By Indranie Deolall
Almost exclusively of East Indian descent, the mostly older Guyanese men, on a popular site, openly bragged about voting, with their families, for incumbent United States (US) president Donald Trump.
Some belong to a social media group named the People’s Progressive Party-Civic (PPP/C) Family, a band of about 30,000 members including from the North-American based diaspora community, who are also fervent devotees of the long-time political powerhouse, now back in government, after an over four-month rigging impasse following the stalled results of the March 2, 2020 elections.
Don’t let me find out
One Hindu voter, an American university graduate declared, “I voted Donald Trump. Guyana and all Guyanese are now enjoying democracy thanks to the current United States administration – Republicans,” and “To protect Guyana from being handed over to APNU (the main Opposition alliance A Partnership for National Unity) hooligans in 2025, Re-elect Donald Trump.”
Unsurprisingly, he traded commonly used but still shocking crude profanities when challenged by a Guyanese migrant of the same ethnicity and religion resident in Canada, alleging that “many” of the man’s relatives were illegally working in the USA, while threatening, “Don’t let me find out who they are…”
Democracy in the US
Another advised, “Who you voted for is your business” but “America’s foreign policy seldom varies with a change of administration,” pointing to the precautionary ply-board shutters outside closed businesses in New York as reminding him of the usual fears about post-election violence in Guyana.
“It’s just stupid to believe that … (Trump) is the reason APNU is out. Any administration would have done the same for Guyana. He’s not even trying to preserve democracy in the United States,” the individual noted.
Hiding from authorities
I could hardly believe it, when I first stumbled across the bizarre phenomenon of the Trinidadian and Guyanese hardliners, among them women, who heartily endorsed the controversial Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election, despite the fact that some of them had started in the Land of the Free, hiding from authorities. Trump has repeatedly characterised illegal immigrants as utter criminals, although studies have found they have lower crime and incarceration rates than native-born Americans. Before taking office, he had promised to deport the estimated 11million illegal residents and to build his infamous border wall along the border with Mexico.
Four tumultuous years later, these unlikely West Indian enthusiasts of the 45th US president are back and energised, all too willing to believe like the most strident supporters of the losing APNU-Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition dominated by the PPP/C’s arch-rival, the People’s National Congress (PNC), that any loss of office must be due to insidious fraud, regardless of the overwhelming absence of evidence.
Originally from Georgetown, Rafael John wrote, “President Donald Trump will see that democracy prevail(s) in other nations and will eradicate lawlessness and corruption, drain that vicious swamp so to speak. This is my first time voting Republican and I will be voting for Donald J. Trump for a second term. May God continue to bless the United States of America and watch over the place of my birth, Guyana.”
As usual, Trump lashed out on Twitter, as his Democratic rival, Joe Biden contemplated a possible victory, prompting renewed fears that the administration will try to de-legitimise the result. On Wednesday, the American micro-blogging and social networking service hid some of his first tweets behind justified warnings, as results rolled in.
“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key states, in almost all instances Democrat-run and controlled,” President Trump charged, claiming, “Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. Very strange.”
Up to press time, Biden was in the lead according to projections from several respected news outlets, requiring just six more electoral college votes to reach the 270-minimum, as against Trump’s 214, as the president’s team pursued a flurry of legal action to halt the Democrat’s advance. The US is on track for its highest voter turnout in more than a century.
It was just last July, following a spate of legal challenges by PNC members, and months of warnings by resident and Washington-based officials, that the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced initial visa restrictions on unnamed individuals undermining democracy here. He was blunt: “The (David) Granger government must respect the result of democratic elections and step aside.”
In a statement, he had warned “The events following the March 2 elections indicate that there are forces that have repeatedly refused to accept the will of the people at the ballot box. Guyana’s non-democratic trajectory is dangerous for its citizens and for the hemisphere as a whole. I hope that Guyana’s leaders understand what is at stake if they continue down this path.”
Free, fair and credible
“This action is not about interference. It is to send a clear message of the consequences of subverting democracy and the rule of law, which poses a danger to us and our hemispheric partners. We have long said that we have no preference for a winning party, as long as it is selected through a free and fair electoral process that is credible,” Pompeo stated.
The next month, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) formally announced the PPP/C as the winners, prompting the immediate installation of Granger’s successor, president Irfaan Ali.
In 2015, the much admired-Granger won office through a slim coalition majority, breaking a 23-year hold on power by the PPP/C. But he shuffled back and forth in the months after this year’s polls, displaying select amnesia and in open denial, altering his flawed narrative to angry supporters and demonstrators by accusing his main rival of widespread tampering, while ignoring the much-publicised clumsy attempts by a compromised party and electoral officials to sharply swing the results in his favour.
Live free or die
Now, as the world’s focus is riveted on the evolving events in the US following Tuesday’s polls, features of the Guyana crisis are being repeated in the third most populous country, with a Court rush by the incumbent charging fraud, a disputed election, a polarised populace and perhaps even a looming constitutional crisis.
Guyanese-born community activist and writer, Annan Boodram argues that Trump’s heavy Guyanese male-support is in keeping with the adage, “birds of a feather flock together.”
“They support Trump because they know who he is and what he stands for and see themselves in him. They are not that stupid to (fail to) recognize that his policies are neither sound nor viable for all Americans. Instead, they vicariously live through Trump as supposed ‘macho’ men or women who ‘know their place’.”
*ID fumes about the “grab them” mentality of some nationals, but manages a grim laugh over Stephen Colbert’s view, “Of course in New Hampshire in 2020, ‘Live Free or Die’ isn’t just a motto, it was the two choices on the ballot.”