In The News


Life of His Excellency, The Honourable Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, S.C.

 

Thousands Mourn Guyana's Desmond Hoyte
By MICHELLE NURSE, Associated Press - Monday 30 December 2002

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - Thousands of mourners filled the main square in Guyana's capital Monday, paying their final respects to former President Desmond Hoyte, one of the Caribbean's most prominent leaders.

Hoyte, who in recent years served as opposition leader in the South American country, died Dec. 22 at his home of an apparent heart attack. He was 73.

The mourners endured searing heat, shading themselves with umbrellas, hats and handkerchiefs. Many wept as they filed past Hoyte's open casket in the Square of the Revolution under a black and gold tent.

A crowd later filled a courtyard at the Parliament building for a state funeral to honor Hoyte, who was president from 1985-1992 and who some called the "Silver Fox" for his gray hair and political craftiness.

Caribbean Community Secretary-General Edwin Carrington praised Hoyte's efforts to support regional integration. He said Hoyte had urged the community "to move rapidly and resolutely towards the concept of an integrated regional economy."

In a written condolence message, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis said Hoyte showed "courageousness and passion for equality," and said Guyana "has lost a valuable son, whose space cannot be easily filled."

Hoyte was to be buried later at a small cemetery in Georgetown's botanical gardens.

Hugh Desmond Hoyte was born March 4, 1929, in Georgetown. He worked as a teacher in the 1950s at the Boy's Secondary School on the island of Grenada.

A British-trained lawyer, he entered politics in 1968 when he was elected to Parliament. He held several ministerial positions and in 1984, under President Forbes Burnham, became first vice president and prime minister.

He assumed the presidency in 1985 when Burnham died during surgery, and has led the People's National Congress party ever since.

Hoyte was credited with turning around the country's economy in the 1980s after Burnham's socialist policies, which had coincided with economic stagnation. Many businesses shut their doors Monday in a gesture of respect.

Hoyte presided over a political party largely backed by people who, like him, were of African descent. He left the presidency in 1992 when his party lost to the People's Progressive Party, which is largely backed by those of East Indian descent.

The former British colony's population of nearly 700,000 has remained sharply divided in politics along racial lines.

Hoyte is survived by his wife, Joyce. In 1985, shortly before he assumed the presidency, his two teenage daughters and sister-in-law were killed in a car crash in southern Guyana.


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Legacy
Editorial -Stabroeknews - Sunday, December 29, 2002

There can be no doubt that the late Mr Hoyte stood out for his ability to take accurate compass readings of the future at critical points in his political career. He demonstrated this in the years following 1985 when he altered economic course and opened up the society, and most famously in 1992, when he carried the PNC into a free and fair election. Sometimes, significant elements in his party did not agree with his shifts in direction, although with the wisdom of hindsight posterity will undoubtedly judge him - if it has not already judged him - as having read the winds of political change correctly.

It is his actions in 1992 which the majority of commentators have seized upon as his greatest legacy to the nation. However, there is another which potentially could be greater, always providing that the party which he led for seventeen years elects to follow the course he mapped in a consistent way. At the last PNCR Congress he told the delegates that an adjusted system of governance, " - whether we call it 'power-sharing', 'shared governance', 'inclusive governance' or any other name - appears to be an idea whose time has come."

He went on to say that the PNCR "should not shy away from examining possible modalities for a transformed system of governance that meets the needs of our peculiar situation; nor should we be diffident, as a Party, about putting forward proposals as part of any national debate on this subject." In fact, in response to an invitation by the Social Partners, the PNCR did set up a committee which shortly before Mr Hoyte's death submitted what its chairman, Mr James McAllister, called a "discussion paper" on this very subject.

Implicit in the late leader's statements is the first recognition (at least publicly) by either of the two major parties that voting patterns are ethnically determined, and that given the ethnic arithmetic, the PNCR cannot be voted into office in the immediate term. (It must be noted, however, that Mr Hoyte said explicity it was not fated to be out of government for ever.)

Implicit too in his speech is the recognition that the political yearnings of the African population have to be given expression within a constitutional framework; there are simply no other alternatives. Perhaps it is fitting that it was Mr Hoyte, who after all saw the party through the vagaries of changing times, and not some subsequent leader, who looked the problem in the eye and advised the exploration of the only avenue available in "our peculiar situation."

It is true that he had not always favoured a 'shared governance' approach. During the constitutional reform process, he had expressed his reservations about it saying he did not know what the term meant, and pointing out, among other things, the danger of having no opposition in a democratic system. He was not wrong about the last-mentioned, and Mr McAllister's committee paid the issue due attention. However, as Mr Hoyte apparently concluded in the last year of his life, the fact that there will be problems in implementing a concept, should not preclude an investigation of its possibilities.

At the last Congress Mr Hoyte bequeathed something else to his supporters: a vision for re-invigorating the party. He proposed the establishment of a supportive organization in the PNCR for "mobilising... resources for training, education and fostering entrepreneurship, especially among young people, and for benevolent work in local communities." He conceded that party organization and work had experienced "some drift," and that this needed to be rectified. The party, he told his audience, was not just an instrument for periodic elections, but was intended to be "mobilised on a permanent basis for community and national development."

Apart from the obvious wisdom inherent in this approach, it might be observed that if the PNCR follows his suggested lead, then above all else they will need to be able to carry their supporters with them. The next leader, whoever he may be, will need well-oiled, functioning party machinery which will allow for educating constituents on the aims of the party, and how it is these aims are expected to be achieved. It will be necessary to persuade them that there are no quick fixes, that the route to shared governance will be a long and hard one, and that violent street protests will be inimical to the new campaign the PNCR is waging. 

