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Obama rep; other dignitaries expected for Guyana’s Independence anniversary

United States’ Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Juan Sebastian Gonzalez.

United States’ Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Juan Sebastian Gonzalez.

Several high-level foreign dignitaries are expected in Guyana to join in the celebration of the country’s 50th anniversary as an independent nation.

They are Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland,  the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart and  and United States’ Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Juan Sebastian Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who is responsible for American diplomatic engagement and policy implementation in Central America and the Caribbean, will be representing US President, Barack Obama.

They are expected to pay courtesy calls on Guyana’s President, David Granger during Wednesday, May 25, 2016 in the hours leading up to the Flag Raising Ceremony at D’urban Park in the night.

On Wednesday, the Independence Float Parade including 27 costume bands from the public and private sector would move off from Stabroek Market Square  to D’urban Park. That event is expected to conclude at 5:30 PM.

In a message to Guyana’s National Assembly on Wednesday, May 24, 2016, President Granger paid tribute to the roles of labour and political leaders- Hubert Critchlow, Cheddi Jagan, Forbes Burnham, Peter D’Aguiar and Stephen Campbell- who all fought for independence from Britain which was eventually granted on May 26, 1966. “Guyanese, today, pay tribute to the generations of men and women who were part of this historic and heroic struggle for self-determination.  We can enjoy freedom today because of their consciousness, their courage and their commitment to the cause of freedom,”  said Granger.

Barbados' Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart.

Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart.

The Guyanese leader also said the 50th anniversary was a time to recall the martyrs of the Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo revolts during the dark era of enslavement and the martyrs of the protests at Leonora, Devonshire Castle, Rose Hall, Ruimveldt and Enmore, during and after the era of indentureship.

The President also used the opportunity to highlight that Guyanese, today, pay tribute to their leaders, who had the vision to have guided, and the endurance to have sustained the nation during these past fifty years.  He said  Guyanese recognise the contributions of their eight Presidents − Arthur Chung, Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte,  Cheddi Jagan, Samuel Hinds, Janet Jagan, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar − in leading this nation over these difficult years.

Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland.

Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland.

The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), for its part, said it was the architect of Guyana’s political independence, a process that had begun with the formation of the Political Affairs Committee by HJM Hubbard, Cheddi and Janet Jagan and Ashton Chase. “The records would show that it was the PPP under the indefatigable and charismatic leadership of Dr. Cheddi Jagan that led the assault against the colonial system of governance which ultimately resulted in the granting of internal self-government and later, political independence,” the party said in a statement.

The PPP added that the struggle for independence is inextricably linked to the broader struggle for a free and just society waged by the PPP since its very inception as a political party.

While Forbes Burnham’s People’s National Congress (PNC) coalesced with the United Force (UF) to remove the PPP from office at the 1964 general elections, the PPP said it still embraced the achievement of independence.

The United States had persuaded Britain to, among other things, change the electoral system from first past the post to Proportional Representation to ensure that Guyana was not granted independence under the PPP for fear that the country would have become another communist outpost for the Soviet Union.

  • Emile_Mervin

    I sometimes ponder the irony of Guyana celebrating independence anniversaries in the context of other nations whose inhabitants were already there when the British arrived and colonized their lands, as opposed to lands previously occupied by indigenous peoples but which were later populated by slaves and indentured servants, who then turned around and demanded political independence while the indigenous peoples were relegated to second-class citizens waiting on the benevolence of the new political leaders.

    Is it possible that, for Guyana, political independence means a different thing from what obtains elsewhere? Take India, for example, a former British colony. All its people are Indians, regardless of sectarianism. The British met them there, so their demand for independence resonates. Same can be said of certain African nations whose inhabitants were already there where colonizers arrived.

    In Guyana, the Amerindians were already there when the British brought African slaves followed by Indian indentured servants. Then the British left and Guyana has been a mess ever since with Indians versus Africans for political control, while Amerindians have to wait for whoever is in power to dole out goodies.

    I understand the value and purpose of independence, but in the Guyana context, it has no true relevance or significance regardless of ceremony and celebration. Indians and Africans in Guyana remain dependent on foreign assistance and intervention to survive and get along, as was evident in 1992 regime change and again in 2015 regime change. Does anyone believe that if foreign remittances dried up Guyana can survive?

    Independence, to me, therefore, is a symbolic exercise that afforded certain politicians and their associates bragging rights to power and the attending economic and financial benefits.

    I still do not understand how US$5m in GT&T shares can disappear and there is no police investigation. I do not understand how after audits are completed, the lame ass excuse in recovering stolen monies is that witnesses are afraid. We just keep recycling corrupt and inept politicians while celebrating independence that means nothing to Guyanese.

    • Col123

      Decorous piece EM… can’t resist your comment about India…let the truth be known, that there exist pockets of Indian citizens of African descent living in India over two hundred years..who are poor and mistreated and are probably destined to remain that way by the Indian Govt….they should receive inclusion of what independence offers… .I support your stance on the Native Guyanese leading the fight for and celebrating independence….it would be transformational…

  • Col123

    Guyanese politics being stagnant you say?.. ethnic hate mongering brings in the profit everyday… kith and kin politics text book style…Who is winning that qualitative ethnic superiority myth?