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British Guiana: Repairing the Damage - Friday, Feb. 19, 1965
by Time Magazine
Posted on 2011-05-22

In three years of Marxist misrule, Cheddi Jagan managed to ruin British Guiana's economy and set the country's East Indian and Negro populations at each other's throats. But Jagan, an East Indian and a former dentist, was defeated in last December's elections, and Forbes Burnham, an anti-Communist Negro, now leads the tiny, self-governing British colony. As of last week, Burnham seemed to be making a fair start toward repairing the damage.

Calling for an end to the racial fighting that killed more than 170 Indians and Negroes in the months before the election, Burnham has formed a coalition Cabinet of many colors. His Cabinet includes Negroes, East Indians and whites—all working to patch up the country's sugar and bauxite economy. One of Jagan's pet schemes was a mandatory national "savings plan," under which the government automatically deducted 5% from every worker's wages and put the money into a government-run fund. When Jagan left, the treasury did not have enough funds to pay back the $3,650,000 collected under the plan. Burnham canceled the scheme and offered to pay off the depositors with 71% government savings certificates that will mature in 91 years. So far, demands for cash payments have amounted to less than $100,000.

Foreign investors are suddenly regaining their enthusiasm about British Guiana. In the past month, foreign and domestic companies have snapped up more than $3,000,000 in government bonds. The Reynolds Metals Co., which operates bauxite mines, is now talking about expanding operations. The British government has pledged $7,000,000 in development funds, and a U.S. aid team has just finished studying Guianan needs.

In the meantime, Jagan fumes that the elections were an "imperialist plot" to oust him. His People's Party, which still controls 24 of the Assembly's 53 seats, continues to boycott the legislature and threatens renewed violence. In the past few weeks, bands of extremists have been roaming the countryside, derailing trains, cutting telephone wires and setting scattered fires in the sugarcane fields. This week Britain's Colonial Secretary Anthony Greenwood is scheduled to pay his first visit to the colony, and the British Army garrison is braced for whatever else Cheddi and his followers may have in mind.


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