It was refreshing to read this Sunday’s article ‘Echoes of the ever-present past’ by former Speaker Ralph Ramkarran as he attempted to bring clarity to the PPP’s campaign of misinformation on the land issue (Sunday Stabroek, September 4). As Mr Ramkarran clearly articulated, “But generally, African Guyanese are not claiming lands belonging to others”. The PPP, the Indian Arrival Committee, Channel 28 and the Guyana Times through some of its columnists have been carefully cultivating this false belief.
The decision by President Granger to call for a Land Commission to deal with ancestral lands is not a racist move by him, but one of justice. As Mr Ramkarran stated in his column “the PPP and PPP/C government lost a golden opportunity of earning the goodwill of the African community by failing to support the establishment of an African Lands Commission.” The Guyanese public should know that these are lands that were bought by Africans during the Village Movement, so why is it racist for President Granger to want to rectify this historical problem? As Mr Ramkarran stated, “The [PPP] government recognized the issues to be resolved but amended the motion [brought by the late Debbie Backer in Parliament] to remove the establishment of the commission.”
Mr Ramkarran also highlighted that similar issues were raised by villagers of Bath, Berbice, and that the Ramotar government found $46 million to fix the matter. He said a similar solution was available for African lands.
The PPP daily continues to try to divide Guyana through ethnic rhetoric. This is very dangerous and also brutalizes the psyche of Indo Guyanese. The seven land issues facing Guyana should not become an ethnic agenda for the PPP.
These seven land issues are separate:
Amerindian land titling of the 13.8 % they own based on the Amerindian Act.
The request from Amerindians for another 20% or more of Guyana which will raise the question of the basis of the request and when were they truly here. The President also recently announced the re-establishment of the Indigenous Peoples” Land Commission.
The Ancestral Lands Commission which will address lands bought and owned by Africans.
The Guyana Reparations claim of land as reparatory justice and for the 450000 lives and 200 years of enslavement during which they built the infrastructure of all the sugar estates and defended us from the sea. One hundred million tons of earth was moved by hand.
The call by the IAC for Indians who have leased lands from the government to own these lands. This has its own problems because Guyanese of all races and foreigners like Baishanlin have leased state lands.
The call from some quarters to give GuySuCo lands to its workers so that they can have a new life beyond a GuySuCo that had an $82 billion in debt under the PPP and is producing sugar at 40 to 60 cents per pound while the world market price is 12 cents per pound.
The political realities of the last PPP/C government that illegally and preferentially gave land to supporters (including Pradoville 2) during their 23 years of rule.
In closing, the PPP is creating a wider split in Guyana through the land issue. They have been on this campaign for almost 4 months. They have even brought it to the National Toshaos Council when President Jagdeo said “there are surreptitious, sinister and pernicious plans afoot to erode the rights and land entitlements of the Indigenous People of Guyana”.
I hope this letter helps to add clarity to Ralph Ramkarran’s excellent article.
Link to Mr. Ramkarran's articlehttp://conversationtree.gy/echoes-of-the-ever-present-past/