Burnham made no contribution to a Guyanese identity

Stabroek News
July 20, 2001

Dear Editor,

I hear the calls for the restoration of Burnham's portrait at the National Cultural Centre. Some speak of the greatness of the man and his "vision" for Guyana, his contribution to creating a "Guyanese identity."

As an Indo-Guyanese I find these an affront to Indian sensibility. For me Burnham represented tyranny. For me he represented someone who had so much power that people couldn't speak their minds, couldn't criticize, couldn't voice an opinion that was different from his. Lest we forget, under Burnham this country ran up so much foreign debt that it was declared at one point the poorest in the Western hemisphere. Lest we forget, under Burnham's PNC every election from 1968 to 1992 was rigged. The majority of the population was denied their right to elect a leader of their choice. Was that his "vision?" Was that his contribution to a "Guyanese identity?"

I don't deny that Burnham was the leader, illegitimate at that, of this country and that as such he should be included in the annals of our history. But to raise him to a position of reverence and respect is an affront. The man was a dictator. Public funds should not be used to glorify such a person.

Yours faithfully,

Rohan Sooklall