This phase in the PNC's history requires patience, persistence and above all else, the force of reason. In fact, Mr Hoyte himself had referred to the need to strengthen "grass roots" structures, and intensify training and public relations techniques.
If the approach which Mr Hoyte adumbrated is followed through in a systematic way, it will fundamentally change the character of the pitch on which the political game is played in this country. It will also put the governing party under pressure to respond in a meaningful way. Persuading them to do so will not be easy, since flexibility has never been one of their predominant characteristics. 

However, if the PNCR is consistent in its advocacy, and if, as Mr Hoyte proposed, it places before the nation coherent programmes and policies, and establishes "modalities and mechanisms for identifying the major areas for national consensus-building and for deriving agreed broad-based policy positions," the PPP/C might discover itself sidelined in a strange way, and at the very least will find it virtually impossible to adhere to a line of no compromise.

Mr Hoyte left the blueprint; the issue is one of whether the party and its new leader can rise to the challenge of his vision. "Changed times require changed responses," he told the PNCR members in August. Hopefully, he was not too far ahead of them.

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Hoyte for burial at Seven Ponds
Day of National Mourning declared
By Patrick Denny
Stabroeknews - Wednesday, December 25, 2002
 
 
Former Executive President of Guyana and PNCR Leader Desmond Hoyte, will be laid to rest at The Seven Ponds, Place of Heroes in the Botanic Gardens on Monday following the State Ceremony at the Public Buildings.
 
Monday has also been declared a Day of National Mourning.
 
Hoyte will join Sir David Rose, the first Guianese to be appointed Governor General of the then British Guiana and Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham OE SC, Guyana’s first President with executive power and Hoyte’s predecessor at the State and party levels.
Stabroek News understands that the State Funeral will follow the normal format with Hoyte’s body being borne on a gun carriage that would be escorted by a detachment from the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard. A detachment of soldiers under a senior officer will also be on parade. Hoyte’s body will be borne on the gun carriage from the Square of the Revolution where it will lie in state for public viewing from 9 a.m. - 12 noon. The route of the cortege from the Square of the Revolution to Public Buildings and from there to the Botanic Gardens will be announced later. The ceremony at Public Buildings is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and should last two hours.
 
The proceedings Stabroek News understands will include prayers by representatives of the three main religions in Guyana, presentations by representatives of the parliamentary political parties, and one by President Bharrat Jagdeo.
 
Stabroek News understands that a meeting yesterday between PNCR and government representatives was meant to finalise those details.
 
The details for the Party’s own farewell to Hoyte, its leader of seventeen years, are being finalised by a committee chaired by party Vice Chairman Vincent Alexander. Some of the items that will form part of the programme include a tribute by PNCR chairman Robert Corbin; a closing statement by PNCR general secretary, Oscar Clarke; performances by First Born, the Yoruba Singers and Jean Roberts; tributes from the Guyana Labour Union, the Guyana Teachers Union and the Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers Union; and burial rites by the Rose Summer Lodge No 1, of which Hoyte’s grandfather was the first Grandmaster.
 
Alexander said that there are provisions on the programme for floral tributes and for tributes by members of the public during the viewing of the body. The body will be available for viewing between 11 am - 1 pm and from 3 - 4 pm.
From Friday evening until Sunday evening, as happened from last Sunday until Tuesday, party members will be gathering at Congress Place for the traditional wake. Wakes will be held in the other party regions.
 
Hoyte died suddenly on Sunday at his North Road, Lacytown residence presumably of a heart attack. He had triple by-pass surgery nine years ago in the US and he travelled annually for check-ups. The PNCR is yet to indicate the cause of death as given by Hoyte’s doctors.
 
Hoyte was President for Guyana for seven years during which he made some sweeping changes to the country’s electoral process paving the way for a return to free and fair elections and introducing in 1989, the Economic Recovery Programme, which, though its immediate effects were harsh, even his critics say laid the foundation for the country’s economic recovery.
 
Hoyte also took some bold initiatives in changing the PNC’s philosophical outlook, which until 1985 was underpinned by the socialist ideology in order to embrace a market-oriented approach to the economy. In the last few months he also signalled a new direction for the party, dropping his opposition to shared governance and initiated a debate within the party and nationally on its concept of this new form of governance.
 
With Hoyte’s death, Robert Corbin as the party’s chairman is performing the functions of leader as stipulated by the party’s constitution. He will continue to do so until the next general council of the party - which must be held within sixty days of Hoyte’s death - elects an interim leader to lead the party until the next biennial congress which is not due until 2004. Stabroek News understands that in the period until the next Congress, there is every likelihood that Corbin will be prevailed upon to remain at the helm.  

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CCWU salutes Hoyte
Stabroeknews - Wednesday, December 25, 2002

The Clerical and Commercial Workers’ Union has extended condolences to Mrs Joyce Hoyte and the People’s National Congress Reform on the sudden passing of Desmond Hoyte, former President and leader of the PNCR. The union stated that Hoyte, who once served as legal advisor to the CCWU, always gave “sound” advice and helped the Union to overcome certain legal obstacles. He also distinguished himself as an able Minister of Government in several capacities. The union described him as having a “knack for hard work” and said that he proved himself to be an astute politician. According to the union, it was his “brilliant leadership” as President that paved the way for Guyana’s return to democracy. Even though Hoyte’s passing has left a “void”, the union stated that his colleagues in the PNCR must seize the initiative to work with all the other political parties to bring peace and to move the nation forward.

