Eyewitness: The Year of…

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…rigging dangerously

Your Eyewitness is, of course, (shamelessly) ripping off the title of that old political thriller starring a youthful Mel Gibson – “The year of living dangerously” – which recounted an attempted coup against President Sukarno of Indonesia back in 1965. The details of the attempted coup – with the Indonesian Army at the centre – remain murky to this day; but, playing out in the heyday of the Cold War, we can be sure it involved dissatisfaction by the West against the arch Non-Aligned promoter Sukarno.

Here, in Guyana, Cheddi Jagan’s government had been ousted the year before by a slick double whammy of violence (ethnic riots) and electoral manipulation (FPTP to PR). Burnham was installed, and we know he remained in power by rigging elections to his dying day. But, in 1965, the young David Granger had been selected to go off for training at Mons in England, and would return to form the nucleus of a new Guyana Defence Force (GDF), which would become the major prop for the illegal regime.

After he was voted into office in 2015, Granger revealed – in an unguarded moment to an audience in Atlanta – that he’d been “PNC” from the moment he returned to Guyana, and remained steadfastly so all the years since. So much for his claims that the GDF had been “professional” during his stint as its head! But the army’s stealing of ballot boxes and killing of civilians guarding them – which Granger described as “performing splendidly” – had been a dead (pun intended) giveaway! The period from 1965 to 1985 were years of living dangerously in Guyana.

Anyhow, back to this year, that’s hurtling to a close: we don’t really have to revisit the rigging at the Ashmin’s Building, do we? Save just to point out that it was Granger and his PNC acolytes who chose to rig so dangerously in front of the Western diplomats. Whatever might’ve been the latter’s motivation, even if they’d wanted to go along with Granger’s heist, he’d so placed them between a rock and a hard place that they had absolutely no wriggle room!! Diplomats since the end of the Cold War need at least “plausible deniability”!

But, as they say, if you choose to live by the rig (remember that Granger became PNC Leader through a rigged party election!) then you’ll die by the rig. And as far as having a political future is concerned, Granger is as dead as the Woolly Mammoth after the sordid rig attempt by Mingo, using that soiled bedsheet! His carefully crafted image as a “master strategist” has been blown to smithereens by Jagdeo and the PPP!

And as a card-carrying “Sanctimonious Gangster”, he’s lost his place in the pew!

…separating paddy from chaff

One of the old verities that’s proven true to your Eyewitness over the years is, “it’s an ill wind that blows no good”. So even though it looks like the end of the road for Granger and his band of desperate riggers, after they overplayed their hand, it’s certain that our politics will be the better for it. Point of the matter is that Corbin’s decision to bring Granger from out of the (figurative) shadows to lead the PNC was never going to work.

A political party is an organic entity – if it wants to remain relevant, that is. Its leadership has to come out of the sinews of the membership and those who’ve been in the trenches with them through fair weather and foul. Granger has always been removed from the daily minutiae of what it takes to build loyalty in the masses.

Desmond Hoyte recognised Granger’s limitations – even when it came to heading the GDF – where he’s spent his entire adult life.

More grounded leaders will arise.

…beneficence

It was quite heartwarming to see Granger collecting his $25,000 COVID-19 relief. For the first time, your Eyewitness saw a human touch when he opened the envelope and counted out the five “Grangers”!

But he blew it when he didn’t pick up the fallen envelope!!