THE SOCIOLOGY OF DECOLONIZATION: THE CASE OF GUYANA BAUXITE

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On 23rd February 1971, the government of Guyana made what must be considered a momentous decision to nationalize the Canadian owned Demerara Bauxite Company (1) and a subsidiary of Alcan, at Linden (formerly Mackenzie) which is situated 65 miles up the Demerara River from Georgetown,  the capital of Guyana.

This decision is significant for two main reasons. In the first place it represents a major attempt by a sovereign government in the British Caribbean to control an important part of its country’s economy wresting it from 50 years of domination and control by a foreign  company.  Secondly, though the ultimate repercussions  of  this  move are  yet  to  be felt in the  rest of Guyana and  in  the Caribbean, such a move cannot but have a very salutary effect on the minds of peoples all over the world who seek, by whatever means possible to free themselves from the yoke of imperialism.

This paper seeks, therefore, to do two main things. Firstly, it seeks to outline the social conditions underpinning the decision to nationalize Demba. Secondly, it looks very briefly at  the  nationalization issue and points to possible structural repercussions which must be looked into if this action is to mean more than a desperate gesture of a government seeking to improve the lot of its people and/or its own image.