The Rise of the Phoenix in Guyana’s Turbulent Politics adequately describes this book on the political history of this former British Colony on the North Eastern tip of South America.
The Phoenix in the book is none other than Dr. Cheddi Jagan, one of the main architect in the development of political consciousness among the Lumpen Proletariat, the masses, the poor, the down trodden and the neglected people.
Refusing to bow to pressures from Britain and the United States, Dr. Jagan founded the Peoples Progressive Party in January 1950 and three years later, led the Party to an astonishing but short lived Government which was removed from office by the British Government only after 133 days in Government.
The October 9, 1953 suspension of the Constitution and the removal of the legitimate Government was a slap in the face of democracy and the rule of law, but sometimes one has to ask the question, whose law?
The British Government’s move was prompted by fear generated by the Marxist Leninist principles which the PPP adumbrated during the electioneering campaign and which fired the imagination of the people.
Students of political history would find substantial evidence in the book about the chicanery of the British and U.S. Governments to arbitrarily put out of power, a democratically elected Government, whose only crime was attempting to chart a new model for the nation.
There is evidence also of the 28 years of corruption, dishonesty, mismanagement, and questionable deals which the Peoples National Congress was guilty of committing with the aid and support of the right wing United Force.
Then on November 18, 1978, tragedy struck the country when there was a mass suicide at Jonestown, so named after cult leader Jim Jones who had secured a piece of land in the Port Kaituma area and carved a city out of the jungle where he ruled the over 900 cult members with an iron fist.
A recommended reading for students of political history at the University of Guyana, the book traces the many fraudulent elections over 28 years, eventually ending with the intervention of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter who was able to persuade the then PNC Government to create a new voters list.
In previous elections, the army seized the ballot boxes, dead people voted frequently, and voters were registered in areas where only horses were grazing.
It all came to an end on October 5, 1992 in an election that swept the PNC out of office and ushered in the present PPP/Civic
The book outlines the facts and allow readers, young and the not so young, to make their own conclusions based on the important period between 1947 to1997.
Photos include the February 16th riots against the Kaldor Budget and 1963 riots which followed a politically engineered strike against the Labor Relations Bill
Even though the book covers a period that may be considered to be from a somewhat ancient time, one must never overlook the fact that when ‘one forgets the lessons of the past, he or she is doomed to an ignominious future.