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Private Sector Commission mourns Hoyte
Stabroeknews - Wednesday, December 25, 2002

The Private Sector Commission and its constituent members have offered their condolences to Mrs Joyce Hoyte and the Central Executive Committee and members of the PNCR at the passing of Hugh Desmond Hoyte, former Executive President of Guyana. According to the Commission, Hoyte will be remembered for the shift in paradigm from socialist doctrine and socialist oriented policies to a free market economy with room and space for the private sector. His quest for democracy also led to fundamental changes in the election process and ushered in a new government.
The Commission further stated that, even though his political and economic achievements were somewhat “dented” by the change in political administration, that did not prevent him from “continuing his drive; ...moving his party to the middle road, while searching for avenues of shared governance through dialogue.” The Commission further declared that Hoyte continually searched for partnerships in development between the Private Sector and the State Sector and his death will leave a “void” in Guyana’s political affairs.

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Gandhi Youth Organisation extends condolences
Stabroeknews - Wednesday, December 25, 2002
 

The Gandhi Youth Organisation (GYO) has extended its condolences to the bereaved family and members of the PNCR at the passing of former President Hugh Desmond Hoyte. The organisation described Hoyte as a friend to the Hindu community. It added that Hoyte was also a friend to the helpless and the hopeless.The GYO said that Hoyte’s passing not only represents the loss of a keen politician, but a good friend.  

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Catholic Diocese mourns the passing of Hoyte
Stabroeknews - Wednesday, December 25, 2002


His life was spent “labouring for the things he believed were important”, so said Bishop Benedict Singh in a message from the Diocese of Georgetown on the passing of PNCR Leader Desmond Hoyte. The Bishop stated that Hoyte has touched the lives of many both locally and internationally and he will be remembered for “his influence both on the country and on [persons] he came into contact with. The Bishop extended sympathy to Mrs Joyce Hoyte, his family, friends, party members and supporters and the nation. 

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Hoyte funeral December 30
The Trinidad Guardian - Tuesday 24th December 2002

The funeral service for former President of Guyana and People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) leader Hugh Desmond Hoyte SC is tentatively scheduled for Monday December 30.
 
Hoyte, 73, died on Sunday at his North Road, Lacytown residence from an apparent heart attack.
He will be given a State funeral. Prime Minister Patrick Manning is expected to attend.
The PNC leader collapsed on the stairs as he was taking a cup of tea to his wife, Joyce.
Hoyte had a history of heart trouble, including triple bypass surgery in New York in 1993 after collapsing in Georgetown, months after losing the general election.
A British-trained lawyer, Hoyte was Guyana’s president from 1985-1992, when his party lost to the governing People’s Progressive Party.
He had served as ceremonial Prime Minister, Vice President and held several Ministerial positions, including Finance and Economic Planning Minister, before becoming President.
He has often been criticised for his antagonistic approach in politics, but one man who has seen the “softer side” of the former Guyanese President is Maha Sabha secretary general Sat Maharaj.
Maharaj said yesterday, he was lucky to have seen the “gentle and kinder” side of Hoyte.
President Bharrat Jagdeo extended condolences to Hoyte’s wife and his party.
He ordered all flags be flown at half-mast yesterday.

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Human rights group extends condolences on Hoyte’s death
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002
 
The achievements of the late President Desmond Hoyte become better appreciated with the passing of time. So said the Guyana Human Rights Association yesterday in its condolence message on the passing of Hoyte on Sunday. According to the association, the high point of Hoyte’s achievements was “undoubtedly” his courage in returning Guyana to political and economic normalcy at a time when “many in his party were not yet ready to appreciate such a move”. The association said that Hoyte approached politics as a “responsibility rather than opportunity”, never attempting to turn his progressive decisions into “personal triumphs”. It further went on to describe his leadership qualities as those of “another age: rectitude, a stickler for procedures, wedded to a concpicuously modest life-style”. The human rights body added that his loss comes at a time when the PNCR is seeking resolution of the national political crisis. 

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ACDA to hold tribute for Hoyte
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The African Cultural & Development Association has extended sympathy to Mrs Joyce Hoyte, other relatives and members and supporters of the People’s National Congress Reform on the death of former President Hugh Desmond Hoyte.
According to a statement issued yesterday, the Association has dedicated the Kwanzaa Karemu in memory of Hoyte. The tribute programme will be held at the St. George’s High School, North Road, on December 26th, and is set to begin at 11 a.m. There will be a book of condolence opened at the Kwanzaa tribute programme from 11 am to 5 p.m. 

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Georgetown Chamber of Commerce saddened by Hoyte’s passing
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002
 

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed its sadness at the passing on Sunday of former President Hugh Desmond Hoyte, declaring that Guyana can ill afford to lose its statesmen and women in these troubled times. Hoyte, according to the chamber, will be remembered for, among other achievements, his commitment to steer Guyana towards an open market economy. The chamber also admired his willingness to meet and discuss matters of interest with the business community.
The association extended its condolences to Mrs Joyce Hoyte, the members of the PNCR and all those who were touched by the life of this “eminent son of Guyana”. 
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Hoyte has earned his place in Guyana’s history -Yarde
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002
 
Hugh Desmond Hoyte was “a man of tremendous integrity, of immense dignity”. So said President of the Guyana Public Service Union Patrick Yarde in his condolence message.
Yarde described Hoyte as a true patriot and a friend of the GPSU and added that the union was shattered by news of his death. He noted that one of his last public appearances was in the compound of the St Andrew’s church when he turned up as a gesture of solidarity and support for the members of the public service. According to Yarde, the members of the union owe it to Hoyte not to “give ground” until their rights are secured. He further said that no objective person would doubt the “massive” contribution Hoyte has made to all aspects of the development of this country. According to Yarde, not only has Guyana lost a great leader, but the Caribbean has lost a great statesman and the GPSU has lost a great friend. Yarde declared that Hoyte has earned his place in Guyana’s history. He expressed condolences to Mrs Joyce Hoyte and the family, relatives, friends and the Party to whom Hoyte gave such dedicated service. 

