Thursday, July 08, 2004

Gya: Trinidadianisation or bust

Those are Guyana's options, and the writer of this piece is a tad resentful. Here's an excerpt, read the entire.

Trinidad has had a patronising relationship with Guyana for decades. Its legendary Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams strenuously strove to encourage Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan to cooperate in the turbulent 1960s, but without success. Dr Williams persevered to sponsor and host two of Guyana's most important post-independence international agreements - the significantly-named 'Protocol of Port of Spain' with Venezuela, and the so-called 'Chagua-ramas Agreement' with Suriname, both in 1970. Williams also generously, almost irresponsibly, extended a petroleum credit facility to Guyana which resulted in the ballooning of this country's debt to Trinidad, part of which was written off only recently.

There is also transfusion at several other levels. In university education, for example, most Guyanese attorneys-at-law would have passed through the portals of Trinidad's Hugh Wooding Law School, and some of its diplomats, UWI's Institute of International Relations at St Augustine. Professionals such as academics, attorneys, accountants, architects, doctors, and engineers cooperate on numerous projects as can be seen in Guyanese attempts to imitate Trinidadian building codes and business practices. Trinidadian printeries print glossy annual reports and popular magazines for Guyana; its advertising agencies produce racy television commercials and posters for local corporations.

The similarity in the two countries' demographic structure has also been an important factor. Trinidadian Kaiso, Chutney and Soca music appeal to partygoers, and religious relations between Hindu and Muslim organisations reinforce economic and social contacts. Trinidad's UNC and Guyana's PPP have traditionally supported each other, with UNC leader Basdeo Panday confidently coming here to raise funds for his last election campaign among a familiar constituency.

As Guyana grew weaker, poorer and more unstable, it seems, Trinidad and Tobago has grown richer and stronger. If Mr Manning and his compatriots were to respond enthusiastically to President Jagdeo's invitation to invest, Guyanese could look forward to an intensification of the current Trinidadianisation.

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