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October 2019 \ Guyana Diaspora Digest Magazine


JetBlue confirms 2020 flight to Guyana Qatar Airways to fly to Guyana Soon

Oil Finds

March 2, 2020

is E-Day

in Guyana’s waters

Foreign Minister tells Guyanese to be patriots A Publication of the Department of Public Information



Diaspora Digest

CONTENTS 4 March 2, 2020 is E-Day

29 Georgetown Mayor and City Council

6 Jet Blue confirms 2020 flights to Guyana

30 My Turn - Hon. Prime Minister Moses


Liza Destiny marks new beginning for Guyana

12 Qatar Airways to fly to Guyana soon



32 Sod turned for new 1823 Monument at Parade Ground

14 Foreign affairs minister tells Guyanese to be

34 Govt activates National Emergency Operations

17 $250MILLION Children and Family Care Centre

36 Everybody’s connected!


- child advocacy centre for all capital towns

18 Recent Diaspora conferences, engagements

- Minister Jordan at the IDB’s 60th anniversary celebration - Guyana's Public Health Minister elected Vice-Chair of WHO Executive Board

20 New helicopter taxiway commissioned at Ogle airport

22 Creation of four new towns 26 New runwaty for Lethem Airport 27 Editorial 28 Government of Guyana

Centre as high tide pound coastal Guyana

38 Education and National Development 42 Indigenous leaders meet for annual conference 44 'Off to a bright start' - Guyana-Suriname Ferry service back in business

46 Massive Massy Mega opens at Turkeyen 49 PM Modi met with the leaders of CARICOM at the UNGA

50 Guyanese return home from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

52 Guyana continues the strengthen its diplomatic relations globally


Diaspora Digest

MARCH 2, 2020 IS EP

resident David Granger on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 issued two proclamations for the holding of General and Regional Elections on Monday, 2nd March 2020. The President, by the power vested in him by Article 61 of the Constitution of Guyana, to by proclamation, appoint the day for an election under Article 60 (2) , appointed 2nd March 2020 as the day on which an election of members of the National Assembly shall be held. The Constitution at Article 61 states: “An election of members of the National Assembly under Article 60 (2) shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the President shall appoint by proclamation.” Similarly, President Granger proclaimed 2nd March, 2020, the same day as appointed under Article 61 of the Constitution for the holding of elections of members of the National Assembly, as the day on which elections of members of the Regional Democratic Councils shall be held. Article 73 (2) of the Constitution states: “Elections of members of regional democratic councils shall be held and the councils shall be dissolved at such times as, subject to paragraph (3), the President may appoint by proclamation.” President Granger on 25th September 2019, in his address to the nation, had announced that after discussions with Chairman of the Elections Commission and with his Cabinet, the earliest possible date for the holding of General and Regional Elections will be on Monday, 2nd March 2020. The President’s statement followed Chairman of the Elections Commission Justice Claudette Singh’s missive to him on 19th September 2019, indicating that “the Guyana Elections Commission will be able to deliver credible elections by the end of February 2020”. The Head of State met Justice Singh on 25th September, and discussed the statutory timelines for the upcoming General and Regional Elections. 

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Amna Ally casting his ballot at the last local government election

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Hon. Catherine Hughes after casting her ballot at the 2018 LGE



Flashback, March 16, 2015, His Excellency, President David Granger and Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamootoo acknowledges supporters converged at Public Buildings to witness the president his Oath of Office.

Minister of Public Health, Hon Volda Lawrence casting her ballot at the last local government election

Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamootoo and his wife, Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo proudly display their inked fingers after voting at the 2018 LGE


Diaspora Digest

JetBlue confirms 2020 flights to Guyana G


Jetblue to non-stop services operation in 2020

uyana is on the verge of adding yet another major airline to cement the connection with North America. This comes as JetBlue officially announced the expansion of its non-stop services that will commence April 2, 2020, between Guyana to New York. According to JetBlue’s blue media website, Director of Route Planning, Andrea Lusso mentioned, “Guyana service introduces a diverse and underserved destination to the JetBlue route map which will benefit both leisure travellers, as well as those visiting friends and relatives.” To this end, the airline said it will be introducing, “a new, low fare high-quality choice to travellers in Guyana.” Minister of Public Infrastructure, Hon. David Patterson welcomed JetBlue’s decision to enter the Guyana market. “The introduction of this immensely popular low-cost carrier will see lower ticket prices to Georgetown and provide travellers with an opportunity to fly on an airline of choice to their favourite destination. This agreement with JetBlue is timely and comes on the heels of continued and sustainable growth in several sectors of our economy, including, service, tourism, mining and oil and gas,” Minister Patterson stated.

JetBlue’s A321neo aircraft will be sued to establish its services in Guyana. It is said to be 20% more fuel-efficient and can support longer-range flights. “Inside the aircraft, JetBlue’s award-winning comfort and connectivity will be the focus of the onboard customer experience. The A321neo will feature the Collins Meridian seat – which is the widest seat available for the single-aisle Airbus family of aircraft – with enhanced cushion comfort, adjustable headrests, power connections at every seat and the most legroom in coach (b). Inflight entertainment will be powered by Thales AVANT and ViaSat-2 connectivity. With this system – featuring 10.1 inch, 1080P high definition screens, more than 100 channels of live television with DVR-like pause and rewind functionality, picture-in-picture function and more – JetBlue will offer customers expanded entertainment choices in nearly every region the airline flies (c). JetBlue is the only major U.S. airline with seatback entertainment screens at every seat on every aircraft,” JetBlue media continued. At present, American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines and COPA Airlines operate Guyana-US route.  Images: JetBlue

Schedule between New York (JFK) and Georgetown (GEO)

JFK - GEO Flight #1965 11:55 p.m. – 5:58 a.m. (+1)

GEO - JFK Flight #1966 7:20 a.m. – 1:09 p.m.



Diaspora Digest

“I would l

crew, th not only

partners, b children,

A section of Guyana's first Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, the Liza Destiny


Liza Destiny marks new beginning for Guyana By Anara Khan

like to hope for the Liza Destiny, the partners and the

hat it will bring us all the good things we anticipate, the profits or return of investment for Exxon and its

but also for the people of Guyana and in particular our a better quality of life, sustainable development and


Liza Destiny officially welcomed


everything from which good oil will flow.” This was the view expressed by First Lady, H.E Sandra Granger who was bestowed the honour of being the Godmother of Guyana’s first Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO). She was at the time delivering remarks at a reception hosted at the Guyana Marriott Hotel to mark the arrival of the vessel and the final round of preparations for oil production, now just months away. https://youtu.be/GHU3b0S_TCU Along with its arrival, the 120,000 bpd Liza Destiny FPSO has brought with it good tidings, hope and an opportunity for a brighter future for Guyana, Director of the country’s Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe, added. He said the historic arrival of the country’s first floating oil production complex, “heralds a tide of good fortunes which we must appreciate for both the magnificent engineering feat that [it] presents and the flood of opportunities and possibilities it presents for Guyana and Guyanese.” “These revenues [from oil production] can be used to help our country to ultimately be transformed positively from an economic deContinued on page 12

First Lady, H.E Sandra Granger, who was bestowed the honour of being the Godmother of Guyana’s first Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO).


Diaspora Digest

Liza Destiny marks new beginning for Guyana From page 11 velopment perspective. It is imperative that as Guyanese we begin to appreciate that the direct and the indirect benefits that emanate from this sector go far beyond anything that we have seen thus far… The Department of Energy is bullish on ensuring that we extract the best value for our people,” he emphasized. Dr. Bynoe said Guyana’s future is bright and has many prospects in store for young, industrious and innovative minds. “We welcome Liza Destiny, our first FPSO to her home Guyana, along with her crew and staff. We congratulate ExxonMobil, Hess, CNOCC and all its contractors and partners

as well as all those Guyanese agencies who helped to create this moment and this opportunity,” he said. ExxonMobil Guyana Country Manager, Mr. Rod Henson expressed similar sentiments. “We have so much to celebrate and a bright path ahead of us and I believe this partnership has its best and most productive decades ahead. I had the privilege 0f becoming the President of ExxonMobil’s Guyana affiliate here in 2017 and since then, I’ve come to know many people in Guyana well and I truly value the relationships I’ve formed here. They make me optimistic for the future of this unique and beautiful country,” he said. The Liza Destiny, Guyana’s first oil produc-

First Lady, H.E Sandra Granger, who was bestowed the honour of being the Godmother of Guyana’s first Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO).

tion vessel, has finally arrived in the country after travelling nearly 11,000 nautical miles for 42 days from the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. Prior to the reception, a high-level Guyanese delegation visited the country’s first Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading Vessel to get a first-hand look at the facility that will be producing the country’s first barrel of oil. The team, comprising First Lady, Granger, Dr Bynoe and Rod Henson, also included the Guyana Government’s Ministers of State, Dawn Hastings-Williams, Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman and Finance, Winston Jor-

11 dan. The officials also hosted a symbolic flag raising ceremony on board, with Sergeant Randell Williams, of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) hoisting the Golden Arrowhead. During the tour of the facility, the Guyanese delegation was also afforded the oppor-


Liza Destiny is here!

tunity to interact with some of their countrymen currently working on the FPSO. The Liza Destiny arrived in Guyana from Singapore on August 29, 2019 after being converted from a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) tanker ‘Tina’ to its present state. The vessel is twice the length of the Providence Stadium; half the width of the Georgetown Cricket Ground; has the depth of the Kingston Lighthouse and the capacity to store some 1.6 million barrels of oil. This FPSO is a significant component of the Liza Phase 1 development which involves four undersea drill centers with 17 production wells. During normal operations, there will be at least 80 persons living and working on board the vessel. 

