New Yorkers parade: The 15th Annual Phagwah Day Parade in New York took place on March 14, 2004 with over 50,000 people participating. There were 24 professional floats in the parade sponsored by Mandirs and businesses. Moving from the Arya Spiritual Ground at 133rd Street and Liberty Avenue the crowd assembled at Smokey Park where a cultural program took place. There were the usual Phagwah exchanges of powdering and splashing of abeer to the accompanyment of traditional Chautaal singing, Holi songs, drumming and dancing. Pictured above is the float sponsored by USA Arya Samaj.
Manning claims 'laryngitis' to reporters
Port-of-Spain - Prime Minister Patrick Manning was not answering questions from the media last week over the Larry Achong issue, claiming sporadic infections of laryngitis.
The PM greeted reporters following the opening of the first annual archery tournament, part of the 2004 Southern Games, at the Petrotrin Bonne Aventure, Gasparillo grounds, but simply smiled when prodded for comments on his former Labour Minister.
When questioned about Achong's statement of "forced labour in Trinidad" regarding the PM's refusal to accept the resignation, Manning remained silent.
When asked if he was feeling well, he smiled and responded: "I'm feeling quite well. I'm not talking. I'm not ready to talk on the matter."
The PM was then whisked away by security to his official vehicle.
Achong tendered his resignation from the Cabinet last Friday at the post-Cabinet media briefing at Whitehall. However, the PM maintained that Achong was still the Minister of
Mr. Moses Nagamootoo, former Minister of Information in the Government of Guyana
Nagamootoo talks of the PPP and power sharing
By Vish Singh
Toronto — Former PPP/Civic Minister, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo was hosted by friends and well-wishers at an ‘information session’ at the ‘Nice N Easy’ Restaurant on Oakdale Road in North York on Sunday, March 21.
Nagamootoo, on a stopover from the USA where he attended an event at Harvard and shared the platform with Indo-Guyanese writer David Dabydeen, informed a full house of his present relationship with the PPP/C and the role he intends to play in the political arena in Guyana.
Nagamootoo, a Central-Executive Committee member of the PPP, has been estranged from the party since the death of its founder-leader Cheddi Jagan. He reminded his Canadian-based Guyanese audience of Jagan's vision for Guyana and lamented that the party under the present leadership has not kept up the momentum of development that its charismatic patriarch conceived of and laboured after.
The veteran party activist who will be celebrating his fortieth year as an official member of the party this year told his audience that he resigned his ministerial portfolio because he did not feel that he was fully qualified to be a minister. He said that it was for that reason he decided to go back to school. Nagamootoo studied law at the Hugh Wooding Law
School in Trinidad after quitting his ministerial post. Returning as a newly minted lawyer, he was given a cold welcome by President Jagdeo who said that the former minister was not needed, Nagamootoo told his listeners.
In an impassioned presentation, the one-time PPP stalwart declared that he would not be deterred from making his contribution to the political struggle as he cannot betray the thousands who collectively fought for democracy in Guyana.
“I am not one to fall off and disappear," he declared, adding that "there is nothing hereditary about holding office."
Guyana is in a precarious position, the former Minister of Information informed the open session. He said that there could never be effective governance if one sector of the population feels ignored.
The PPP cannot govern effectively if a major part of the populace feels that it is left out, said Nagamootoo. The system of government that has existed for the past 50 years has failed and it is time for the stakeholders to coin some indigenous form of inclusive governance which would of necessity include a model of power sharing.
Governing by consensus, inclusive governance or sharing of power are only part of ‘civilized behavior," said Nagamootoo. Describing the Jagdeo administration as being intransigent on the question of power sharing, the long-standing PPP member argued that this is a post-Jagan phenomenon. He recalled to the audience that the late party leader and his own mentor had a vision of a united government based on the Mandela model.
He deprecated the present administration for failing to bring “outsiders” into the leadership fold whom he feels can make a meaningful contribution to Guyana. "Why [have] brilliant men like Ravi Dev and Dr. Clive Thomas on the periphery" Nagamootoo queried.
