Fifty-three years ago today [May 26, 1966] Guyana gained its independence from British rule effectively setting this South American nation on course to embrace the motto of One People, One Nation and One Destiny.
Today Kaieteur News joins the rest of the nation to commemorate this auspicious day in our history and hope that we will continue to live our motto without reservation.
Also sharing sentiments, as seen below, are President David Granger, US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, and a few organizations.
PRESIDENT DAVID GRANGER
Guyana’s Independence on 26th May 1966 was a transformative experience that opened opportunities for everyone but, particularly, for young people.
Independence was transformative. It brought forward-looking changes which improved the living and working conditions for all, including our youth. It laid the foundation for a better life for future generations.
The immediate post-Independence decade was a period of effective efforts aimed at expanding the country’s infrastructure and improving public services. These nation-building initiatives propelled rapid improvements in the country’s economic, physical and social infrastructure.
Infrastructure – such as aerodromes, bridge across the Demerara River, highways and wharves – was expanded. Community centres, health clinics, housing schemes and many new schools were established. The economy was set on a path of growth. Public services – water and electricity – were extended to unserved areas.
Economic and financial institutions, such as the Guyana National Cooperative Bank and the Guyana Agricultural Development Bank provided much needed access to capital for households, farmers and manufacturers. The Guyana Marketing Corporation assisted farmers to transport their produce to markets.
Social protection was revamped, including through the establishment of the National Insurance Scheme. Social cohesion was advanced. Recognition was accorded to all of our main religious groups and steps taken to reduce the divisiveness of the period just prior to Independence.
The introduction of free education from nursery to university emphasized the importance of ensuring a sound education for our young people and of reducing distinctions of class, gender and geography.
The newly-independent state strolled onto the global stage with confidence. It became respected and recognized for its efforts at advancing the cause of the developing countries, particularly of the small African, Caribbean and Pacific states.
Guyana, today, is poised for another transformative moment. The commencement of petroleum production, next year, and the transition towards becoming a ‘green’ state, will increase economic growth and provide greater resources for development.
The future belongs to young people. The resources derived from economic expansion and diversification will be deployed, primarily, to secure and safeguard our children’s and grandchildren’s future. Young people can be assured of greater opportunities as a result of oil production and the policies of the Guyana Green State Development Strategy.
Young people have started to play a pivotal role in driving development. Your government is preparing young people to assume responsibility for our nation’s future. A National Youth Policy has been promulgated. The ‘Policy’ explains Government’s vision as:
… a nation in which young people are united, educated, trained, safe, happy, healthy and integrally involved in the decision-making processes, while enjoying equality of opportunity and equal access to the resources of our country and are politically, economically and socially empowered.
Education, equality, empowerment and employment are the four pillars of our national youth policy. The good life, regardless of the resources available to us, will be unattainable unless young people have access to better education, enjoy greater equality, are provided with expanded employment opportunities and are empowered to make decisions which determine their future.
Education is a bedrock of government’s youth development policy. Government’s policy of every child in school aims at ensuring that no one is left behind. Young people are being equipped with the knowledge and skills to become productive citizens. An ‘education nation’ is being established. Education is being enhanced at all levels – nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary.
Equality is integral for youth development. Your Government, already, is creating a fairer, friendlier framework for ensuring greater equality by providing improved access to public services – business registration, immigration, legal services, public education, public health, public information, public infrastructure, public security, public telecommunications, electricity and water. Young people in the hinterland can look forward, one day, to having access to the same public services as those on our coastland.
Employment for all is possible. The Guyana Youth Corps is retraining our youth to improve their ‘marketability’ and to make easier the transition between school and the workforce. The Corps reflects Government’s emphasis on consolidating its youth initiatives so as to have a stronger focus on employment and job creation.
Your government also is committed to reducing the numbers of young people who are not in education, employment or in training (NEET). The Sustainable Livelihoods and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED); the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS); and the Youth Innovation Project of Guyana (YIPoG) initiatives are other examples of how government is helping to promote self-employment for young people.
Empowerment of young people has become a reality. Local Government Elections, held twice in three years has evinced a surge in youth involvement in local democracy. Young candidates contested and campaigned in local government elections in 2016 and 2018.
Youth today have a greater say in decision-making. Young professionals and entrepreneurs are being consulted in the fashioning of our national Budget. Young people’s opinions and interests are taken into consideration in the development of Government policies.
The future belongs to young people. This axiom is true today as it was 53 years ago when Guyana attained its Independence. The central aspiration of the independence generation was to secure a better future for their children and grandchildren. Young people, today, can look to a bright future with greater confidence, enthusiasm and hope knowing that their government is laying a stronger foundation for the good life for them and their children.