Country Manager of Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited, Rod Henson. First Lady, Sandra Granger, Minister of State, Hon. Dawn HastingsWilliams and Director, Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe and this ExxonMobil official during a tour of the Liza Destiny. Director of the Department of Energy (DE), Dr. Mark Byone.

FACTS ABOUT LIZA DESTINY 1. It is 334 meters long, or the length of more than three soccer fields. 2. It is 58 meters wide, or half of a cricket field. 3. At 31 meters, its depth matches the length of the Georgetown Lighthouse in Guyana’s capital.


Diaspora Digest

qatar airways T

he Civil Aviation Authorities of Guyana and Qatar have signed an air service agreement - a move expressing the continued confidence in this country’s current and projected economy. The agreement was signed in that country by Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA), Egbert Field and the Chairman Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Abdulla bin Nasser Turki Al Subaey. Minister of Transport and Communications, H E Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti and Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Board, Lawrence London witnessed the inking of the agreement on behalf of the two countries. According to Guyana’s Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the agreement will permit Qatar’s national carrier 'Qatar Airways' to operate passenger and cargo flights, as well as cooperation between the carriers concerned. It will also permit Qatar Airways to have an operation centre in Guyana to fly to any country in the region and other regions as well.

to Gu


o fly to uyana soon Qatar Airways Company is the stateowned flag carrier of Qatar. The airline operates a hub-and-spoke network, linking over 150 international destinations across Africa, Central Asia, Europe, Far East, South Asia, Middle East, North America, South America and Oceania from its base at Hamad International Airport, using a fleet of more than 200 aircraft. Back in 2017, QATAR Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways had announced that that country would immediately be allowed visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, including Guyana. Citizens of those countries wishing to visit Qatar will no longer need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will

Minister of Transport and Communications, H.E Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, and Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Board, Lawrence London, witnessing the signing of the agreement

be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket. In November 2016, Qatar introduced a free transit visa, which allows passengers of all nationalities transiting in Qatar for a minimum of five hours to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days). In May 2017, QTA launched +Qatar, an initiative to promote the country as a stopover destination, with the national carrier, Qatar Airways. Other airline companies have also been


Qatar Airways is coming

signalling interest in the Guyanese flight markets, while current operators have increased the number of weekly flights to other destinations. Early in the year, Guyana entered into an air services agreement with New Zealand, which enables both nations to conduct international air transportation following a mutually crafted framework for operation. Late last year, Guyana also inked a historic bilateral air service agreement which promotes air transport connectivity and collaboration in numerous areas such as oil and gas. Last December, American Airlines commenced operations in Guyana, one of its 19 destinations across South America. Copa Airlines also added another flight to its Guyana-Panama route with onward connections effective since December. Copa operates the additional flight on Fridays, adding to existing flights on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. ď ľ


Diaspora Digest

foreign affairs minister tells Guyanese to be patriots Briefings from the United Nations General Assembly 2019


s world leaders gathered in New York for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), September 24 to 30, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Karen Cummings was in attendance and addressed several of the forums on issue ranging from climate change to possible armed conflict. While there, Minister Cumming was also able to clear up several misconceptions being peddled by the opposition about the country’s state of affairs.

Guyana committed to a world free of nuclear weapons On September 25th, Minister Cummings recommitted Guyana’s position to a world

free of nuclear weapons during her address to a High-Level Plenary Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, at the UNGA. The meeting allows the Member States, observers and civil society to have a frank debate on an issue that poses an existential threat to the security of people and the planet, given the indiscriminate and unparalleled destruction that nuclear weapons can cause. Dr. Cummings told the forum that Guyana has always taken a progressive approach to the elimination of nuclear weapons and is a State party to all of the major international legal instruments that together encompass the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Guyana recently hosted representatives

Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Karen Cummings delivering remarks at the High-Level Plenary Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons of the CARICOM Member States including Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago at a regional meeting of experts to discuss the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) from a regional perspective and to assess its prospects for advancing nuclear disarmament, global security and humanitarian norms, while canvassing progress toward its entry into force. The Foreign Affairs Minister reiterated that Guyana will continue its active engagement in the negotiating process that resulted in the adoption in 2017 of the TPNW, which is the first legally binding international instrument for the prohibition of nuclear weapons. “We possess no nuclear weapons nor do we claim to be protected from them by the nuclear weapons of an ally. This is consistent with our full compliance with the prohibitions contained in Article 1 of the TPNW, which aims to transform the regional norm of the Caribbean against the possession of nuclear weapons into a global norm. The approximately US$2 trillion in current expenditure on nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Karen Cummings delivering OIC Statement

15 States reduces funding for development and the achievement of the SDGs. As a small developing country, Guyana remains concerned about this diversion of economic resources to the maintenance of nuclear weapons and modernization of nuclear weapon stockpiles and their delivery systems. These resources could be better invested in the economic and social development of our peoples”

Guyanese urged to be strong in defense of their home country On evening of the September 26th, addressing a sizeable crowd of overseas-based Guyanese on the sidelines of the UNGA, Minister Cummings said the oil boom about to flood Guyana is causing many internal and external forces to become “envious and scep-

tical of the country’s progress and prospects.” “When you see local and international actors behaving in a particular way, you must understand what is inspiring them. In return, as never before we must be strong in our defence of Guyana. Be informed. Avoid fake news. Be vigilant, be involved. We must be patriots as never before. Don’t give way to scepticism, or tribalism, but rise above these challenges that would detract from the journey of destiny on which we embark,” Minister Cummings told the diaspora at the Medgar Evers College, in Brooklyn. She said the transformation that has taken been sweeping across Guyana since the coalition took office, will be significantly accelerated as the nation benefits from the lucrative rewards of the vast natural resources. The minister said Guyana is on the rise, and for the nation to achieve its full potential, it must have leadership that is accountable, fair, transparent and responsible. She said Guyanese will witness a new and prosperous Guyana. One where their children and grandchildren will enjoy into the future. In that vein, she urged that the diaspora to “continue your strong and unwavering support of the APNU/AFC coalition and let prosperity, development, unity and harmony continue.” Minister Cummings reminded that the coalition stands ready to contest the next general and regional elections after a “clean list” is established. The Guyanese people, she said will be the judge after all that has taken place over the last four years under the leadership of His Excellency President David Granger. She told the diaspora that they have an important role to play. “As Guyanese living here in the US, many of you have a great interest in what is taking place in Guyana. I recognized that all of you want to see Guyana live up to its potential so that your relatives back home can enjoy the good life” She said the Guyanese diaspora around the world is motivated by several factors. She saluted their unfailing efforts to give back to the country they once called home.

Calls for safeguarding of territorial integrity On the 27th, Minister Cummings sounded a call for countries to safeguard their sovereignty and territorial integrity while address-

ing Member States of the Organisation of Islamic Corporation (OIC), at its Annual Coordination Meeting (ACM) at the UNGA. The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations, with the membership of 57 states, is the collective voice of the Muslim world to ensure and safeguard their interest on economic, social and political areas. Minister Cumming reminded that Guyana, since 1966, has spared no effort in striving to defend its territorial integrity against the spurious claim by neighbouring Venezuela. The Spanish speaking nation continues to claim over two-thirds of this country, completely disregarding the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award which settled the land boundary of the two countries. "This matter is now before the International Court of Justice and Guyana welcomes the prospect of a final and binding decision by the Court that will definitively resolve this longstanding controversy," Minister Cummings related.

All hands-on deck to counter climate change On the 28th, Minister Cummings added Guyana’s s voice to calls at the UNGA for measures to mitigate the gruelling impact of climate change and the vulnerability under which many countries find themselves. During the General Debate, Minister Cummings underscored the existential threat posed by climate change and the demand for the urgent efforts of all actors. The Minister noted that Guyana is one such vulnerable country and fully understands the risks posed by climate change


Diaspora Digest

foreign affairs minister tells Guyanese to be patriots

From page 15 since it experiences damages to its coastal zone, frequency of flooding in the hinterland, and extreme meteorological events. “Guyana ranks highly among countries most vulnerable to natural disasters and this compels urgency on our part to institute adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures,” she stated. In this regard, the minister reported that the country is pursuing transformative action to secure its advance as a modern, cohesive and prosperous state, including through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. “Guyana has incorporated the Agenda into our national development strategy – the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS): Vision 2040. The Green State Development Strategy is Guyana’s road map to becoming a ‘green state’. It emphasises the protection of our environment, enhancing prosperity and social

cohesion and laying the foundation for the involvement of every citizen in sustaining a low-carbon trajectory of growth that is inclusive, diversified and climate-resilient,” she relayed. However, beyond merely responding as an affected country, Guyana has long committed to exercising leadership in pursuing actions to help mitigate anthropogenic climate change. “Our experience has shown that whether in combating climate impacts, expanding economic benefits or consolidating democratic norms extreme vigilance is required to safeguard hard-earned and cherished gains. Indeed, they must be attended with great care to avoid reversals.” Meanwhile, Minister Cummings also presented Guyana’s strong record of achievements at the national and international levels. She reported that significant progress has been made in consolidating democratic

Ambassador Rudolph M. TenPow, permanent representative to the UN, Consul General to New York, Barbara Atherly, Dr. Karen Cummings, and Ambassador to the US, Riyad Insanally, after the Brooklyn town hall meeting on Sept. 26, at Medgar Evers College. norms and the rule of law and the respect for the rights and freedom of all citizens. “Here again, it is evident that they consider all the progress realized under the Coalition government cannot be taken for granted,” she told the meeting. While at the UNGA, Minister Cumming also met with the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland. She related that the officials have offered their assistance to Guyana in preparation for elections. 



