Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Guyana, French Guiana & Suriname

Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi Jagan was elected president in what is considered the country’s first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet Jagan, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat Jagdeo, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.

French Guiana was originally inhabited by a number of indigenous American people. It was settled by the French during the 17th century. Its infamous Île du Diable (Devil’s Island) was the site of penal settlements from 1852 until 1951. A border dispute with Brazil arose in the late nineteenth century over a vast area of jungle, leading to the short-lived pro-French independent state of Counani in the disputed territory and some fighting between settlers, before the dispute was resolved largely in favour of Brazil by the arbitration of the Swiss government. In 1946, French Guiana became an overseas department of France. The 1970s saw the settlement of Hmong refugees from Laos. A movement for increased autonomy from France gained some momentum in the 1970s and 1980s.

First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century, Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990, the military overthrew the civilian leadership, but a democratically elected government – a four-party New Front coalition – returned to power in 1991 and has ruled since; the coalition expanded to eight parties in 2005.

CIA World Factbook: Guyana, French Guiana & Suriname

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Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Participants in the Oct. 28 session will get the chance to read the short story “Ri töp chuqa’ ri kär”/“The Crab and the Fish” alongside its author, Mtra. Magda Sotz (aka Ixkamey).

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This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Nov. 12 is game day with Mtro. Edy Rene Guaján (aka Lajuj B’atz’)! Come prepared to play along and laugh.

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. It’s the holiday season on Dec. 2. Join Mtro. Marco Antonio Guaján (aka Mokchewan) to compare your favorite holiday celebrations.

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This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.