By Sham Samaroo, Ph.D
The exposing of GECOM commissioner, Vincent Alexander, is one silver lining from the post-election tragedy that played out in Guyana over the past five months. Alexander’s unconstitutional shenanigans would come as no surprise to those who know him. Schooled by the Soviets in Marxist-Leninist demagoguery at the infamous “Social Science” department of Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University, Alexander is no friend of democracy or the rule of law. His proclivity for autocratic rule goes back to his earliest days. Guyanese studying in the Soviet Union in the 1980s experienced that first hand when Alexander, in his very first act as president of the Guyana Student Association, moved a motion to ban students from traveling during their spring vacation. At the time, I was VP of the Student Association. I challenged the motion on unconstitutional grounds and a violation of individual rights and freedom (more about that motion and vote later).
Over the years, Alexander has variously been accused of being a liar and fraud (UG students recount harrowing experiences with Alexander during his dubious sojourn as UG Registrar – example, Mr. Clairmonte Cox, Mr. Sheik Mustapha, and Mr. John Marcus), a ruthless opportunist, and a political hack. A die-hard PNC faithful of the Burnham era, Alexander was unceremoniously tossed aside by the PNC Reform party in the lead up to the 2015 election, his past seen as a major liability. But after the election, Education Minster, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine (https://guyanachronicle.com/2014/08/04/dr-roopnarine-dr-rodneys-judas/), threw Alexander a life-line, appointing him his “Technical Facilitator”. Most saw the appointment as a political handout, and point to confirmation in Alexander’s own statement two years later in 2017 when Dr. Roopnarine was reassigned as Minister of Public Works. Alexander promptly resigned his position of “Technical Facilitator” issuing the following statement: “As a matter of principle I would consider it correctly for me to tender my resignation, since my appointment as technical facilitator was an appointment to a particular minister”. The opportunistic Alexander, like an obedient foot soldier, then followed his master to Public Works.
Still, friends of Alexander speak of him with admiration. So who exactly is Vincent Alexander? For that, one must take a step back. In the 70s, Alexander was Chairman of the YSM (Young Socialist Movement), the youth arm of the PNC. Alexander’s role was to indoctrinate the youths in party-paramountcy over the rule of law as dictated by the unconstitutional PNC Declaration of Sophia. For his loyal services to the cause, Alexander was rewarded with a PNC scholarship to Moscow in 1979.
Back then, the Soviet Union was seeking world domination, and one route was to indoctrinate foreign students in Marxist-Leninist dogma at the “Social Sciences” department of Patrice Lumumba University, where Alexander studied. It is necessary to make an important distinction here. In addition to government scholarships offered by the Soviet Union to countries of the Third World as part payment of their United Nations’ financial obligations, each year the Soviet Communist Party also handed out party-line scholarships to political parties sympathetic to their cause. In Guyana’s case, these went to “deserving” students of the party (both PPP and PNC) to pursue “studies” in the Social Sciences. Alexander was schooled in Soviet propaganda and Marxist-Leninist political theory whose first principle is the dictatorship of the people. In a Critique to the Gothic Program, Karl Max stated unequivocally that after seizing power, the government can be nothing other than a dictatorship of the proletariat. Vladimir Lenin issued the same clarion call for dictatorial rule in his only recognized work, The State and the Revolution. For a demagogue like Alexander, such teachings were manna from heaven.
While in Moscow in the 80s, Alexander used his new-found learning and his PNC “connection” to intimidate and indoctrinate. Students simply ignored him. After all, many of them were among the brightest minds from some of the leading secondary schools in Guyana. But staff at the Guyana Embassy, including Ambassador, the late Philip Chand, was intimidated by Alexander’s party connections. In 1983, Alexander was made president of the Guyana Student Association, a position he craved since his arrival in Moscow. I was the student representative from the city of St. Petersburg, and VP of the Association. At his first Executive Board (EB) meeting, students’ biggest fears were confirmed when Alexander moved a motion to ban students from traveling during spring break. It was my contention that such an important decision, affecting the entire membership, should only be made at a general meeting, and not by six members sitting at an EB meeting in Moscow. Alexander argued that the EB was elected to speak for the membership. On the first ballot, the votes were deadlocked. Alexander suggested a 15-miniute break, in political parlance, an opportunity to horse trade. By the time, we reconvened it was clear that the motion would pass. Both members who voted with me against it the first time around shared their fears of opposing Alexander a second time. This flagrant violation of individual rights taking place behind closed doors was deeply disturbing. I knew students would be outraged by such a ban, and also knew that once approved there was nothing that could be done. I reiterated my opposition to this ban on constitutional grounds, but to no avail. Mine was the lone voice of dissent. Before the second vote, I informed my fellow EB members that it was my intention to disclose to the membership how each of us voted on this motion. Alexander countered that only the result of the vote would be disclosed, but not how individual Board members voted (starting to sound familiar?). I reiterated my intentions and the motion was defeated 4 -2.
President Irfaan Ali, congratulations to you, Sir. As you take office, permit me please to offer two pieces of advice. One, keep demagogues like Alexander and others of his elk, including from the ranks of the PPP (yes, they are there too) away from your administration. Second, and this would be your most difficult but not insurmountable task, keep the corrupting influences within your party brass from holding sway over key decisions in your administration (Exhibit A, Bharrat Jagdeo). Sir, I implore you to put the welfare of the Guyanese people first, and remember that when we act justly with kindness and compassion, we can never go too far wrong. Best wishes to you!