Bharrat Jagdeo

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Posted by bender 03/10/2009 @ 19:13

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News headlines
Sale of shares in Guyana telephone company to develop ICT sector - Caribbean360.com
We are trying to get more computers," President Bharrat Jagdeo said this week. He added that government will move to increase internet penetration within Guyana, by subsidizing the cost of internet bandwidth. "If we can subsidize bandwidth to get more...
Chief negotiator of Caribbean trade group resigns - eTaiwan News
Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo said Wednesday that the group could have done more to protect the Caribbean's services sector when it negotiated a free-trade agreement with the European Union last year. He and other leaders have said the group was too...
Jagdeo to name members of Integrity Commission shortly - Stabroek News
President Jagdeo had subsequently announced that consultations would start towards resuscitating the commission. Expressing the need to continue consultations on the local government reform process, President Bharrat Jagdeo has announced that...
Brute force approach to policing debated as summit opens - Stabroek News
... Caricom's Assistant Secretary-General Dr Edward Greene yesterday called for security to move away from brute force tactics, while President Bharrat Jagdeo insisted that such methods were sometimes justified in the fight against violent crime....
Plea bargaining bill likely to lead to more prosecutions in Guyana - Caribbean Net News
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Prior to his departure for New York Tuesday to address the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo at a press briefing told reporters that the Plea Bargaining Legislation,...
Myles Munroe agrees to speak to men on return visit - Stabroek News
By Stabroek staff | May 13, 2009 in Local News President Bharrat Jagdeo and Dr Myles Munroe of The Bahamas Faith Ministries International, engaged in lengthy discussions during a courtesy call at State House and an agreement was made for the religious...
Guyana can score big from exporting food alongside Jagdeo Initiative - Stabroek News
By Stabroek staff | April 24, 2009 in Local News Professor Suresh Narine has lauded President Bharrat Jagdeo's initiative on avoided deforestation particularly his proposal that countries whose industries pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the...
Dropped charges against Fidelity raises questions about collusion ... - Stabroek News
And in a task force report released earlier this year, it was stated that Safeek went to President Bharrat Jagdeo to relate his concerns (about GRA) in April 2008, and the President proceeded to set up the task force to investigate allegations of...
Guyana still aiming for a liberalised telecommunications environment - Caribbean Net News
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- President Bharrat Jagdeo has reaffirmed the government's position of maintaining a liberalised telecommunications environment in Guyana despite the “fairly decent” relationship which he said exists with the Guyana Telephone...
Guyana president calls for 'first class' protection for children - Caribbean Net News
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- President Bharrat Jagdeo has called for a “first class, world order” protection for Guyanese children, who he says are a top priority for the future of Guyana. The president made this call after swearing in the 15 member Rights of...

Bharrat Jagdeo

Bharrat Jagdeo

Bharrat Jagdeo (born 23 January 1964) has been the President of Guyana since 11 August 1999. He had previously been Minister of Finance and became President after Janet Jagan resigned for health reasons; he has since won two elections, in 2001 and 2006. He is the youngest head of state of the Caricom countries. He is of Indo-Guyanese descent.

Jagdeo was born in Unity Village on the East Coast of Demerara. He joined the youth wing of the People's Progressive Party (PPP), the Progressive Youth Organisation, when he was 13, and became a member of the PPP itself at age 16. He subsequently rose to local leadership positions in the party.

After obtaining a Master's in Economics from Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University in Moscow in 1990, Jagdeo returned to Guyana and worked as an economist in the State Planning Secretariat until the PPP/Civic election victory in the October 1992 election. After this he became Special Advisor to the Minister of Finance.

Jagdeo was appointed as Junior Minister of Finance in October 1993, and a few weeks later, at the PPP's 24th Congress, he was elected to the party's Central Committee. He later became a member of the Executive Committee of the PPP. In the Cabinet, he was promoted to Senior Minister of Finance in May 1995.

On August 8, 1999, Janet Jagan announced that she was resigning as President for health reasons and that Jagdeo would be her successor. Because the Prime Minister is the President's legal successor, Jagdeo took office as Prime Minister on August 9 so that he would be positioned to succeed Jagan. He was then sworn in as President on August 11.

Jagdeo was re-elected for another five-year term on August 28, 2006, with the PPP garnering 54.6 percent of the votes and expanded its majority by two to 36 seats in the 65-member parliament. He was sworn in for another term on September 2. It should be noted that the 2006 election, unlike previous elections, was peaceful and deemed free and fair by foreign observers. Although there were some administrative issues, the peaceful nature of the election was a major milestone for the country.

At the PPP's 29th Congress, Jagdeo received the highest number of votes (777) in the election to the party's Central Committee, held on August 2, 2008. He was then elected to the PPP Executive Committee on August 12, 2008.

