US Guyanese plan to snub UG Diaspora conference

first_imgDear Editor,America-based Guyanese are considering a boycott of the “Diaspora Conference on Investment” in July being organised by the University of Guyana Vice Chancellor’s office. The main reasons articulated for the planned snub: racial and political discrimination and victimisation by Government, lack of transparency in governance, wastage of financial resources by UG management, racialised hiring and appointment of staff at UG, neglect and marginalisation at Tain campus, etc. Also, relevant questions are being asked on the true role and objectives of the conference: Whose agenda is being served by UG management? Why isn’t there ethnic equity in representation in the university’s management, hiring of staff, distribution of resources, funding for those attending this and other conferences, etc? Many feel the conference will be another talk shop and that no meaningful action will be taken on recommendations as has been the case over the last two years. Proponents (of boycott) note that blacks successfully used it as a weapon in America and South Africa and Zimbabwe to bring about positive change, and they believe same can be achieved in Guyana.Guyanese are looking at the Diaspora intellectuals and business folks to provide moral and courageous leadership to rescue Guyana. To attend the conference would be to support wrongs in the country, sending a message of condoning the policy, programme and action of the Government and UG management. Spurning the conference is seen a form of solidarity for the victims of racism and mis-governance.It is pointed out that funds at UG are being wasted on trivial matters. Money has been invested (including on foreign junkets) with promises of huge returns from alumni and the Diaspora; instead there is a negative return of 80 per cent. Expenses (airfare, hotel, and the works) were paid for some attendees (defenders of the regime) who did not reflect the ethnic composition of the population. UG hosted “reach out” (Diaspora) conferences in New York and elsewhere with hardly any Indians, Amerindians, Chinese, Portuguese, and other representation – who together comprise some 55 per cent of population but are marginalised with under-representation of only five per cent. Many who sided with the Alliance For Change and the People’s National Congress (PNC) have realised they were used to remove the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) from office only to install the PNC in Government. They now feel the regime is seeking to re-use them to attract investments and to legitimise the marginalisation of ethnic groups.It is pointed out that when African leaders were shouting about marginalisation from the rooftops under the PPP Government and were challenged to present evidence, they responded in a huff that ‘Indians cannot speak about the reality of Africans in Guyana’. Today in every indicator, the numbers keep building up transparently showing Indian and Amerindian marginalisation and exclusion. And now the public doesn’t hear blacks talking about racism when this is pointed out.The regime is parading token Indians as representing the Indian population. And a few are being recruited from abroad only too willing to sell their souls and their people for crumbs. Indians and other groups must not allow non-ethnics to define their agenda. Indians must tell their own narrative.On hosting conferences, UG management did not see it fit to host a seminar on the 100th anniversary of end of indentureship, but it hosted seminars on emancipation and slavery. The UG management could not find resources to send lecturers to attend conferences on indenture in Trinidad, India, New York, Holland and London but expended millions for a Diaspora meet in NYC and millions more now for a UG Daspora meet.The Diaspora has complained that the Government does not even bother to engage them, but now wants their investment. Government has largely ignored most of those who played a significant role lobbying for developmental assistance for the homeland. And those who constantly write on the Diaspora, particularly the role it can play in development, are not consulted for their ideas. Those who have consistently sought investment for Guyana feel they are alienated and no longer welcome.Critics of the UG conference say organisers are not willing to tolerate discussion on misuse of funds and on the widespread corruption pervading the Administration and or to address racism, intolerance, and victimisation. They don’t think there will be space for intellectual exchange on governance or a voice to guide the regime to take corrective action on its countless missteps.At the UG conference, the agenda of victims and non-supporters will not be served. Instead, only the agenda of the Government and the office of the Vice Chancellor will be served. Should the public respond to the invitation to participate in the conference? Would Dr Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela have attended this conference? If these gentlemen had not used boycott or other forms of resistance, would change have come to India, America and South Africa?The moral weight of those in academia and business expressing their displeasure with the UG conference will hopefully force its management, the Government and its acolytes to rethink their policy of mis-use of funds and glaring racial discrimination. As many say, the “stayaway” gesture from the conference is symbolic as it may not move the Government, but a clear message of needs to be sent.Yours truly,Vishnu Bisramlast_img read more