Relations with Britain
Despite Burnham's anti-Western rhetoric of the 1970s and early
1980s, Guyana has attempted to maintain good relations with
Britain, in part to discourage Venezuelan territorial ambitions.
Guyana remained in the Commonwealth of Nations after independence
and has played an active role in Commonwealth affairs. Guyana
strongly criticized the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands
and was a vocal supporter of Britain in the UN.
Relations with the Commonwealth Caribbean
Guyana under PNC administrations has consistently encouraged
greater unity among the English-speaking Caribbean countries. This
policy began in 1961 and was in sharp contrast to the policies of
the PPP in the 1950s. The Jagan government had refused to join the
West Indies Federation because of Indo-Guyanese concerns about
becoming a ethnic minority within the federation. In an independent
Guyana, the Indo-Guyanese would be in the majority, and Jagan hoped
that such an arrangement would secure political power for the IndoGuyanese and the PPP.
Under the PNC, the Guyanese government joined the Caribbean
Free Trade Association (Carifta) with Antigua and Barbados. By 1973
Carifta had become Caricom and had the expanded goal of fostering
greater economic, social, and political unity among the member
countries. Caricom's headquarters were located in Georgetown, and
in 1991 membership included all independent members of the Englishspeaking Caribbean and Belize.
Despite a trend toward economic union since the 1960s,
political relations between Guyana and the English-speaking
Caribbean occasionally have been poor. Except for Jamaica and
Grenada in the 1970s, all of the English-speaking Caribbean
countries were pro-Western and procapitalist. This stance put them
in direct conflict with the often anti-Western, anticapitalist
rhetoric of the Guyanese government.
The low point in relations came after the United States
invasion of Grenada. Burnham heavily criticized other Caribbean
leaders for their support of the operation, especially Dominica's
prime minister, Eugenia Charles, who played a leading role. The
rift between Burnham and the other Commonwealth leaders grew so
great that it threatened the future of Caricom.
After Burnham's death in 1985, President Hoyte moved quickly to
repair relations. At a well-publicized meeting of Caricom heads of
government in 1986, Hoyte posed for a picture with the other
leaders. Relations generally were good after that conference.
Data as of January 1992