The Cooperative Republic of Guyana celebrates ‘Portuguese Arrival Day’ on 3rd May to acknowledge the achievements of the descendants of immigrants of Portuguese origin and their contribution to nation-building.
Portuguese indentured immigration was started in anticipation of an expected labour shortage on the sugar plantations consequent to the emancipation of enslaved Africans. Thirty thousand six hundred and forty five (30,645) Portuguese from the Azores, Brazil, Cape Verde and Madeira came to British Guiana during the period of state-assisted immigration between 1841 and 1882.
The first forty Portuguese arrived in Demerara on the ship ‘Louisa Baillie’ from the island of Madeira on 3rd May 1835 after a 78-day voyage via London. Twenty were engaged as labourers to James Albouy of Plantations La Penitence and Liliendaal and 20 to R.G. Butts of Plantation Thomas in Demerara.
Persons of Portuguese origin have lived in Guyana for 182 years. A large number of the descendants of the immigrants, after the expiration of the indentureship, left plantation work and pursued occupational opportunities, initially in the huckster and retail trade, in which they quickly attained a dominant share. Portuguese enterprise extended, also, to agriculture, manufacturing, merchandise imports and shipping.
Portuguese were responsible, primarily, for the establishment and extension of Roman Catholicism. They built churches and established schools thereby expanding their role in education. They founded many fraternities and charitable organizations and created a number of sports clubs to promote participation in sport.
The Portuguese made an inestimable contribution and an ineradicable imprint on Guyana’s growth. They continue to contribute to nation-building.
I issued an order designating 3rd May every year, as ‘Portuguese Arrival Day’.
I extend best wishes to the Portuguese community of Guyana on the occasion of the observance of this important event in our nation’s history.
President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana