Relations with the Commonwealth Caribbean

Guyana Table of Contents

Guyana under PNC administrations has consistently encouraged greater unity among the English-speaking Caribbean countries. This policy began in 1961 and was in sharp contrast to the policies of the PPP in the 1950s. The Jagan government had refused to join the West Indies Federation because of Indo-Guyanese concerns about becoming a ethnic minority within the federation. In an independent Guyana, the Indo-Guyanese would be in the majority, and Jagan hoped that such an arrangement would secure political power for the IndoGuyanese and the PPP.

Under the PNC, the Guyanese government joined the Caribbean Free Trade Association (Carifta) with Antigua and Barbados. By 1973 Carifta had become Caricom and had the expanded goal of fostering greater economic, social, and political unity among the member countries. Caricom's headquarters were located in Georgetown, and in 1991 membership included all independent members of the Englishspeaking Caribbean and Belize.

Despite a trend toward economic union since the 1960s, political relations between Guyana and the English-speaking Caribbean occasionally have been poor. Except for Jamaica and Grenada in the 1970s, all of the English-speaking Caribbean countries were pro-Western and procapitalist. This stance put them in direct conflict with the often anti-Western, anticapitalist rhetoric of the Guyanese government.

The low point in relations came after the United States invasion of Grenada. Burnham heavily criticized other Caribbean leaders for their support of the operation, especially Dominica's prime minister, Eugenia Charles, who played a leading role. The rift between Burnham and the other Commonwealth leaders grew so great that it threatened the future of Caricom.

After Burnham's death in 1985, President Hoyte moved quickly to repair relations. At a well-publicized meeting of Caricom heads of government in 1986, Hoyte posed for a picture with the other leaders. Relations generally were good after that conference.

More about the Government and Politics of Guyana.

Custom Search

Source: U.S. Library of Congress