Arguing that Guyana's problems stem from ethnic insecurity, he advised that the administration should take measures to address these problems. "These measures must not be mere window dressing but must be real efforts at removing the security fears of Indians and the fear of marginalisation by blacks." he stated.
Responding to a question from the audience about “balancing” of the security forces, Nagamootoo said that this was an important issue in resolving the security problem. He suggested that the conditions of recruitment, including dietary and cultural considerations, must be addressed to attract enlistment of the various groups.
He added that power sharing must not be seen as appeasement or weakness but must be seen as sharing the responsibility of governance among all involved.
" The Indian prosperity can never be guaranteed if there is African insecurity." said the former Minister.
He added that the perception by blacks that they were not given contracts and land and were left out of the decision making process led to a lot of resentment by blacks. He said that refusing to acknowledge the weakness in the structure of power is leading to many conflicts such as “the Buxton standoff.”
Nagamootoo stated that the PNC who controls Region Four, has refused to use the state resources available to them to benefit the Region with a view to impoverishing black communities in order to create a "citadel of rebellion."
He intimated that the current Jagdeo administration has failed to manage the inter-ethnic conflict by its failure to manage power.
"Governance must be based on effective power, and management of power requires one to deal with the difficulties of the system," Nagamotoo argued.
He added that if the current situation is allowed to deteriorate, the PNCR may boycott the next general elections thus further fueling the feeling of alienation of blacks who may adopt a "scorched earth" policy of rebellion and revolt.
Power sharing of some sort whether it be an imported model or an indigenous kind is an imperative because "the country is bleeding to death from a lack of unity," Nagamotoo said.
Asked by a member of the local press whether he would be willing to work with Opposition Leader, Robert Corbin, if he is elected leader of the PPP/C, Nagamootoo replied that he is willing to work with anyone who is willing to put the country's interest above personal political gain. He noted the reservations of many who distrusted Corbin but added that it is Corbin's duty to now convince the nation that he is a responsible and fair leader.
Questioned on his relationship and ambitions within the PPP, Nagamootoo said that he is still in contention for the 2006 party leadership. He added that he would not discredit the current president, as Jagdeo is the sitting leader until 2006 when he will have to fight for the position.
Asked if his contending for the leadership would be construed as splitting the party Nagamootoo replied, "I have no ambition outside of the party."
He added that he would work for unity through the party. "I am fighting to take the party back...I have a right and duty to my people [ to do that]".
"The PPP is my party no one takes the party away from me." Nagamotoo claimed.
Questioned as to whether his recent contradiction of the President on the Ramjattan issue would not cause his further estrangement or even expulsion, he said he was confident that the party would not expel him.
"I am not a defender of Ramjattan," Nagamootoo said, adding that he only defends principles. He said he was opposed to the procedures used to oust Ramjattan describing them as "kangaroo methods."
Nagamootoo said he warned his younger colleague and law practice partner (Ramjattan) of his intemperate language towards the President. He considered that Ramjattan had crossed the line.
But Nagamootoo expressed the view that the expulsion of Ramjattan, whom he refers to as “a bright young professional” was unwise.
"The man is an important member of the community, he is President of the Bar Association," Nagamootoo contends.
He said that the party was unhappy with Ramjattan because he was an agent activist of change. He argued that instead of becoming nervous because Ramjattan was being invited to World Bank Conferences and Foreign Diplomatic Events, the party should have ridden on his [Ramjattan's] wave of popularity and recognition.
Nagamootoo contended that accusing Ramjattan of spying for the US Embassy is implicitly accusing the US of being a hostile country, which does not bode well for Guyana or Guyanese living in the USA.
Referring to the visa scams and the death squad accusations Nagamootoo noted that the allegations against ministers of government have cost the government its credibility and while he has no issue with the methods of the decommissioning of criminals, the government must be emphatic in its denial of any involvement in these scandals.
Nagamootoo added that these issues are all sideshows and the issue of greater import is the institutionalization of a workable government of unity.
On the issue of corruption he added that the government must remove the perception that the Ministers are on the take by having a vibrant integrity commission. All public officials must be subject to audits to ensure there is no corruption, he concluded.