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Hoyte’s contributions 
indelible’ - TUF
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002
 
Manzoor Nadir on behalf of The United Force has extended his sympathy to Mrs Joyce Hoyte and the Chairman, Executives and members of the People’s National Congress Reform on the passing of Opposition Leader Desmond Hoyte. According to Nadir, the late Hoyte has made an “unselfish and monumental contribution” to Guyana, one that will be “recorded in our history with much reverence”. Nadir declared Hoyte’s more than three decades of public life to be one that is “matched by only a few, past and present.”
Nadir further stated that for The United Force, the late Hoyte will be remembered as the President of Change, with his embracing of the free market economy and his commitment to having free and fair elections, rendering his contributions “indelible” in our history. 
 
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Everyone will feel loss of Hoyte - C.N. Sharma
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Leader of the Justice For All Party, Chandra Narine Sharma has sent his heartfelt sympathy to the Hoyte family and to the members of the PNCR on the death of Hugh Desmond Hoyte, Leader of the PNCR, according to a press release from the party.
“Mr. Hoyte has been a friend of mine for a number of years, so his death is really a shock to me. Guyana has lost one of her greatest sons and I’m sure that everyone will feel this great loss,” Sharma said. 

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City Council extends condolences to Mrs Hoyte
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The Mayor and City Councillors of Georgetown have expressed their condolences to Mrs Joyce Hoyte on the passing of her husband, Hugh Desmond Hoyte. According to the Council, replacing such a “distinguished statesman and leader” would be difficult. The Council stated that Hoyte had always been actively concerned about the work of the Georgetown municipality, making “significant and invaluable” contributions to its management and general development. “That he had a vision of a city, whose environment is healthy and safe, and second to none, in the region... cannot be denied”, the City Council said. It also expressed the hope that his legacy and influence for good live on in all Guyana. 
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Hoyte, a true son of the land -Muslim Youth League
Stabroeknews - Tuesday, December 24, 2002
 
The Executive and members of the Muslim Youth League of Guyana, the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex and the Board of Editors of the Muslim Journal has extended sympathies to the People’s National Congress Reform and Mrs Joyce Hoyte on the passing of former President, Hugh Desmond Hoyte. According to the league, Guyana has lost a true son of the land. The hope was expressed that Hoyte’s contribution would serve to strengthen all Guyanese and to move this nation forward. Guyana and the Caribbean were described as being “poorer” for the passing of Hoyte. 

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Hoyte dies
Stabroeknews -Monday, December 23, 2002

PNCR Leader and former Executive President, Desmond Hoyte died suddenly at his home on North Road yesterday. He was 73. It appeared that he suffered a heart attack.


Discussions have begun on burial arrangements and it is expected that his funeral will be held sometime next week.
President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday offered his condolences to Hoyte’s family and the party’s members. Following Hoyte’s death, the President conveyed his condolences during a conversation with party Chairman Robert Corbin. In a subsequent statement, the President said that he has directed that all appropriate measures in respect of the former President be carried out by the state. All flags are to be flown at half-mast today.

According to the PNCR’s constitution, leadership passes to the chairman who has sixty days within which to call a general council or congress for the election of a new leader. Yesterday, PNCR executives and members expressed shock over Hoyte’s passing and praised his leadership. 

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Desmond Hoyte, statesman
(This column by Ian McDonald was first published on October 11, 1992 just after the results of the October 5 general elections were announced)
Stabroeknews -Monday, December 23, 2002

An ordinary politician places the nation at the service of himself. A statesman is a politician who places himself at the service of the nation. Mr Hoyte - who deserves more than most to be addressed by the honorific “Mr President” even after leaving office - has placed himself at the service of the country on a number of crucial occasions - none more so than in the desperately anxious hours of October 5th to 7th when what hung in the balance may well have been Guyana’s future as a whole and healthy nation or one shattered beyond repair.

At the time of Forbes Burnham’s death, when Guyana was not simply headed for the rocks but actually on the reef and holed and sinking, Hoyte baled out the vessel, fixed the riven fabric for a new voyage and set a course away from the ugly shore where we were stranded. It is easy to take for granted what we now enjoy but not so long ago despaired ever of achieving. Three fundamental changes engineered by Hoyte transformed our lives. Let us not forget.


Setting Expression Free. President Hoyte recreated an atmosphere in which it was possible to voice opinion again whole-heartedly and robustly. I believe he would have gone on to increase the autonomy of the state newspaper and end the monopoly of state radio - and certainly that is a course which his successor must pursue if what Hoyte started is to be completed.

Promoting the Primacy of Private Enterprise. President Hoyte, before it became fashionable, made a decisive break with the nonsense side of socialism and changed Guyana decisively, and I believe irrevocably, into a country where the state gets out of the business of creating wealth and devotes itself to ensuring that people at every level share in basic goods, essential services, personal security born of the rule of law, and educational opportunities.

Returning Guyana to Democracy. Though many doubted he would ever do it, and after much travail, President Hoyte has returned the country to democracy. Under him Guyana has rejoined the mainstream of West Indian democratic life where in principle, and largely in practice, the full range of basic human rights is protected. That alone assures him of honour in our annals.

Desmond Hoyte was the most impressive candidate in the Presidential race and in many ways it would have been good if he had won and had continued to head the nation. Yet I do not think I am the only one of his admirers who had a gut feeling much deeper than admiration that to prove the democratic process completely valid, to put the seal on his own achievement, it was necessary that his party should lose this election. Perhaps in this feeling there was the sub-conscious impression also that he was the best man, perhaps the only man, who could preside over such a fundamental, and to many of his supporters such a frightening, change.