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Guyana

Flag of Guyana

Guyana (pronounced /ɡaɪˈænə/ or /ɡiːˈɑːnə/), officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and previously known as British Guiana, is the only state of the Commonwealth of Nations on mainland South America. On the northern coast of the continent, it is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south and southwest by Brazil, to the west by Venezuela, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. At 215,000 km2, it is the third smallest state on the mainland of South America (after Suriname and French Guiana). Its population is approximately 860,000. It is one of the five non-Spanish-speaking territories on the continent, along with the states of Brazil (Portuguese) and Suriname (Dutch), the French overseas region of French Guiana (French) and the British Overseas Territory of the Falkland Islands (English). Culturally, Guyana associates primarily with the English-speaking Caribbean states, such as Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

Guyana can be divided into four natural regions: a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic coast (low coastal plain) where most of the population lives; a white sand belt more inland (hilly sand and clay region), containing most of Guyana's mineral deposits; the dense rainforests (Forested Highland Region) across the middle of the country; the grassy flat savannah in the south; and the larger interior highlands (interior savannah) consisting mostly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border.

Guyana's main mountains are Mount Ayanganna (6,699 ft (2,042 m), Monte Caburai (4,806 ft (1,465 m) and Monte Roraima (9,301 ft (2,835 m) — the highest mountain in Guyana) on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tripoint, part of the Pakaraima range. Roraima and Guyana's table-top mountains (tepuis) are said to have been the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World. There are also many steep escarpments and waterfalls, including Kaieteur Falls. Between the Rupununi River and the border with Brazil lies the Rupununi savannah, south of which lie the Kanuku Mountains.

The three main rivers are the Essequibo, the Demerara, and the Berbice. The Courantyne River forms the border with Suriname. At the mouth of the Essequibo are several large islands. The 90-mile (145 km) Shell Beach lies along the northwest coast. Guyana is a major breeding area for sea turtles (mainly Leatherbacks) and other wildlife.

The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, the second from mid-November to mid-January.

It has one of the largest unspoiled rainforests in South America, some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans. In 2008, the BBC ran a four-part programme called Lost Land of the Jaguar which highlighted the huge diversity of wildlife, including undiscovered species and rare species such as the giant otter and harpy eagle.

The regions are divided into 27 neighborhood councils.

Guyana was in border disputes with both Suriname, which claimed the land east of the Corentyne River in southeastern Guyana, and Venezuela which claims the land west of the Essequibo River as part of Guayana Esequiba. A part of the territorial dispute with Suriname was arbitrated by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, and a ruling was announced in September 21, 2007. The ruling concerning the Caribbean Sea north of both nations found both parties violated treaty obligations and declined to order any compensation to either party.

When the British surveyed British Guiana in 1840, they included the entire Cuyuni River basin within the colony. Venezuela did not agree with this as it claimed all lands west of the Essequibo River. In 1898, at Venezuela's request, an international arbitration tribunal was convened, and in 1899 they issued an award giving about 94% of the disputed territory to British Guiana. Venezuela and Great Britain accepted the award by treaty in 1905, but Venezuela raised the issue again at the time of Guyana's independence and continues to claim Guayana Esequiba. Venezuela calls this region "Zona de Reclamación" (Reclaiming Zone), and Venezuelan maps of the national territory routinely include it, drawing it in with dashed lines.

Specific small disputed areas involving Guyana are Ankoko Island with Venezuela; Corentyne River with Suriname; and New River Triangle with Suriname.

The following habitats have been categorized for Guyana: coastal, marine, littoral, estuarine palustrine, mangrove, riverine, lacustrine, swamp, savannah, white sand forest, brown sand forest, montane, cloud forest, moist lowland and dry evergreen scrub forests (NBAP, 1999). About 14 areas of biological interest have been identified as possible hotspots for a National Protected Area System.

More than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests, ranging from dry evergreen and seasonal forests to montane and lowland evergreen rain forests. These forests are home to more than a thousand species of trees. Guyana's tropical climate, unique geology, and relatively pristine ecosystems support extensive areas of species-rich rain forests and natural habitats with high levels of endemism. Approximately eight thousand species of plants occur in Guyana, half of which are found nowhere else.

Guyana is one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Guyana, with 1,168 vertebrate species, 1,600 bird species, boasts one of the richest mammalian fauna assemblages of any comparably sized area in the world. The Guiana Shield region is little known and extremely rich biologically. Unlike other areas of South America, over 70% of the natural habitat remains pristine. The rich natural history of British Guiana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell.

Countries interested in the conservation and protection of natural and cultural heritage sites of the world accede to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage that was adopted by UNESCO in 1972. Guyana signed the treaty in 1977. In fact, Guyana was the first Caribbean State Party to sign the treaty. In the mid-1990s, Guyana seriously began the process of selecting sites for World Heritage nomination, and three sites were considered: Kaieteur National Park, Shell Beach and Historic Georgetown. By 1997, work on Kaieteur National Park was started, and in 1998 work on Historic Georgetown was begun. To date, however, Guyana has not made a successful nomination.

