Guyanese in L.A. pray for peace for Guyana elections

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Photo above: the Guyana Parliament Building in Georgetown, Guyana (Wikipedia)

Los Angeles, California: Representatives of the more than 30 thousand Guyanese-Americans living in the Los Angeles area are praying for peace as the electorate in their South American homeland go to the polls to elect a new Government on May 11. Straddled by poverty, racial hostilities, and corruption, Guyana has always been a hotbed for post election violence that is often triggered by either of the main political parties not wanting to accept the results.

Even though observers are of the view that this would not be the case post May 11, Guyanese who have fled the country in the past after political disturbances there are not so adamant. As such, a handful of the thousands that lives in the Los Angeles area met on Friday, March 8 and held a brief prayer service among the congregation at the Sovereign Grace Church in downtown LA.

They told this publication that they are wary of the political culture of their homeland, and thinks that the United States should have at least send a small contingent of American soldiers on a peace mission, already, staying until at least a month after the results are announced.

The Demerara River in Guyana (Allan Hopkins-Flickr)
The Demerara River in Guyana
(Allan Hopkins-Flickr)

“If there is even a single American soldier present in Guyana after elections there, I can assure you that it would have been more than enough to ensure that there is no post-election violence. Everyone will be afraid of disregarding an American soldier,” says Naline Jaggessar, a Guyanese-American living on the outskirts of LA.

But contrary to her belief, the United States has not, for the first time, issued an advisory for their citizens to stay away from Guyana at this time. Observers believed that this is because they foresee no potential for political violence.

On the one hand, Guyanese on the ground told the Los Angeles Post-Examiner that the electorate is much more mature than in the past. They suffice that any talk about electoral violence will be highly exaggerated or simply intended to scare the electorate.

With voting historically structured along racial lines, the electoral battles are usually fought at the polls between the Indian dominated PPP/C and the PNC that has traditionally gain support from the African Guyanese community.

However, a new multiracial alliance called the APNU+AFC, which consists of members from the PNC and other smaller political groups will be contesting against the incumbent PPP/C.

A preliminary research seems to suggest that the opposition APNU+AFC holds a commanding lead among potential voters. But observers say that the race may still be too close to call.

Guyana is located on the South American coast, and is bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. However, its 700,000 English speaking population are more allied to the Caribbean that lies on the north of its Atlantic Ocean coastline.