It is a tradition among world leaders to send greetings on the occasion of a “National Day” – independence or republic day celebrations. Leaders of nations from around the world, especially those with Embassies or Representatives in Guyana, sent greetings or felicitations to President Irfaan Ali and the nation on the occasion of Guyana’s Republic Day celebrations on February 23. President Joe Biden felicitated the Guyanese nation on the occasion of republic Day. More Guyanese and their descendants live in America than in Guyana. Guyanese are a productive human resource in America contributing to national development and the tax coffers. They have helped to transform many debilitating neighborhoods in New York, Florida, and New Jersey, moving in and transforming what had looked like war zones to a very pleasant habitat today. Their hard work has helped to uplift the morale of the entire American nation and the diaspora in America. So it is fitting and appropriate for the US President to send greetings to the Guyanese people on the occasion of their national day.
The US has been involved in Guyana’s affairs long before independence in 1966, and it has become the guarantor of democracy in Guyana helping to remove or install based on national geo-strategic interests. The two countries share very close ethnic, historical, security, and cultural relations. Democracy in and republican status for Guyana are explained below President Joe Biden’s message.
Biden’s message reads: “It is my pleasure to send congratulations to the people of Guyana as you celebrate 51 years as a republic on February 23 (1970). I wish you (The President) and all the people of Guyana safe and joyous republic Day celebrations. The challenges of Covid 19 affect all of us and make clear that we must advance our partnership to face the global pandemic together.
In the year ahead, I look forward to our teams addressing the issues and security concerns that threaten our shared interests, while building on Guyana’s economic growth and development. Guyana is a strong democracy. I look forward to strengthening our bilateral relationship based on shared principles of good governance, prosperity, and security”.
World leaders, perhaps even diplomats posted in Guyana, and most Guyanese in Guyana and the diaspora may not be familiar that Guyana was not a democracy after independence in May 1966 and Republican status was not legitimately obtained or supported by the majority of the population. Regrettably, when democracy returned in October 1992, the status was not amended to return to the original position of 1966 when Guyana was closely affiliated with the British Crown that would have served the interests of the nation.
More than half of the nation had opposed Republican status for Guyana in 1970 because the ruthless dictator Forbes Burnham used his rigged two-thirds majority (from the 1968 fraudulent elections) to amend the democratic British-imposed independence constitution. Burnham wanted to break all links with England so that the Queen, who was head of state, would not exercise any exercise any supervisory control (through the Governor) over his authoritarian rule. The opposition opposed the move for republican status.
Burnham’s party had secured 42% at the elections in December 1964 and there was a steady erosion of support by 1968 because of widespread corruption and mis-governance. His party would have secured less than 40% support at the 1968 elections as reported by the international media. Yet Burnham claimed a whopping 68% victory at the 1968 polls. It was well established by researchers and published in the international press that Burnham rigged the 1968 elections through postal and overseas voting. Using the results of electoral fraud to make a break with England and the Queen was highly undemocratic. Burnham had also terminated all appeals to the London based British Privy Council, the final court of appeal for Guyana, presided over by esteemed Lords. Thus the 1968 election fraud and amendments to the constitution were not possible. Guyana descended downhill into a totalitarian dictatorship. Burnham went on to use electoral fraud to create an executive Presidency in December 1980 that was also opposed by more than two-thirds of the nation. Guyanese Americans lobbied the US government and politicians to help restore democracy in their former homeland. This led to the country’s first democratic elections in October 1992 resulting in Cheddi Jagan as President. He was succeeded by Sam Hinds, Janet Jagan, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald ramotar, David Granger, and now Irfaan Ali.
It would be recalled that every effort was made to rig the March 2020 elections but it was opposed by the US Administration and the world community. Several patriotic Guyanese, myself included, living in America played leading roles to help secure the right outcome of the March 2020 elections. Several of us with close connections in the US State Department, with Members of Congress, and the US Embassy in Georgetown lobbied behind the scenes and succeeded in getting pressure put on the APNU led coalition that was all set to rig the election. I appealed to Indian American organizations and individuals who are very close to Members of Congress and the Trump Administration to help save democracy in Guyana. In addition, community advocate Dr. Tara Singh and myself made phone calls and or penned several letters requesting intervention to protect electoral gains. Several issued statements.
US Ambassador Sarah Lynch aggressively demanded that the votes be accurately counted and the right winner declared. Secretary Mike Pompeo, Asst. Secy Mike Kozak, Ambassador Lynch, and others saved democracy in Guyana. Had the riggers succeeded, Guyana would have descended into another dictatorship. For security reasons, others who played meaningful role against electoral fraud in 2020 requested that their names not be revealed.
The Guyanese people are grateful for the role that the US has played in the affairs of Guyana and helping to secure democratic outcomes, especially in the 2020 elections. They thank the US President for his warm felicitation.