By Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green, March 2020.
CARICOM should not be allowed to act as election observers for its own members. It’s like the police policing themselves, or the Judiciary adjudicating themselves.
CARICOM is an agency that is formed by, and run by, the very Country members who are being observed at the elections. So it’s like a country’s government watching themselves or being observed by their closest friends and relatives.
The observers themselves may well be without a future if they give an un-liked verdict on any one of the Member States.
“Head of the CARICOM Election Observation Mission to Guyana’s March 2 elections, Cynthia Combie-Martyr, has expressed dissatisfaction that previous recommendations to reform the electoral system were never implemented even as Monday’s polls were deemed free and fair.” [If she found dissatisfaction and made a news statement as such why on earth did she announce the free and fair election verdict? Why?]
[She said] “Guyana is still in the same situation electorally as it was all those years ago…It looks like we have to actually hold Guyana’s hands…it seems to me that they would have to go back to the basics because obviously what they have been doing is not working,” Combie-Martyr said at the CARICOM Secretariat yesterday, as she presented the mission’s preliminary report on Monday’s general and regional elections.
Combie-Martyr said that the mission is not satisfied “at all” with the manner in which Guyana’s leaders have dealt with the recommendations made. “Suffice to say that CARICOM is not the only observation mission that has made recommendations, and documented those recommendations, and yet no one seems to pay any mind to those observations and recommendations,” she said.
[So if the Guyana elections are a threat to democracy they cannot have been fair in the broader context]
What the CARICOM observers are trained to observe is apparent interference in how the elections are run and organized, on the day. For instance, were there any rocks hurled at the voters, or any fighting, or anything obviously wrong inside or outside the polling stations? They arrive in the country too late to see what is going on, the bribing of people in the villages and at the constituency offices. They are not allowed to comment on any anomalies they see while misbehavious are happening. They watch, and report; after the polls they usually state that they were free and fair because they saw nothing. They could not, of course, see anything because they were often at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the wrong time.
There was, in fact, a fight by officials at one Guyanese polling station using a chair to beat their opponent with. CARICOM observers were there; it never appeared in their report.
When a robber stands during shop opening hours, with a police officer by his side, in front of the jeweler’s window with a brick ready to throw at the window, does he throw it? No, of course, he doesn’t, any more than the rapist rapes on a Saturday on the pavement of the city on a busy shopping day.
CARICOM observers are quite simply the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The 20 to 50 million dollar bribery scheme
In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for several weeks before the last three elections, people are encouraged to go to the constituency offices of the ruling party and collect order or acquisition notes for building materials from government yards and other yards. They then send a truck to those yards and receive loads of building materials free, against the production of their acquisition note or order form. Or a runner goes into the village and takes orders for materials and then gets an order form issued. It’s quite simply an act of mass bribery and is so visible and open that anyone could join the queue in the constituency office and watch the corruption taking place right there and then. The trucks delivering the bribery goods, the building materials are not just one or two; they are hundreds of vehicles making thousands of collections and making thousands of deliveries. There are lines of trucks waiting their turn to load at the yards. They cause traffic congestion and hold-ups. Often the police are there directing the traffic, and in doing so, helping the bribed make off with their rewards, the police have become part of the link in a massive election bribery event. The police know what is happening and do what they can to assist.
In the Vincentian elections, successful electoral fraud has had the effect of a coup d ‘état or corruption of democracy. In SVG’s narrow elections, the fraud was probably enough to change the result. In the case of the Vincentian mainland, the fraud has been massive and on many fronts, and with many methods. The revelation of this fraud has had a damaging effect, and so far has gone unpunished; it has most certainly reduced Vincentian voters’ confidence in democracy.
Guess what? After the last three Vincentian elections, like in Guyana, CARICOM observers declared the elections in Saint Vincent free and fair. Of course, that was only their opinion on what they saw, and they saw nothing, they were not in the right place at the right time. We need full-time night and day observers in position 3 to 4 weeks before election day. They need to be in the towns and villages, even in the constituency offices. They must not just report on what they saw inside and directly outside the polling station. Election fraud is much greater than that. It may even be that two observers should stay with poling boxes and never let them out of their sight until they are counted and recounted, and then remain and inspect and report on the counting as well. Because in these third world countries, where politicians want to stay in power forever, no one working in a polling station can be trusted, they need observation around the clock.
A REWARD MAY BE PAYABLE FOR THE BEST VIDEO
I want to make contact with decent Vincentians who would like to help SVG by videoing deliveries of building materials before the 2020 election in their villages, towns, and neighborhoods, with their cell phone cameras. All names of whistleblowers and contributors of images sent to me will be kept secret. Send pictures of trucks with registration numbers and who deliveries are made to.
Video police officers at, in, or outside the yards along with their identity numbers, film them being observers or directing traffic. If they are there record it, it’s crucial.
Film and record anything you see which you believe to be an attempt to influence voters: Video the politician or their runner giving out little brown envelopes, video just about anything suspicious.
If you have information about anyone who has recently registered in your village but doesn’t now or perhaps has never lived there, let me know; I will deal with it.
Tell us anything which you believe to be immoral or illegal. Sex crime by politicians even. Whatever you know that affects the election; you cannot rely on the police; they are already politically motivated. Please initially contact me at; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s try and ensure the election process in SVG is free and fair and a boost for democracy, not its destruction as it inevitably currently is.
Does anyone want to volunteer to make a film of the next election exposing bribery and fraud? The film will edited and used by a major international TV company.