It could have gone horribly and terminally wrong. The results of the election could have been viciously opposed and the country could have virtually fallen apart as it did in the early 1960s. But it went right and Hoyte’s role in achieving this can never be underestimated. That short, simple, unadorned, dignified speech on Wednesday night conceding Dr Jagan’s victory will be seen as time stretches into history, to be one of our great state documents. To base concession of defeat on the reports of his own party agents was a subtle master-stroke, at once and conclusively stamping on potential, very dangerous, rejection of the results in his own ranks.

More than most, Desmond Hoyte - a man of wide and cultivated interests - could retire from the hurly-burly with a sigh of considerable relief.

But that would be an inestimable national loss. There are many public tasks for him to perform of the highest seriousness and importance. Most obviously, of course, he has the extraordinarily important and very complicated task of training his party in the arts of opposition and preparing it for new, legitimate leadership in the future. But should he for some reason prefer to remove himself from local politics, it will surely occur to President Jagan that Mr Hoyte, a world class statesman in the field, might be perfectly employed as an Ambassador at large for Guyana and the West Indies in protecting the region’s environment. Or, even more interestingly in my opinion, he could be nominated to the four-man Caricom Commission if West Indian leaders pick up their courage and appoint that body to carry the concept of West Indian integration into day-to-day practice.

We owe a debt of gratitude to President Hoyte. And we will find, I think, his days of achievement are far from over.

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Hoyte dies
…Government to collaborate in funeral arrangements
By Shirley Thomas
Chronicle - Monday, December 23, 2002

PEOPLE’S National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) Leader and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, O.E., S.C., died at his North Road, Georgetown home yesterday. Mr. Hoyte, who had quadruple bypass surgery since he stepped down from the presidency, died of a suspected heart attack.
 
A former President of Guyana for seven years, Hoyte, a lawyer-politician of long standing, is to be given a State funeral by the Government of President Bharrat Jagdeo.
 
While the PNC/R's major decision-making body, the Central Committee, was in session yesterday to discuss funeral arrangements, President Jagdeo was huddled in a special session with some top cabinet and party colleagues of the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) discussing the Government's plan to honour with a State-sponsored funeral the politician who was President from 1985 to 1992.
 
The President later ordered that the 'Golden Arrowhead', the nation's flag, be flown at half- mast today at all points. The death of the man who led the PNC for 17 years, after the departure of its founder leader Forbes Burnham in 1985, occurred around 08:15 hours, PNC Chairman Robert Corbin told the media at a Congress Place, Sophia briefing, just before midday.
 
Corbin said doctors would later determine the case of Hoyte’s demise before his 74th birthday next March but PNC Parliamentarian, Dr Dalgeish Joseph officially pronounced him dead. The news, which sent shockwaves across the nation, the Caribbean Community and farther afield, was communicated by Mr. Corbin who said, according to information received from the widow, Mrs. Joyce Hoyte, her husband awoke quite well.
 
He went downstairs (in the middle floor of their three-storey house), had something to eat and drink and was in the process of taking a cup of tea back up to her when he fell. Corbin said Hoyte spoke to his wife even as he was on the floor before dying shortly after the fall.
 
A Book of Condolence is to be opened at Congress Place from 10:00 hours today, PNC/R First Vice-Chairman Vincent Alexander said. Meantime, Corbin called on the party membership to remain calm and be strong and disciplined.
 
"We would like to use this opportunity to ask our supporters to remain calm. As a party, we are saddened and, in this season of goodwill, we know that there is grief," he acknowledged.
 
Corbin said the party was unable to give any further information then, other than to confirm the demise.
 
"I know that many questions might be in the minds of the public but we hope that you will bear with us until we have proper information from the doctors on the cause of death etc. All I wish to do this morning is to confirm that he has passed on," he said of Hoyte.
 
The party 's Central Executive was meeting later to discuss certain arrangements with respect to the funeral. Corbin said the party is a disciplined one and its Central Executive will ensure its work continues while its Constitution speaks quite clearly to the succession issue.
 
He appealed to members of the public, particularly well-wishers, who might be tempted to go to the Hoyte’s residence to convey condolences to Mrs. Hoyte, to refrain, as far as possible, from doing so.
 
Corbin said any questions and comments about the funeral could be had from Congress Place and Central Executive Committee member, Mr. Deryck Bernard would keep the media briefed about developments leading up to the funeral.
 
"You will be doing Mrs. Hoyte and the country a service if you can avoid crowding the residence at North Road and by accessing Congress Place for information," Corbin said.
 
General Secretary Oscar Clarke said the funeral is temporarily scheduled for Monday, December 30 and a Government and PNC/R team would meet today to discuss the Government’s collaboration in the programme, as the administration has offered to meet any request made in that connection.
 
He said he was aware of the announcement that flags on Government buildings will be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Mr. Hoyte and that the funeral would be treated as a national occasion.
 
Hoyte, who took over the PNC leadership mantle from Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham in August 1985, had, earlier this year, indicated his intention to demit office before his next birthday on March 9.
 
But weeks prior to the Biennial Delegates Congress last August, Hoyte signalled his intention to carry on and was returned by an overwhelming majority.
 
He secured 508 votes to the 33 won by his lone opponent, Ms Germaine Vansluytman, who remained in the race after others had withdrawn.
 
Alexander, reacting to the loss yesterday, said “moments like these in the party have always been moments for rallying and finding strength to deal with the circumstances.”
 
"It is a moment when we are very sad, but then we will hold together under such circumstances."
 
