Statement by the
Peoples’ Progressive Party of Guyana
presented by Member of the Executive Committee, Navin Chandarpal
15th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
Lisbon, Portugal November 8-10, 2013
The Peoples’ Progressive Party of Guyana extends warm revolutionary greetings to all participants of this 15th International Meeting and to the glorious Parties they represent.
We express also our special thanks to our hosts, the Communist Party of Portugal for the excellent working conditions they have provided for the success of our meeting.
Our 15th Meeting is taking place with our planet continuing to suffer from the effects of the global economic and financial crisis that has rocked the world since 2007.
The crisis which has been described as the worst since the late 1920s and early 1930s must be clearly seen as a structural crisis of capitalism.
While it originated in the USA and spread to Europe and other Developed countries initially, the impact has been disastrous for developing countries the word over.
Our own region, the Caribbean, was also hard hit. Many of the region’s economies went into shock as tourism declined sharply and unemployment soared.
The region is still feeling the severe impact of the crisis where huge debts have been accumulating in some countries and development efforts are greatly restricted.
The people of the Caribbean are highly influenced by the ruling class in the USA resulting from the USA’s treatment of the region as its backyard. We need to give greater attention to the developments in the Caribbean particularly in the context of the special vulnerability of these small island and low lying coastal developing states referred to in the UN system as SIDS.
The effects of the crisis, however, are not confined to any particular region. There are devastating social impacts on people throughout the world.
The developed economies have adopted various forms of austerity programmes, cutting back on public expenditure and social spending.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) some twenty seven million persons lost their jobs since the crisis began. Wages and salaries are still not at the pre-crisis level.
In fact many employers, even those companies that are making healthy profits, have taken advantage of the crisis conditions and are forcing workers to accept cuts in salaries to keep their jobs.
Added to this is the fact that thousands of people have lost their homes and many more have been devastated because they have lost their life savings as many banks went bankrupt.
In some parts of the world, including in the developed world, this has given rise to regrowth in poverty including hunger and malnutrition.
The paradox in this situation is that the world is producing more than enough food to feed the population. Yet hunger and poverty still persist.
It is all the more distressing when we consider that according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) a huge quantity of food is dumped or spoilt daily.
Something is fundamentally wrong with the system which breeds poverty and starvation in the midst of plenty.
The global economic and social conditions have generated a great response from working people across the world. Much of this is still reverberating.
We have seen the growth of popular movements and they are raising very serious issues as to the root causes of the crisis.
The responses in countries have varied in terms of the types and extents of actions, the objectives and the leading forces. There is a great need for our Parties to increase our influence in these processes.
A major hurdle has been the strong impact of the anti-communist propaganda which hides the true nature of the crisis and prevents the large majority of people from even thinking of the socialist alternative.
Our collective task is to skillfully educate the masses on the major contradictions inherent in the capitalist system as they relate to the manifestations of the current crisis.
We cannot expect them to accept these ideas easily at this time. However, we have to return to the time-tested method of consistent, persistent, pain-staking work to win the battle of ideas.
In the same way, we cannot expect the various forces protesting against the impacts of the crisis to agree in all aspects with our objectives and tactics. Our challenge is to find ways to develop strong working relations and to engage together in actions which, though limited, can win even the short term gains. These victories can help to prevent some of the intended measures to transfer the impacts of the crisis onto the working people, increase the contradictions, build confidence and encourage advances to higher levels of struggle.
We cannot afford to trail the popular actions. We need to assert our vanguard role through creative approaches to diverse forces against the common enemy of monopoly capitalism and its oppressive actions.
On the global scale, it is necessary for us to intensify our work with the world’s democratic, peace loving and progressive forces to bring solutions to the global problems of the day.
As Parties across the globe promoting the interests of the masses, we need to make our voices heard in the global debate centered at the United Nations on the post 2015 development agenda.
Many Governments are content to promote minimal measures to effect cosmetic treatment for the chronic diseases affecting global development. We have to seek ways to move world leaders to deal with the systemic issues critical to achieving genuine sustainable development with emphasis on poverty eradication and reducing inequality in its various forms.
