GUYANA: Independence Day Messages – 55th Anniversary – 26th May 2021

Independence Day Messages

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People’s Progressive Party

Our beloved Nation has reached another milestone, its 55th Independence Anniversary. It comes at a time when Guyana is on the cusp of unprecedented transformational development. The unleashing of our Nation’s vast potential is within reach. Our developmental trajectory has, undoubtedly imbued all Guyanese with a tremendous sense of optimism, pride, expectation and confidence that our individual and collective dreams and aspirations for a prosperous Nation will be realised.
As we observe this very significant moment in our Nation’s history, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) takes this opportunity to extend greetings to all Guyanese, both here and those globally in the Diaspora. The 55 years since the Golden Arrowhead was first hoisted in May 1966, was not without its challenges. Our Nation and its people were tested at various points, but on every occasion, despite the severity of what confronted us, our resilience and indomitable will to rise to those challenges and to forge ahead, prevailed. It is demonstrative of our resoluteness as a people to work assiduously and to sustain our efforts to build a brighter future for all.
During those 55 years, there were periods when much was achieved – a period that saw our physical and social infrastructures being transformed through sustained growth and development –and periods of regression. There were periods when our freedom were suppressed and periods when they were restored. There were periods when pride was lost and periods when it returned after relentless struggles. However, throughout these times, our people never allowed hope to slip away and remained steadfast in their commitment to nation-building and the advancement of all. Guyanese are aware that the 55th Independence Anniversary comes months after glaring attempts to suppress freedom and democracy.
The fact that our freedom and nascent democracy were vigorously defended is testimony to our collective resolve and the value we, as a people, attached to our democratic principles. This is not dissimilar to the values of those who led the struggles and fought valiantly for Independence would have attached to breaking the shackles of colonialism. Those selfless struggles remain a revered source of inspiration and a demonstration of patriotism in guiding us to work in the best interest of our country and all of its peoples.
As we celebrate this Independence Anniversary, albeit restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Party urges that we be encouraged by the invaluable efforts of those who struggled to free us from colonialism, as we endeavour together to safeguard our democratic values and to advance ourselves and fellow countrymen and women as a new era of transformational development beckons. Happy Independence to all Guyanese!

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People’s National Congress

The People’s National Congress greets all Guyanese on this happy occasion of our Nation’s 55th Independence Anniversary. Independence on May 26, 1966 was a transformative event that laid the foundation for a good life for all.
Our visionary first Prime Minister – Forbes Burnham – embarked on a transformative programme of renewal. His administration led public education enhancement including the construction of the Cyril Potter College of Education, University of Guyana campus and multilateral schools in coastal regions and public infrastructural development through the construction of the Timehri International Airport, Soesdyke-Linden Highway, coastal sea-defence and coastal road networks from Skeldon to Parika.
The People’s National Congress, during the first decade of Independence, contributed to social cohesion by ensuring that Islamic and Hindu holy festivals were observed as national holidays; to securing Indigenous people’s land rights by establishing the Amerindian Lands Commission; to territorial defence with the establishment of the Guyana Defence Force; to regional integration by contributing to the establishment of the Caribbean Community and to housing development; hinterland development; youth development and much more.
Guyana was able to make a good start as an independent nation despite emerging from the worst period of civil violence, economic bankruptcy and political turmoil. It became respected for its efforts at advancing the cause of the small, developing states, particularly in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Independence celebrations this year will be restrained as a result of the huge death toll caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the damage to households caused by the unprecedented dismissal of public servants who are parents and the ominous resurgence of narcotics-trafficking, criminal violence and environmental degradation.
Independence Day reminds the Nation, also, of its debt to doctors, nurses and other workers in the public health system who have been engaged continuously in protecting our people from the ravages of the pandemic.
The People’s National Congress wishes everyone a Happy 55th Independence anniversary!

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Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union