I extend to all Guyanese, but especially to our young people, greetings and best wishes on the occasion of the 53rd Independence anniversary.
Happy Independence Day 2019!
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, US SECRETARY OF STATE
On behalf of the Government of the United States, congratulations to the people of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana on your 53rd anniversary of independence on May 26.
The United States and Guyana have been friends and partners for decades, and we commend and encourage Guyana’s continued leadership on matters of regional concern. The American Chamber of Commerce-Guyana continues to create trade partnerships and opportunities, resulting in greater prosperity for both our countries. As Guyana looks toward production of its oil resources, the United States stands ready to assist to ensure all Guyanese will benefit. The United States looks forward to a future of strong ties and collaboration based on our shared democratic values.
The United States joins you in celebrating Guyana’s diversity, freedom, and natural beauty. On behalf of the citizens of the United States, I wish the citizens of Guyana a prosperous year and a happy Independence Day celebration.
PEOPLE’S PROGRESSIVE PARTY
Our attainment of Independence resulted from sustained struggles during which selfless sacrifices were made. It was a moment of tremendous joy for all Guyanese. On May 26th, 1966 our national flag, the Golden Arrowhead, was hoisted for the first time, heralding the birth of our beautiful nation. It brought freedom from the shackles of colonialism whilst an independent Guyana through self-governance emerged with hope and expectations abundant in its people.
During the fifty-three years our country faced many challenges and experienced a period of unprecedented progress and prosperity. Throughout that time, our resilient and patriotic Guyanese people remained resolute towards the building of a better nation through hard work and dedication for the advancement of their fellow men and women.
Those selfless efforts continue with every passing day despite prevailing adversities. The People’ s Progressive Party (PPP), in taking this opportunity to extend warmest greetings to all Guyanese both at home and in the Diaspora, on the occasion of our nation’s 53rd Independence Anniversary, would like to recognize and commend those invaluable efforts. In observing another milestone in our independence, our Party urges reflection on the valiant efforts of those who made untold sacrifices during the struggles for self-rule.
Those sacrifices must continue to be valued and remain a source to imbue us all with pride and patriotism. We must also remain cognizant of our nation’s vast potential which, through prudent management, can create the brighter future we all desire. Let’s continue to remain hopeful so that our challenges can be overcome.
Happy Independence to all Guyanese! People’s Progressive Party
THE INDIAN ACTION COMMITTEE
The Indian Action Committee (IAC) wishes to convey greetings to all Guyanese citizens, on the occasion of the Independence of Guyana from British colonial rule on 26th May 1966, fifty-three years ago.
The IAC calls upon all Guyanese citizens to remember and recognize all those persons who contributed to the ending of British colonial rule in Guyana including former Presidents Cheddi Jagan, Forbes Burnham and Janet Jagan, and stalwarts of the struggle for national liberation like Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, Jocelyn Hubbard, Joseph Pollydore, Ramkarran, Ashton Chase SC, Jainarine Singh, E.M.G. Wilson, Cedric Vernon Nunes, Martin Carter, Rory Westmaas, Eusi Kwayana, Brindley Benn, Moses Bhagwan and Reepu Daman Persaud.
The IAC, in recognition of the challenging history of Guyana during the past fifty three years dominated by authoritarian rule (1968-1992) and, especially the period from 1962 to 1964 when there was a state of undeclared civil war which resulted in:
1. Over 200 persons losing their lives
2. Over 900 persons suffering physical injuries
3. About 2700 terrorized families being displaced from their homes as villages were engulfed in orgies of ethnic cleansing
4. Over 1700 cases of arson in which over 300 business places and houses were completely destroyed by fire during wanton acts of terror
5. Losses of over US$ 20 million in the local economy as opposed to an investment of US$2.2 million used to destabilize pre- Independence British Guiana according to U.S. declassified documents.
6. The destruction of the Indo-Guyanese community at the adjoining villages of Wismar and Christianburg, where all 87 business premises and 215 homes owned and occupied by Indo-Guyanese were deliberately destroyed by fire between 24th and 25th May 1964 followed by the evacuation of almost 3400 Indo- Guyanese persons under the protection of British military forces on 26th May 1964, exactly two years before Independence.
The IAC is of the view that the national economy is in rapid and serious decline including the rice industry which is suffering greatly from the paddy bug infestation and is calling upon all of the Parliamentarians to work together to reverse this dangerous trend.
