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Statement by Ambassador Rudolph Ten-Pow at the Flag Raising Ceremony Commemorating Guyana's 53rd Anniversary of Independence

Friday, 24 May 2019
H.E Rudolph Ten- Pow, Permanent Representative to the United Nations

My Guyanese brothers and sisters, greetings. And greetings to all the adopted Guyanese and friends of Guyana who have joined us here this afternoon. Welcome to all of you. Special greetings to the President of the Borough of Brooklyn, Mr. Eric Adams, and to the Officers of the Brooklyn Borough Council. A special welcome as well to the members of the Caucus of CARICOM Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and the members of the CARICOM Consular Corps in New York who have graced us with their presence.

We are here to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of our independence. Fifty-three is one of those in-between years, not a round number like our Jubilee anniversary, which we celebrated three years ago. But fifty-three is an important year for Guyana. History may well remember this year as the year in which Guyana turned the corner and placed itself firmly on the path to economic independence after fifty-three years of political independence.

And yes, the road has been difficult. Yes, we’ve made mistakes and suffered setbacks along the way. But by now we should realize that independence is not a one-time event that happened to us in 1966. Independence is a process - a long, hard and sometimes a painful process.

Here we are gathered today in the greatest city of the greatest country on the face of the earth. And I know our friends, our hosts from the Borough of Brooklyn will want to add that we’re in the greatest borough of the greatest city of the greatest country on the face of the earth.

But when this greatest country celebrated the 53rd anniversary of its own independence from England, it was a long way from being what it is today.  It was a nation divided against itself. Half slave and half free. It took another generation and a bloody civil war to put an end to slavery and it then took another hundred years before the Civil Rights Act was voted into law in 1964. And even today, more than half a century later, the process of making this great country a more perfect union continues.

In Guyana, after flirting with civil strife in the early 1960s, a national consensus is now emerging that unity is the only way forward. And let us remember that our founding fathers, representing our two main races, worked together as representatives of all the people in our struggle for independence.

And when we did gain our independence in 1966, we inherited a country rich in resources, with warm and beautiful people.

Sometimes we don’t seem to fully appreciate just how lucky we are. One of the things I’ve learnt from serving as our Permanent Representative to the United Nations is to see up close the difficulties and challenges faced by other countries. Here we are, a country at peace, rich in resources, a huge landmass, protected from natural disasters. Too often we take all of that for granted. We complain about heavy rainfall when people in other countries are dying from drought. We view the forest that covers over 80 per cent of our territory as “bush”, when some countries would love to see a little patch of green on their barren land. And we complain of the hot sun, when others see opportunities for clean and renewable solar energy.

So, as we celebrate our 53rd anniversary, let us count our blessings and, as the songwriter says, name them one by one. And let us resolve to use all of our natural resources and all of our people to transform Guyana together so that, by the grace of God, when we gather here again next year to hoist the Golden Arrowhead in commemoration of the 54th anniversary of our political independence, we will be firmly set on the road to economic independence. No turning back!

And above all, let us go forward into that bright future united, as one people, one nation with one shining destiny.

Happy anniversary!