Former Ambassador to the United States and Venezuela, Dr Odeen Ishmael died yesterday at his home in Florida, USA.
President David Granger last evening expressed his condolences to the family of the retired diplomat who in 1997 was awarded the Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH) for his work in diplomacy.
Ishmael, 70, retired from active service in 2014 after more than 20 years in the Foreign Service. His last posting was as Ambassador to the State of Kuwait from 2011 to 2014. He was also non-resident Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 2013 to 2014.
Before that he held the post of Ambassador to Venezuela from 2003 to 2011 after serving concurrently as Ambassador to the United States of America and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS).
According to public Facebook posts from his siblings Shireen and Mohammed Jamaladeen, Dr. Ishmael passed at his Florida home just at approximately 3 pm.
His brother in a public statement further said that his death was a result of a rare form of an incurable muscle disease.
He remembered, Ishmael, who was the eldest of 12 as a “role model” who had a lot of love to offer.
“Our parents did everything to encourage us to excel in our education, He was on top of the pyramid and we were expected to follow in his footsteps…who would’ve believed that a country boy from the sleepy village of Chester would become an ambassador for Guyana,” he wrote adding that “brother Odeen has left a rich legacy which includes the numerous books and articles he authored which will forever serve as research material for students all over the world.
Ishmael was also a father to two children Safraz and Nadeeza with wife Evangeline.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Clement Rohee who from 1992 to 2001 worked with Ishmael remembered him as a “consummate Diplomat, scholar and historian [who] wrote extensively on the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy and authored several books about his country history, political struggles and its folklore.”
In a tribute to the late Ambassador he referred to him as a “self- made, accomplished, diplomat” noting that he was the recipient of many outstanding awards including the Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH).
Rohee noted that Ishmael who was a trained teacher attended the University of Guyana where he graduated with a Diploma in Education before earning his PhD in Education while overseas.
“He taught at the New Amsterdam Multilateral School, then at the Bygeval Multilateral School and later, at the Richard Ishmael Secondary School in Georgetown,” Rohee shared, adding that former President and current leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo was one of his students at Bygeval.
While at UG, Ishmael along with Navin Chandarpal, Moses Nagamootoo, Halim and Zahir Majeed and Satyadeow ‘ Sash’ Sawh among others formed the first ever UG PYO Group.
He later migrated to The Bahamas and while there, according to Rohee, brought together on a regular basis a group of Guyanese teachers and other professionals who like him had taken up residence in that country.
“Odeen proved himself a capable organizer and communicator while in The Bahamas. His main platform was the call for free and fair elections in Guyana. With that platform he was able to mobilize not only the Guyanese community but Bahamian public opinion in support of free and fair elections in his homeland. In this regard, Odeen made a significant contribution to the PPP/C’s victory at the elections in October 1992,” the Parliamentarian said.
After the PPP/C entered office in 1992 he was named as Ambassador to the USA.
Ishmael represented Guyana at numerous international fora more particularly at the OAS, the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic States (OIC} making significant contribution at the academic and diplomatic levels with his writings having been utilized by Think Tanks in the USA, Canada and Latin America.
His writings included Problems of the Transition of Education in the Third World (Published 1989), Towards Education Reform in Guyana (Published 1994), Amerindian Legends of Guyana (Published 1995), The Democracy Perspective in the Americas(Published 2009) and The Trail of Diplomacy – A Documentary History of the Guyana-Venezuela Border Issue (Volume One) (Published 2014).