Children and Family Care Centre - child advocacy centre for all capital towns By Alexis Rodney His Excellency, President David Granger said every child in Guyana is entitled to enjoy their childhood, noting that the country’s constitution provides for the protection of all. The Head of State made the declaration moments before he officially opened the first Children and Family Care Centre, in Sophia Georgetown, Region 4. The $250MILLION facility is the brainchild of the Ministry of Social Protection and is being dubbed a “safe haven” for vulnerable and at-risk children and their families. “Every child deserves a happy childhood and we the adults have a collective duty to support children’s enjoyment of that right,” the Head of State said. Ensuring that right, he said also means allowing children to be in the comfort of their homes and growing up with their own families. “Children are nurtured best in a home, rather than an institution, even an excellent institution like this. A happy home is essential for children’s development. The family holds the primary responsibility for the protection of their offspring and their upbringing,” Pres-

ident Granger noted. He underscored the significance of Guyana’s constitution and the provision it makes for the safeguarding of the children. “We are making progress in ensuring a better future for our children. We are strengthening childcare and protection; we are working to reunite families. We must continue on this path; we must continue to move forward to years ahead,” he said. The Head of State’s vision is for the establishment of child advocacy centres in all ten administrative regions of Guyana. The spanking new facility is a huge achievement for the Ministry of Social Protection. Subject minister, the Hon Amna Ally explained that the 24-hour service centre can hold some 80 children. It also has eight self-contained apartments for families who may need temporary shelter. “The centre will be a sanctuary and the first stop for vulnerable children. It will offer an alternative to caregivers, at risk for abandoning or placing their child in residential care,” she explained. According to Minister Ally, children living in the institution are expected to attend

His, Excellency, President David Granger and Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Amna Ally assist in cutting the ribbon to commission the centre.

school and be enrolled in a daycare if they have not attained school age. Parents will be required to work, attend job training programmes, seek housing and employment and attend social service appointments. While the facility is there to assist vulnerable families, the aim is also to encourage independence and self-sufficiency through empowerment. The centre will, therefore, accommodate families for three months or longer, before the families move on. Minister Ally too believes that children grow best in families. “Many children are being brought away from their families because of poverty, not because they are unloved or unwanted. At the ministry, we believe children grow best in families and so we fight every day to help families go from barely surviving to thriving.”  Images: Marceano Narine


Diaspora Digest

Recent Diaspora confe Several Minister were out of country recently representing the country at various international forums and conferences. Among them were Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence.

Minister Jordan at the IDB’s 60th anniversary celebration


he Inter-American Development Bank celebrated its 60th anniversary in Washington DC, with a series of events featuring heads of state and leaders from the public and private sectors. The Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) took place on September 26-28, and included a session with heads of state, a dialogue of IDB Governors (the maximum authorities of the IDB, comprised typically of ministers of finance and presidents of central banks), a private-sector summit, and other thematic seminars. Guyana’s Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan addressed one of the thematic sessions on September 22. He noted that the evolution of the IDB over the years has added enormous value to the lives of the people of the Latin American and Caribbean. However, he pointed out that for the bank to remain relevant, it must undergo pragmatic reforms that would further align its strategies, policies and offerings to the requirements of non-borrowing member countries and the needs of its borrowing constituents. "Moving forward, as an institution, we must dissect and introspect and ask ourselves some difficult questions, such as the

devastating impacts of climate change are our response instruments and offerings sufficient? Especially to the smaller, poorer and more vulnerable countries of the Bank that are unable to take on additional debt burdens during a time of crisis," he told the gathering. Minister Jordan suggested a further revision of policies and instruments related to disaster response. As an institution with intraregional integration as a cornerstone of its work, he questioned if it offers regional instruments that would allow for the development of inter-country and regional projects. "Perhaps, it is time to consider Regional instruments. As the fourth industrial revolution transpires, regional challenges are reinforced. Whilst technology offers much-required solutions, it deepens concerns about resources to equip a country’s human capital to thrive in this emerging environment and the agility of poorer countries to adjust and adapt at a rapid pace, whilst dealing with other competing and pressing development matters. Do offerings under the two main arms of the Bank incentivize the thrust towards bridging the technological divide between developed and less developed countries? Perhaps, it may be time to consider a different approach to financing operations

Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan delivering remarks at the IDB's 60th anniversary.

that underpin the fundamentals and strategic focus of the Bank," he stated. While he saluted the many achievements of the bank in assisting governments across the region in building climate-resilient infrastructure, establishing robust fiscal frameworks, mobilizing resources to meet developmental objectives, he said its approach must be two-pronged. "On one hand, the bank must assist countries in their quest to digitalize their economies, participate on global markets, and become competitive in key industries. On the other hand, it is critical that the bank to remain sincere to its mantra of improving lives by ensuring that the Region’s most poor and vulnerable populations are reached and adequately catered to through its operations." To remain a development giant in these uncertain times, Minister Jordan said the IDB must strengthen its institution by ensuring that undergirding policies are sound; the development effectiveness framework is robust and information on success stories demonstrating tangible results are widely distributed. 


erences, engagements

(from right): DCMO Dr. Karen Gordon Campbell, Public Health Minister, Hon. Volda Lawrence, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne and a PAHO official

Guyana's Public Health Minister elected Vice-Chair of WHO Executive Board


inister of Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence was elected Vice-Chair of the global World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board during the 71st Session of the Regional Committee. Minister Lawrence headed Guyana’s delegation to the 57th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) meeting and 71st Session of the Regional Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Americas. The high-level meeting was held in Washington, DC, from September 30 to October 4. Participants included Health ministers and other high-level delegates from the Americas. The week-long meeting saw the top health

authorities from North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean seeking agreement on regional strategies and plans that address their common and most pressing health challenges. These include a plan to reduce heart disease by eliminating industrially produced trans-fatty acids, a strategy to make access to organ, tissue and cell transplants more equitable, and a plan to improve the quality of care in health services delivery. The Guyana delegation which also included Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Karen Gordon-Campbell also participated in several events on the margins of the PAHO/WHO programme including discussions on ‘Response to Ageing Societies’; ‘Mental Health in the Americas’; the Launch of the ‘Report

of the Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas’ and ‘Addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Americas’. The Guyana Public Health Minister also made a presentation on ‘Multi-sector Collaboration to prevent and respond to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Guyana’, during which she took advantage of the opportunity to highlight the Government of Guyana’s efforts to implement several measures, including the Spotlight Initiative which targets women and girls affected by GBV to help improve their overall health and well-being. At the 37th Meeting of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD), which preceded the PAHO/WHO meetings, on September 28- 29, also held in Washington, DC, Guyana’s DCMO, Dr. Karen Gordon– Campbell was also nominated to serve as the CARICOM representative on the board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS). 


Diaspora Digest

New Helicopter taxiway commissioned at Ogle

By Shaquille Bourne


n what it calls its efforts to, “meet the requirements of Guyana’s fast-moving oil and gas industry,” Eugene F. Correia International Airport has commissioned a $70M taxiway that took 5 months to be constructed. At the small commissioning ceremony on the taxiway, Kit Nacimento delivered the airport’s CEO, Anthony Mekdeci’s, written remarks. The CEO noted that the new Taxiway Foxtrot will connect the existing Taxiway Bravo and Taxiway Charlie to the main 4,200ft runway. According to the CEO, because the airport has a single runway system that did not have a taxiway for helicopters. “The new airport will vastly improve the efficiency and economy of the aircraft operations when taxiing to and from the runway and greatly reduce runway occupancy time. It will also improve the safety of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter operations at the airport. Measuring 200 metres in length by 15

metres width, Runway Foxtrot will bear Pavement Classification Number 16-R/B/X/T and will be capable of accommodating LIAT’s ATR 72 aircraft, the largest aircraft that operates at the airport. During his address, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Hon. Jaipaul Sharma commended the efforts of the operators that have begun construction of helicopter aprons to facilitate services at the airport since the new taxiway is completed. These include Air Services Limited, Trans Guyana Airways and Jags Aviation. Minister Sharma reiterated, “this that you are looking at today is local content at its best. This is the sector where everyone can see what local content is and what it can do.” The minister also outlined the government’s pledge to addressing issues related to the airport. One of the topical issues, he said, relates to the reestablishment of the Airport Review committee that has not been in place for 17 years even though the airport’s lease agreement of 2001 dictates it must be formed.

“There is a commitment the CEO and Board [of Ogle Airport Incorporated] that they want this committee [established] and I can say here today that this committee will be constituted in the shortest space of time,” Minister Sharma stated. Additionally, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which is the aviation sector’s regulatory body, was represented by its Director-General, Col. Edbert Field who mentioned that starting in October, an official


- taxiway facts -

Pano Taxiway Foxtrot at Eugene F. Correia International Airport.

from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will travel to Guyana to assess the operations of the airport, including its air traffic accommodation. Director-General Field explained that this comes after GCAA would have reached out to ICAO for assistance in light of the airport be-

ing one of the busiest in the Caribbean region. The GCAA head welcomed the taxiway’s construction since it will not only alleviate traffic congestion at the airport that mostly occurs within the morning hours but assist Guyana as its aviation sector continues to grow. Moreover, DG Field acknowledged receipt of the airports 5-year developmental plan that has line items such as the widening and an increase of taxiways and increase in solar power. This, DG said, allows the GCAA to keep abreast with the developments in the aviation sector. Ogle Airport Inc. has expressed its appreciation to the involvement of His Excellency President Granger and Commissioner of Lands and Survey Commission Trevor Benn for granting the airport a 50-year extension to its lease. ď ľ

1. A taxiway is a path on an airport connecting runways with ramps, hangars, terminals and other facilities. They mostly have hard surface such as asphalt or concrete, although smaller airports sometimes use gravel or grass. 2. Busy airports typically construct high-speed or rapid-exit taxiways in order to allow aircraft to leave the runway at higher speeds. This allows the aircraft to vacate the runway quicker, permitting another to land or depart in a shorter space of time.