Guyana submitted the Kaieteur National Park, including the Kaieteur Falls, to UNESCO as its first World Heritage Site nomination. The proposed area and surrounds have some of Guyana's most diversified life zones with one of the highest levels of endemic species found anywhere in South America. The Kaieteur Falls is the most spectacular feature of the park, falling a distance of 226 metres. The nomination of Kaieteur Park as a World Heritage Site was not successful, primarily because the area was seen by the evaluators as being too small, especially when compared with the Central Suriname Nature Reserve that had just been nominated as a World Heritage Site (2000). The dossier was thus returned to Guyana for revision.

Guyana continues in its bid for a World Heritage Site. Work continues, after a period of hiatus, on the nomination dossier for Historic Georgetown. A Tentative List indicating an intention to nominate Historic Georgetown was submitted to UNESCO in December 2004. There is now a small committee put together by the Guyana National Commission for UNESCO to complete the nomination dossier and the management plan for the site. In April 2005, two Dutch experts in conservation spent two weeks in Georgetown supervising architecture staff and students of the University of Guyana in a historic building survey of the selected area. This is part of the data collection for the nomination dossier.

Meanwhile, as a result of the Kaieteur National Park being considered too small, there is a proposal to prepare a nomination for a Cluster Site that will include the Kaieteur National Park, the Iwokrama Forest and the Kanuku Mountains. The Iwokrama Rain Forest, an area rich in biological diversity, has been described by Major General (Retired) Joseph Singh as “a flagship project for conservation.” The Kanuku Mountains area is in a pristine state and is home to more than four hundred species of birds and other animals.

There is much work to be done for the successful nomination of these sites to the World Heritage List. The state, the private sector and the ordinary Guyanese citizens each have a role to play in this process and in the later protection of the sites. Inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage will open Guyana to more serious tourists thereby assisting in its economic development.

Guyana exhibits two of the World Wildlife Fund's Global 200 eco-regions most crucial to the conservation of global biodiversity, Guianan moist forests and Guiana Highlands moist forests and is home to several endemic species including the tropical hardwood Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei).

Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Amerindians. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.

Escaped slaves formed their own settlements known as Maroon communities. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 many of the former enslaved people began to settle in urban areas. Indentured labourers from modern day Portugal (1834), Germany (first in 1835), Ireland (1836), Scotland (1837), Malta (1839), China and India (beginning in 1838) were imported to work on the sugar plantations.

In 1889 Venezuela claimed the land up to the Essequibo. Ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guyana.

Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing who would politically control Guyana during this time. They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to Guyanese of African descent, especially Forbes Burnham's People's National Congress to the detriment of the Cheddi Jagan-led People's Progressive Party, mostly supported by Guyanese of Indian descent. In 1978, Guyana received considerable international attention when 918 almost entirely American members of the Jim Jones-led Peoples Temple died in Jonestown — a settlement created by the Peoples Temple. An attack by Jim Jones' body guards at a small remote airstrip close to Jonestown resulted in the murder of five people, including Leo Ryan, the only Congressman murdered in the line of duty in U.S. history.

Guyana's economy depends on agriculture. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labour and a deficient infrastructure. In 2008 the economy witnessed a 3% increase in growth amid the global economic crisis and is expected to grow further in 2009. Until recently, the government was juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. Low prices for key mining and agricultural commodities combined with troubles in the bauxite and sugar industries had threatened the government's tenuous fiscal position and dimmed prospects for the future. However, the Guyanese economy has rebounded slightly and exhibited moderate economic growth since 1999, based on an expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favorable atmosphere for business initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation, and the continued support of international organizations.

The main economic activities in Guyana are agriculture (producing rice and Demerara sugar), bauxite mining, gold mining, timber, shrimp fishing and minerals. The sugar industry, which accounts for 28% of all export earnings, is largely run by Guysuco, which employs more people than any other industry. Many industries have a large foreign investment. The mineral industry, for example, is heavily invested in by the American company Reynolds Metals and the Canadian Rio Tinto Alcan; the Korean/Malaysian Barama Company has a large stake in the logging industry.

The production of balatá (natural latex) was once big business in Guyana. Most of the balata bleeding in Guyana took place in the foothills of the Kanuku Mountains in the Rupununi. Early exploitation also took place in the North West District, but most of the trees in the area were destroyed by illicit bleeding methods that involved cutting down the trees rather than making incisions in them. Folk uses of balatá included the making of cricket balls, the temporary filling of troublesome tooth cavities, and the crafting of figurines and other decorative items (particularly by the Macushi people of the Kanuku mountains).

