I read with interest a letter titled ‘Amerindians benefit from development under successive PPP/C Governments’ by Attiya Baskh. We can have no objection to the writer referring to the things done by the PPP to promote the welfare of our Amerindian brothers and sisters. But what I find disgusting and clearly unacceptable is the unfair and untruthful statement that the PNC did nothing to promote the well-being of Amerindians in Guyana.
I understand how effective the propaganda machine of the PPP supporters is, but I think they are going too far. To my knowledge, it was under Burnham and the PNC that an Amerindian was made a Minister of the Government for the first time, Hon. Stephen Campbell. It was the PNC Administration that first put into law the rights of the Amerindians and promoted their indigenous foods and practices. In addition to ensuring educational opportunities for Amerindian children, it was Burnham’s initiative that had the Umana Yana built at its permanent spot in North-west Georgetown, where Chief Elka and his merry band of workers were brought to Georgetown to build the Umana Yana, using no modern tools nor nails. Which was the centerpiece when Guyana hosted the Non-Aligned Movement Conference in Guyana?
The likes of the writer, Attiya Baskh, and our Leaders must put an end to this daily anti-PNC, anti-Burnham assault. I recall that in lectures and meetings dealing with the history of the six races, the PNC was careful in the interest of trying to be One People, that it did not emphasize the fact that the Europeans during slavery made our Amerindian brothers into head-hunters when they were paid to catch the runaway slaves and bring them back to the plantations dead or alive. After Amerindians took part in the unsuccessful Rupununi Uprising, it was Burnham who had the charges withdrawn and the Amerindians whom he felt were used, were then pardoned and released.
We can only climb the mountain peak in harmony if we count honestly every period in our country’s history determined to make a reality of our slogan, One People, One Nation, One Destiny. It is significant that this distortion by Attiya Baskh should come at the beginning of a month to honor and celebrate with our Amerindian brothers established during the PNC regime.