It may be useful for Governing Parties here present to take the lead in influencing the Governments of the Group of G 77 and China to pursue measures to this effect. It is also necessary for our Parties in the BRICS to ensure that their Governments also work towards this objective.
Towards this objective, the call made by the late founding leader of our Party and President of Guyana Dr. Cheddi Jagan for a New Global Human Order rings much more loudly today than ever.
At the World food summit in November, 1996 Dr Jagan proposed a new approach to development which he described as a New Global Human Order.
“My friends, we need a scientific, realistic and people centered development strategy. This is why, I have advocated the need for a New Global Human Order premised on sustainable economic development, equity, social and ecological justice and based on the creation of a separate Global Development Fund for assistance to both the North and the South.
We must put in place a system whose objectives will be to invest directly in the poor, to seek out opportunities for entrepreneurship among the marginalized, and to provide the social and infrastructural services which would enable the poor to become self reliant and productive members of the global community.”
In this regard, it was a very welcome development that the President of the UN General Assembly convened a High Level Meeting on Inequality as a direct result of resolutions of the UN entitled “The Role of the United Nations in the promotion of a new global human order.”
There is a need for a new architecture for global governance based on genuine cooperation among all states - developed and developing, big and small.
This is especially necessary in view of the additional burdens to vulnerable nations created by the reality of climate change and the increasing incidence of natural disasters.
Such an architecture must seek to reduce the growing gaps between and within countries, providing effective forms of assistance to the less developed nations and removing those harsh measures such as the Trade rules of the World Trade Organisation which strangle the less developed economies and undermine their efforts for socio-economic growth.
In Guyana, there are some national peculiarities in the development of our political landscape since the beginning of the cold war that may be helpful in understanding the dynamics in countries which obtained political independence only after the end of the Second World War.
Our Party, the Peoples’ Progressive Party was formed in 1950 and immediately became a strong national movement for political independence with a socialist orientation. It repeatedly won parliamentary elections in both the pre-independence and post-independence periods.
Before Independence which finally came in 1966, it was twice removed from Government through the intervention of Imperialist powers. The first was in 1953 by the British Colonial power which sent British soldiers in two warships to the country and then in 1964 by the combined manoeuvres of the US and British with direct involvement of the CIA in subversive activities and by constitutional manipulations by the colonial power.
The result was that at the dawn of Independent Nationhood, a puppet pro-imperialist coalition government had been installed. That initiated a period of 28 years of dictatorship, baptized though fraudulent elections enforced by the military.
By the time we were successful in the struggle for the return of democracy based on free and fair elections, the country was in total ruins both economically and socially.
Our Party which won those elections in 1992, started the process of rebuilding, inheriting a huge national debt and a burdensome and restrictive structural adjustment agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
Such an inheritance, coupled with consistent disruptive actions by the opposition party which was the former ruling party, caused severe constraints on our developmental process. Additionally in the entire period since, we have had to contend with a very hostile global environment stacked against the aspirations of developing countries. This includes the reality of our continued interconnectedness with and exposure to the global economic system, with our major commodity exports dependent on world market prices, with imported price pressures especially in relation to key inputs like fuel, and with other imported challenges.
We have however, by prudent management of our economy managed to move our country forward but could have done much better if these constraints were removed.
On the macroeconomic front, we sustained an exceptional trend of real growth in gross domestic product, with uninterrupted positive growth in the last seven years.
Throughout this reconstruction effort, our Party in office never shirked the difficult policy choices that had to be made, eschewing at all times partisan preferences, political expediency, and short term considerations, in favour always of that which was and is good for Guyana and the Guyanese people in the long term. Alongside all of these improvements, our Government’s policies have continued to place the greatest of emphasis on protecting and supporting the most vulnerable.
Indeed our Party, as set out in our Programme, has been pursuing the National Democratic path of development. Based on our experiences of advances and setbacks, we feel the time is right for a collective consideration by the ICWP of the theory and practice of National Democracy in the conditions of the Global crisis and today’s realities.