As Guyana observes 55 years as an independent state, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is pleased to join with all Guyanese to celebrate this exciting landmark anniversary in our history.
We need to recall, at this time, that there was near absolute consensus amongst our then leaders that we needed to shed the constitutional and other chains with which we were then wrapped. Independence brought us and we joyfully welcomed our new status as citizens of Guyana, no longer colonial subjects tied to a “mother” country. It also brought heavy responsibilities for a free and prosperous future. The onus was now ours to chart our own course and it was recognised that national independence needed to be strengthened by economic independence and social justice. Those objectives had to be attained and sustained.
GAWU feels certain that our Independence, which we fought for, is an attainment to be cherished and will be cherished by coming generations too. Since Independence we have moved forward. There are successes in several fields nationally and at the international level, our country has earned recognition and respect especially when it took principled and laudable stance on issues that are of concern to humanity. That respect was surely strengthened with the resurfacing of our democratic culture over 20 years ago and which we saw a year ago faced with serious attempts of destabilisation. Though disheartened by the nefarious efforts of a few, we are heartened by the expressions of our people to protect and consolidate our democratic foundation. Today, our Union stands in support of reforms that will enhance our democracy in our people’s interest and well-being.
As an independent nation we have faced trails and setbacks of one kind or another, punctuated by periods of marking time, economic and social decline at the same time we recognise there have been very many significant achievements in our endeavours to overcome the negative legacy of colonialism and fulfill our development obligations. Today independent Guyana is poised for further advancement. We recognise the serious efforts to further development and enhance of people’s standard-of-living. We laud such efforts and look forward in the coming years of independence to Guyana unlocking its true potential and our people enjoying a life they truly deserve. Apart from the question of economic and social advancement, we hold there is need to strike an ecological balance. On this score, we have seen the development argument advanced. Such contentions cognisant of the setbacks we faced have some merit. We none-the-less charge that we need to ensure that there is every effort to ensure that our environment is preserved for current and future generations.
The prospects for our country to grow and develop remain encouraging and we need to tackle the various tasks before us in a collective and united spirit. In this respect, acts and obstacle that tend to undermine our still fragile democracy should be discontinued, measures that bring hardships on working-people should be frowned upon and our people, especially our working people, need to become involved in the decision-making process at various levels of our society.
As we celebrate this historic anniversary, GAWU urges that we all recognise that we have a responsibility to build our nation, to make great efforts to realise enduring national unity and strengthen the strands that bind our nation. We must be justly proud of our well-deserved freedom and it must also be a joy for all our people.
At the same time, let us on this 55th Anniversary remember the struggles associated with the fight against colonialism and these organisations and outstanding leaders who were at the front of those history making efforts.
GAWU extends a Happy Independence Anniversary to all Guyanese!

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Guyana Trades Union Congress

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) joins with Guyanese, at home and abroad, to mark our Independence. Fifty-five years ago a nation was born. It is a Nation founded on the principle that whereas we have had different historical experiences and are from different places we are all here and must be able to peacefully co-exit, equally participate in the business of the State and enjoy exact protection under the laws. The aspirational ambition to forge “One People, One Nation, One Destiny” out of diverse experiences but common humanity remains elusive. In addition, to the extent where this exists the very foundation that spurred the fight for nationhood is being threatened.
Where Guyana continues to be embroiled in ethnic tensions and divisions, the attainment of living up to the country’s ideal is under attack. Where social, economic and political justice remains elusive for some, the spirit that gave birth to the fight for Independence will re-emerge. Where the Nation’s resources are exploited by some, not all, and free reign given to plunder these as workers (and citizens) lurch from one poverty cycle to another, the struggles of our forebears are being undermined.
Where the ‘Principal Political Objective’ of the State, as per the Constitution, is to establish an “inclusionary democracy” but Government continues to ignore this obligation, the people are neither living up to Guyana’s motto or striving for peaceful co-existence. Fifty-five years finds Guyana a troubled nation, with divided peoples. Our resources are being plundered by foreign powers and men from strange lands with the support of some locals. Local labour is being abused and the laws violated at the instigation and support of their fellow countrymen. A land on the never ending cusp of greatness is hindered by the avariciousness of a few.
2021 finds Guyana in the throes of the pandemic. Yet the Government continues to forge ahead without national coordination of the various stakeholders, not only to mitigate the spread and reduce fatalities, but also to develop a National Relief Programme. The year continues to see basic rights and freedoms being trampled on. It is a year where the branches of Government-–Legislature, Executive and Judiciary – are not being allowed to function, as they ought. It is a year of much sadness, hopelessness and want.
And whereas the picture is gloomy, Guyana does not have to be gloomy for gloominess is manmade, not God-given. If it is manmade, it can and must be fixed. The GTUC therefore takes the opportunity to call on every worker, every citizen, to let us join hands in redoubling our efforts to build a Nation, borne out of a history that “…our heroes of yore, both bondsmen and free, laid their bones on your shore. This soil so they hallowed, and from them are we,…” Guyana belongs to all of us. We must collectively through, “inclusionary democracy,” take control of what is ours and mold the nation we would like to see. On this 55th Anniversary there remains much work to be done.

INDEPENDENCE DAY MESSAGE FROM LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, MR. JOSEPH HARMON, M.P.


