to Linden is on the horizon! They will not stop until Region 10 becomes one of the most depressed regions of Guyana.

PNC Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Thursday August 29th, 2002