The government initiated a major overhaul of the tax code with the start of 2007. The Value Added Tax (VAT) was brought into effect, replacing six different taxes. Prior to the implementation of the VAT it had been relatively easy to evade sales tax, and many businesses were in violation of tax code. Many businesses were very opposed to VAT introduction because of the extra paperwork required; however, the Government has remained firm on the VAT. By replacing several taxes with one flat tax rate, it will also be easier for government auditors to spot embezzlement. While the adjustment to VAT has been a tough one, it may improve day-to-day life because of the significant additional funds the government will have available for public spending.

President Bharrat Jagdeo has made debt relief a foremost priority of his administration. He has been quite successful, getting US$800 million of debt written off by the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in addition to millions more from other industrial nations. Mr. Jagdeo was lauded by IDB President Moreno for his strong leadership and negotiating skills in pursuing debt relief for Guyana and several other regional countries.

The population of Guyana is approximately 750,000, of which 90% reside on the narrow coastal strip (approximately 10% of the total land area of Guyana). Guyana's coastal strip ranges from between 10 to 40 miles in width.

The present population of Guyana is racially and ethnically heterogeneous, composed chiefly of the descendants of immigrants who came to the country either as enslaved people or as indentured labourers. The population therefore comprises groups of persons with nationality backgrounds from Europe (especially the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Portugal), Africa, China, India, and the Middle East, with the Aboriginal Indians as the indigenous population. These groups of diverse nationality backgrounds have been fused together by a common language, i.e., English and Creole.

The largest ethnic sub-group is that of the descendants of India, also known as East Indians (Indo-Guyanese), comprising 43.5% of the population in 2002. They are followed by people of African heritage (Afro-Guyanese) (30.2%). The third in number are those of mixed heritage (16.7%), while the Aboriginal Indians (Arawak, Wai Wai, Carib, Akawaio, Arecuna, Patamona, Wapixana, Macushi and Warao) are fourth making up 24,500 of the population. The smallest groups are European, including Portuguese who make up 1,500 of the population and the Chinese (0.19% or 1,400 persons). A small group (0.01% or 112 persons) did not identify their race/ethnic background.

The population distribution in 2002 was determined by nationality background. The distribution pattern has been similar to those of the 1980 and 1991 censuses, but the share of the two main groups has declined. The East Indians were 51.9% of the total population in 1980, but by 1991 this had fallen to 48.6%, and then to 43.5% in the 2002 census. Those of African descent increased slightly from 30.8% to 32.3% during the first period (1980 and 1991) before falling to 30.2% in the 2002 census. With small growth in the population, the decline in the shares of the two larger groups has resulted in the relative shares of the ‘Mixed’ and Amerindian groups. The Amerindian population rose by 22,097 persons between 1991 and 2002. This represents an increase of 47.3% or annual growth of 3.5%. Similarly, the ‘Mixed’ population increased by 37,788 persons, representing a 43.0% increase or annual growth rate of 3.2% from the base period of 1991 census. The whites and Chinese populations which declined between 1980 and 1991 regained in numbers by the 2002 census by 54.4% (168 persons) and 8.1% (105 persons) respectively. However, because of their relatively small sizes, the increase has little effect on the overall change. The Portuguese group has declined constantly over the decades.

Most Indo-Guyanese are descended from Bhojpuri-speaking Bihari migrants.

English is the official language of Guyana and used, for example, in its schools. In addition, Cariban languages (Akawaio, Wai-Wai, Arawak and Macushi) are spoken by a small minority, while Guyanese Creole (an English-based creole with African and Indian syntax whose grammar is not standardized.) is widely spoken. There are also minority populations of Portuguese and Spanish speakers. In the Indian community, Hindi, Urdu and Arabic are spoken.

According to the 2002 Census, Guyana's religions breakdown is 57% Christian (of which 16.9% Pentecostal, 8.1% Roman Catholic, 6.9% Anglican, 5% Seventh-day Adventist and 20% other Christian denominations), 28.4% Hindu, 7.3% Muslim, 0.5% Rastafarian, 0.1% Bahá'í, 2.2% other faiths, and 4.3% no religion. Most Guyanese Christians are either Protestants or Roman Catholics and include a mix of all races. Hinduism is dominated by the Indians who came to the country in the early 19th century, while Islam varies between the Afro-Guyanese, and Indian-Guyanese.

Politics of Guyana takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guyana is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly of Guyana.

Historically, politics is a source of tension in the country, and violent riots have often broken out during elections. During the 1970s and 1980s, the political landscape was dominated by the People's National Congress. In 1992, the first "free and fair" elections were overseen by former United States President Jimmy Carter, and the People's Progressive Party has led the country since. The two parties are principally organized along ethnic lines and as a result often clash on issues related to the allocation of resources.

There exists a movement for Guyana to become part of the United States of America as either a state, territory or possession.

The military of Guyana consists of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), which includes Ground Forces, Coast Guard, and Air Corps. 155,058 males are fit for service (2002 estimates) The Guyana People's Militia and the Guyana National Service are defunct.

