August 26, 2016
Open Letter to PNCR Congress
RE: Uneasiness in the Indo Guyanese community
This letter is addressed to you but it is intended primarily for the delegates of the PNCR, which is holding its congress this weekend and the Indian Action Committee (IAC) is taking the opportunity to address them through you, on certain matters which have been causing a lot of disquiet amongst the IAC’s members.
The IAC wishes to begin with the economy which is not performing. This is general knowledge and the organization is familiar with the problems of the marketing of rice at lucrative prices since Guyana lost the Venezuela deal and the IAC believes that much more needs to be done by the government to assist in securing good markets for Guyana’s rice.
Secondly, the situation in the sugar industry is quite alarming, since the main sugar union, GAWU, has been on strike for some time and this is adding to the problems at GUYSUCO, which, at the present time, is losing a lot of money and is depending on the government for financial support. The workers and the communities affected by this industry are waiting on the government to tell them what plans it has to deal with the question of thousands of workers who are going to be dislocated by the privatization and restructuring of the industry.
The IAC believes that the time has come for the government and the company to set out in clear language what they plan to do to safeguard the livelihoods of the workers and their communities.
The IAC is of the opinion that this matter cannot be postponed any longer, and the government must declare now what are the plans it has for these people.
It is clear to the IAC, that the government must invest in the retraining of these workers after it gives them land that formerly belonged to GUYSUCO so that they could make a living, and also after the government has paid them the proper severance that is due to them according to law.
The IAC is aware that the government is planning to establish a communal Lands Commission to deal with lands bought by formerly enslaved Africans (chattel slaves) between 1839 and 1860 which are described as having anomalies and controversies. The IAC also believes that the time has come to deal with the question of land for the Indian communities that they have developed since they arrived here in1838 as indentured labourers (bonded slaves) and since they have claims to the land which many of them have been renting for decades, and these anomalies and discrepancies have to be dealt with also.
The IAC posits that is not true that only African lands have anomalies and the organization believes that the time has come to deal with all of the anomalies concerning all the land of all the communities including lands for indigenous people.
The IAC understands that it is necessary for all of these matters concerning all of these communities to be dealt with at the same time in order to build cohesion and the organization is hopeful that the PNCR congress will spend some time to deliberate on these critical matters.
The IAC has noted, over the past year, in letters to Editors in various newspapers, utterances by politicians, commentators and the general public as well as comments from the organization’s membership; written and verbal expressions of feelings of uneasiness from persons of Indo Guyanese origin regarding discrimination, victimization, marginalization, witch- hunting and militarization.
The IAC hopes that the PNCR which describes itself as a national, multi- ethnic, multi- cultural political party that has been in existence since 1957 can take note of these concerns at its congress and persuade the government to consider them in the context of social cohesion and national unity.
Indian Action Committee