Jeffries, top Biden administration official to keynote major conference on Guyana

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries
Photo credit: Office of Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

The Brooklyn-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) said on Sunday that Democratic Leader in the United States House of Representatives, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and a high-level Biden administration official will deliver the keynote addresses next month during “an important conference on Guyana” at the National Press Club in Washington.

Jeffries, who represents the primarily Caribbean 9th Congressional District in New York, encompassing parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is the highest ranking Democrat in the US Congress.

CGID’s Director of Communications, Richard Millington, an attorney, said his group is collaborating with combined Guyanese Diaspora organizations in the United States in convening the two-day event on Sept. 27 and 28.

He said the conference will be held under the theme, “Promoting Inclusive Governance and Economic Growth, Equal Justice, Social Equality & Sustainable Development for All Guyanese in the Era of Oil and Gas.”

  Millington said several individuals and organizations in Guyana and the Diaspora will also address the conference. 

“Delegates will also brief White House officials, as well as officials from the State Department, Justice Department and FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigations] and US Exim Bank on the situation in Guyana,” he said.

Millington said delegates will travel to Capitol Hill to meet with key Members of Congress and US Senators, and that there will be a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).  

He said CGID President Rickford Burke is chairing the Conference Planning Committee.  

Millington said participants and delegates will include CBC Members and other members of the US House of Representatives, US Senators, officials from the Biden-Harris administration, leadership of international organizations, Guyanese political leaders, business and civil society leaders in Guyana, and Guyanese Diaspora leaders and other stakeholders.  

“This conference is convened amidst concerns by the Guyanese Diaspora that US policy on Guyana has not sufficiently promoted American values such as inclusive governance, inclusive growth; equal justice; social equality and sustainable development for all Guyanese,” Millington said. 

“Oil and gas revenues are not used equitably for the benefit and upliftment of all Guyanese,” he claimed, alleging that “Billions of dollars in Government contracts mostly go to the ethnic supporters of the East Indian-led and dominated People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government, essentially shutting out the African Guyanese population from government contracts, and ensuring the transfer of State wealth to one ethnicity. 

“The prevailing view in Guyana and the Diaspora is that the US government is unbothered that racial discrimination and racism appear to drive PPP government policies and practices,” he added. “The Government is aggressively developing into an autocracy and poses a serious threat to democratic rights.”

Amidst these alleged tendencies, Millington said “the Biden administration’s foreign policy on Guyana seems apathetic to these realities and indifferent to the systemic marginalization of Blacks.”  

He said Guyana has emerged as “an important nation – potentially the fifth largest oil producer in the world,” stating that this status gives it “a role in the global economy.”

Millington said Guyana is also a “significant geo-political ally of the US and is important to our national interest.”

“Consequently, promoting political stability, as well as equitable growth, equal rights and justice and democratic values, is an American imperative,” he said. 

“The conference is, therefore, intended to bring together Biden administration officials, Members of Congress, Guyanese national and Diaspora leaders, and other stakeholders, for a robust and comprehensive dialogue to foster a pragmatic US policy on Guyana that is aligned with American values and the international democratic ethos,” he added.