Next Monday, May 26 Guyana will celebrate its 48th anniversary of independence. Most of us are happy that we have cut the apron string of colonialism. But the big question is what has the country achieved since independence. Well some will say a lot and others will respond that things would have been better if we were still under the British.
I will attempt to highlight some in this short piece. We have seen the demise of four Presidents Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte, Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan. Sam Hinds stepped in briefly and paved the way for Mrs. Jagan, who placed Bharrat Jagdeo in the top position in preference to more senior and experienced supporters. He did a good job at first in resolving the enormous debts the country incurred, but shortly after he ran the country as if it was his personal property.
Gave concessions to his friends and there was a free for all. Corruption was and still is the order of the day. His successor, Donald Ramotar so far is unable to resolve the huge problems.
Going back to the late 1960s, 1970s and even in the early 1980s. Burnham in concurrence with Jagan decided to nationalize the sugar and bauxite industries as well as the banks and other foreign companies, but the country experienced severe pressure from the foreign tycoons which prevented the country from securing fair markets for their product and as a result the country suffered severe hardships which forced the Government to implement harsh measures by banning basic foodstuffs including flour, canned fish and meats, milk and even baby foods.
Burnham implemented socialist measures by making the government an arm of his party and the PNC flag was flying over the Court buildings, a moved which shocked Caricom states as well as foreign states.
The poor economic state forced the government to devalue the dollar, and at one time the parallel market was more vibrant that the official money market since persons were paying for more than the bank rate.
The dollar is not stable at G$200 to US$1. The political socio/economic state also forced tens of thousands to flee the country to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other parts of the planet. Most of them are doing extremely well – many of them holding top jobs at Universities, the judiciary, the medical profession, business and the like. A few are world renowned and made us proud.
Come on politicians work towards unity – remember unity is strength and our slogan is “one people, one nation, one destiny.”
There are far too many achievements and criticisms which can be levelled against both the PNC and PPP administrations, but space does not permit me to do so, but what I can say is that the country of my birth has been transformed to a completely different state than it was before independence. The young people have different ideas and values and party politics supersede Lodges, and Organizations and to a certain extent “who you know, or who know you” prevails.
The drug trade, robberies, murders and other crimes are hindering Guyana’s progress and there are reports that Brazilians and other foreign elements changed the image of the capital city, Georgetown once known as the Garden City – not to mention the poor drainage and need for better sanitation.
If the country is to grow in terms of development and be a force to reckon with Guyanese have to overcome party politics especially the racial conflict which to my mind was sowed in the mid- 1950s before Independence when Forbes Burnham moved away from the PPP and formed his PNC taking with him nearly all the Afro Guyanese and the Indos remained with Cheddi Jagan. It is said that the British and the Americans were behind the division because they were completely against the leftist policies of Jagan and Burnham and put a wedge between the two races in order to divide and rule.