$70M taxiway opens at Ogle airport

Images: Ameer Sattaur Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Hon. Jaipaul Sharma and Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority Col. Edbert Field, along with airport officials at Eugene F. Correia International Airport commissioning Taxiway Foxtrot.


Diaspora Digest

Creation of four - a major accomplishment

Driven by an imperative that all branches of Government must be functional and that hinterland regions must be equipped to manage their growth through local government, since taking office, His Excellency, President David Granger has commissioned 4 new capital towns in far-flung locations. The towns namely, Lethem, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region 9); Mabaruma, Barima-Waini (Region 1); Bartica, Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region 7) and Mahdia, Potaro-Siparuni (Region 8), are being empowered to become the drivers of growth in their regions. The foursome is no longer labelled based on their economic and social activities. They are no longer termed “mining com-

munity”, “bush” or “backdam”. They are pristine capital towns, governed by councils - Mayors, Deputy Mayors, councillors and Town Clerks - elected by the residents and supported by a democratic government. These four towns are providing vital services to their residents. This is a major accomplishment as for years, residents of these areas were compelled to travel to other parts of the country to register their businesses or to renew their passports. Today, many of these essential services are now being decentralized thereby allowing residents to conduct their businesses within their town; their home.


The declaration to officially grant Lethem township w sador to Brazil, George Talbot and several other dignita bouring Brazil as well as hundreds of residents and scho historic event.


r new towns Consisting of six constituencies, namely Hosororo Hill, Mabaruma SettlementBarimanobo, Kumaka, Thomas Hill-Smith Creek, Mabaruma Township/ Mabaruma Compound and Broomes Estate, as well as Barabina-Koberimo, Mabaruma in Region 1, was officially gazetted as a town on October 21, 2015.

was on October 20, 2017. Guyana’s Ambasaries from the State of Roraima in neighool children also turned out to witness the



Diaspora Digest

Creation of four

- a major ac

Mahdia was on Thursday, October 25, 2018 officially declared the tenth town in Guyana by His Excellency, President David Granger. The declaration ceremony was held in the presence of several Ministers of Government, Regional representatives and Mayors. President Granger described the event as one of the most powerful economic reformers in the history of Mahdia and called for greater collaboration to ensure the ongoing development of the



r new towns


Bartica It was an historic occasion for the approximately 15,000 residents of Bartica on May 7, 2016, as they witnessed their community being officially


Diaspora Digest

New runway for Lethem Airport By Anara Khan


ethem’s airstrip in Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region 9) is set to receive a significant boost to its operations with upcoming rehabilitative works. The job was awarded to H. Nauth and Sons Limited on September 20, 2019, for $137. 3 Million and was already catered for in the 2019 Budget. Within the scope of works, 4,000ft of runway will be paved.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, Hon. David Patterson during the ceremonial signing of the agreement for the rehabilitation of the aerodrome at the Takatu Hotel in Lethem noted that there continue to be increasing calls for air transportation between Georgetown, Lethem, Northern Brazil and the Caribbean. This demand, he said, “is projected to grow exponentially – particularly with expansions in the gold mining sector and emerging oil and gas industry.” “The Government of Guyana ultimately

intends to upgrade the Lethem aerodrome to regional standards which will also act as a hub in servicing this demand,” Minister Patterson stated. He also pointed out that the rehabilitation of the Lethem aerodrome will significantly reduce the cost of doing business and improve the quality of inter-regional connectivity. Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamootoo said the government believes that “the project is worthy and is critical to the vast region.” He also noted that the transformation of the aerodrome will contribute to improving the standard of living in Region 9. The Prime Minister further emphasised that the upgrades are testimony of the government’s commitment to ensuring development in all ten administrative regions of Guyana. Also present for the ceremonial signing was Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Raphael Trotman along with engineers from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.  Images: Keno George

Prime Minister Hon. Moses Nagamootoo ceremonially hands a copy of the contract over to Project Coordinator, H. Nauth and Sons Limited Kiran Nauth. Also, in the picture are (right) Minister of Public Infrastructure Hon. David Patterson and (left) Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Raphael Trotman


EDITORIAL President David Granger recently signed the Proclamation for National and Regional Elections to be held on March 2, 2020. This brought to an end, what this column considered as unfair accusations, by especially envoys from the UK, US, EU; and inferences from the Commonwealth and the Organisation of American States (OAS). Claims that

the right of free, fair, and credible elections; because this is a process that is crucial for the participation of citizens in the right to govern their particular state in their name. But there are certain criteria which are central to this most important of democratic processes, such as the preparation of an uncorrupted or clean voter’s list which must be able to de-

Therefore, the Coalition’s championing of House-to –House registration must be commended for its adherence to the intended result of credible elections; despite the process having been shortened to comply with the CCJ’s ruling of elections in the ‘shortest time possible’. The GECOM procedure of a claims and objections of 42 days, will allow those

COALITION GOVERNMENT HAS ALWAYS CHAMPIONED FREE, FAIR AND CREDIBLE ELECTIONS the government had been in ‘breach of the Constitution’, or seemed to be indulging in ‘delaying tactics’. However, the President has once again, showed his and the government’s commitment to the democratic process, as this has been the Coalition’s method of governance, since its ascension to office in May 2015. For the government, democracy has been a continuous process in action, with strict observance to the Constitution. This is evident in the Coalition’s insistence that GECOM be allowed to fulfil its constitutional mandate, of preparing the nation for national elections in a manner free from political interference, intrusion, or influence, from the Executive, or any other quarters, including the political opposition and their vested-interest supporters. The fact that the government has defended the GECOM’s constitutional rights to be exclusively responsible for this critical democratic process, nails the lie that it has been in ‘breach of the Constitution’. It is the responsibility, of every government, in every democratic society, to facilitate

liver transparent poll results under any kind of across-the-board scrutiny. It explains the reasons why the government had been very insistent, ad nauseam, that there be House – to – House registration, a pre-electoral procedure that is crucial to a sanitized voter’s list, but which has been objected to by the PPP/C, for reasons which can only be concluded as sinister, and filled with dishonest intentions. International records are filled with so many examples of governments that would have defaulted for certainly questionable reasons, in ensuring that voter’s lists are proper and in keeping with democratic standards; and which in failing to do so, would have led to severe national tensions of varying extremes. Any government that is worth its democratic credentials; and respects the will and the rights of those that it had been elected to govern, would not allow the travesty of not having a proper voter’s list to facilitate free and fair elections in its jurisdiction. Importantly, a tainted voter’s list is a recipe for post –elections problems, which no democratic government, should want to have.

who were not registered to be part of the National Register of Registrants database. Indeed, this is a prime example of a government that continues to genuinely uphold the Constitution by supporting the constitutional body of the GECOM to carry out its mandate of having free, fair, and credible elections. Be reminded, and this is with specific reference to the ABE countries’ recent statement about “Essential to ensure free and fair elections”. It is this medium through which the Coalition has been governing the affairs of this nation, since 2015; giving meaning to its sacred understanding as it uses the mandate derived from the people to govern fairly while delivering socio-economic benefits to ALL Guyanese, irrespective of party affiliation and ethnicity. 


Diaspora Digest




Diaspora Digest

I have heard enough cynicisms from socalled resource nationalists that down-play the potential benefits Guyana could get from its oil reserves. They invariably daub as crooked the big foreign companies that could possibly help make Guyana the richest country in the world. I followed with growing pain the nihilistic notion that we could leave our oil in the soil, and somehow still take our people out from poverty; that ExxonMobil could walk, if we up demands for a hike in royalty and profit-oil.

many. Again, I was passing through Europe and I had a glimpse of the effects of that war on the Palestinian people, who were displaced and scattered as refugees. Again, in distant Guyana, we suffered even greater consequences with our electricity services and transportation facilities almost crippled. In the potent game of oil in geo-strategic politics, the Arab world reacted with a wave of nationalisation of oil, and there was almost a universal severance of diplomatic ties with Israel.



I don’t doubt that oil has risks, many risks. But it is coming at this time as our saviour, not as our curse. Politically, oil is also powerful, and it could be used by those who have plenty of it–as a weapon. In 1967 I was a young adventurer travelling through Europe when the Six-Day War erupted in the Middle East. Egypt and Syria suffered a humiliating defeat when Israel annexed Gaza and the Golan Heights. The Arab world reacted by imposing an oil embargo against the West. The effects were felt in far-off, newly independent Guyana, as we experienced lines at the pump for fuel. The “Oil Weapon” was again deployed in 1973 during what has been described as the Middle East Crisis, when Arab countries banned all oil shipments to the United States, United Kingdom and Ger-

Somehow, I had felt the righteous wrath of oil, and I have been reluctant to write about our budding oil industry, save for references to the estimated six billion barrels of proved reserves from some, so far, 13 off-shore wells. Somehow I have always been shy about basking in wealth, ever since I heard a former prime minister in one of our Caribbean countries boasting (arrogantly, I would add), that “oil don’t spoil.” That may be so, but oil does run out, and could be worthless due to a glut or falling prices. Worse, if there is no balanced agro-industrial development, the oil wealth could be drained away on consumption and importation on food and other consumer essentials that could be produced here. President David Granger has tapped into a rich deposit of realism when he cautioned, “don’t let us get drunk on oil.”

FOOD SECURITY The Guyanese leader was at the time launching National Tree Day, as part of the observance of Agriculture Month, in my native Corentyne. He was plugging for food security and self-sufficiency. He has struck the

31 right balance when he declared that in the first decade of oil, there will be agricultural diversification and industrialisation. “Agriculture will not be neglected during the next decade,” President Granger assured; he expressed confidence that Guyana could export US$250 million of agricultural produce and could become the bread basket of the Eastern Caribbean. As the newest kid on the oil block, Guyana has to temper the widespread notion of a pie in the sky for all, with the realistic expectation that the reserves do not last forever.



