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– says Freddie Kissoon“Where are the East Indians now when they were everywhere criticising the government during the Presidency of Forbes Burnham. They were out in the streets demonstrating against matters that today, 25 years later, are Boy Scout mistakes.”That was the crux of the lecture presented by Political Science Lecturer,Tony Gonzalez Falcons Jersey, Frederick Kissoon, on Thursday last at the University of Guyana.Hosted by the Department of Government and International Affairs, his presentation was the first in a four-part series.He examined the theme of class stratification from the Pre-independence era,Jake Allen Jersey, through the Burnham Presidency and up to the current administration.According to Kissoon, in the colonial days just before Independence, there were three strata to society,Kenyan Drake Dolphins Jersey, the Petite Urban Bourgeoisie,Guillermo Varela Jersey UK, the Middle Class and the Landed Peasantry. The Petite Urban Bourgeoisie was the Portuguese. They, the Portuguese, were the favoured lot of the colonial Government.Under the Burnham reign, however, the Portuguese began a slow decline. The state took over businesses and slowly forced them out of the country as they began to migrate, Kissoon said.Mr. Kissoon brought up the External Trade Bureau as an example of a state mechanism that was used to apply pressure to independent business owners.Thereafter, two classes remained,Jon Gray Rockies Jersey, a predominantly African Middle Class typified by the state and its workers – teachers, policemen, government employees— and the landed peasantry.The landed peasantry was, according to Kissoon, a hold over from the Colonial days when the colonists tried to induce the Africans back to the cane fields by awarding concessions to East Indians, especially in the area of land ownership.As the administrations changed, especially into the last one, it was noted that there was a shift in the country’s personality. The classes that were once quiescent began to prosper. The East Indians began to be favoured and the African middle class were slowly diminished. The professional opportunities began to be awarded to the East Indians instead of the Africans. Eventually, there were new classes born out of this reshaping.One such class, according to Mr. Kissoon, was of the criminal ilk. They began to step into areas such as backtracking and trafficking in persons, eventually taking over and expanding the narcotics industries.They became extremely rich compared to the average Guyanese and started buying over businesses and putting up new structures, over time employing thousands of Guyanese and ingratiating themselves into the fabric of the Guyanese economies.In the Burnham era,Paul Coffey Adidas Jersey, there were, according to Kissoon, a number of East Indians and East Indian Organisations fighting for equality. There were doctors of Political Science to those who knew nothing of politics such as the Accountants that took to the streets to protest what were clearly the injustices of the then Government.He said that today, however, the number of East Indian professionals and businesspeople that are speaking out against the atrocities of the current administration can be counted on just one hand. In the Burnham era, East Indians came together to protest matters such as rigged elections and dictatorial politics.Mr. Kissoon noted that the current administration has however been “in power for some 19 years – two years less than the Burnham reign. In that time it has been replete with enough forms of political degeneracy, manifestations of corruption and elements of racist pathology to make the Burnham Government look like Mother Theresa.”He posited two explanations for the silence of the East Indian community on his perception of the injustices perpetrated by this Government. There has been the contention that the East Indian people are generally and anthropologically racist.And the second reason may perhaps be that the East Indian people feel that it is their ‘turn’.He said that East Indians are not protesting what in his opinion is “the worst form of naked power that the Anglo-Saxon Caribbean has seen”.He asserted that the pockets of some elements of the East Indian community have been deepened by this Government and as such they “owe a loyalty to the Government.”In contrast he asked listeners to consider the bauxite strike of 1970, where the African Middle Class immediately began to move away from the embrace of African Government.He spoke of the African intellectuals who banded together to form the WPA—people such as Walter Rodney and Dr. Clive Thomas.Kissoon noted, “The African Middle Class defected because there was a high expectation of performance by the government that was not forthcoming. And by 1968 when Burnham changed the constitution he had lost the majority of the support of the African Middle Class.”
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