There are a total of 116 miles (187 km) of railway, all dedicated to ore transport. There are 4,952 miles (7,970 km) of highway, of which 367 miles (590 km) is paved. Navigable waterways include 669 miles (1,077 km), including the Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo rivers.

There are ports at Georgetown, Port Kaituma, and New Amsterdam. There is 1 international airport (Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri); 1 regional airport (Ogle Airport); and about 90 airstrips, 9 of which have paved runways.

The electricity sector in Guyana is dominated by Guyana Power and Light, a state-owned vertically integrated public utility. Although the country has a large potential for hydroelectric and bagasse-fueled power generation, most of its 226 MW of installed capacity correspond to inefficient thermoelectric diesel-engine driven generators.

Reliability or electricity supply is very low, linked both to technical and institutional deficiencies, with total losses close to 40% and commercial losses of about 30%. This low reliability has led most firms to install their own diesel generators, which in turn leads to higher than average electricity costs.

Key issues in the water and sanitation sector in Guyana are poor service quality, a low level of cost recovery and low levels of access. A high-profile management contract with the British company Severn Trent was cancelled by the government in February 2007. In 2008 the public utility Guyana Water Inc implemented a Turnaround Plan (TAP) to reduce non-revenue water and to financially consolidate the utility. NRW reduction is expected to be 5% per annum for the three-year period of the plan, A mid term review is now due to examine the success of the TAP.

Guyana's educational system was at one time considered to be among the best in the Caribbean, but it significantly deteriorated in the 1980s because of the emigration of highly educated citizens and the lack of appropriate funding. Although the education system has recovered somewhat in the 1990s, it still does not produce the quality of educated students necessary for Guyana to modernize its workforce. The country lacks a critical mass of expertise in many of the disciplines and activities on which it depends.

The educational system does not sufficiently focus on the training of Guyanese in science and technology, technical and vocational subjects, business management, nor computer sciences. The Guyanese education system is modeled after the former British education system. Students are expected to write SSEE (secondary school entrance exam) by grade 6 for entrance into High School in grade 7. They write CXC at the end of high school. Recently they have introduced the CAPE exams which all other Caribbean countries have introduced. The A-level system left over from the British era has all but disappeared and is offered only in a few schools.

Further adding to the problems of the educational system, many of the better-educated professional teachers have emigrated to other countries over the past two decades, mainly because of low pay, lack of opportunities and crime. As a result, there is a lack of trained teachers at every level of Guyana's educational system. There are however several very good Private schools that have sprung up over the last fifteen years. Those schools offer a varied and balanced curriculum.

This system is structured so that its proper functioning depends intimately on a process of referrals. Except for serious emergencies, patients are to be seen first at the lower levels, and those with problems that cannot be treated at those levels are referred to higher levels in the system. However, in practice, many patients by-pass the lower levels.

The health sector is currently unable to offer certain sophisticated tertiary services and specialized medical services, the technology for which is unaffordable in Guyana, or for which the required medical specialists are not available. Even with substantial improvements in the health sector, the need for overseas treatment for some services might remain. The Ministry of Health provides financial assistance to patients requiring such treatment, priority being given to children whose condition can be rehabilitated with significant improvements to their quality of life.

There are 10 hospitals belonging to the private sector and to public corporations, plus diagnostic facilities, clinics and dispensaries in those sectors. These ten hospitals provide for 548 beds. Eighteen clinics and dispensaries are owned by GUYSUCO.

The Ministry of Health and Labour is responsible for the funding of the National Referral Hospital in Georgetown, which has recently been made a public corporation managed by an independent Board. Region 6 is responsible for the management of the National Psychiatric Hospital. The Geriatric Hospital, previously administered by the Ministry of Labour, became the responsibility of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in December 1997.

One of the most unfortunate consequences of Guyana's economic decline in the 1970s and 1980s was that it led to very poor health conditions for a large part of the population. Basic health services in the interior are primitive to non-existent, and some procedures are not available at all. The U.S. State Department Consular Information Sheet warns "Medical care is available for minor medical conditions. Emergency care and hospitalization for major medical illnesses or surgery is limited, because of a lack of appropriately trained specialists, below standard in-hospital care, and poor sanitation. Ambulance service is substandard and may not routinely be available for emergencies." Many Guyanese seek medical care in the United States, Trinidad or Cuba.

Compared with other neighboring countries, Guyana ranks poorly in regard to basic health indicators. In 1998, life expectancy at birth was estimated at 66.0 years for Guyana, which is much less than surrounding countries. The infant mortality rate in 1998 was 24.2. Maternal mortality rates in Guyana are also relatively high, being estimated at 124.6/1000 for 1998. Although Guyana's health profile falls short in comparison with many of its Caribbean neighbours, there has been remarkable progress since 1988, and the Ministry of Health is working to upgrade conditions, procedures, and facilities.