The eventual depletion of oil and other unanticipated hurdles that could make extraction from the reserves less viable, were probably what influenced the Guyanese President to proclaim a “Decade of Development: 2020-2029.” In Guyana, we are blessed with both sweet oil and fertile soil. The first 10 years would be the bonanza decade. Depending on what the economists would describe as volatility in oil prices, Guyana’s stake in revenues could start from US$300 million annually, and peak at over US$5 billion by the end of the decade.

Revenues from oil will facilitate unprecedented, dream-like development. It is this decade that would be defining for Guyana, if we complement oil with the soil; fuel with food. Colin Campbell, founder of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre way back in 2005, was quoted in an on-line article in The Guardian that the world holds enough oil reserves for 40 years, and gas for 60 years. Other sources say that there are some 1.6 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves, which could last just over 50 years at a consumption rate of 100 million barrels per day. The Saudi Arabian reserves were estimated to last 70 years, given production of 10 million barrels per day.

SOIL CULTIVATION So, the downstream of oil production, is soil cultivation. It is common sense that with revenues from oil being pumped into agriculture, agro-processing, fishery and inland aquaculture, cattle and other large-scale livestock business, our wealth will never run dry. What we need from our business sector is not interminable belly-aching about “local content,” but a solid focus and a strong will. We must begin to prepare for local-content

opportunities in the massive downstream public investment programmes. We must develop long in advance of first oil, the necessary institutional capacity to manage big local projects alone or as joint development partners. Our business sector can enjoy the bountiful promise that lies ahead.

PROMISED LAND The Good Book tells us about Moses wandering in the desert for 40 years before he entered the Promised Land. Not claiming the Biblical name or the fame of that Moses, in a personal way I feel privileged to live in Guyana and to share in the euphoria of our own “Promised Land.” And, if life permits, I should be around for the full 40 years of the verifiable oil boom, and long before we hit the rock-bottom of oil depletion. But, then, there is still natural gas, which begins when oil ends! I am confident that our APNU+AFC Coalition Government holds a viable vision for the Decade of Development under our Green State Development Strategy. In simple, layperson’s language, this is: Oil plus Soil is equal to Fuel Plus Food. 


Diaspora Digest

Sod turned for new 1823 Monument at Parade Ground

Minister of Social Cohesion, Hon. Dr. George Norton and President of the 1823 Coalition for the Parade Ground Movement, Sister Penda Guyan, turn the sod for the new 1823 Demerara Slave Revolt Monument, as His Worship Ubraj Narine and Deputy Mayor Alfred Mentore look on.

By Kellon Rover


ground-breaking ceremony was held to mark the establishment of a new 1823 Demerara Slave Revolt Monument at the Independence Park (Parade Ground) in memory of those who lost their lives during the 1823 Demerara Rebellion. This is a promise kept by the Coalition Government to relocate the memorial to its “original site,� from the Atlantic Avenue. The monument will be erected at Parade Ground, which is located between Middle and Waterloo Streets, Georgetown. Minister of Social Cohesion, Hon. Dr. George Norton explained that while there is an 1823 monument already erected along the Atlantic Avenue, His Excellency, President David Granger felt it necessary to support the

33 call by historians for the construction of the monument at this particular site. “It was this location that bore witness to numerous gruesome public executions. At this very site, corpses of fallen enslaved people were hung in chains. In many cases, bodies were decapitated after being hung and heads were stuck on poles, as a means of instilling fear in those who survived and remained desirous of claiming their birthright - freedom,” Minister Norton stated. He further noted the 1823 Demerara Slave Revolt is an integral part of Guyana’s history and by extension, the Caribbean’s colonial history and it should not be buried or go unmarked. Adding that the initiating of the memorial at the location will honour the struggle of our African fore-parents and will remind us that our freedom experienced today came at an incalculable price. “All Guyanese, are the beneficiaries of the men and women and children who resisted with arms and other daily activities. We must, therefore, value their memory and use our time wisely and constructively. I believe that

young Guyanese, particularly those of African descent must see these dreadful aspects of our county’s history as a motivation to strive for greatness,” Minister Norton said to resounding applause. The rebellion, which took place on August 18, 1823, was led by slaves who were reacting to poor treatment and a desire for freedom; also, there was a widespread, mistaken belief that Parliament had passed a law for emancipation, but it was being withheld by the colonial rulers. Prompted chiefly by Jack Gladstone, a slave at plantation "Success", the rebellion also involved his father, Quamina, and other senior members of their church group. Its English pastor, John Smith, was implicated. The largely non-violent rebellion was brutally crushed by the colonists under governor John Murray. Many slaves were killed as the insurrection was put down and another 45 men were sentenced to death, while 27 were executed. Sister Penda Guyan, President of the 1823 Coalition for the Parade Ground Movement, speaking on the sidelines of the sod turning,

expressed her appreciation to the government for responding to their call. The monument, Guyan said, was promised under the previous administration at the said site, but the plans did not materialise. Sister Guyan recounted: “On this very ground, on August 1, 2000, the then President of this country, Mr. Jagdeo, turned the sod here with Ms. Gail Teixeira — who at the time [was] the Minister of Home Affairs — and they buried coins vowing with they would be a monument put here. However, when we were ready, we were told that they were looking for a site to put the monument and we couldn’t understand this… [but it] was all to give this here to a particular entity to put a three-storey car park.” It was during the previous administration tenure too; that the monument was erected at the Atlantic Avenue against the objections of many persons. “We were on this ground on many occasions fighting to save it because we know it is sacred,” Guyan remarked.  Images: Keno George


Diaspora Digest

Govt activates National Emergency Operations Centre AS HIGH TIDES POUND GUYANA’S COAST One of the 2 pumps being put in place in Mahaicony, Region 5 to aid is draining the Bellamy Canal into the Atlantic Ocean.

By Paul Mc Adam The government has activated the twenty-four-hour National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). This is the second time, since its formation in 2015, that the centre has been operationalized. This comes after several villages across Guyana’s coastlands were flooded as a result of unusually high spring tides. The situation has affected approximately 400 households across 65 coastal communities. The affected areas are those located closest to the beaches, stellings, river and sea defences. Communities on the West Demerara, Region 3 including Den Amstel Anna Catherina, Blankenburg, Ituni, Hydronie, in Parika, East Bank Essequibo, while on the East Coast, and in Region 5 and 6 Colombia, Prospect, High Dam, Mahaicony and Sheet Anchor, New Amsterdam, are among the areas which were hard hit. The issue was addressed at the level of the government, and an emergency press briefing was convened, with relevant stakeholders, to address the media, at the Civil Defence Commission’s (CDC) headquarters.

Addressing the media and agencies present at the press conference, the various agencies comprising the NEOC appraised the media of the damage caused by floodwaters. The agencies also revealed the steps that are being taken to prevent a similar incident, as the next spring tide is expected on Saturday, October 26. Minister of Public Infrastructure, Hon. David Patterson indicated that keen attention is being paid to a particular stretch of sea defence in the Dantzig area, on the East Coast of Demerara. He explained that his ministry has been undertaking corrective works since July of this year. “Since early on in the year, due to weather patterns, the land access to this area was compromised; therefore, we were carrying out interventions from March of 2019,” Minister Patterson explained. The media operatives also heard from the Ministry of the Presidency's Director-General, Joseph Harmon. He noted that a considerable amount of money has already been spent on the area, and an application will be made to secure additional monies via the Contingency Fund to


Director General, Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon continue the intervention. The monies, he noted, will only be requested once all of the ministries and agencies complete assessments, as it will cover interventions at all levels. These will not only to infrastructure and emergency works but will also bring much-needed relief to the citizens who are affected, but also health, among others. DG Harmon emphasised that the assess-

ments of all areas are necessary before a figure can be determined at this stage. “We want to be very clear and be very sure that what we are asking for has to do with this emergency... So, at the level of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, at the level of the Ministry of Social Protection, at the Communities, at the level of Public Security, Public Health and the Civil Defence Commission, there are people who are working now to ascertain what is necessary to approach the Ministry of Finance.” Taking into consideration the current situation of the spring tide, the fact that climate change is occurring and will continue in this century and beyond, and the fact that majority of the affected areas are low-lying, Minister Patterson spoke of what is needed to prevent similar occurrences in the future. “We have to build climate-resilient infrastructure. Obviously, for the future, we need to anticipate how much higher the wave action will be in say another 20 or 30 years, to build our infrastructure to be able to withstand that. The short-term issue is to close the breach. The long-term issue is to construct a full rip-rap structure along that entire stretch. Of course, that is an expensive undertaking.” It was reported that the Opposition and members of civil society will be briefed on the efforts, flood impacts and updated on the situation as it unfolds. Currently, the CDC and ministerial teams are spearheading relief efforts in the affected areas. Works on a sea defence breach at Dantzig Mahaicony, which was exacerbated

Minister of Public Infrastructure, Hon. David Patterson by the spring tides, continue. Residents in low lying and riverain areas are being advised to take the necessary precautions during the next spring tide on Saturday, October 26. They are being cautioned to heed any advice provided by the CDC in preparations of the expected tide. The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) is composed of a high-level committee comprising state agencies’ representatives. These include the Ministry of the Presidency, Public Infrastructure Ministry, Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Hydro-Met Office, Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Ministry of Social Protection, Ministry of Communities, Ministry of Public Health and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC). Images: Department of Public Information

Minister of Communities, Hon. Ronald Bulkan handing over a relief packages to an affected family in Region 3.


