An interview with U.S. Ambassador Samuel Hinds of Guyana & Consul General Lutfi Hassan
On October, 2022, Honorary Consul General of Guyana to Southwest United States & the Chairman of Apex Group of Companies, the Hon. Syed Lutfi Hassan hosted a reception with elected officials, close friends & business associates at his beautiful residence in Houston, Texas to welcome Guyanese Ambassador to United States the Hon. Ambassador Sam Hinds to Houston, Texas.
Also in attendance were:
Congressman Al Green, Kathryn Steele, CEO Telemed, Kris karri, ITA A. Pustpitasari, Minister Social Affairs at Consulate General of Indonesia, Saleem Alavi Maritime Advisor-APEX Group Of Companies , Sanjay Ramabhadran, Chairman Metropolitan Transit Authority, Zafar Tahir, City Of Houston Planning Commission, Asha Reddy Former Municipal Judge-City Of Houston, Munir Ibrahim Former President of South Asian Chamber Of Commerce, John Hauser, Board Member & partner at Apex Group Of Companies, Ashraful Islam Chairman at CONSOR Engineers LLC, Orhan K. Osman, President Turkish Cultural Center, and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
Interview with Ambassador Samuel Hinds
Please introduce Guyana
Okay, Guyana is a new country, a country that is being created. It has six types of people. We say that it is a country of six peoples. They were the original indigenous people. They're American Indians. And then came the British, Dutch and French. In Guyana, it was mostly Dutch and British. They established the plantations, and they brought in slaves from Africa. And then in 1834- 38 period, slavery was ended. And they brought replacement for the workers of the sugar estates from the Azores, the Portuguese islands, and also from India, from 1838 and some from China in 1852.
So we say Guyana is a country of six peoples. It was not very rich country didn't have a big population and the country the flat coastline was damp and considered to be high, high diseases and so on. In the early days, malaria was an issue, but by the 1950s, things started moving and that was the beginning of things. So thinking of becoming independent, and so on. And we had initially in terms of our political history, the labor unions, maybe led the way, and we could mention that Mr. Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow who, who founded a dark workers unions, pretty early in the Caribbean and the British Commonwealth, I think around 1920. And then in the 1940s, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, who had come up to Howard at 18 years old in 1936. And studying pre med here then studying to become a dentist, got married to an American girl, American Jewish girl in Dubai, but at age 43, he returned home.
He then set about establishing a formal political movement which became the people's political, the People's Progressive Party. On the first of January 1950, the he had been invited all peoples to come and join in the party because he was aware that we needed to bring together or different peoples until he had invited a young lawyer just returned from England and Africa and descending gentleman named Mr. Burnham, so he was made chairman. But in Guyana, I would say are different groups with a different histories, different religions and so on. We have a job of social bringing enough cohesion in the society. So Mr. Burnham, with encouragement from the west of the tide, in terms of the Cold War, was encouraged to depart from the PBV. And so the informed people's National Congress, and we've had even up to now, the main political competition is between the people's Progressive Party. Do you think that's the main issue National Congress?
What do you think, Ambassador, is the main issue in Guyana?
Our party's up to now still supported largely by people of one group, for example, the People's Progressive Party After Burner moved out, was largely supported largely by indo Guyanese Chinese of Indian descent. But, but they were also significant among a number of other Guyanese, particularly in the leadership. And similarly, the PNC was largely supported by people of African descent, but there was significant numbers to an Indian descended guy he is particularly in the leadership and there was for a while, the united force was Sydney because that was largely party with many Portuguese people and Catholic people. And so I don't think it will be surprising that political parties, when they formed for the first time, would fall on existing clusters in society. And so that's it. But I think things are changing, particularly in the last last years. In terms of population, we're getting a growing mixed group of people, 20% of people have ancestry from all the groups, or two or three of the groups of people. Everyone is getting a chance. Yeah, so things, things are moving along. They're socially politically things are
If you have to focus on one issue, what would it be?
To focus on one issue? Issue would be improving the socialization in the peak? It's coming slowly, but it will probably speed up. That would be that would be my focus, improve socialization or increase socialization.
Interview with Honorary Consul General Lutfi Hassan
Consul General Hassan, about the main issue in Guyana. What do you think, Consul General?
