Schenectady County

Guyana locals eye distant election

New Yorkers voted in local elections three weeks ago but a small group of Schenectady residents is w

New Yorkers voted in local elections three weeks ago but a small group of Schenectady residents is watching with great interest as people head to the polls on another continent.

National elections are being held today for president, parliament and regional offices in the South American country of Guyana.

Local real estate agent Subhash Sukhram said the local Guyanese community, which numbers more than 3,000 in Schenectady, has been following the campaign.

“It has a lot of impact on our community because we have a lot of family and friends that still live down there. We’re a very close-knit group,” he said.

President Bharrat Jagdeo of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic is not seeking re-election after serving for 12 years, because of term limits. Donald Ramotar is the choice of the PPP/Civic to succeed him. His main opponent is former Guyana Defense Force minister David Granger, who is the candidate of A Partnership for National Unity, according to an article on the Trinidad Express Newspapers website.

The incumbent party is expected to win, according to Sukhram. He said some Schenectady Guyanese still own property in Guyana and he hopes that whoever is elected will keep the progress going.

“The current administration has done a fabulous job of building bridges, roads, infrastructure and bringing the country to new heights,” he said.

Much of the Third World country is still very poor but Sukhram said that oil drilling has begun. “There’s a big vast potential of becoming an oil-rich nation,” he said.

Another major issue is crime, which includes murders, armed robberies and drug trafficking, according to news accounts. Sukhram said violence tends to occur during election season as supporters of different parties rally behind their candidates. There have even been small riots. “Everyone is hoping that everything goes very smoothly and there’s a democratic process that takes place,” he said.

Sukhram said he hopes crime is reduced because residents still want to return to visit and bring their families. He even held out hope that the next president would pay a visit to Schenectady.

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