Ruimveldt Riots (1905)

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The Ruimveldt Riots took place in British Guiana (today Guyana) in 1905. It reflected the widespread dissatisfaction among workers with their standards of living.[ citation needed ] The uprising began in late November 1905 when the stevedores – dockworkers – of the capital Georgetown went on strike and demanded higher wages. The strike grew, with many workers joining in an alliance. On 1 December 1905 – today known as "Black Friday" – the situation came to a head. At the Plantation Ruimveldt, not far from Georgetown, a large crowd of porters refused a demand by the police and a detachment of artillery to disperse. The colonial forces opened fire, and four workers were seriously injured. [1] [2]

British Guiana British posession in the Guianas region between 1814–1966

British Guiana was the name of the British colony, part of the British West Indies (Caribbean), on the northern coast of South America, now known as the independent nation of Guyana.

Guyana country in South America

Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America. It is, however, often considered part of the Caribbean region because of its strong cultural, historical, and political ties with other Anglo-Caribbean countries and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Venezuela to the west, and Suriname to the east. With 215,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi), Guyana is the third-smallest sovereign state on mainland South America after Uruguay and Suriname.

News spread quickly through the capital, causing unrest on the streets. Several buildings were captured by protesters. The violence killed seven people, and injured seventeen badly. After a request from the colonial administration Britain sent troops, who soon quelled the uprising. Although the initial strike wasn't successful, the riots began the growth of an organized trade union movement. [3]

Ethnically, mainly Afro-Guyanese workers – dockworkers, factory hands, cane-cutters and gold miners, among others – went on strike, while the Indo-Guyanese sugar industry workers stayed in their homes. Some were also brought in to replace African-origin workers who had left their work. This has been described as a successful use of ethnic divisions to prevent solidarity between segments of the working class. [4]

Afro-Guyanese people are inhabitants of Guyana who are of Sub-Saharan African descent, generally descended from slaves brought to the Guianas to work on sugar plantations.

Indo-Guyanese or Indian-Guyanese, are Guyanese people with heritage from the Indian subcontinent. Linguistically, they are historical speakers of North Indian Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Bhojpuri, however some Indian immigrants also historically spoke South Indian Dravidian languages such as Tamil. As immigrants, Indo-Guyanese people originated from different parts of India and they have traditionally been known as Indians in Guyana. Indo-Guyanese are the largest ethnic group in Guyana identified by the official census, making up 39.8% of the population in 2012.

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  1. Westmaas, Nigel (19 December 2011). "Knowing Our Past: Current demonstrations and histories of public protest in Guyana". Stabroek News . Georgetown . Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  2. Sirvaitis, Karen (2009). Guyana in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. pp. 29–30. ISBN   157-505-963-0.
  3. Ishmael, Odeen (2013). The Guyana Story: From Earliest Times to Independence. Xlibris. pp. 306–308. ISBN   147-979-590-9.[ self-published source ]
  4. Chand Jain, Prakash (1990). Racial Discrimination Against Overseas Indians: A Class Analysis. Concept Publishing Company. p. 65. ISBN   817-022-288-5.