Diaspora Digest

By Delicia Haynes


fter initial visits were made by teams from the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), 24 villages in the North Rupununi District of Region 9 are now online. These were done throughout 2019 and residents and others in these villages have since responded saying that it was a much-needed service. Headmaster of the Kurupukari Primary School at Fairview, Quado Vancooten was delighted with the villagers’ response to free internet service available. He noted that everyone in the community is “connected” and further explained that with half of Fairview’s

benefit the children who are in school, those who would have to do SBAs at the secondary level.... for teachers it will help them create better learning aids.” Meanwhile, law enforcement officers down at the Kurupukari crossing said the ICT hub at the outpost where they are stationed will assist with their day to day communications. Lance Corporal, Elroy Aldridge, said, “I’m working at the Kurupukari Crossing’s police outpost for three weeks now and since I’ve been here the internet has been very efficient allowing me to communicate with my family and workmates.” Constable Kelvin Grant, working specifi-

Everybody’s conn population of 380 persons, being under the age of 15, the availability of free WiFi service can broaden the horizon of hinterland youth. “We can already see the benefits of it, the young people are going and getting their information, going on google and everyone is getting on board with technology” Added to this, the Headmaster said, “In the afternoon it’s a good sight to see young people coming out to the [hot spot] to checks, they don’t have to ask for information anymore they are getting it on their own. It has brought the village together so I could tell you it has been of great benefit to people” Trainee teacher of Surama, Salome Allicock was excited about the educational options that will be accessible to the children and teachers. “The internet here will mostly

cally within the ambit of immigration services noted that “Immigration’s purpose at this crossing here is really for the Venezuelans and other nationalities traversing the border so we are grateful for the net as it helps communication-wise between myself and my supervisor… so that has been easier for me.” Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes visited most of the villages and heard from most residents who were-

Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. Hon. Garrido Lowe, along with Minister of Public Telecommunications, Hon. Catherine Hughes, hands over a tablet to a representative of the sports group at Fairview

37 Children of Fairview utlising the internet service happy that a major promise has been delivered to them, demonstrating the Coalition’s Government’s commitment bridging the divide between the Hinterland and the coast. During the visit electronic were presented to several core groups to allow for the residents to make use of the free government WiFi which has been established. The devices were presented to women’s, youth, sport, wildlife and culture groups. The Nursery and/or Primary Schools in Fairview, Surama, Apoteri, Rewa, Rupertee among other North Rupununi villages also received tab-

as health, education, tourism and business in these communities. “Young people especially know how to use this technology and that is what we will build on...” Minister Hughes said. Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido Lowe who accompanied Minister Hughes encouraged residents to utilise the internet for the marketing of local products and promoting their village as a tourism destination among other things. Training in the operation of the devices, creation and management of web pages and the utilisation of software for businesses and other purposes were held for several residents in the villages.

nected! lets while the village leaders also received a device. At Kurupukari, the internet service point is located at the Fairview Health Centre, Minister Hughes disclosed that there are plans to extend the internet service to the school making it more convenient for the residents. In Surama, the internet hub is located in the community centre while the internet hub in Rewa is in the vicinity of the community’s health centre, village office and Primary School. In these villages, the internet service will also be extended to key buildings to facilitate further scheduled upgrades. The Telecommunications Minister noted that this is just the beginning as there are major plans in store for ICT in the hinterland that will positively impact major sectors such

Toshao of Fairview, Martin Carter who benefitted from training at an initial workshop, welcomed the establishment of the internet service and all the benefits that will accrue. Martin said he is prepared to work with fellow trainees to ensure others in his village especially the older residents are familiarised with the tablets and other ICT devices “The internet is something new especially to the older folks.... we have the women’s group that does sewing and now they can check online for new designs to do that... for the school children, they can do their research for homework. Before we utilise the service at Iwokrama but now we won’t have to do that.”  Images: Karime Peters


Diaspora Digest

Education and N Each year the month of September is observed as ‘Education Month’. This year the Ministry of Education has planned over 20 activities across Guyana to engage all stakeholders in education. The activities were observed under the theme “Education: The Key to National Development”. Has customarily the Ministry of Education used the opportunity to shine a positive light on the education system, to track its forward movement and to celebrate the achievements of our students, teachers, parents, administrators and all those others who, collectively, keep the system ticking over.

Two primary schools rebuilt in Region 7

Minister of Education, Hon. Dr. Nicolette Henry, Minister of State, Hon. Dawn Hastings-Williams, Regional Chairman, Gordon Bradford along with REdO Akbar Chindu and Headmistress of Paruima Primary School unveiling the commissioning plaque

The new $30MILLION Kamarang Primary School

During the month, two communities in Cuyuni- Mazaruni (Region 7) Kamarang and Paruima welcomed new school buildings. The two schools together cater for about 400 students. Minister of Education. Dr. Nicolette Henry and Minister of State, Dawn Hastings-Williams commissioned the new buildings and noted that three other primary schools in the region are expected to be completed by the end of this year. For the very first time, a primary school will be constructed in Iteringbang and a special needs school in Bartica. The other school is being constructed in Kako, also in Region 7. 

$1MILLION to develop STEM at New Amsterdam Multilateral

His Excellency, President David Granger hands over the cheque to Headteacher of New Amsterdam Multilateral School, Vanessa Jacobs

$1M cheque was handed over to the New Amsterdam Multilateral School for the development of the school in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This announcement and the subsequent handing over of the cheque were done in the school’s auditorium during a visit by President David Granger and Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry. The President said the contribution falls in line with his vision to improve education in Guyana. 


Education Month Special - New Science Laboratory

National Development $170MILLION Golden Grove Secondary School commissioned

Education Exposition 2019


Education Exposition 2019

Some of the students at the 2019 Education Exposition at Durban Park

Information Technology Lab at the Golden Grove Secondary School

The Golden Grove secondary school located on the East Coast of Demerara, 15 miles from Georgetown, was commissioned by Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry. The construction of the facility was undertaken by Ivor Allen Construction Services to the value of $170M. The new school is outfitted with four laboratories, two for science (biology and chemistry), one information technology laboratory and one Home Economic laboratory. The institution also has a lift to cater to the needs of students with Special Education Needs (SEN). Other facilities include a waiting area (Benab), hard standing (tarmac), Library, Smart Room, Sick Bay, Counselling Room, Staff Room, and a modern canteen. The school has a student population of 722. 

Education Exposition 2019 wrapped up this year’s Education Month activities. Students from over 100 schools across Guyana benefitted yet again from the annual 'Education Exposition' held at the D'Urban Park. Speaking about the “decade of development” and the various sectors of Guyana's economy that will undergo transformation, His Excellency, President David Granger explained his vision of free education to the thousands of students gathered, adding that it will become reality from 2020. The Education Exposition showcases various areas within STEAM learning, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and exposes students to various areas of learning, training and professional advancement. Agencies, schools and departments who participated in the activity include NCERD, GTI, Carnegie School of Home Economics and the Ministry of Education. 

Some of the students at the 2019 Education Exposition at Durban Park

The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) received equipment which was made possible by a $50M grant obtained through a collaboration between the Government of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China. In attendance were President David Granger, Ambassador of the People’s Republic to Guyana, Cui Jianchun, Minister of Education Dr. Nicolette Henry and the Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson. Minister Henry during her charge to the students said that, she does not doubt that the equipment, consumables and reagents will aid in the science capabilities of the college in order for it to discharge its mandate more effectively, as focusing on science is becoming more important daily. 

Guyana’s first E-Library launched at North Georgetown Secondary School The North Georgetown Secondary School celebrated its 50th anniversary in grand style by launching the country’s first e-library, which costs some $10.5M. This innovative project is focused on improving literacy in all educational levels. The establishment of the e-library was recognised by Education Minister Nicolette Henry, who expounded on its importance in today’s world of advanced technology. She noted that with this innovate

platform, the quality of education offered can be improved. The project was made possible through the contributions of the North Georgetown Secondary School Committee of Past Students along with other partners including the Education Ministry. Students can now access information from the devices, which are situated in a designated area at the school. 


Diaspora Digest


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Diaspora Digest

Indigenous leaders meet for a

The 13th annual National Toshaos Council (NTC) conference, where village Toshaos, senior councillors and community development chairpersons from Guyana’s 215 hinterland communities gather to consolidate and expand national development, which would inevitably cater to the needs of the indigenous people, was held from October 7 to 11th at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Lilendaal, Greater Georgetown. The conference addressed issues such as land titles, education, health, security and infrastructure.

Great progress made in hinterland human development

A constitution for each Toshao

The Toshaos and indigenous leaders that gathered in Georgetown for the conference were all presented with a copy of Guyana’s Constitution. The copies of the supreme law of Guyana were handed out by Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Coordinator of the Department of Governance, Tamara Khan. Khan addressed the conference on the third day, and disclosed that OPM, with permission from the Indigenous Village Councils will take its Constructional Reform education programme to the hinterland communities.

His Excellency, President David Granger, in his address to Toshaos and other village leaders, at the opening of the conference President David Granger stated that the country is moving towards a more inclusive and equal society and this means that hinterland human development is imperative, especially in the fields of education, health livelihood and social protection. He explained that the Decade of Development 2020-2029 will be launched next year 2020 and said that the ‘Decade’ aims at promoting a more equal society in which everyone would feel a sense of belonging and share in national development. The President related, “I have identified five targets which are achievable and which would improve substantively the quality of life of indigenous peoples by 2029. I believe that these are realistic goals which can be achieved within the next ‘Decade.”

