At election time, it is easy to tell which ethnic group dominates each of the villages strung out along Guyana’s Atlantic coast even without looking at the people. Where Afro-Guyanese are the main group, the green-and-yellow banners of the ruling coalition flutter.
In Indo-Guyanese villages, it’s the red, gold and black of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (ppp). Voting in Guyana’s general election, due to be held on March 2nd, is likely to follow ethnic lines, as it has done for decades.
This year the stakes are unusually high. That is because Guyana, South America’s third-poorest country, is about to be transformed by the petroleum that has begun to flow from vast offshore reservoirs. Oil could change Guyana as radically as did sugar, which brought African slaves in the 18th century and indentured labourers from India in the 19th.
By 2024 it could lift income per person from $5,000 to $19,000, nearly the same as in Poland. The imf expects the economy to grow by 85% this year. By 2030 the government’s share of earnings from oil could reach $10bn in real terms, more than double last year’s gdp.
This could “change us once and for all into a Singapore kind of country,” says the finance minister, Winston Jordan. Whichever party takes charge of the bounty could govern for decades. Mr Jordan calls the vote “the mother of all elections”.
For the rest of this article: https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2020/02/27/ahead-of-oil-riches-guyana-holds-a-decisive-election