The IAC is cognizant of the upsurge in crime within the past four years and while recognizing that in Berbice there is a high amount of criminal activity perpetrated by persons of Indo-Guyanese origin against other persons of Indo-Guyanese origin; elsewhere there have been many brutal robberies on Indo- Guyanese and Chinese business persons who have been deprived of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash, jewellery, electronic devices and vehicles by criminals.
The IAC also recognizes criminal activity impacting other ethnicities including rapidly increasing attacks on Chinese business places.
While the IAC reiterates its call for inclusion of Guyanese, in the drive towards economic development and prosperity, the organization is extremely concerned about the constant political warfare that is destabilizing the country which is on the verge of a new and exciting national oil industry.
The IAC joins its voice with those of the political parties, religious bodies, trade unions and other civil society groups in a nationwide call for peace and unity.
Let us all resolve to realize the dream of our fore parents and Independence heroes and heroines to make our 53rd Anniversary a true national event. The IAC wishes all Guyanese citizens a Happy Independence Day.
THE ETHNIC RELATIONS COMMISSION
The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) takes this opportunity to extend greetings to all Guyanese on the occasion of Guyana’s 53rd Independence anniversary. The attainment of our Independence entailed a prolonged period of sustained struggles by many patriotic sons and daughters of this dear land. Their selfless efforts were focused on the betterment for all of their compatriots; for the realization of a nation free from the bonds of colonialism and one that will always remain the cherished home of its diverse people.
Their success remains that beacon of inspiration epitomizing what can be achieved when we work together in the best interest of Guyana and Guyanese. This must become an accessible source of motivation for us to renew our commitment to work assiduously for the realization of the goal enshrined in our national motto of One People, One Nation, One Destiny.
Every anniversary of our nation’s Independence brings that pertinent reminder of the freedom that was birthed out of patriotic struggle sustained by the underlying bonds of brotherhood. It is those bonds that we all must endeavour to build upon and strengthen so as to expunge the seeds of division from our society. While our history will reflect the challenges in this regard, it must also serve as an impetus to fortify us with tolerance, to fully understand and appreciate our invaluable diversity and what it means to us as a nation. This enhances our capacity to shed prejudices thereby creating an environment in which harmony can prevail. History also provides the framework to help build a better society.
Activities for the observance of the 53rd Independence anniversary will no doubt continue to see the participation of Guyanese from all backgrounds as pride and patriotism take centre stage. Let us all together commit to build upon this with the objective of attaining a more harmonious society which we all desire. Let us also use this opportunity to renew our sense of value for the efforts of those who toiled for an independent Guyana. Let’s not forget that those efforts were in the interest of all despite from where our ancestors originated.
Once again Happy Independence to all Guyanese!
THE GUYANA AGRICULTURAL AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is, once again, happy to join in extending best wishes to all Guyanese as our nation celebrates its 53rd year of Independence. The independence achievement, now more than a half a century ago, is a moment that all Guyanese take immense pride in. History recorded that the struggle to achieve nationhood was long and, at times, daunting but the strong will and perseverance of our people triumphed as the Golden Arrowhead was hoisted for the first time at the midnight hour of May 26th, 1966.
GAWU feels certain that the attainment of Independence, which we fought for, motivated the social and economic progress of our country and was a decisive turning point for our all-round development. There are successes in several fields nationally while, at the regional and international level our country has earned recognition and respect in spite of certain deficits experienced in governance. Our democratic culture which resurfaced over twenty (20) years ago, still, today again faces new challenges. Notwithstanding, the trials and setbacks the nation experienced and, most likely will face, we cannot deny the very many significant achievements as we steadily overcame the negative legacy of colonialism.
The GAWU is aware that several key objectives are yet to be reached. One of these is our economic sovereignty which we see as crucial to safeguard our political independence especially in the context and circumstances that we see unfolding in today’s world.
The prospects for our country to grow and develop, despite, current setbacks, remain encouraging and we need to tackle the various tasks before us in a collective and united spirit. In this respect, our people, especially our working people needs to be encouraged and become involved in the decision-making levels of our society.
As we celebrate this historic anniversary, GAWU urges that we all recognize that we have a responsibility to let our democratic culture prevail. It is one of the strong strands that binds our nation and makes it united and free. Additionally, we share the belief that our independence will be secured and strengthened over time when every citizen is given to enjoy the fruits, benefits and opportunities of our collective efforts and work.
It is unfortunate to observe that our 53rd Independence Anniversary finds us as a nation poised with further declining economic fortunes with the sugar industry being an example of this reality. While this has certainly cast a pall over the nation, we must, nevertheless, lift high the banner of freedom and celebrate our Independence.
Happy Independence Anniversary to all Guyanese!
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