Reflecting on some of Hoyte’s last activities, Alexander recalled that, two Saturdays ago, they visited Hopetown (West Coast Berbice) together and Hoyte, who lost his own but maintained a close affinity to children, officiated at a party for them in the village.
 
"He was very cheerful, very light-spirited on that occasion. That was the last time I personally sat with him,” Alexander remembered. He alluded to Hoyte’s address at the last Biennial Delegates' Conference when he called for 'shared governance'.
 
Alexander said: "He has certainly left us with a platform that can move Guyana forward, given the nature of the problems with which Guyana is faced. I think, in that regard, one could say that he completed a significant task of giving us direction, concurrence within the party and a way forward for the nation.”
 
Alexander said one of Hoyte's legacies would be the position paper the party has since submitted to the Social Partners, not only advocating shared governance but expounding “our views on the form we think shared governance may take in this country.”
 
Though he felt Hoyte did well during his years in politics, Alexander remarked that the former did not choose such a career path. Rather, he was a brilliant young lawyer cajoled by Burnham to get involved and his involvement was “an answer to a national call,” Alexander declared.
 
He said, in that regard, one could say Hoyte was a patriot who gave up his personal career ambition, based on a call and ended up being leader of the nation until October 1992.
 
 
Hoyte had a great love for music, played the piano very well and was an avid reader with a particular liking for Literature, Philosophy and Poetry. His great interest in cricket and a repertoire for jokes are other things Alexander remembered about Hoyte. (With reporting by Sherwin Campbell)
 
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President conveys sympathy on behalf of Government, all Guyanese
Chronicle - Monday, December 23, 2002

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo, on behalf of the Government and all Guyanese, yesterday expressed his sincerest condolences to Mrs. Joyce Hoyte and the People's National Congress/ Reform (PNC/R) on the passing of former President and Opposition Leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte.
 
A statement from the Office of the President said President Jagdeo, upon learning of the sad news, spoke with PNC/R Chairman, Mr. Robert Corbin and asked that his deepest sympathy be conveyed to the leadership, members and supporters of the PNC/R.
 
“The President also reaffirmed the commitment of the State to honour the former Executive President of Guyana,” the statement said.
 
He has also “directed that the appropriate measures in respect of the former Executive President of Guyana be carried out by the State and his Government. In this regard, he has ordered that all flags be flown at half-mast today.
 
“The President shares this moment of grief with the family of Mr. Hoyte, the PNC/R and all Guyanese,” the statement said.

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Obituaries in the News Desmond Hoyte
The Associated Press -Sunday, December 22, 2002; 6:23 PM

GEORGETOWN, Guyana –– Opposition leader and former President Desmond Hoyte died of an apparent heart attack Sunday. He was 73.

Hoyte, leader of the People's National Congress party, had a history of heart trouble, including triple bypass surgery in New York in 1993 after collapsing in Georgetown, the capital, months after losing the general elections.

Hoyte, a British-trained lawyer, was Guyana's president from 1985-1992, when his party lost to the governing People's Progressive Party. Hoyte had served as ceremonial prime minister, vice president and held several ministerial positions, including finance and economic planning minister, before becoming president.

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PM pays tribute to Hoyte
By Richard Lord 
Monday, December 23, 2002
 

PRIME MINISTER Patrick Manning yesterday paid a warm tribute to the former president of Guyana Desmond Hoyte who died from a heart attack at his Georgetown home yesterday morning. Hoyte, 72, was also the leader of Guyana’s main opposition People’s National Congress. 

Manning said Hoyte “had made his contribution in Guyana at a critical time.”

Noting that Hoyte had replaced the late Forbes Burnham as leader of Guyana, Manning praised him as “the leader in Guyana who set the Guyanese electoral system right, for which he will be remembered.”

Manning who said he would most likely attend Hoyte’s funeral further told the Express that Hoyte “was a personal friend of mine.”

He extended condolences to Hoyte’s family on behalf of his family and the ruling PNM.

And Chairman of the UNC Wade mark also spoke highly of Hoyte, Mark told the Express that despite the differences politicians may have “when a human being passes on it is always a tragic loss.”

Mark said he last spoke with Hoyte in April this year on flight to New York, and added: 

“Hoyte might have had his differences but one must never forget that it was under him that Guyana was able to have the first free and fair elections.”

He said Hoyte’s “place in history is sketched. He was the man who laid the basis for a kind of democratic intervention that led to the first free and fair elections that saw the emergency of Cheddi Jagan as President of Guyana.”

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Desmond Hoyte dies at 72
Patterson hails former Guyanese president
BY RICKEY SINGH Observer Caribbean correspondent
Jamaica Observer - Monday, December 23, 2002

FORMER Guyanese president and leader of the Opposition People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) died at his home in Georgetown yesterday, apparently of a heart attack. He was 72.

In a message last night to the PNC's general secretary, Oscar Clarke, Jamaica's prime minister, P J Patterson, said he was "extremely saddened" by the news of Hoyte's death.
Patterson, who had a personal friendship with Hoyte, described the PNC leader as belonging to a generation of Caribbean leaders "who relentlessly and unashamedly stood from the beginning. for independence of thought and action by the people of the Caribbean.

"Over the years, I grew to admire his frankness and honesty, both on domestic as well as regional matters," Patterson said. "He was a formidable political opponent and whether in Government or Opposition, he was always ready to rigorously defend what he thought was right. That, of course, landed him, understandably, in many controversial situations but he was always prepared to stand and be counted."
Hoyte, a lawyer by training, led Guyana for seven years after the 1985 death of the PNC's founder, Forbes Burnham and was credited for a programme of economic liberalisation and political opening that ultimately led to the 1992 election victory of the People's Progressive Party (PPP) and the end of 28 years of PNC rule.

