"ANN’S GROVE, Guyana — Villagers in this tiny coastal community lined up on the soggy grass, leaned into the microphone and shared their grievances as someone in the crowd yelled, “Speak the truth!”
And so they did. One by one, speakers listed what they wanted: a library, streetlights, school buses, homes, a grocery store, reliable electricity, wider roads and better bridges.
“Please help us,” said Evadne Pellew-Fomundam — a 70-year-old who lives in Ann’s Grove, one of Guyana’s poorest communities — to the country’s prime minister and other officials who organized the meeting to hear people’s concerns and boost their party’s image ahead of municipal elections.
The list of needs is long in this South American country of 791,000 people that is poised to become the world’s fourth-largest offshore oil producer, placing it ahead of Qatar, the United States, Mexico and Norway. The oil boom will generate billions of dollars for this largely impoverished nation. It’s also certain to spark bitter fights over how the wealth should be spent in a place where politics is sharply divided along ethnic lines: 29% of the population is of African descent and 40% of East Indian descent, from indentured servants brought to Guyana after slavery was abolished."