Guyanese government accused of rank racism – Carib Vibe Radio

Guyanese government accused of rank racism

Just over a week ago, government bulldozers and groups of heavily armed police turned up at the majority African Guyanese district of Mocha just south of the city to demolish several homes that authorities claim are smack in the middle land designated for a crucial new north-south highway.

Government, in a history of a country with decades of tensions between Afro and Indo Guyanese, had long been demanding that the Afro villagers who had occupied the area for generations, accept being relocated to various alternative districts because their continued occupation of the land was holding up the construction of the highway linking the city with areas to the south, even connecting to the Guyana-Brazil jungle road.

Convinced that they are not at all in the path of the road, the residents had resisted moving, staging protest demonstrations and reminding anyone who would listen that the Indo-dominated People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government is really more interested in allocating the land after the road is completed to connected friends and family as its value would have risen exponentially.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton says his party has incontrovertible proof that “the land is not in the path” of the intended highway and that an unaffected adjacent “housing area is even closer to the designated area than Mocha but no one is saying anything about this.”

So when the heavy duty bulldozers moved in last week, decades-old homes were demolished and women protestors arrested and roughed up. Norton and villagers even accused police and state officials of being so uncaring that some crops, pigs and other livestock belonging to villagers and farmers were either damaged, killed or buried alive. To many Guyanese of African origin, the state would not have taken such drastic and ‘inhumane’ action against Guyanese of Indian origin, calling it a case of racial discrimination of the worst kind.

For its part, the Irfaan Ali administration has said that the majority of residents who were living in the area had accepted removal compensation and relocation packages. The few holdouts, authorities say, were acting unreasonably and were even being misled by the political opposition. President Ali has even said that he had to show political strength in dealing with Mocha or “if I attempt to be softer than I am soft on this Mocha issue, then I am telling people just ride me over.”

As an indication of how badly this issue has divided this CARICOM nation of close to a million people, the opposition Working People’s Alliance (WPA) crafted its response to the situation in stark racial terms as many ordinary Afro Guyanese have.

“Bulldozing people’s homes against their will is a human rights violation, but worse, it is an act that reeks of disdain, and disrespect for citizens who have not offended the law or the government. The images broadcasted to the world from that village brings back memories of South Africa’s apartheid era and justifies the charges by sections of the African Guyanese community that Guyana is an emerging apartheid state. So, why has the government been so determined to evict the occupants at all costs? The answer obviously has to do with government’s acquisition of the land because of its potential value. WPA thinks this is naked land-grabbing on the part of a government which has already been accused of transferring state and ancestral lands to its friends and cronies.”

Meanwhile, the highly militant New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) took a similar angle to the WPA, casting the government’s approach to Mocha in unadulterated race terms.

“The CGID strongly condemns the Mocha-Arcadia carnage and warns the international community that the PPP regime is deliberately provoking a civil war with African Guyanese. Thousands of people inside and outside of Guyana are appalled at the cruelty and callous insensitivity of the government towards the African Guyanese citizens of Mocha and the black population generally. They have all condemned this act of war against African Guyanese,” the organization stated in a missive this week.

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