President Bharrat Jagdeo has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff from today and announced that Hoyte will be afforded a state funeral.
Hoyte, who had a history of heart problems that necessitated a triple bypass operation in 1993, died shortly after having his breakfast yesterday, the PNC's chairman, Robert Corbin said.

He was taking a cup to his wife Joyce when he collapsed on a stair. The couple managed to have a brief conversation before Hoyte died, Corbin reported.
"His death is highly untimely given what is happening in the country when we are talking about things like power sharing," said the PNC's deputy chairman Vincent Alexander said. "It is tough for us."
Hoyte's Afro-Guyanese based party recently resumed talks with Jagdeo's PPP, which draws its support from ethnic Indians on how to address race and other problems in the country, including a recent wave of violent crime.

Party chairman Corbin said that under the PNC's constitution he has assumed temporary leadership of the party until a special congress is called to elect a new president. Corbin is being seen as the front-runner in that race.
Hoyte was earlier re-elected leader of the PNC at the party's biennial congress when potential candidates withdrew their nominations. But Hoyte had said that he did not want to be at the helm at the time of his next birthday in March 2003.

Although he faced three election defeat since 1992 and was under pressure in some quarters to allow for a renewal of the PNC, Hoyte's major legacy is likely to be his management of transition from the Burnham era, when Guyanese politics was associated with vote-rigging, a concept of the paramountcy of the party, deep economic stagnation and outward migration.
After Burnham died in 1985 while undergoing a throat operation, Hoyte began to open the economy and encourage foreign investment and was soon returned to office in an election on which the controversial system of overseas and postal voting was abolished.

In the 1992 election, monitored by the Carter Centre, Hoyte and his party were defeated by the PPP's Dr Cheddi Jagan. When Jagan died in office in 1997, Hoyte was defeated by Jagan's widow, Janet Jagan, in a controversial election.
A series of meetings between Hoyte and Jagdeo, who replaced Janet Jagan who retired while in office, aimed at resolving the country's problems, have been stalled since April, except for a brief summit in September.
Hoyte had accused the government of failing to implement agreed measures, accusations denied by Jagdeo.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press and Observer staff

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Guyana's former president, Desmond Hoyte, dies at 73
published: Jamaica Gleaner - Monday | December 23, 2002

GEORGETOWN, Guyana:

DESMOND HOYTE, opposition leader and former President of Guyana, died early yesterday morning at his home.

But there are conflicting reports concerning the cause of death. An Associated Press report cited an apparent heart attack. However, information from Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) at 8 a.m. yesterday, said Hoyte was taking breakfast to his wife, Joyce, "when he slipped, fell and hit his head".

Hoyte, leader of the People's National Congress (PNC) party, had been feeling ill for the last three days and had not made any public appearances in more than a week, said Vincent Alexander, the party's vice chairman.

Hoyte had a history of heart trouble, including triple bypass surgery in New York in 1993 after collapsing in George-town, the capital, months after losing the general election. He was born in Georgetown on March 9, 1929 to parents Gladys Marietta and George Alphonso Hoyte.

Mr. Hoyte, a British-trained lawyer who received his law degree in 1959, was Guyana's President from 1985-1992, when his party lost to the governing People's Progressive Party. He had served as ceremonial Prime Minister, vice president and held several ministerial positions, including finance and economic planning minister, before becoming president.

"His death is highly untimely given what is happening in the country when we are talking about things like power sharing," Alexander said. "It is tough for us."

Party leaders are discussing a recent proposal to divide Cabinet posts among members of both parties amid tense race relations in the South American country. Currently, only governing party members hold

Cabinet positions. Guyana's population of nearly 700,000 is almost evenly divided between people of African descent, who support the opposition, and those of East Indian descent, who largely back the governing party.

Guyana has seen dozens of carjackings, armed robberies and more than 150 killings this year - four times than of last year. Many Guyanese believe the crimes are being committed by opposition supporters demanding an end to perceived discrimination against blacks. The government has denied the discrimination claims.

HIS CAREER

Mr. Hoyte held a number of key portfolios in the PNC. He was a member of the General Council since 1962, and became a member of the Central Executive Committee in 1972.

He was also legal adviser to the General Secretary from 1973, among others.

As a Minister of the Government, he held such portfolios Home Affairs Minister from 1969-1970; Finance Minister 1970-1972; and Economic Development 1974-1980. In 1980 he was appointed vice-president with

responsibility for Economic Planning and Finance, and in 1983 he was re-designated vice-president, Production.

In August 1984 he became Prime Minister and First vice-president, a post, which he filled with dignity and a high level of political maturity projecting his indomitable will as well as his clear insights, on national and international issues. He led the PNC to successive general election defeats in October 1992, December 1997, and March 2001.

The People's National Congress party met in emergency session yesterday to determine Hoyte's successor, Alexander said. In recent years, Hoyte had been talking about passing the leadership to a younger generation given his age and fluctuating health.

"Robert Corbin, the party's current chairman, will probably be elected to hold the leadership post until a special election is held to officially choose a successor," Alexander said yesterday.

Mr. Hoyte is survived by his wife, Joyce. In 1985, his two teenage daughters and sister-in-law were killed in a car crash in southern Guyana. He became president three months after the accident when President Forbes Burnham died during surgery at a state-run hospital.

Funeral arrangements for Hoyte will be announced later this week, party officials said.

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Hoyte is dead
 Barbados Nation - Monday 23, December-2002

VETERAN POLITICIAN and former Guyana President Desmond Hoyte leaving a meeting in 1998.

