Interview with Karan Chand, formerly of the AFC
Kaieteur News – Note: Mr. Chand lived abroad for 15 years, returned in 2014 and became secretary of the Region 2 branch of the AFC. After the 2015 election, he was made special representative of the Prime Minister for Region 2. He has since resigned from the AFC claiming it was a failure when in government. The interview follows.
FK – You lived outside of Guyana since 1989 after you were arrested as part of a teachers’ strike called by FITUG. Surely, you were of sound political quality. How could someone like you have tolerated the mess the AFC became after 2015?
KC – I know things were going wrong in the AFC when it was in power. But I felt it was better to stay inside and fight. In that way you can achieve your goals rather than being outside. I was wrong.
FK – Five years is a long time to stay in a ruling party and not question any wrong-doing. What bad policies, wrong directions and undemocratic politics you spoke up against?
KC – The AFC leadership was cunning. They had a way of preventing frustrated second-tier leaders from discussing issues. What they did was to make the biennial congress a one-day affair. Most of the day was taken up with reports, then elections and by the time you get to matters delegates wanted to raise, the affair is ended. Look, you have to be inside the AFC when it was in power to see how the dream so many of us had about the AFC and how hopes for the future died. The top leaders of the AFC were undemocratic. They either shut you up when you are on the floor accusing them of betrayal or chose not to reply to your complaints.
FK – Would it be true to say that you join the AFC after your return to Guyana in 2014 because you saw the AFC as the multi-racial, democratic alternative to the PPP and PNC but the AFC proved it was worse than the PPP?
KC – You are right. You can’t believe the amount of correspondence I wrote expressing concern about the terrible things the APNU state officials were doing in Essequibo but none of it received the attention of the AFC leadership. We complained about AFC personnel excluded from the Region’s tender board meetings, planning of Amerindian Heritage celebrations, ministerial outreaches. I was convinced that the AFC leadership was just feathering their nests; only their nests.
FK – You were secretary of the Region 2 AFC group while the AFC was in power, can you recall any tumultuous meeting of your group in which you guys were angry at the wrong things AFC ministers were doing.
KC – Oh yes! Region 2 is about rice farming. The Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, was missing in action. Paddy price was low. There was no subsidy for fertilizer, fuel, spare parts. The farm-to-market roads were impassable. Farmers were not paid by millers for long periods of time. None of these things we could get the AFC leadership to pay attention to. As it turned out, the AFC became a spineless poodle with a group of selfish politicians who were more corrupt than previous politicians. They took bribes for contracts and licences and neglected their supporters
FK – it is not common for an interviewer to state his beliefs to his guest but I hold the belief that Hamilton Green, Raphael Trotman, Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses Nagamootoo were of lesser substance than any other of the leaders of all parties since the 1950s. Do you care to comment?
KC – I certainly agree though I think that Green was a dictator. Many of us suspected Raphael Trotman and it was generally felt that he still had the trappings of PNC in his DNA. Ramjattan’s credibility is gone. I don’t want to comment on certain things he did as minister to avoid libel. But his claim of Russians who came to rig the elections is a joke.
FK – Space has caught up with us. What are your final reflections?
KC – I do think that AFC is dead and cannot be resurrected as I wrote in my letter published in the newspapers of March 1, 2022 with the title, “After the 2015 elections, the PNC/R used the AFC as a doormat.” If you go now and ask any resident to join the AFC, the expletives they will respond with might lead to cardiac infraction. RIP AFC! I thank you for giving me this opportunity to clear the air so that readers will understand the downfall of the AFC which once existed as a vibrant force.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)