||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (June 2012)|
|Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, O.E.|
|2nd President of Guyana|
6 October 1980 – 6 August 1985
|Prime Minister||Ptolemy Reid|
|Preceded by||Arthur Chung|
|Succeeded by||Desmond Hoyte|
|1st Prime Minister of Guyana|
26 May 1966 – 6 October 1980
|President||Edward Luckhoo (Acting)
|Governor General||Richard Luyt
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Ptolemy Reid|
20 February 1923|
Georgetown, British Guiana
|Died||6 August 1985
|Political party||People's National Congress|
Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham (20 February 1923–6 August 1985) ruled Guyana from 1964 until his death, first as Premier from 1964 to 1966, then as the Prime Minister from 1966 to 1980 and finally as President from 1980 to 1985. He was awarded Guyana's highest national award, the Order of Excellence (O.E.).
Personal life and education 
Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, was born in Kitty, a suburb of Georgetown, Demerara, British Guiana.on February 20,1923 He was one of three children. He attended Central High School and the country's prestigious and elite Queen's College exclusively for boys at that time. In 1942, he won the Guyana Scholarship as the country's top student. The country was, at that the time a colony of Britain. Burnham went on to study law, and received a law degree from the LSE, University of London in 1948. He graduated with honours, making Guyana proud of his work. On December 20, 1948 he left Liverpool England for the trans-Atlantic voyage to British Guiana via Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada and Brooklyn, New York.
Early years: The People's Progressive Party (PPP) 
Mr. Burnham was one of the principal founders of the People's Progressive Party (PPP) along with Dr. Cheddie and Mrs Janet Jagan, which was launched on January 1, 1950. Dr. Cheddi Jagan became PPP Leader, while Burnham became its Chairman. In 1952, Burnham became the president of the party's affiliated trade union and the British Guiana Labour Union. In 1953, the PPP won 18 of 24 seats in the first election permitted by the British colonial government and Mr. Forbes Burnham served as Minister of Education.
Leader of Guyana: The People's National Congress (PNC) 
Burnham at first, pursued moderate policies. However, one of his first acts upon independence was a sweeping "National Security Act" giving the police the power to search, seize and arrest anyone virtually at will. He put a fraud machinery into action and grabbed full dictatorial powers during the rigged 1968 election (allowing overseas ballots, padding voter lists, and one person to cast proxy ballots for up to three others) becoming a brutal strongman and promoting a police state in which opposition members were murdered. In 1970, he established strong relations with Cuba, the Soviet Union, North Korea and other countries to implement a Socialist form of government. On February 23 of that year, he declared Guyana a Socialist "Co-Operative Republic" referring to himself as "the Comrade Leader". Several cycles of "free and fair" general elections were rigged through ballot box tampering despite foreign observers who were systematically harassed and abused. In the 1970s, Burnham embarked upon a policy of austerity which bankrupted the local economy costing jobs and a subsequent "brain drain" of the educated class to the US, Canada, and Great Britain. He began by nationalizing two foreign-owned bauxite companies, American-owned Reynolds Guyana Mines Ltd and Canadian-owned Demerara Bauxite Company (DEMBA) This move caused the United States to reduce its financial aid to the country from $10.5 Million to just over $350,000 and catapulting the regime into default of international debts to the International Monetary Fund.
In order to fight growing balance of payments issues, he promoted yet another policy in 1973 - the "feed, clothe and house" the nation policy by 1976. As a result of this policy, he subsequently banned importation of basic food items like flour, split peas, cooking oil, butter, cheese, salted fish, pickled meats, preserved fruits, most canned items, and any food item perceived as "luxury", without a program of producing them domestically.