Well, I think, they have few issues. But if you ask me out of that, what is the most primary issue? I think the message that the President now is conveying is one Guyana, meaning he wants to bring all the Guyanese population, what they call the six people or six segments of the society together as one. And I think that's very key to the success of any nation. And Guyana has so much in terms of potential to grow as one of the emerging nations in the, the modern history. So it takes unity of the people of any nation to build the country. And I think Ghana is poised for that, with the leadership that they have the President...and wisdom of the Vice President....is going to definitely pay off. So this new slogan about "one Guyana" is a big deal. Now, everybody's talking about it, they're trying to instill this in the younger generation. So that come election time, and when it comes to political time, people are not swayed to believe otherwise. Because this is all politics, you know. So election time, you know, they tried to bring obviously confusion. And, and this harmony obviously gets affected. So I think if they start this dialogue, if they start instilling into the thinking of the people, way before the elections, hopefully by the election time, which is 2025 people will have better handle at this, people will have a better understanding.
So hopefully, it will not divide people it will not politics should not actually divide people. And politics as we know, everywhere, globally. That's what happens, divides people. So I think Guyana is working on it, I'm very optimistic about the future of Guyana, and very happy to be a part of their growth.
... The beauty of this government is the clean, you know, no nonsense approachand zero tolerance for corruption. And that's why I'm involved. You know, as, as an American citizen, obviously, I take pride in, in making sure that we are doing everything lawful, and this government in this country is following the rules and, andforming new rules also, to eradicate or to get rid of all theills that this country has faced in the past in terms of, security in terms of you know, not following proper rules and guidelines. This government is trying to instill that in the people so I'm very pleased to see all that happen.
Please tell us more about the Guyana initiative.
As a part of the infrastructure, basically, school systems to health care to libraries, in education, obviously, is very, it's a top priority health is a top priority, these two things actually health and education. Any country actually, you have to focus and they are, they are building hospitals, as I know, I think they're like seven hospitals coming up right now. From what I was told, then a number of schools coming up. And of course, why now that infrastructure, in a big way. The President actually happens to be former Housing Minister, he's got a doctorate in town planning. So he's the right person for the job when it comes to infrastructure of roads, you know, so he that is very close to his heart, and he's working on it, they're developing smart cities, and a part of that smart cities will be of course, smart schools, school systems, smart healthcare systems, smart, smart transit systems, where they will have metro rails and, you know, transportation, roads and bridges, all that as a part of that development. So, yes, Guyana actually is looking to rebuild this nation from where they are. And so there is humongous growth that is in the pipeline. And it will happen in the next I want to say about three to five years,
I think that I will see a lot of growth. Personally, I have experienced this. In the Middle East, my father actually used to be in the Middle East and early 70s, late 60s and early 70s. And when we were kids, actually we went to Middle East during our holidays, and we used to see the growth in cranes everywhere. There were no roads - roads were being built, houses being built, buildings being built, all those things. So, I see obviously, Guyana being developed in that fashion. The advantage Guyana has is that they have educated population in the Middle East, like for instance, when Golf was being built, they lacked education, the people over there, so, everything had to be done by foreigners, here they require foreign help for capacity, but they have educated people that are in positions or could be put in positions to you know, run whatever disciplines they they need to whatever sector they need to improve on.
And how did the petrol situation contribute to that?
You're talking about the oil discovery. Oil discovery obviously is the thrust of this whole activity and 2015 when Exxon Mobil discovered oil. Obviously, you know, it was a game changer. And in 2019, they started actually pumping oil and COVID obviously was a distraction little bit but Exxon Mobil they were stopped. They still continue then they today to actually now the growth every few months. We see that new ? are being delivered. The storage offshores storage facility they'll float. And so these things are going to grow. And that is supposed to be by 2027, they're supposed to be pumping 1.2 million barrels a day, which, obviously is a lot of oil for a small nation like that a population of 800,000 people or less,
you know, so if you look at the per capita GDP,then it's going to be one of the richest countries on planet Earth in the coming years. So very excited to be part and parcel of this.
That's amazing. And thank you so much.
The most welcome.
Interview conducted by: Dr. Chaima Amari, Senior Editor of MENA Region for Society & Diplomatic Review
Photos provided by Visual Memories Productions