Georgetown: In light of the recent re-establishments of several military and paramilitary organisations, People’s Progressive Party General Secretary Clement Rohee has sounded an alarm bell of the possible return of a “police controlled state” like what existed during the Burnham era.
Rohee during the party’s weekly media conference Monday, declared that with the reintroduction of the Guyana National Service and the People’s Militia, it is clear Guyana is going back to the past.
“You have to have experience and live through those days to be able to speak with authority on what is perceived to be emerging now… the use of the coercive apparatus of the state to monitor, carry out rickety exercises to do reconnaissance or persons who are suspected to be political opponents whether individually or within an organisation,” he stated.
Rohee reminded that the military institutions had played a paramount role in keeping the People’s National Congress (PNC) dictatorship alive and that it appears to be the same approach being taken by the new government.
On that note, he indicated that all should be concerned.
Rohee also made reference to the recent botched operation which resulted in the death of three people as evidence of this preconception that a military controlled state is returning.
“The recent operation with the usage of the Guyana Defence Force instead of the Guyana Police Force to carry out surveillance and high-speed chase… in my view this is unprecedented!,” he stated, noting that the only excepting is perhaps in the case of Dr Walter Rodney who was allegedly killed by the then PNC government with the involvement of GDF rank Gregory Smith.
“It shows a completely different approach about what is happening now,” Rohee pointed out.
The PPP GS reminded that in the past, the People’s Militia was used as an initiative for government supporters to undergo military training and to be armed to parade the streets and instill fear within others. He expressed concerns that this appears to be repeating.
Rohee also contended that the return of these programmes would only add unnecessary burden to the treasury.
It was pointed out however that President David Granger explained that the major expense of the initiative would be the small stipends offered to the persons in the militia but Rohee contended that Guyanese should not be fooled.
He explained that in order for these programmes to be smoothly executed, lots of monies will have to be expended.
Meanwhile, President Granger recently assured that the return of the militia is not an attempt by government to militarise society.
He added that once the programme gets going, Guyanese will begin to understand the great potential of the programme towards development of the country.
Back in 1976, the GPM was launched amid fear the country was under threat by forces opposed to its socialist thrust.
The latter would have included continued relations with Cuba and nationalisation of the bauxite and sugar industries as well as all banking institutions.
After initially offering support in a show of “anti-imperialist” unity, the People’s Progressive Party and its ally in the sugar industry, GAWU, soon condemned the GPM as another “PNC front”, especially when GPM’s members acted as “scabs” in GAWU’s 135-day strike for recognition.
In view of experiences with the GPM, such concerns and fearfulness have lived on in the memories of many who are now opposed to the resuscitation GPM.