Among the issues that have been engaging our attention are:
Our commitment to the Guyanese masses and our steadfastness in doing as much as we can to meet their needs have served our country well, and ensured our re-election to Government in successive general elections.
Today however, many of those gains we made are threatened not only by the external factors but also by internal political intrigues.
At the last General Elections which took place on the 28th November, 2011, the combined opposition managed to obtain a one seat majority in the National Assembly.
In assessing the causes of that set back, we have recognized the reduced attention we have been giving to maintaining and increasing the strength of our Party structures and the priorities in the work of our cadres. One major factor has been the wide scale movement of our best cadres to government functions and their focus more on governmental matters to the detriment of their political functions. This was compounded by the failure to treat effectively with the development of new cadres. These are issues which the Party at its 30th Congress in August this year has placed as a priority of work in the coming period.
Since the loss of our Parliamentary majority, the Combined Opposition has been trampling on the traditions of Parliamentary Democracy.
We have also seen them using the Parliament to try to trample on the Constitution.
A very disturbing factor in the equation is the interference by the top western diplomatic missions in Guyana publicly opposing some Government actions and supporting Opposition positions.
The Opposition has displayed a total lack of principles and a readiness to back out of agreements to the detriment of the country.
They have opposed major developmental projects including the production of hydro-electricity and the building of a Specialty Hospital to provide health treatment which currently has to be obtained overseas.
In spite of the pressures arising from the global crisis and the obstacles posed by the parliamentary opposition, the PPP-Civic Government continues to work to improve the lives of all Guyanese. We are a Party of the working people of our country. We believe that the wealth produced must benefit all the people. We have fought for and continue to promote Equal Opportunity for all, for social and economic justice in our land.
We maintain the same objectives at the global level. We support also the struggles world-wide of all peoples struggling against injustice and oppression for peace, democracy and the sovereignty of their countries.
While we note the ups and downs in the international sphere, let us not forget that one of the most important issues remains the need for world peace.
We are always supportive of any measures that lead to the reduction of weapons, tensions and conflicts and condemn actions that lead in the opposite direction. That is why we are concerned with the recent modernization of weapons by NATO for its nuclear arsenal in Europe. That will only lead to actions to do the same by non NATO countries leading to an escalation of the arms race.
We condemn the interference by imperialist forces in undermining progressive governments and in processes in many of the countries embroiled in serious conflicts.
Special attention must be given to the Middle East where Imperialism has used military actions including invasions of countries to divert popular uprisings from their democratic path in order to impose their puppet groups.
We condemn the brutal attacks on the Palestinian people and support their just demand for a State of their own.
We call for an immediate end to the embargo against Cuba and the release of the 5 Cuban patriots jailed in the US on trumped up charges.
The rise to power of progressive governments in Latin America and the Caribbean has deeply angered the US and other imperialist powers which are hell bent on destabilizing these governments and working to remove them.
We need to maintain full solidarity with the progressive trend in the region which can be a great inspiration to struggles in other continents.
We especially condemn the US interference in Venezuela aimed at destabilizing the Government of President Maduro like they previously did against the late champion of the poor, President Hugo Chavez.
The People’s Progressive Party of Guyana urges that our deliberations at this 15th Meeting focus on developing effective strategies to create higher levels of understanding among people everywhere of the systemic nature of the current global crisis of capitalism and to re-ignite popular movements for the realization of the socialist alternative.
Meeting here in Lisbon and hosted so well by the Communist Party of Portugal it is appropriate that we leave here with the inspiration of the Great Leader of the Portugese Working Class, Cde Alvaro Cunhal, whose birth centenary we have the honour and privilege to commemorate as a fitting climax to our 15th Meeting.
In his Report to the 6th Congress of the PCP entitled “on the Path to Victory” Cde Cunhal gave the following charge:
“The times require a stronger day-to-day action to ensure working class unity, the unity of the masses- which are the driving force of the great social transformations. They require a broader and stronger day-to-day action for the unity of all democrats and patriots, impetuously developing their organized strength.”
This charge is as valid for today’s task as they were for the April Revolution of Portugal in 1974.
Long live Proletarian Internationalism !
Long live Marxism-Leninism !