“I am not a Coolie” – Jagdeo clears the air on alleged racist remark

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By Fareeza Haniff

Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo has clarified certain remarks he made at the memorial ceremony in honour of Founder of the PPP, Dr Cheddi Jagan, held at Babu John on March 08.

At a press conference on Tuesday at Freedom House, Jagdeo made it clear that he never referred to People’s Progressive Party (PPP) as a “coolie people” party as was reported in a local daily newspaper today.

The former President reiterated what he said at the event, which is: The Opposition consistently shout about the racism of the PPP but they practice racism. They whisper campaigns. In the last elections they went to some of the Afro villages and beat some drums at six in the morning and say let us throw out these coolie people. Get up and go out and vote. Throw out the coolie people. That’s the kind of language they use. Anybody from our Party who uses that sort of language we’ll kick them out.

Jagdeo committed to fighting the issue of racism and noted that he has no apology for raising it at the Babu John event. He maintained that the Opposition may want to embark on a “whisper campaign” during elections as it relates to inciting racism, as he opined that it is the only tool they have.

“I’m not a coolie, so I take offence at someone saying let’s throw these people, out, let’s throw these coolie people out. So when I want to fight that, you’re saying its evidence of some divisiveness, it is the same thing like if somebody says the N word about Afro Guyanese,” the former President told a packed room of journalists.

According to Jagdeo, the Opposition will try to make wild accusations because they want to hide from their track record.

“They know what took place in the Opposition at the last election…they know that people were deployed and [Joseph] Harmon knows this too. That they were deployed to go to some villages and beat the drums, it happened in South and to go to homes and say let’s throw out these coolie people.”

Jagdeo reiterated his commitment to continue fighting racism in Guyana.

“I am a son of this soil and I will fight racism every single day. I made it clear at Babu John that this country cannot develop if its benefits are only felt by one group of people.”

The former President debunked reports that he raised the issue of race in subtle manner in order to appeal to traditional PPP supporters.

“I am proud of what I did, raising the issue…I raised the issue and I said let’s fight it to a PPP crowd. I am proud of that.”