The leading causes of mortality for all age groups are cerebrovascular diseases (11.6%); ischemic heart disease (9.9%); immunity disorders (7.1%); diseases of the respiratory system (6.8%); diseases of pulmonary circulation and other forms of heart disease (6.6%); endocrine and metabolic diseases (5.5%); diseases of other parts of the Digestive System (5.2%); violence (5.1%); certain condition originating in the prenatal period (4.3%); and hypertensive diseases (3.9%). The ten leading causes of morbidity for all age groups are, in decreasing order: malaria; acute respiratory infections; symptoms, signs and ill defined or unknown conditions; hypertension; accident and injuries; acute diarrhoeal disease; diabetes mellitus; worm infestation; rheumatic arthritis; and mental and nervous disorders.

This morbidity profile indicates that it can be improved substantially through enhanced preventive health care, better education on health issues, more widespread access to potable water and sanitation services, and increased access to basic health care of good quality.

Guyana has experienced an upswing in violent crime and homicide in 2008 while the numbers of murders reported actually dropped in 2007 over the previous few years, with a murder rate of 15.1 people for each 100,000, in contrast to 2008 (up to the end of July) that number has risen to 26 per 100,000 similair to the rate experienced in 2003. Guyana suffers from the highest suicide rate of any South American country. Guyana Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy estimates that at least 200 people commit suicide each year in Guyana, or 27.2 people for each 100,000 people each year.

Guyana, along with Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil, is one of the four non-Hispanic nations in South America. Guyana's culture is very similar to that of the English-speaking Caribbean, to the extent that Guyana is included and accepted as a Caribbean nation and is a founding member of the Caricom (Caribbean Community) economic bloc and also the home of the Bloc's Headquarters, the CARICOM Secretariat. Its geographical location, its sparsely populated rain forest regions, and its substantial Amerindian population differentiate it from English-speaking Caribbean countries. Its blend of Indo-Guyanese (East Indian) and Afro-Guyanese (African) cultures gives it similarities to Trinidad and distinguishes it from other parts of the Americas. Guyana shares similar interests with the islands in the West Indies, such as food, festive events, music, sports, etc.

Events include Mashramani (Mash), Phagwah (Holi), and Deepavali (Diwali).

Dark blue: Countries and territories where English is spoken natively by a significant population.

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Janet Jagan

Janet Jagan

Janet Rosalie Jagan (née Rosenberg on 20 October 1920) is a former President of Guyana, serving from 19 December 1997 to 11 August 1999, and previously served as Prime Minister from 17 March 1997 to 19 December 1997.

She was born to a Jewish, middle-class family in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. In December 1942, while working as a student nurse at Cook County Hospital, she met Cheddi Jagan, an Indo-Guyanese dentistry student at Northwestern University. They married on August 5, 1943, and she moved with him to Guyana in December 1943; in Guyana, she took part in labour activism along with her husband and joined the British Guiana Labour Union. She also worked in her husband's dental clinic as a nurse for 10 years. In 1946, she founded the Women's Political and Economic Organisation and co-founded the Political Affairs Committee.

Janet Jagan unsuccessfully ran for a seat from Central Georgetown in the 1947 general election. On January 1, 1950, she and her husband were co-founders of the left-wing People's Progressive Party (PPP); Janet served as the PPP's General Secretary from 1950 to 1970. Also in 1950, Jagan was elected to the Georgetown City Council. She was subsequently elected to the House of Assembly in the April 1953 election, winning a seat from Essequibo constituency. She was one of three women to win seats in that election; following the election, she was chosen as Deputy Speaker of the Legislature.

The PPP, a socialist party, opposed British colonial rule of Guyana. After its electoral victory in April 1953, the PPP briefly formed the government, but the British government had the PPP government removed later in the year, and Cheddi and Janet were jailed for five months; they were subsequently kept under house arrest for two years. In 1957, she was re-elected to the House of Assembly from Essequibo constituency and became Minister of Labour, Health and Housing. She later succeeded Claude Christian as Minister of Home Affairs upon Christian's death in 1963, but resigned from the Cabinet in 1964. As a member of the Elections Commission for the opposition in 1967, she expressed concern about the possibility of vote rigging. She was also the editor of the PPP newspaper Mirror from 1973 to 1997.

Jagan was elected to Parliament in 1973 and was re-elected in 1980, 1985, and 1992, eventually becoming the longest-serving member of Parliament. Cheddi Jagan was elected as President of Guyana in 1992, and Janet Jagan became First Lady. She represented Guyana at the United Nations for three months in 1993, temporarily replacing Rudy Insanally when the latter was President of the United Nations General Assembly.

After Cheddi Jagan's death, Janet Jagan was sworn in as Prime Minister as well as First Vice President on March 17, 1997. Jagan was the presidential candidate of the PPP in the December 1997 election. After the PPP won the election, she became the second female President in the history of South America (after Isabel Perón of Argentina) and the first to be democratically elected. In the Guyanese context, Janet not only became the first female President of Guyana, but she was also the first U.S.-born and Caucasian woman to lead the nation.

