Celebrating Guyana’s 55th Independence anniversary

Dear Editor,
The Co-operative Republic of Guyana celebrates its 55th anniversary of Independence on Wednesday, May 26. It will also be five and a half decades since my voice was first heard on national radio, because I had made by maiden report on the flag-raising activities.
A lot has transpired during this period. We saw 10 Presidents being sworn in: Arthur Chung, Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte, Cheddi Jagan, Sam Hinds, Janet Jagan, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar, David Granger; and the current President, Irfaan Ali, the youngest of them.
The PNC was in Government a little longer than the PPP – 1966 to 1992 (also two years, 1964-66, before the Independence period) – and then the coalition APNU/AFC under PNC’s Granger for four years before a No Confidence Motion was passed which booted Granger out of office.
The PPP also had a long stretch of 23 years under Jagdeo and Ramotar. Now the PPP is back under a young President at a time when all Guyanese at home and abroad are hoping for a complete turnaround of the economy, more jobs, and a comfortable living for the poor and unfortunate ones. This can be possible only if the powers that be are vigilant and prevent exploitation of the country’s resources by the filthy rich oil barons.
We have to forget the past; there are too many horrors therein: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple tragedy, wherein 918 American followers of the so-called Evangelist Jim Jones committed suicide in November 1978; and the terror which another American, David Hill – who renamed himself Rabbi Washington and set up the House of Israel – and the members of that organisation visited upon anti-Burnham supporters in harassing them. It was only after the death of Burnham that the Rabbi lost his stripes under Hoyte.
President Cheddi Jagan released Hill from prison and deported him. He eventually died in New Jersey.
I must also mention that the Burnham Administration removed all the vestiges of colonialism and moved into left wing socialism…went so far as to make the Government an arm of the PNC, and the party’s flag was flown over the Court of Appeal Building in Kingston, Georgetown. British honours like “Sir”, “Dame”, OBE, MBE, and Queen’s Counsel were replaced with local honours: Order of Excellence (OE), Order of Roraima (OR), Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH) etc; and Senior Counsel replaced Queen’s Counsel.
I cannot omit the assassination of Walter Rodney in March 1980, because he was a threat to the Burnham dictatorial regime. Space does not permit me to say much more, but I have to mention the difficulties the authorities endured to remove the coalition from office following the No Confidence Motion. It took five long months after the ruling of the highest court of the land, the Caribbean Court of Justice, before the new President was sworn in. Now David Granger does not want the CCJ to determine election issues, he is advocating that the Guyana Court of Appeal should be the final court in this regard. He, however, welcomed the CCJ’s ruling that Jagdeo cannot have a third term as President. This is ridiculous. Remember, the Guyana Court of Appeal ruled that 33 is not the majority of 65, but the CCJ ruled otherwise.
I should remind readers that the Guyana Court of Appeal was the final Court in Guyana for 35 long years – when the country gained republican status in 1970 to April 2005, when the CCJ was inaugurated. Burnham abolished appeals to the Privy Council in February 1970, making Guyana the only country in the Commonwealth to have only one court of appeal.
Reports state that 10 million barrels of oil will be pumped from the Stabroek block every month – this is five times more than oil rich Trinidad and Tobago – but it is extremely crucial that the oil be properly monitored and Guyana gets its rightful share. Too many African countries have been fleeced by the filthy rich oil companies. Guyana encountered numerous setbacks in the past. Now that oil is on the horizon, Guyanese have to work in harmony with each other to rebuild the country. We have rice, sugar, gold, bauxite, agriculture products, and now oil. We have a sound educational system, the ten top students in the region are Guyanese. This is extremely good; the youngsters are following in the footsteps of those of yesteryear, since hundreds of brilliant Guyanese are scattered all over the planet, holding top posts in technology, business, medicine, education, law and other fields.
All in all, the future looks extremely good. What is needed – and it is of paramount importance – is unity. Unity is strength.

Oscar Ramjeet