Kaieteur News – On the occasion of Guyana’s 55th Anniversary I extend greetings to all Guyanese including those in the Diaspora and our indigenous brothers and sisters who first inhabited this land of many waters, Guyana.
Political independence from our colonial masters in 1966 introduced some freedoms including important symbols of nationhood such as our National Flag, National Anthem, Motto and other emblems, but what it did not permit was economic independence. Guyana had a high standing in the international community as we chartered a course to pursue our national interest; we were dependable partners in the fight for decolonisation. The 55 years that followed Independence were marked by significant points – we became a Co-operative Republic and nationalised the commanding heights of our economy – but as was the case in many post-colonial countries of that era, we struggled across partisan and racially charged political lines to realise true independence.
Today, for the first time in our history, economic independence is a real possibility given our abundant oil and gas resources. This possibility however has come about when the issues of the negative global consequences of fossil fuels are a growing global concern. The issues of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic could not be more present nationally and beyond. Guyana therefore has a sharpened responsibility to ensure that we mitigate the proven downside of oil by the responsible management of its extraction and the monies garnered from it.
Guyana’s population is less than a million. In light of decades of outward migration, it is incumbent therefore, on the Government in particular, to offer security and a sustainable future to those Guyanese who have remained. This security cannot be only about elections, as important as that is, but rather about wellness and wellbeing as a whole. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many fault lines in our health systems and our access to information. Our death rate is too high, our infection rate is too alarming and our vaccine roll out is too slow. We of the APNU+AFC Coalition are redoubling our efforts and encouraging others to join our national push for increased vaccinations as we cannot afford to lose another citizen. I take this opportunity to single out the efforts of the doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been at the forefront of our fight against this virus. Today, they should be recognised as national heroes. They go well beyond the call of duty to save lives and ensure essential services. I also take this opportunity to highlight the efforts of members of the Disaster Management Teams, Disciplined Service personnel, sanitation workers, delivery staff, transportation and aviation personnel, providers of various services, government employees, social service organisations, NGOs and generous citizens who have demonstrated solidarity and care for their fellow citizens.

Regrettably, the 2020 General and Regional Elections have scarred the Nation and once more opened the floodgates of vitriol, distrust and unproductive racial stereotyping.
As disturbing as it was to witness the regrettable outpouring of hatred and intransigence, it has afforded us the opportunity to bring intolerance out of the shadows and deal with it decisively without blaming and shaming. Let us not sweep it back under the carpet, but rather commit at every level—personal, institutional, political, governmental, and social — to consciously, resolutely and patriotically rid our society of this divisive affliction. I cannot think of any Guyanese who does not recognise that ethnic insecurity has been the root of our historic barrier to nation building. This old colonial curse has been the mill stone to our joint and just development.
The People’s Progressive Party, in office since August 2020, has engaged in a systematic assault on real and perceived supporters and appointees of the APNU+AFC Coalition’s administration. The list is long and is not limited to the firing of public servants; partisan discrimination in the distribution of COVID-19 relief; the sidelining of several professionals and the arrest and detention of many professionals. There are rising anxieties about new and old forms of nepotism and corruption. All this pales in the face of the shocking refusal to convene parliament for the past 90 days. The notion of oneness must never mean “we alone.” This is certainly not what our independence heroes, women and men of all races, worked so hard to achieve in their quest for self-determination. The carefully nurtured culture of confrontational politics, fueled further today by social media, is further eroding the possibility and our capacity to build a Nation.
Guyana, with its vulnerable coast on which some 90% of our population lives, is no stranger to the destructive capacity of water. Over the centuries this man-made coast, built by the unrecognised and unvalued work of the enslaved Africans in the first instance, has leveled time and time again the efforts of subsequent generations of Africans and Indians, in the main, to make a living independent of the colonial legacy. The seawall/land wall, the mud dams, the mangroves and the sluices constitute an integral mix that shores up our ability to live on this coast. The current sacrifice of mangroves, which demonstrates the failure to inform and consult with citizens as articulated in Article 13 of our Constitution, in the interest of a very narrow few, is an abandonment of Government responsibility. May 26 is an auspicious day to remind ourselves of our national motto: One People, One Nation, One Destiny. This demands a commitment of all of us to equal and equitable access to decision making and all resources. As the old saying goes, one hand can’t clap.
Finally, it is the generational duty of all Guyanese to commit to a model of economic development now that we have the financial resources, a model that should not replace the old masters with new masters who are even less concerned about our wellbeing. We must raise our voices, commit to new efforts as we did some 55 years ago when we hoisted the Golden Arrow Head. The APNU+AFC Coalition is committed to this effort to unleash the full human potential of all Guyanese.
We wish everyone a Happy 55th Independence Anniversary!

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