On July 1, 1999, after Jagan returned from the European-Latin American summit in Rio de Janeiro, she was admitted to St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital in Georgetown due to chest pains and exhaustion. She was treated for a heart condition and released from the hospital on July 3. Later in the month, she underwent tests regarding her heart condition at Akron City Hospital in the U.S. city of Akron, Ohio; she was discharged on July 23. Returning to Guyana, she received heart medication and was told that bypass surgery was not necessary.

Jagan announced on August 8, 1999 that she was resigning as President because her health meant that she was no longer capable of "vigorous, strong leadership"; she said that Finance Minister Bharrat Jagdeo would be her successor. Jagdeo was sworn in as President on August 11.

At the PPP's 29th Congress, Jagan received the second highest number of votes (671) in the election to the party's Central Committee, held on August 2, 2008. She was then elected to the PPP Executive Committee, in addition to being elected as editor of the PPP paper Thunder, on August 12, 2008.

Being both Marxist and Jewish, she was the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in the United States; there were false reports that she is related to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

Janet Jagan has long been involved with the literary and cultural life of Guyana. She published early Martin Carter poems in Thunder (which she edited) and supported the publication of early Carter collections such as The Hill of Fire Glows Red. She had long been a teller of stories to her children and grandchildren and was strongly concerned that Guyanese children should have books that reflected themselves. In 1993 Peepal Tree Press published her When Grandpa Cheddi was a Boy and Other Stories, followed by Patricia, the Baby Manatee (1995), Anastasia the Ant-Eater (1997) and The Dog Who Loved Flowers.

President Janet Jagan is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

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Lusignan Massacre

On the morning of Saturday, January 26, 2008, gunmen stormed into Lusignan and ruthlessly murdered eleven persons, including five children. Five families were affected by the massacre.

A group of heavily armed gunmen entered “Track A” Lusignan about 02:00 am, and invaded the homes of five Lusignan families. The onslaught, which lasted about 20 minutes, penetrated the quiet of the morning with heavy gunfire as the marauding gang mercilessly killed eleven persons. The dead are: Clarence Thomas, 48; Vanessa Thomas, 12; Ron Thomas, 11; Mohandan Goordat, 32; Seegopaul Harilall, 10; Seegobin Harilall, 4; Dhanwajie Ramsingh, 52; Seecharran Rooplall, 56; Raywattie Ramsingh, 11; Shazam Mohammed, 22; and Shaleem Baksh, 52. Several of the children who were murdered were found dead while still in their beds. Survivors of the attack are Arjune Bhim, 11,Roberto Thomas and Howard Thomas. Both Roberto and Howard, who sustained life-threatening gunshot wounds, have undergone successful recoveries.

As the country slipped into nationwide mourning, East Coast residents held protests along the East Coast corridor, where they burned tires and damaged state infrastructure. Residents reported that they made several attempts to contact the Vigilance Police Station during the siege. However, the police did not respond promptly, and arrived at the scenes of the crime well after the gunmen had escaped. As such, angry residents staged protests to vent their disappointment with the country’s fractured national security. Residents were also incensed when government officials visited Lusignan. The fugitive Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins has claimed responsibility for the massacre.

The former soldier, Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins, who has claimed responsibility of the Lusignan massacre, was initially wanted for the April 2006 assassination of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh. Rawlins’ girlfriend, 19-year-old Tenisha Morgan, vanished on January 18, 2008 while on her way to a city hospital to deliver her baby. Rawlins believed that his girlfriend was kidnapped by law enforcement officials in an effort to force Rawlins to turn himself in. The Joint Services has repeatedly denied these claims.

Rawlins telephoned the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) a few days after her disappearance, and warned them to turn over his girlfriend to him or face the consequences. His voice was positively identified by police ranks. Following the Lusignan Massacre, a male person who claimed to be Rawlins contacted the local newspaper Kaieteur News by phone. He claimed responsibility for the Lusignan killings, but declared that he was not the mastermind behind the slaying of the Minister for Agriculture in 2006. Rawlins further warned that he will create history in Guyana through a repeat mass killing if his girlfriend is not returned to him alive and well. This threat was realized less than one month after the Lusignan Massacre, when another bloodbath was executed in the mining town of Bartica. In that incident, 13 persons were ruthlessly murdered, including three policemen, while seven persons sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the body .

Two days after the Lusignan Massacre, the Joint Services launched Operation Restore Order, headed by the Commissioner of Police (ag) Henry Greene. The operation was launched so as to capture and disable criminal gangs, and restore law and order to the country. All sea, land and air resources were mobilized in an effort to capture the killers.

