(22nd December, 2015) His Excellency Brigadier David A. Granger: We are assembled here to commemorate the life and labour of Guyana’s Second Executive President, Hugh Desmond Hoyte who died on 22nd December 2002. Guyana at the time of the General Elections of December 1964; almost exactly twenty-one years ago was in a state of stagnation after seven years of maladministration. The country was financially bankrupt; economically backwards and socially broken; desperation was everywhere, emigration was rife.
Our first Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham bore the brunt of repairing the damaged State; he built colleges, schools and the university; he constructed a new airport, bridges, highways and rehabilitated our sea defences; he initiated the vital Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary scheme; he inaugurated huge housing settlements; he led our country into Independence.
He fostered the creation of the Caribbean Community and the formation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of States. He reformed the Local Government System. He introduced the National Insurance Scheme to promote social protection; he nurtured social cohesion and secured the nation against insurrection and invasion.
Hugh Desmond Hoyte became Prime Minster in August 1984; almost, exactly twenty years after Forbes Burnham became Prime Minister. Desmond Hoyte himself was elected to be Guyana’s Second Executive President the following year in 1985, but throughout the previous twenty-one years he was at Burnham’s side, as Vice President and as Prime Minister; he was part of the continuum; even as he was being prepared to confront the challenge of change.
His execution of the portfolios as Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Finance, Minister of Works and Communications, of economic development, of regional development, was an education in national leadership and preparation for international statesmanship.
Desmond Hoyte, during his presidential septennium from 1985 to 1992; was able to employ this considerable experience and to deploy his personal expertise and to apply his abundant endowments and talents in the highest executive office. He continued to build on the foundation of the previous twenty-one years.
His tenure as President of Guyana coincided with the eclipse of the world socialist system, which Guyana had become a part. The collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics precipitated changes everywhere. Desmond Hoyte had an acute sense of direction into which way the winds were blowing; he prudently positioned Guyana to take advantage of the economic reforms that were sweeping the Western Hemisphere in the last decade of the twentieth century.
He promoted sustainable development. He promoted the protection and preservation of the environment. He opened the door to shared governance, which facilitated the coalition-based alliance we joy today.
Hugh Desmond Hoyte remains an exceptional example of selfless service to the people of Guyana. His courageous economic choices have now become part of economic orthodoxy. His legacy is unassailable.
Guyana remembers Desmond Hoyte, as its Second Executive President; as a patriot, we remember him with affection, and with respect.
I thank you.