Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Tuesday, December 24, 2002  

Desmond Hoyte's passing is the big regional news story these days, and Nicholas writes about it, noting with admiration that the former Guyanese President was instrumental in founding the Stabroek News, as well as the setting up of the Guyana Prize for Literature. He also quotes from yesterday's Stabroek News editorial, which paid glowing tribute to Hoyte.

Thank goodness for today's Trinidad Guardian editoral:

'Mr Hoyte became Prime Minister and first Vice-President in 1984. After the death of Mr Burnham in August 1985, Mr Hoyte was made leader of the PNC and President of Guyana. He quickly confirmed himself in office with another rigged election.

'However, in spite of the succession of ministerial posts he had held, and his close identification with Mr Burnham’s state-planned economic policies, which had impoverished the country, Mr Hoyte moved Guyana towards an open economy, democracy and rapprochement with the International Monetary Fund.

'He was an able leader who showed great sensitivity in cultural matters and environmental awareness. He also sought to heal the ethnic wounds that divided Guyana, for which he was dubbed “Desmond Persaud”.

'Confident in his achievements, Mr Hoyte set the stage for fair elections in 1992, and went so far as to threaten to resign if PNC attacks on the electoral commission did not stop.

'Unfortunately, here Mr Hoyte departed from the path cleared by greater men, such as (Mikhail) Gorbachev.

'Mr Hoyte found it difficult to accept defeat. After a near-fatal heart attack, he returned to politics as Opposition Leader, and attempted to undo much of the good he had done as President.

'He blocked constitutional changes and the establishment of a race relations commission.

'His deep dislike for Janet Jagan, who was made President on the death of Cheddi Jagan, fuelled Mr Hoyte’s obstructionism. He launched a vicious campaign after losing the 1997 election, and promised to make Guyana ungovernable.

'Even after Mrs Jagan’s resignation, Mr Hoyte remained ready to condone political rioting and violence, and he kept the PNC out of Parliament.

'The overall result of Mr Hoyte’s political policies, which remained to the end subject to his explosive temper, contributed significantly to keeping the society ethnically polarised.

'Unable to sail with the winds of change, he tried to hold them back. It was a mistake for which Guyana continues to pay dearly.'

posted by Jonathan | 8:08 AM 0 comments


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