Prime Minister of the Republic of Guyana the Hon. Moses Nagamootoo quoted Dr. Martin Luther Jr. saying “free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last” during and inspiring address to a packed audience at Naresa Lounge in Ozone Park, Queens last Sunday, Jan. 17, to celebrate Guyana’s Golden Jubilee of Independence.
“I was one of the persons who contributed to the independence struggles and it was that dream that people wanted, just like in the United States where we remember Martin Luther King Jr’s dream, and our poet Martin Carter who wrote about Guyana’s ancestors that labored in cane fields but later leaped into a future of possibilities,” said the Guyanese prime minister.
“Guyana is on the edge of that future, and in two years time we will start pumping oil and gas off the coast of Guyana,” said Nagamootoo who warned against the threat of Venezuela which seeks to take away “our wealth reducing us again to the status of a displaced people.”
“As we finish 50 years trying to realize our dream, we will face many challenges from those nearby seeking to take away our black gold. If we don’t standup and unite as Guyanese, then the dream that is before us could be snatched away by those who are greedy and obsessed to own more wealth, and more power,” he added.
Nagamootoo, who received a rousing welcome during the Caribbean Rhythm Tassa band tribute and loud applause at the Alliance For Change United States (AFC) celebration, said, “we have to wake up and transcend our differences and find ourselves in oneness.”
“I am a proud Guyanese. I live and breathe for Guyana. I want you to do the same,” said the vice president, to whom James Richmond presented a copy of his Golden Jubilee poem, after a resounding presentation.
Set against images of him and President David Granger, Nagamootoo said governments and democracies change.
“When Burnham and Jagan launched the progressive party in 1950, they both dreamed of change for Guyana but despite their differences, they embraced on May 26, 1966 because at last Guyana was free and Guyana was bigger than them. Today, Guyana is bigger that us,” said Nagamootoo who applauded an African drum salute earlier by Akoya Rudder as part of his celebratory welcome.
The politician told nationals to refer to themselves as Guyanese, not Indo, Afro, Chino-Guyanese and told them to embrace their citizenship.
“Our 50th Independence serves to remind us that we have roots and origins which we must celebrate and be proud of,” he said.
Blasting the opposition for claims of discrimination, Nagamootoo singled out former PPP cabinet members who he said were sent on leave to facilitate an investigating into the loss of funds and others sent home because of incompetence, not discrimination.
“My government does not practice discrimination. This claim of racial discrimination is unfounded. My brother, President David Granger still employs staff from the previous government, who are Indians.
“I want to put to rest this allegation because we are wounding the soul of our nation. We are telling others that we do not deserve to be independent. We do not deserve respect because we are thinking of our race and not the character and content of our citizenship,” said the prime minister.
“We have to be aware that we don’t inflict greater damage to our country with allegations of ethnic cleansing. There will be change of personnel who do not serve the interest of Guyana,” said Nagamootoo, an attorney-at-law, journalist and poet.
The prime minister noted that since taking office his coalition government has resurrected the sugar and rice industries, while saving jobs. He praised the increased production of sugar after the previous government sent the industry into bankruptcy and squandered 82 billion Guyanese dollars.
“When we promised change it was to improved the lives of our working people, and rescue Guyana from the evils of the past.” The statesman noted that after just seven months, the Coalition has transformed Georgetown from a garbage city, to a garden city.
“I want to thank you profoundly,” he said to the rainbow AFC USA party headed by Dr. Rohan Somar, and applauded members for staying the course and participating in the elections to make a difference. Nagamootoo said that he is a prime minister for all the Guyanese people.
“I am properly home and I want to say thanks for the chance to serve all the people of Guyana, as we celebrate 50 years of independence, because in 50 years we have only changed our government twice,” said Natamootoo intimating that if a government is not changed quickly and periodically, it ends up becoming corrupt.
A five-year two-term government should instead be a one-term five-year government said the prime minister. This, he said, would prevent stealing because pilfering begins in the second term of a government, a crime that paralyzes the finances of a country. Guyana, he added, has been in paralysis for many years.
“Change has come; there is evidence from the smiles on the faces of Guyanese. Celebrate with happiness and pride. This is a new beginning to set our country right and be proud to be Guyanese,” he said.
The PM Nagamootoo also presented certificates of appreciation to members of AFC, Kamla Asha Babachan, Ewart Marshall, Anita Jaikaran, Leyland Rupnarine, Dr. Rudy R. Jadoopat and others.