PYO has a glorious, proud history and has contributed much to Guyana’s development–President
Georgetown, GINA, September 7, 2012
The contributions made by the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) were lauded by President Donald Ramotar during a function to mark their 61st anniversary at Red House, Kingston on Friday evening.
The Head of State recounted the history of how the ruling party’s youth arm was founded and the various struggles it faced during the decade, from being banned at one time to the lives such as those of Michael Forde and others lost in the fight for democracy over the past decades. The PYO’s membership was called on by the president to, “learn lessons from our history, learn your politics, know and understand the machinations of those who oppose development of our country”.
The participants were also urged to volunteer their services in various sectors and to encourage others to do so as it builds character. The president recalled that on a trip a few weeks ago to Rewa in the Rupununi Savannahs, he encountered several foreigners who were volunteering in some of the communities. He noted that they all came from various nations to serve in Guyana and questioned why more educated Guyanese did not follow these examples.
President Ramotar urged the group’s members to remember however, that much work needs to be done, and that they must remain vigilant every day as the fight to protect the nation’s democracy was an ongoing one.
The organisation was established in 1952, through a decision at the second party congress of PPP, to act as a reservoir for the People’s Progressive Party. This was done according to the president, “So that by time they came in to the party they would have had political experience and they would have been able to understand political activities and politics itself to do some studying in that regard”.
The name of the organisation at the time of its founding was the Pioneer Youth League of British Guiana, with Brindley Benn as the secretary. In February 1953, the Pioneer Youth League became an affiliate of the World Federation of Democratic Youth then later changed its name to the Progressive Youth Organisation.
It was recalled by the president, that soon after its founding, the organisation was banned along with several others, but it still sprang up from time to time under names such as the Demerara Youth League and all other different types of names to try and carry out its activities. This was a time, the president said, that members of the party were unable to move about freely, hence the youth arm had a vital role to play in spreading its messages to supporters.
The period of the 1960s was viewed as another “glorious period for the PYO”, said the president as it was a fight for political independence. “We were coming under tremendous attack from the colonial powers that be and the powers of the world at that time. Because of the cold war and the hysteria created about communism, they did not want to give independence under the PPP”. The two other major political parties, he said worked closely with the then colonial powers to ensure this. “We came under a lot of attacks and that period in our history is still a period that we’re still studying, for us to learn from that”. He reminded those in attendance that the, “PYO played a tremendous role in defending the party from many attacks”.
The period of the late 1960s and early 1970s saw the rigging of elections by the PNC and the President cited cases of where this occurred.
The 1970s resulted in many PYO and PPP members being locked up, their families subjected to illegal home searches but protests were still organised, said the president. He said that all must remember that, “The PYO has a long and glorious history, in the fight for democracy, in the fight for progress, that is why your history is so rich and you should be so proud of it”.
Over the years, the PYO has embarked on initiatives such as feeding programmes, blood drives, hosting of health fairs and most recently the painting of 101 pedestrian crossings.
Several of the students who performed creditably at the recent CSEC and CAPE examinations were also presented with plaques for their sterling performances.
Chairman of the National Steering Committee, Omar Shariff said recently that the PYO “continues its work with the aim of getting youths involved in the decision-making agenda of our great country. The PYO continues to labour for our leaders to respect the wishes of our people, for all Guyanese to enjoy a better standard of living and for all youth to have equal opportunities to employment and education”.