President credits PPP/C for Amerindian development-as Amerindian Heritage 2013 is launched
Georgetown, GINA, September 1, 2013
President Donald Ramotar tonight paid tribute to his Party for the quiet revolution of development that has taken place in the hinterland.
Addressing the large crowd at the launching of Amerindian Heritage Month 2013, at the Amerindian Village, Sophia Exhibition Complex, President Ramotar said that only under the People’s Progressive Party (PPPC) did Amerindians experience development.
Also present were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and several Cabinet members.
President Donald Ramotar addresses the launch of Amerindian Heritage Month 2013
The President said that historically Amerindian development posed a tremendous challenge. He said that during the colonial era, the neglect was almost absolute in Amerindian communities and during this period, it was thanks to the churches, that in some areas, basic education was afforded to Amerindians.
He said the first spurt of development in Amerindian communities can be traced back to the period of 1957 to 1964. This was the time when the PPPC was in Office. President Ramotar said that during this period, the then PPPC Government started to expand the education opportunities in the Hinterland and also introduced the Hinterland Scholarship.
President Donald Ramotar and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar with Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai and Liaison to the Minister of Amerindian Affairs Yvonne Pearson at the launch of 2013 Amerindian Heritage Month
“We also introduced at that time health services, a service that was almost totally absent in Amerindian communities,” he said.
All of these services disappeared or at best stagnated after 1964, the President said. He said the second period of Amerindian development is the one in which Guyana is presently going through, and is one that began in 1992, with the return of democracy to Guyana and the PPPC Party to the administration.
President Donald Ramotar is presented with a token at the Amerindian Heritage Month 2013 launched at the Amerindian Village, Sophia
He explained that “the PPPC Government from the very onset saw that it was important to give meaning to our motto of ‘One people, One nation and One destiny’ and to give profound meaning to having equal opportunity for all.”
“We believe then, as we do now, that democracy cannot be sustained unless we have equal opportunity for all our people and we provide them with basic and even more than basic services for their development,” he said.
President Donald Ramotar is greeted on his arrival at the Amerindian Heritage Month 2013 launched at Amerindian Village, Sophia
Hence, Government’s heavy investment over the years ensured that all phases of development reached Amerindians, even those in the remote communities in the country.
These investments which translated into billions of dollars had the necessary impact as Amerindians are today more empowered and are contributing more to the country’s development.
During his address, the President posited that he believes strongly that the transformation being witnessed in the hinterland has to do with the administration’s investment in education and because of the presence of more educated Hinterland residents.
President Donald Ramotar and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar intermingle with the crowd at the launch of 2013 Amerindian Heritage Month at the Amerindian Village, Sophia
This year, Amerindian Heritage Month celebration is being held under the theme, “Honouring our culture; advancing our future.” President Ramotar tonight suggested that one of the ways Amerindians can preserve, develop, advance and build on their culture is to preserve their language.
He pointed out that “language is extremely important in any culture” and that “losing a language is losing a large part of the culture.”
He urged that the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs do all it can to help the nine tribes preserve their language.
During the event, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai reaffirmed and recommitted the Government’s position to be “that supportive partner of the Amerindian nationals in working to consolidate and revitalize Amerindian cultural heritage” and to work with leaders to avert any future lost of the rich indigenous culture.
President Donald Ramotar and other Ministers of Government including Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai at launch of Heritage 2013
Minister Sukhai credited the late President Cheddi Jagan for having the vision of assisting the First People to regain their identity, which was deflated following years of pressure, neglect and marginalisation. “There is no doubt that there is a wealth of rich tradition and cultural heritage of Amerindians but it is overwhelmingly obvious that transferring knowledge, custom and cultural heritage have not been pronounced. Such an action must be corrected,” the Amerindian Affairs Minister said.
She pointed out that such a change however, can only be realised by the willingness of the Amerindian people.
Even as she applauded the few villages of Region Nine which continue to lead the way in sustaining their rich culture and also recognised the attempts and efforts in various other villages scattered across the hinterland and coastal regions, the Minister said that much more work is still required by all the villages and the people.
She urged that villagers and residents should not become complacent but instead, continue to push forward the agenda of cultural preservation. She made an appeal to the Amerindian leaders and youths to ensure that cultural heritage is firmly placed on the village council agenda.
The celebration will continue at the village at Sophia with craft and food exhibitions that will run for one-week (September 2-5.) Karasabai, Region Nine has been designated Heritage Village and the celebrations will move to the location on September 7.
A night of reflection on the achievements of the first Amerindian Parliamentarian, Stephen Campbell, will be held on September 10 at the Umana Yana and on September 21-22 the Amerindian Heritage sports will be held at the GCC Ground, Georgetown. The month of activities will culminate with a Heritage Month pageant on September 28 at the National Cultural Centre.
Amerindian Heritage Month dates back to September 10, 1957, the day on which Stephen Campbell became Guyana’s first Amerindian Member of Parliament.
In 1995, former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan, officially designated September as Amerindian Heritage Month.