Guyana committed to strengthening ties with South American nations

PRESIDENT Dr. Irfaan Ali has told the South American trade block, MERCOSUR, that Guyana is committed to the pursuit of regional economic integration and to enhanced political, social and economic ties with its South American neighbours.
The Head of State said that the aim is to ensure that there is a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for all citizens of the continent. President Ali said this during an address to the Summit of Heads of State of MERCOSUR, held virtually on Thursday.
The meeting saw in attendance Heads of State and representatives from founding members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and from associated states Guyana, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Suriname. MERCOSUR was established by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991.

President Ali related that Guyana strongly shares the values that define the MERCOSUR project, including democracy, the rule of law, the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
He also pointed to the respect for international law, for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. In this regard, the Head of State said: “These are all fundamental to ensuring that our region remains a zone of peace and development, where the aspirations of our peoples can be realised in full freedom.”
He told the auspicious gathering that since Guyana became an associate member of MERCOSUR in 2013, it has had the privilege of strengthening its engagement with the group, as well as its continental counterparts.

“We have benefitted from the wealth of knowledge and experiences exchanged with our regional neighbours,” the President related.
Further, he said that the group has demonstrated the effectiveness of regional integration, which has now become imperative in a more technologically connected world.  He added that as South American nations, it is imperative to strive for closer ties, and build an economic block that is dynamic and self-sustaining.
The President pointed to cooperation on infrastructural projects between Guyana and Brazil and Guyana and Suriname, which include the Guyana to Brazil road link that is set to commence next year; the installation of a fibre-optic link between Georgetown and Boa Vista; the conclusion of an agreement to link Suriname and Guyana with a bridge across the Corentyne River; and the possibility of an energy corridor linking the three neighbouring countries.

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It is estimated that over one million Guyanese, when counting their dependents, live outside of Guyana.  This exceeds the population of Guyana, which is now about 750,000.  Many left early in the 50’s and 60’s while others went with the next wave in the 70’s and 80’s.  The latest wave left over the last 20 years. This outflow of Guyanese, therefore, covers some three generations. This outflow still continues today, where over 80 % of U.G. graduates now leave after graduating.  We hope this changes, and soon.

Guyanese, like most others, try to keep their culture and pass it on to their children and grandchildren.  The problem has been that many Guyanese have not looked back, or if they did it was only fleetingly.  This means that the younger generations and those who left at an early age know very little about Guyana since many have not visited the country.  Also, if they do get information about Guyana, it is usually negative and thus the cycle of non-interest is cultivated.

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