Pres. Granger, Prime Minister host reception for Toshaos

His Excellency, President David Granger and Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamootoo were among government officials to hosted a reception for the Toshaos and other Indigenous village leaders who were in Georgetown for the 13th Annual National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC)

annual conference Five communities receive land titles


Monies for hinterland sustainable community projects Laluni’s receives tractor

Five more Indigenous communities Kangaruma and Tasserene, Region 7; Yupukari, Region 9 and St. Monica and Mainstay/ Whyaka, Region 2 received their certificates of titles for their lands. The documents were handed over at the conference. These communities have been waiting years for their grants of titles to move forward with the development of their villages.

Indigenous leaders endorse 'Spotlight Initiative'

Over $34M in Presidential and Capital Grants were presented to Toshaos for green sustainable community projects. The cheques were presented to 25 village leaders by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock, Minister within the Ministry, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe and Ministerial Advisor and Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Mervyn Williams.

8 hinterland communities benefit from outboard engines

The agriculture drive in the community of Laluni along the Soesdyke-Linden Highway received a boost following the handing over of a tractor which was requested by its leaders. The heavy-duty machine was handed over to Chairman of the Community Development Council (CDC), Aaron Defreitas by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock and Minister within the ministry, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe during the conference.

Toshaos benefit from tablet distribution Under the United Nation’s ‘Spotlight Initiative’, Guyana will benefit from $1Billion (€4.5M) to end all forms of violence against women and girls, and to ensure that they realise their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive way. This was announced by UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mikiko Tanaka, during a presentation at the 13th National Toshaos' Council Conference. The 'Spotlight Initiative' will deploy targeted, large-scale investments into significantly improving the lives of women and girls in the hinterland was welcomed by the indigenous leaders.

Eight hinterland communities will now have improved accessibility as they benefitted from outboard engines from the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. The communities that received the outboard engines include Arakaka, Sebai, Hirena, Hotoquai and Aruau from Region 1 along with Waipa, Sand Hill and Kaibarupai from Region 8. The engines, which range from 15 to 40 horsepower, are part of the government’s mission to improve the lives of the Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, Bashaizon received an ATV.

200 Huawei electronic tablets were distributed to the Indigenous leaders attending the conference. Minister of Public Telecommunications, Hon. Catherine Hughes presented the devices to the Toshaos and urged the Indigenous leaders to use the devices to better serve their respective communities.


Diaspora Digest

'Off to a bright start'

Guyana-Suriname Ferry service back in busines

By Shaquille Bourne After the Canawaima Ferry was suspended for four months for much-needed repairs, the M.B. Sandaka that usually works the Parika to Leguan route began to transport passengers from Molsen Creek to Paramaribo, Suriname on Thursday, September 26, 2019. Fisherwoman, Amanda Walcott was one of the scores of passengers that boarded the vessel. According to her, the reinstatement of the ferry service is a weight off her shoulders. “I feel proud the vessel is back again this morning because it was more harassing with the little boat… At the end of the day, the ferry is much better,” the fisherwoman. Commenting on the resumption of service with the temporary vessel, a painter that resides in Kitty, Ronald Ragnaught stated, “I find it is good for the people… for both sides, Guyana and Suriname so that they can cross with no fear.” Deputy Superintendent within Canawaima Ferry Incorporated, Deyne Harry provided an overview of the morning’s operations. Describing the reopening as 'good', the official


Guyana Suriname ferry service sails again

Talks held on Guyana/ Suriname Ferry Service

Deputy Superintendent within Canawaima Ferry Inc., Deyne Harry.


45 is much safer than going through the back. Plus, the expenses are more at the back than here… I am comfortable. I am safer. I am satisfied with what the government did. It eases a lot of people.” An elderly woman named Janet Brown expressed her reluctance to travel through the backtrack, adding that she prefers the ferry and would only utilise the former only if necessary. The ferry service recommenced, one day after the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, led by Honourable Minister David Patterson and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented the Canawaima Ferry Service Inc. in a joint meeting with the Surinamese Government led by A Guyanese residing in Suriname, Jimmy Chan

noted, “we have had 120 passengers and 5 vehicles. So, we are off to a very bright start.” Passengers who do not meet the strict travel requirements will not be allowed to board the vessel. These include having a passport with 6 months validity until expiration, and an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophyulaxis for Yellow Fever. Sandaka sailed for Paramaribo around 9am, taking approximately 30 minutes. On its return to Molsen Creek, some of the first passengers that disembarked shared their thoughts on the impact of the resumed service on their commute. Jimmy Chan, a Guyanese residing in Suriname, mentioned that while he had initially planned to return to Guyana on Tuesday through the backtrack, he quickly changed his mind upon learning of the ferry service. “I decided to wait on it because I know this

A painter, Ronald Rugnaught His Excellency Vijay Chotkan, Minister of Public Works, Transport and Communication. The two Nations met and iron out their obligations, challenges, and discrepancies between the parties. Among some of the topics discussed were; Procurement regulations on the part of both Governments, the disparity of salaries, living quarters for crew members, scope of works, and arrangement of frequent meetings and the recommencement date of service to both the Guyanese and Surinamese counterpart. On October 16, the Canawaima Ferry will be back in operation.  An elderly woman, Janet Brown

Deputy Superintendent within Canawaima Ferry Inc., Deyne Harry.

Images: Tejpaul Bridgemohan

A fisherwoman, Amanda Walcott


Diaspora Digest

MASSIVE MASSY MEGA opens at Turkeyen

One of the largest business conglomerates in the Caribbean, Massy Group, has opened a “Massy Stores Mega” in the MovieTowne compound at Turkeyen. The store, which is the second Massy Mega and the 49th Massy Store in the Caribbean, offers a unique format to customers. The mega format is much like the warehouse or club shopping experience which has become popular in the USA, where customers have the option to purchase a wide variety of items in larger quantities at very affordable price points. The big difference with Massy Mega is that there are no membership fees, all are welcome. Its loyalty programme offers shoppers the chance to redeem points at the Turkeyen and the initial Providence locations. The store opens from Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 9pm and on Sundays, from 9am to 6pm. Chairman of Massy’s Integrated Business Unit, David Affronso said Massy Mega represents a deepening of the Massy Group investment in the Guyanese market. “It is also evidence of our continued commitment to Guyana and more so to the people of Guyana

Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, Chairman of Massy’s Integrated Business Unit David Affronso, and Minister of Business, Hon. Hemraj Rajkumar, flanked by Massy executives at the opening of Massy Store Mega, at the MovieTowne Complex Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown.

The Mega Store spans over 34,000 square feet of retail space

47 Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, Chairman of Massy’s Integrated Business Unit David Affronso, and Minister of Business, Hon. Hemraj Rajkumar, flanked by Massy executives check out some of the traditionally fresh produce on offer on at the store.

who we proudly serve,” said Affonso in his remarks during the opening ceremony. The Massy executive described the MovieTowne location as convenience. “This location is a hub of entertainment and provides customers with many options at one location…world-class cinemas, premium dining options and now with Massy Mega, an exceptional shopping experience,” said Affonso. He said Massy Mega is a one of a kind retail location, which significantly diversifies the country’s retail space in several ways. “We have always strived to deliver the highest quality products, services and experience to our customers,” said the chairman, adding that Massy Mega offers a unique value proposition to the Guyana market. While the Massy Stores’ Providence location delivers the traditional features of a supermarket, the Turkeyen location offers a warehouse shopping experience which spans over 34,000 square feet of retail space, with an expanded range of bulk and non-food items. The non-food offerings include several

new categories such as electronics, generators, tenting, luggage and auto accessories, to name a few. The new store also includes a bakery, pharmacy and deli. Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, who was in attendance at the opening congratulated the company for its efforts. “We know that foreign investment is a major catalyst for economic development and modernisation. We know that foreign investment helps to

create a more competitive business environment and enhance enterprise development. These are powerful reasons to welcome foreign investment into Guyana.” The Finance Minister also reminded the Trinidad-based company that building local partnerships would ensure all-round benefits. “We welcome all investments. But partnerships between the foreign investor and the locals must be encouraged and developed as an integral part of doing business in Guyana,” said Minister Jordan. Continued on page 50


Diaspora Digest

From page 49

The minister said he is looking forward to the development and growth of a symbiotic relationship between Massy Stores and local suppliers. “Partnership and profit are not anathemas. It is a win-win for all. Supporting local producers whilst balancing variety, cost and convenience work out best all round. The farmer, that has a contract to supply pumpkins, is assured of a ready market and can, therefore, cultivate his crop, and look forward to an assured income,” Minister Jordan said. He asserted that supermarkets must avoid becoming centres of imported products, especially those that can readily be sourced locally – whether it is bottled water, packaged roti or sugar cake. Such actions have the effects of pushing the “small man” out of business, thereby aggravating the unemployment situation; damaging the cultural and culinary psyche; and leaking foreign exchange. “I hope our forthcoming Local Content legislation will provide clarity to this very important requirement. Partnership and profit are not anathema; it is a win-win for all. Supporting local producers while balancing variety, cost and convenience works out best all round. While supporting local, he said Massy Mega must also seek to distinguish itself from other supermarkets through its offer of a wide range of alternative, biological and

MASSIVE MASSY MEGA opens at Turkeyen

organic products. With rising household incomes, the Guyanese customer is expected to become increasingly sophisticated in their shopping habits and demands. Massy started its operations in Guyana just over 50 years ago and since then, the conglomerate has grown and is participating in industries such as information technology,

Interior shot of the Massy Mega Store at the MovieTowne Complex, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown

automotive, gas products, industrial equipment, financial services and distribution and retail. The Massy Group which has been in operation since 1923 is a diversified regional conglomerate with operations throughout the Caribbean basin, Colombia and South Florida. The Group employs over 11,000 people in its retail, distribution, automotive and industrial equipment, energy and gas products, financial services and other business sectors. With over 60 operating companies across six business segments comprising Massy Holdings, the Group can leverage significant synergies and deliver greater growth and value for stakeholders. Massy is a public company which is traded on the Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchange. 

