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As our country once again observes Arrival Day, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) takes the opportunity to extend greetings and best wishes to the people of Guyana. The observances always serve to remind us of the rich diversity and the unique multi-cultural composition of our nation. Indeed, it adds to the specialness of Guyana that people of different backgrounds can co-exist in harmony and unity as they all seek to improve their lives a goal linked to building our country which will surely augur well for the future generations.
While Arrival Day – May 05 – though largely associated with the arrival of East Indians, the day reminds us of all indentured immigrants brought to our land. Our research advises us that outside of the East Indians, the Madeiran Portuguese came in May 1835, the Chinese in 1853, as well as a few other ethnicities during that phase of colonialism. We are aware that the colonialists brought also labourers from Malta, Ireland, Germany and England.
Arrival Day also reminds us of the reasons for the indentureship system. The then immigrants who replaced the emancipated slaves were made to toil in the fields of the sugar plantations to enrich the foreign owners of the plantations. Indentured labourers and their families were forced to exist in inhumane and atrocious conditions. And, like their compatriots, they were forced to engage in several struggles, which gave us several martyrs, to bring about small improvements and meagre benefits in their lives and work conditions.
Today as we celebrate Arrival Day, the GAWU cannot fail to observe that the industry that occasioned our diversity is being revitalized. Our Union recognizes that the industry remains critical to the sustenance and well-being of thousands of Guyanese. The efforts to push the industry into obscurity by the past regime is well documented and the hardship it created is well-known. We are encouraged by the actions and utterances of the new Government which has demonstrated its commitment. Sugar, we reiterate, has all possibilities of success but, among other things, requires the active and material support and confidence of the powers-that-be.
As we celebrate Arrival Day, the GAWU urges all Guyanese to spare a moment to reflect on how far as a people we have come, the challenges we overcame, and the successes we have recorded. At this time, when we ought to look to be reach new and higher plateaus we see concerted efforts that will very likely reverse much of the progress we have made and rightly can take pride in. Let us resist such efforts and get back on the development track.
GAWU joins with all Guyana to celebrate Arrival Day.