One of the Caribbean’s best-known politicians and trade unionists, Desmond Hoyte, a former president of Guyana, died yesterday at the age of 72.

Hoyte, who was president of the CARICOM founder member country from 1985 to 1992, and who was opposition leader and president of the People’s National Congress (PNC), had complained of feeling ill for the past three days and reportedly succumbed to a heart attack at his home yesterday morning.

Party officials disclosed they were informed by former First Lady Joyce Hoyte that her husband had just completed his breakfast when he collapsed on the stairs. They managed to have a very brief conversation before he died.

The Associated Press quoted the party’s vice-chairman Vincent Alexander as stating that Hoyte, who had not made any public appearances in the past week, had a history of heart troubles. He underwent triple by-pass surgery in New York in 1993.

The British-trained lawyer, who also served as prime minister, vice-president and in various ministerial portfolios during a near half-century in politics, had been playing a key role in discussions on how to end the race tension that has been gripping the South American country in recent years.

This included a proposal to divide cabinet posts among members of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the PNC.

Yesterday, President Bharrat Jagdeo ordered that the “Golden Arrowhead”, the nation’s flag, be flown at half-mast today and announced that Hoyte would be accorded a state funeral.

“His death is highly untimely given what is happening in the country when we are talking about things like power sharing,” Alexander said. “It is tough for us.”

The PNC will meet in emergency session on Sunday to determine Hoyte’s successor, Alexander said.

Robert Corbin, the party’s current chairman, would probably be elected to hold the leadership post until a special election was held to officially choose a successor, Alexander said.

Corbin, in his early 50s, was likely to win because he received a strong re-election vote in August to remain as party chairman, Alexander said.


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Desmond Hoyte dies of heart attack
The Trinidad Guardian - Monday 23rd December 2002

Opposition leader and former President Desmond Hoyte has died of an apparent heart attack at his home early yesterday. He was 73.

Hoyte, leader of the People’s National Congress party, had been feeling ill for the past three days and had not made any public appearances in more than a week, said Vincent Alexander, the party’s vice-chairman.

Hoyte had a history of heart trouble, including triple bypass surgery in New York in 1993 after collapsing in Georgetown, the capital, months after losing the general elections.

Hoyte, a British-trained lawyer, was Guyana’s president from 1985-1992, when his party lost to the governing People’s Progressive Party. Hoyte had served as ceremonial prime minister, vice-president and held several ministerial positions, including finance and economic planning minister, before becoming president. “His death is highly untimely given what is happening in the country when we are talking about things like power sharing,” Alexander said. “It is tough for us.”

Party leaders are discussing a recent proposal to divide Cabinet posts among members of both parties amid tense race relations in the South American country. Currently, only governing party members hold Cabinet positions.

Guyana’s population of nearly 700,000 is almost evenly divided between people of African descent, who support the opposition, and those of East Indian descent, who largely back the governing party. President Bharrat Jagdeo and Hoyte met in September for the first time in seven months to renew dialogue stalled amid the tense relations. No details of the meeting were announced and the two leaders hadn’t met since then. Guyana has seen dozens of carjackings, armed robberies and more than 150 killings this year — four times than of last year.

Many Guyanese believe the crimes are being committed by opposition supporters demanding an end to perceived discrimination against blacks. The government has denied the discrimination claims.

The People’s National Congress party was expected to meet in emergency session yesterday to determine Hoyte’s successor, Alexander said.

In recent years, Hoyte had been talking about passing the leadership to a younger generation given his age and fluctuating health.

Funeral arrangements for Hoyte will be announced later this week, party officials said.


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Desmond Hoyte
Editorial -Stabroeknews -Monday, December 23, 2002

The death of Hugh Desmond Hoyte yesterday at the age of seventy-three shocked the nation. The passing of time will enable a fuller evaluation of his legacy and the important role he has played in the modern history of Guyana but few will disagree that the high point of his career was his period as president from 1985 to 1992. Inheriting a bankrupt economy and a society in which there had been no free and fair elections for some time which had led to some degree of repression, he had the fortitude, despite internal opposition in his own party, to introduce a period of glasnost and perestroika where there was a reversal of the failed policy of state capitalism and the introduction of a programme of privatisation and the encouragement of new investment, two of the fruits of which were Barama and Omai Gold Mines. There was a rebirth of press freedom and the introduction of electoral reforms which led to free and fair elections in 1992. It is no exaggeration to say that under his stewardship substantial progress was achieved in many areas.

The loss of power in 1992 may, paradoxically, have been among his finest moments. Announcing on the night of October 7th that his party “in keeping with the requirements of democracy… will accept the results of the poll” he stated: “I expect all citizens to accept these political developments, maintain a peaceful and harmonious climate in society and keep the welfare and good name of Guyana foremost in their minds.” At a time when the situation was still unsettled as a result of polling day violence it was an act of statesmanship that restored some level of normality. However, the immense disappointment he suffered as a result of the loss of the opportunity to continue with the economic recovery he had started led to a bitterness that was evident in his subsequent career as leader of the opposition.

Desmond Hoyte was among his other accomplishments a distinguished lawyer. Responding to a request to serve by then party leader Forbes Burnham in the late sixties he continued to serve his party faithfully for the rest of his life, to the detriment of his career as a lawyer and his financial well being. Even his bitterest critics have not alleged any acts of corruption on his part. It is perhaps these qualities of dedication and service for which he will be best remembered. He leaves a gap in his party which will not easily be filled.

Stabroek News offers its condolences to Mrs Hoyte and the executive and members of the party.

May he rest in peace.

(See reprint of Ian McDonald column. A comprehensive obituary by Dr Tyrone Ferguson has been commissioned and will appear in our Sunday paper.) 

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