The general elections due in 1978 was postponed by Burnham, citing the need for a new constitution. A rigged referendum was carried out authorizing Burnham to change the constitution which was promulgated in October 1980 making Burnham Executive President. Burnham now had supreme powers over all constitutional agencies. Under his reign, there were nightly power outages known as "blackouts", and it was during this time that Burnham's thugs robbed and pillaged. Among these thugs were The House of Israel, a black group led by "Rabbi Washington", the American fugitive David Hill. Burnham critic Martin Carter, who was beaten by thugs, wrote in the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) paper, Dayclean, 1979, that under Burnham, corruption had become “a way of life, in which people were made to accept that stealing, cheating, lying, bearing false witness…was a positive sign of loyalty to the regime…”
As Burnham consolidated his political power and created a new variant of ethnic politics in Guyana, the national economy went from bad to worse. Although Guyana is potentially rich, possessing extensive fertile coastal lands and a vast interior with deposits of gold, emeralds, bauxite, lumber, and other natural resources, the country had been bankrupt for nearly a decade. The massive schemes of nationalization of industry in the 1970s increased neither employment nor production nor income for the state. Opponents of the government - which by 1980 had virtually become synonymous with Burnham - were crudely beaten by thugs, hounded out of the country, or, as in the case of Walter Rodney, the leader of the Working People's Alliance, boldly assassinated.
Repression of political activity advanced to include murder of political opponents as exhibited by the attempted murder of University of Guyana lecturer, Dr. Joshua Ramsammy (PPP) in 1971, the murders of Edward Dublin and Ohene Koamaand, and assassination of Dr. Walter Rodney in 1980.
Despite a confused rhetoric suggesting Marxist orientation and amicable relationships with the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and the government of Maurice Bishop in Grenada, Burnham succeeded in retaining open, if exasperating, relations with the United States, the British Commonwealth, and the Caribbean community. Foreign support of the Burnham regime merely facilitated the consolidation of power by the People's National Congress and further demoralized the opposition.
Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham was the leader of Guyana from 1964 until his death, first as Premier from 1964 to 1966, then as the Prime Minister from 1966 to 1980 and finally as President from 1980 to 1985.
NAME: Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, O.E., S.C., B.A., LL.B DATE OF BIRTH: February 20, 1923. Kitty, British Guiana PARENTS' NAMES: James Ethelbert Burnham, Schoolmaster, and Rachael Abigail nee Sampson
EDUCATION: • Kitty Methodist School, Central High School, Queen's College • 1936 – Centenary Exhibition, Government Junior Scholarship; • 1937 - Percival Exhibition • 1942 – British Guiana Scholarship, University of London; Gray's Inn, London
MARITAL STATUS: Twice married (1) May 1951 – Sheila Bernice nee Lataste, Three Daughters – Roxanne, Annabelle and Francesca. (2) February 1967 – Viola Victorine nee Harper – Two daughters – Melanie and Ulele
CAREER: • 1947 – President of the West Indian Student Union (London), Recipient of Best Speaker’s Cup (London) • 1948 – Called to the Bar • 1949 – Co-founder of People’s Progressive Party • 1952 – Elected to Georgetown City Council • 1953 – Minister of Education (after first election under Adult suffrage) • 1957 – Founder of People’s National Congress • 1957 – 64 – Leader of the opposition; President of the Guyana Bar Association • 1959-64 – Mayor of Georgetown • 1963-65 –President of the Guyana Labour Union • 1964 – Premier • 1966 – Prime Minister • 1973 – Order of Excellence of Guyana (O.E.) • 1980 – President of Guyana
HONOURS RECEIVED: • 1973 – Order of Excellence of Guyana (O.E.) • 1975 – The Grand Cordon of L’ordre du Nil award from the Government of Egypt • 1975 – The Jose Marti award from the Government of Cuba • An Honorary Doctorate of Law by Dalhousie University of Canada • 1983 – Cruseiro De Sul, Brazil’s highest honor • 1984 – Star of Planinay, Bulgaria’s highest award • 1985 – Order of the Red Star, Yugoslavia’s highest award
RECREATION: Swimming, horse-riding, billiards, patience, chess
DIED: August 6, 1985
- Forbes Burnham (1970). "A Destiny to Mould"
- Clive Thomas (1984). "Plantations, peasants, and state: a study of the mode of sugar production in Guyana"
- J. E. Greene (1974). "Race vs. Politics in Guyana - Racial Cleavages and Political Mobilization in the 1968 General Election"
- Buck-Morss, Susan (2002). "Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West", The MIT Press, 386. ISBN 0-262-52331-0
|Premier of British Guiana
1964 – 1966
|Prime Minister of Guyana
1966 – 1980
|President of Guyana
1980 – 1985