The new store includes a bakery, pharmacy and deli


PM Modi met with the leaders of CARICOM at the UNGA India’s historic and warm relations with the countries of the Caribbean witnessed a new momentum with the meeting of PM Modi with 14 leaders of the CARICOM group of countries on sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2019 in New York. Hon’ble Allen Chastenet, Prime Minister of St Lucia and current Chairman of CARICOM co-chaired the meeting. The meeting was attended by the Hon’ble Heads of Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Vice President of Suriname, and Foreign Ministers of Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Haiti and Guyana. It was the first-ever meeting of PM Modi with CARICOM leaders in a regional format and highlighted the steadily intensifying and deepening relations between India and partner countries of the Caribbean, not only in the bilateral, but also in the regional context. PM Modi reiterated India’s firm commitment to strengthen its political, economic and cultural engagement with CARICOM. He recalled the presence of more than a million-strong

Indian diaspora as a vibrant and enduring link of friendship with the Caribbean. The meeting deliberated on the strengthening the political and institutional dialogue processes, boosting economic cooperation, increasing trade and investment and fostering greater and more robust people- to- people relations. PM Modi also laid emphasis on partnering with CARICOM countries in capacity building, development assistance and cooperation in disaster management and resilience. He invited CARICOM countries to join the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. PM expressed his condolences on the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian in the region and the worst hit island of Bahamas to which India has provided immediate financial assistance of USD 1 million. PM Modi announced a USD 14 million grant for community development projects in the CARICOM and another 150 million Line of Credit for solar, renewable energy and climate- change related projects. He also announced the setting up of the Regional Center for Excellence in Information Technology

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the 14 leaders of the Caricom group he met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

in Georgetown, Guyana and the Regional Vocational Training Center in Belize by upgrading the existing India-funded centers in these countries. The Indian side also expressed support to specialized capacity building courses, training and deputation of Indian experts based on the needs and requirements of the CARICOM countries. He invited a Parliamentary delegation from CARICOM to visit India in the near future. CARICOM leaders welcomed the initiatives proposed by PM Modi to strengthen engagement and cooperation between the two sides and reassured full support from their respective governments. It was decided to set up a Joint Task Force to expeditiously look into possible areas of cooperation and identify the way forward. 


Diaspora Digest




rin and Sholme Grimmond and their children, Seraphine, age 7; Angeline, age 2 and two-monthold Kemuel arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri just before 22:00 hours on Sunday, September 15, 2019. The husband and wife, who were both teachers at the Long Bag Adventist School on Abaco Island, and their children left the hurricane-devastated Bahamas just before 15:00 hours and travelled first to Jamaica and then to Trinidad and Tobago before they landed in Guyana. They were met by Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, Minister of State, Dawn Hastings-Williams; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings and Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig.

Minister of State, Hon. Dawn Hastings-Williams and DirectorGeneral of the CDC, Lt. Col. Kester Craig interact with Orin Grimmond and his family

Vanessa Taite, holding her threemonth-old baby in her hands while speaking to reporters

“Horrifying experience” One week later, Minister Felix, on the evening of Sunday, September 22, welcomed the second family, to returned from Bahamas, back to their homeland of Guyana. The Cooper family – Vanessa Taite, her reputed husband Stevie Cooper Snr. and their three children Stevie Cooper Jnr., Steven Cooper and Steve Cooper – arrived at approximately at 22:00hurs, at CJIA. This family too family resided in Abaco, Bahamas. The Simons- Bahamas-based Guyanese teachers Cecil and Olive - were the third Guyanese family to return home on Sunday, September 29.

Orin Grimmond said he was happy to be back on home soil after the “horrifying” experience. “It’s my country after all. I know, despite where we go Guyana will not refuse its citizens out there…My first choice is to return home where my family is,” he said. Grimmond recalled that his family first sought refuge in the ceiling of their Marsha Habour home as the hurricane passed though the island. “The water was rising…It was terrifying because there is no way to escape…And so what we did, we kicked the door out,” he said, adding that it was a miracle that he and his




Director-General of the CDC, Lt Col Kester Craig engages Seraphine Grimmond

Minister of Citizenship, Hon. Winston Felix with the Simon Family.

“Material things don’t matter”

family survived. While he has no plans to return to the island to work, Grimmond said they will probably return to visit the friends and family, who are still there. Vanessa Taite described her experience as “horrible.” Holding her three-month-old baby in her arms, Taite recalled: “It is not something anyone would want to have to live through. Speaking about it is something different but actually going through it, it was very scary. Bahamian families died; the entire roof of our house came off. So, it’s like going through a real scary movie.”

Fighting back tears, 59-year-old Cecil Simon said he and his wife Olive are beyond thankful that they are back. The experience, he said, reveals that material things really do not matter. They are grateful for life. “I can remember Bahamians making the statement that hurricane Dorian is a levelling experience. Levelling in the sense that you don’t have the high and mighty and the low. Everybody is being reduced to the same thing. We come into this world with nothing, we leave with nothing,” he explained. Simon said his family lost everything in the category five hurricane that swept across the Abaco Islands. Despite strong building codes, Dorian flattened homes after it made landfall on Sept. 1 with maximum sustained winds of 185

mph (295 km/h), making it the strongest hurricane on record to affect the northwestern Bahamas. Four weeks after the storm, Bahamas' Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis said over 600 persons are still missing. Minister Felix said the Simon family is the last of 12 individuals who have indicated their interest in returning home. He said when the government began assessing, the persons were willing to return; more than 100 persons were initially interested. That figure later reduced to 28, then finally, 12. “Others who are interested in coming may have to do so on their own steam because this marks the culminating point of government’s intervention to return Guyanese home,” he said. 


Diaspora Digest


His Excellency, President David G

letter of credence from European

to Guyana, H.E Fernando Cantó in

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. D


he recent appointment of several High Commissioners and Ambassadors to Guyana is expected to enhance the existing relations between Guyana and these nations. It also provides the opportunity to further explore areas of collaboration and co-operation. Guyana’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Bayney Karran was recently accredited non-resident High Commissioner to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Mostly recently, His Excellency, President David Granger has accepted Letter of Credence from the Non-Resident Ambassadors of the Republic of Finland, the State of Kuwait and Ireland to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, among others. -----------------------------Ambassador of the State of Kuwait to Guyana, His Excellency, Nasser Riden Al-Motairi, the president expressed hope that his tenure “will contribute to continuing cooperation and initiate new areas of collaboration, especially in the oil and gas sector, energy, sustainable development, agriculture and education.” -----------------------------Non-Resident Ambassador (Designate) of Ireland to Guyana, His Excellency Seán Hoy said that “the Caribbean is the focus area of Ireland as we seek to increase our global footprint. I look forward to engaging with your government to explore our bilateral relations including through our membership of the European Union.”

-----------------------------Finnish Ambassador, His Excellency, Pertti Ikonen noted that his country’s technological advancements “could contribute to the transformation of the Guyanese economy.” -----------------------------Mexican Ambassador to Guyana, H.E José Contreras said that his country will be seeking to strengthen relations in the areas of education. -----------------------------The European Union Ambassador to Guyana, H.E Fernando Cantó said that the EU is proud to have been a reliable partner and supporter of Guyana’s development initiatives for more than 40 years. Of particular note, he emphasised the EU’s extensive contribution to helping Guyana maintain and rehabilitate its sea defences which become more and more relevant each day as we witness the harsh effects of climate change.

-----------------------------Non-resident Ambassador of Japan to Guyana, Tatsuo Hirayama, said that the cooperation which exists between the two countries are a testimony of the positive relations shared for over 50 years. “As global partners, our countries share common interests, common challenges and fundamental beliefs such as democracy, human rights and international security. I sincerely hope to develop our bilateral relations on the next level with Your Excellency’s support and the people of Guyana. Your guidance will help in the strengthening of ties between our two countries. I resolve to try my best,” he said. ......... Qatar’s ambassador to Guyana, H.E. Al-Abdulla, in his remarks, notes that both countries have enjoyed excellent relations despite


TO STRENGTHEN TIONS GLOBALLY New Japanese Ambassador Tatsuo

Granger receiving the

n Union Ambassador

n the presence of

Hirayama (centre in front row) prior to presenting his letters of credence to His Excellency, President David Granger.

Dr. Karen Cummings

His Excellency, President David Granger being greeted by the Mexican Ambassador to Guyana, H.E José Contreras

India’s High Commissioner to Guyana, His Excellency Dr. K. J. Srinivasa in discussion with His Excellency, President David Granger.

His Excellency, President David Granger and Qatar’s Ambassador H.E. Al-Abdulla the geographical distance between the two. “I am looking forward to cooperating with members of your government, to develop and enhance the already exciting, cordial relations between both of our countries. Let me reiterate my thanks, and consideration, to your Excellency.” -----------------------------India’s new High Commissioner to Guyana, His Excellency Dr. K. J. Srinivasa’s reiterated India’s commitment to assisting in the overall development of Guyana. According to

the High Commissioner, immense opportunities exist for both countries to further enha nce bilateral trade. This includes agriculture and food processing, oil and gas, renewable sources of energy, forestry, drugs and pharmaceuticals, public infrastructure, education etc. Images: Keno George and Kawise Wishart


Diaspora Digest

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Contributing writers: Synieka Thorne, Felecia Valenzuela, Anara Khan, Alexis Rodney, Isaiah Braithwaite, Delicia Haynes, Neola Damon, Ayana George, Natasha Smith, Nateshia Isaacs, Nikosi Bruce, Shaquille Bourne and Kellon Rover.

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