Diaspora fearful Guyana could return to ‘dark days’

– members of Guyanese community in NY say country could return to 1980s

Members of the Guyanese Diaspora in New York have expressed fear that Guyana might be heading down the same path it did in the 1980s, when there were dictatorial rule and economic hardship, which led to many of them leaving these South American shores to seek better lives.
These were the views expressed by many of those in attendance at a meeting with former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo on Sunday in Richmond Hill, New York. Jagdeo is currently on a visit to New York, where he has been meeting with the Guyanese community there.

Members of the head table at the event

The meeting was also attended by former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government Ministers, Dr Leslie Ramsammy and Irfaan Ali. Also in attendance was Dr Peter Ramsaroop.
Alluding to what is taking place now in Guyana in terms of an economic decline, the planned closure of sugar estates and hardships faced by thousands of Guyanese, some Diaspora members reminded those at the meeting of their experience and why they were forced to leave their homeland. They expressed fear that this could affect their families back home and the Government could create greater economic hardship for the people.
 Guyana Times understands that the more than 300 people that were in attendance at the meeting raised concerns about the management of the Guyanese economy, issues relating to crime, the sugar industry and many other topical issues facing the country.

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the Guyanese diaspora in Richmond Hill, New York on Sunday

Jagdeo used the opportunity to brief the Diaspora on Guyana’s status from an economic standpoint and pointed to areas where they could get involved. He told them that democracy was being threatened in Guyana and the lack of an economic plan and vision by the Government would severely impact the country.

The former Guyanese Head of State also drew reference to a recent statement made by Finance Minister Winston Jordan who said that the local economy was being held up by arrears. Jagdeo said the Minister’s statement pointed to the fact that there were new income and revenues being generated in Guyana, apart from the 200 plus taxes that the coalition Government has put in place.
He also highlighted how the major sectors in the economy were feeling the squeeze from these new tax measures. These include: mining, forestry and other key economic sectors.
On Thursday, Jagdeo also appealed to the Diaspora and the International Center for Democracy (ICD), to help Guyana protect its democracy and the separation of powers locally.
The former Guyanese President also used the occasion to remind the Diaspora members of the need for “far-reaching constitutional changes” in Guyana. And he has also accused the recently-formed Social Cohesion Ministry of being used in a partisan manner, “and dividing our people”.
Jagdeo was adamant this Government was only focusing on oil to be the solution for Guyana. But he said, “Oil can be a blessing or a curse… Oil can cause runaway price increase for the poor.”
“There is no fairness anymore,” he added.