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Second US Congressman calls for wealth sharing, political inclusion in Guyana

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 21:41 by Denis Chabrol

United States (US) Democrats appear to be closely paying attention Guyana’s political landscape that has been historically split along race lines, just 10 months after a change of government in this South American nation.

Democratic Congressman, Hank Johnson on Wednesday became the second American congressman in recent days to have publicly issued a call for everyone to be included in decision-making. Pointedly, Mr. Johnson strongly suggested that all Guyanese must benefit from their country’s wealth.  “Guyana’s wealth is for all the people of Guyana, irrespective of their ethnicity. I urge the current government and leaders of the opposition in the National Assembly to work together towards further strengthening Guyana’s democracy and building a more inclusive nation,” he said in a statement that also focused on the now more than one-month-old floods in several parts of Guyana. Mr. Johnson is also a member of the Caribbean caucus.

Congressman Johnson’s position appeared similar to that of the Chairman of the Congressional sub-committee on the Western Hemisphere, Albio Sires who urged stakeholders in Guyana to ensure all Guyanese benefit from the country’s growing oil wealth.

“In Guyana, where I travelled this year, we should work to ensure that proceeds of oil revenues benefit the entire population,” he said in a recent address to a hearing on “the Biden Administration’s efforts to deepen U.S. engagement in the Caribbean” that coincided with US Caribbean Month 2021.

Mr. Sires has reiterated that the US wants to hold talks with the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration and the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), among others, to ensure that everyone is involved in Guyana’s increasing goods and services for the population of more than 750,000 persons. “As I said during the trip to Guyana, we want to engage all actors in Guyana including businesses, civil society, the current government and the opposition to advance inclusive economic growth,” Mr. Sires, a Democrat, has said.

The APNU+AFC has been complaining bitterly that it is being left out of key decision- making on, for instance, the oil and gas sector. The opposition has also been alleging discrimination against its mainly Afro-Guyanese support base by the government’s dismissal of workers and selective distribution of flood relief. Referring to the floods, Congressman Johnson cited the need for everyone to be provided assistance. “It is important that every person affected by this disaster is able to receive the support they need to rebuild their lives in the shortest possible time,” he said.

The governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP), backed mainly by Indo-Guyanese, has rebuffed the opposition charges of discrimination, but has been unapologetic for its decision to sack workers who have been identified as having been involved in opposition political activism.

The Democratic party controls the US House and Congress.