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Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde last Sunday told a New York congregation, in Guyana, a land of plenty, vast rich mineral resources and fertile agricultural lands, a country declared the world’s fastest economy- based on recent exploration of oil- there is increasing poverty, discrimination, political aggression and hostility of a regime whose practices and programmes further create division among Guyanese.
Addressing the Brooklyn Full Gospel Assembly of God Church, Forde, speaking on behalf of the Institute For Action Against Discrimination (IFAAD), told a captive audience the institute seeks their engagement for solutions to unite Guyanese, at home and in the diaspora, for the greater good of building accountability and democracy for all. “So, with your participation, prayers and goodwill we will build a stronger foundation for all Guyanese.”
The church, whose membership is primarily from the West Indian community, has a large Guyanese following and is known for its progressive stance on social and political issues.
The senior counsel, who is the legal counsel for the newly formed Institute, outlined a litany of issues affecting the Guyanese people such as the absence of equitable distribution of oil wealth to benefit all the people of Guyana, in a free, fair and transparent way; an environment where citizens are made to feel they must sell their pride and allow themselves to be used as political pawns and hired agent provocateurs to further the agenda of ethnic conflicts and divisions. He shared the belief, also held by many, Guyana is already inflicted by the Dutch Disease and Curse.
The Dutch disease and curse is generally associated with the discovery of natural resources that results in a large inflow of foreign currency, among other investments, where weak institutions of state and poor governance managing such revenues have resulted in the country’s failure to realise its full potential and ensure equitable success amongst the people.
To repeated amen from the congregation, a composed Forde said, he is convinced were it not for some forces who seek to benefit from the division, ordinary citizens, if left to their own will, can and will work together for the common good. According to him “we have a long history of struggle,” and the post-independent generation, of which he is a part, wants better for themselves and the younger ones, who are coming after them, for they deserve better.
Impressing the importance of unity and desire to fulfill the aspiration of most Guyanese to live as “One People, One Nation, One Destiny” the senior counsel told the congregation a country divided cannot prosper. He also cautioned that “a divided people are vulnerable to predatory forces of all sorts and are unable to best protect their national and individual interest.” Already, he said. Guyanese have seen the threat from aggressive bordering neighbours, and a government seeking to create ethnic dilution through immigration policies that discriminate against some and in favour of others.
The entire presentation follows:
Members of the Full Gospel Assembly congregation, good morning-
It feels good to be in your company. The good Lord said, “where two and three are gathered in my name, there also will I be.” So today I am grateful to be in this holy presence. I bring you greetings from the members of the Institute For Action Against Discrimination.
It is possible, if you are Guyanese, you may have heard the name Roysdale Forde before. But for those who have not, and for those who may have heard it and never met the person, standing before you is Roysdale Forde, Senior Counsel of the Guyana Bar, Legal Counsel for the Institute For Action Against Discrimination, senior partner of the Forde, Amsterdam and Lewis Law Firm, elected Member of the Parliamentary Opposition (2020- to present) with the portfolio for shadow Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. I am the first Guyanese trained lawyer to be appointed a Senior Counsel which is the title that replaced what you would have known as Queens/Kings Counsel.
Roysdale is husband to a beautiful wife, who just happens to be the legal counsel to this senior counsel. Together we have three beautiful children. One would think that my happiness would be complete with that. Unfortunately, I stand before you this morning as a young Guyanese professional and politician, feeling far from happy, as I am deeply perturbed over the development in my country, and that of some of you here.
I have lived my entire life in Guyana, outside the brief period of pursuing my legal education in Trinidad.
Before my very eyes I am witnessing, in the land of plenty, the land of vast rich mineral resources and fertile agricultural lands, the country declared the world’s fastest economy- based on its recent exploration of oil- increasing poverty, discrimination, political aggression and hostility of a regime whose practices and programmes further create division among our people.
We have heard about the Dutch Disease and already we are seeing the infliction of this curse on Guyana. There is no equitable distribution of our oil wealth to benefit all the people of Guyana, in a free, fair and transparent way. The government, by its very action, has set out to make paupers of some, whilst reducing others to various indignities, where they must sell their pride and allow themselves to be used as political pawns and hired agent provocateurs to further the agenda of ethnic conflicts and divisions.
I am convinced, ordinary citizens, if left to their own will, can and will work together for the common good were it not for some forces who seek to benefit from the division. We have a long history of struggle. The post-independent generation, of which I am a part, wants better for ourselves and the younger ones, who are coming after us, for they deserve better.
A country divided cannot prosper. A divided people are vulnerable to predatory forces of all sorts and are unable to best protect their national and individual interest. Already, we have seen the threat we face from aggressive bordering neighbours, and a government seeking to create ethnic dilution through immigration policies that discriminate against some and in favour of others.
The Institute For Action Against Discrimination was formed in 2022 in response to growing concerns about inequity and inequality with the aim of providing the space to have the necessary, though difficult, conversations to bring awareness, gather data and direct the information to stakeholders and policy makers in supporting the marginalised quest for social, economic and political justice. The formation of the organisation has been well-received in Guyana by many.
Some of the areas that we are looking at, for instance, are the harassment, prosecution and criminalisation of professional public servants from the previous government. For example, GECOM employees, Mr. Colvin Heath-London, Head of NICIL, where the current administration has willfully set out to damage their good names and career, and former Minister of Finance Mr. Winston Jordan whose case was recently tried and he was exonerated, much to the displeasure of the government. This resulted in an attack on the judiciary and magistrate. The victimisation of bauxite workers in an effort to deny them freedom of association to a union of their choice. Inequitable handouts of government moneys, contracts and so forth.
The issues are varied and numerous, too much to mention now, and I seek not to depress you, just to highlight a few and to share with you the Institute For Action Against Discrimination’s initiatives to bring greater awareness and understanding. On behalf of the Institute For Action Against Discrimination, and citizens of Guyana, I seek your engagement for solutions to unite our people at home and in the diaspora for the greater good of building accountability and democracy for all Guyanese. So, with your participation, prayers and goodwill we will build a stronger foundation for all Guyanese.
Thank you for listening attentively to the pains and trials articulated on behalf of our Guyanese brothers and sisters back home, whose only desire is to peacefully co-exist and have equitable distribution of the fruits of our land.
I am sure by now you would have heard about the tragic death of 19 children- 18 teenaged girls and a five-year-old boy- in a school dorm that was razed by fire in the township of Mahdia, Region No. 8. The Institute For Action Against Discrimination and the Guyanese community also ask for your prayers for the young souls, the survivors, families, and their respective communities. We need divine intervention in our land.
I look forward to meeting you again to update you about developments to strengthen our Guyana, and our resistance to oppression so as to bring change and harmony to all Guyanese. I assure you our motto of “One People, One Nation, One Destiny” still lives in the hearts and minds of most of our people as an aspiration.
May God continue to bless us all.
Roysdale Forde S.C, M.P
May 28, 2023