On Wednesday, 30th January 2008, members of the Joint Services were engaged in a shootout in Buxton, which resulted in the death of two armed men. About ten gunmen shot at and threw grenades at the ranks in the vicinity of Pond Dam, Buxton. The two dead were identified as Vibert Leroy Harris aka Bolo, of Friendship, East Coast Demerara, and Troy St. John aka John Eye. St. John is believed to be Rawlin’s second in command.

During Operation Restore Order, the Joint Services cleared a section of the backlands of Buxton so as to disable the criminals from escaping into those fields. They discovered the skeletal remains of one man who went missing in 2007. (citation needed) The Joint Services also recovered several AK-47 rifles, hundreds of rounds for various weapons, and military fatigues, among other items. These items were discovered through raids in Buxton. The operation was been widely extended to other towns and villages in Guyana following the second massacre at Bartica massacre, where the town was under siege for approximately one hour.

The Lusignan massacre has been condemned by many factions of the Guyanese community as well as various international bodies. All political parties and religious bodies unreservedly condemned the Lusignan massacre and called for an end to the brutal crimes.

Various controversies have surrounded the motives of the Lusignan massacre, and the national response to the capture of the criminals.

1. President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo refused to hold consultations on the country’s crime situation with main opposition leader Mr. Robert Corbin. The president declared that he would not discuss the matter unless the opposition leader admitted that the beleaguered community of Buxton is a safe-haven for criminals. The opposition leader has said that he will not single out Buxton, as criminals can also be found all over the country. The President did later meet with all national stakeholders, parliamentary political parties and religious bodies on Wednesday 20th February, 2008, following the second massacre in Bartica.

2. As part of Operation Restore Order, the Joint Services conducted various search exercises in the homes of Buxtonians. Many residents complained that their household items were unnecessarily damaged beyond repair. There were also claims of unnecessary force used during the detainment of suspects from the village. The Joint Services subsequently said that all items damaged during the search exercises will be replaced or compensated for.

3. Operation Restore Order also saw the clearing of the Buxton backlands, a move which greatly affected the livelihood of Buxton farmers. The cash crop farms were cleared so as to prevent criminals from using the backlands to make good their escape. The government of Guyana subsequently set up a compensation desk in order to assess claims of destroyed farms, and supply adequate monetary compensation for all losses.

4. Tenisha Morgan, who was heavily pregnant at the time of her disappearance, allegedly contacted her mother, Waple Morgan, while still missing. Her mother reportedly said she received a phone call from the young woman, who said she did not know where she was, but she was walking along a dam. She also reportedly said that the baby, who is a girl, is sick, and they have no food. A massive search was launched for the missing woman and her baby, but neither was found. Police investigations shortly after found that there were inconsistencies with Waple Morgan’s report, and that she had changed her story as to how she came to receive the phone call. This has cast doubt on her reliability; nonetheless, the police continue to search for the missing pair.

In 2008, gang leader Rondell Rawlins was killed by police.

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Geoffrey Da Silva

Geoffrey Da Silva is a politician and administrator in Guyana. He was the Guyanese Minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry from 1999 to 2001, and now serves as head of Guyana Investment (Go-Invest).

Da Silva has a degree from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was an employee of the Communist Party of Canada in the 1980s, and ran as a candidate of the Communist Party at the federal and provincial levels. He also sought election for municipal office in Toronto. The Communist Party is not a strong political force in Canada, and Da Silva never came close to winning election.

Da Silva participated in the Guyanese liberation movement, seeking the return of democracy in that country. He was Guyana's Consul General to Toronto in the 1990s, and was interviewed by the Toronto Star newspaper following the death of Guyanese president Cheddi Jagan in 1997.

Da Silva was appointed to the cabinet of President Bharrat Jagdeo on November 19, 1999, replacing the ailing Michael Shree Chan as Minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry. He participated in negotiations with Jamaica on the sale of rice in 2000. Participating in the Fourth Annual Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development in the same year, he argued that the Caribbean tourism industry would have to change to reflect growing changes in ecotourism. He was quoted as saying, ""The role of the agent has to change. must become travel experts. New tourism trends will require new agents." He also promoted sustainable tourism in the ecologically fragile area of Kaieteur, and took part in negotiations toward completing a roadway with Brazil. In February 2000, he led an official delegation that met with Prince Charles of the United Kingdom in his official visit to Guyana.

Da Silva was dropped from cabinet following the 2001 elections, and became head of the Guyana Investment. An essay released the following year by the Guyana and Caribbean Political and Cultural Center for Popular Education argued that he significantly improved the agency's ability to attract investors. He 2005, Da Silva argued that Guyana was creating jobs by diversifying its economy away from traditional crops such as bauxite and sugar. He helped to organize the Guyana Trade and Investment Exposition in the same year, seeking increased Canadian investment in Guyana. Notwithstanding his leftist political background, Da Silva has called for increased private-sector involvement in Guyana's food packaging industry.

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Source : Wikipedia