Articles by Cheddi Jagan - In Office - 1957-1961
Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Dr. Cheddi Jagan, fresh from his fruitful trip to London, New York, Cuba and Venezuela, explained the results of his mission in a radio broadcast last Saturday night [3 September]. The text of the Majority Party 1eader's speech follows: (Thunder, 10 September 1960)
Fellow Guianese, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am glad to be back from what I regard as one of my most fruitful trips abroad. I would like to take this opportunity to let you know about some of the discussions which I have had and the results of these talks.
First, you would no doubt like to hear about electricity. Well, at last we have got this problem licked. Agreement was reached in London, as you have already heard, for the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company's undertaking.
In addition, we have also settled the question of purchasing additional plant to take care of our expanded needs for the next five to six years. We have bought diesel equipment as an emergency measure. Every effort will be made, we have been assured, to get these into the country by Christmas. The large steam plants are expected about two years from now. But, we were told by the manufacturers that they would try to get them a bit earlier, sometime between eighteen months to two years.
The whole deal, that is the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company and additional equipment including new and improved distribution lines, is likely to cost about $18 million. Now, you will remember sometime age I referred to package deal arrangements. Well, this one is certainly a package. The Demerara Electric Company is being taken over on credit terms to be paid over a period of five years.
Barclays Development Corporation will advance a sum of a little over $1 million to make a dawn payment for the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company. A consortium made up of Associated Electrical Industries, Taylor Woodrow and International Combustion Company will provide the additional equipment and do the construction and civil engineering works. And Barclays Bank DC&O generously agreed to lend us a sum of $5 million to help pay for part of the whole deal.
We are heartened by the confidence which this bank which has been so long with us and is in an excellent position to judge, has shown in this Government.
It is expected that the public corporation to be formed to run the new undertaking will be able to pay for the whole project out of profits within ten years; that is, for the takeover and for the additional plant and equipment which will be required. . . .
You may also wish to know that it was agreed that the new Corporation to be formed will be run on strictly sound business lines without any political interference. It was also agreed while the loan remains unpaid that the International Power Company in Canada, the owners of the Demerara Electric Company, and the Consortium will be permitted to nominate directors to the directorate of the Company.
In addition, the Manager will be appointed to the Corporation with the concurrence of the parent Canadian Company. The Manager will be entitled to seek advice from time to time from the Montreal Engineering Company who are the technical consultants in Canada to the Demerara Electric Company.
I am sure that you are very glad that we have finally settled this problem which has been plaguing us for some time. Now that the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company has been completed we will move on to the development of rural electrification. In addition, all over the city will enjoy much cheaper power which will be a real stimulus to industrialisation. . . .
Sugar Quota for Small Farmers
While in London, I took up with Sir Jock Campbell the question of cane farming. I pointed out to him that in the West Indies a large part of the total sugar production, in some cases as high as 40 to 50 percent, came from cane farmers. I asked him to see if it was possible that as a beginning at least 10 percent of total production, instead of the present figure of about 2 percent, be allocated to our farmers. He has promised to look into this matter.
From London Mr. D'Andrade and I travelled together to New York. He proceeded to Washington to iron out certain details with respect to our application for a loan from the World Bank and to take the opportunity to have talks also with US Government officials. I stayed on in New York and had discussions at the United Nations Headquarters with representatives of United Nations Technical Assistance Administration. The discussions covered a wide range of subjects.
A hydro-electric expert is to come out shortly. He will do a preliminary survey, evaluate what has been done thus far and make recommendations as to what should be done in the future. You are also aware that we have now become an associate member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America or ECLA, as it is called. They are being requested to put on their time table a visit to British Guiana of their water resources and pulp and paper teams.
We are also seeking experts to help us to revise our mining laws and to give us guidance in the framing of up-to-date petroleum mining legislation.
We are also seeking assistance for the establishment of a Central Ban k for British Guiana. An attempt will be made to see whether some one can be sent out to look into this question.
Our discussion also covered the question of the shortage of adequately trained personnel. Agreement was reached to help us to fill this gap. It is likely that someone in the Administration Division of the United Nations Technical Assistance Administration will be visiting here to have preliminary talks and that we may shortly thereafter get a team to embark on a course of training in administration for our civil servants.
I must say that from my talks at United Nations Headquarters I gathered the definite impression that the United Nations is willing to go out of its way to give us assistance. In fact, many of the items I took up would normally have to go in for the next year's programme but efforts are being made to see if they can be financed as an emergency measure from the Special Contingency Fund.
As a result of our efforts we can say that we have done thus far very well with the United Nations. As you know, we have already got nearly $1 million from the UN Special Fund for siltation study and a soil survey study.
From New York I went to Cuba. I did not plan going there, but since it was enroute to Venezuela which I had intended to visit, I decided to stop in. I wanted to find out what was being done about the timber proposition and whether it was possible to find an immediate market for our surplus rice. It was good that I went.
You will remember that a few months ago three representatives came down here to make a timber survey. Cuba's imports of timber at the moment amount to about $23 million per year. You will recall that I mentioned sometime ago that we will be prepared to consider sympathetically, firstly the granting of a lease to the Cubans on the same terms and conditions as we grant leases to others, or secondly, to form a joint company with the Cubans.
The Cuban Government, however, does not want to take advantage of either of these two proposals. They said quite frankly to me that these proposals smacked of imperialism. They did not want in any way to exploit our manpower or material resources. They were prepared to help as far am they could. They offered to make available over the next two years a loan to the equivalent of about $8.5 million. This loan will be repayable over ten years after the project gets underway. The rate of interest will be 2 percent and payment will be made in timber products. Technical assistance will be provided if we require it, to help us to work out the details of such a project.
They have also agreed to finance the external costs of the first stage hydro electric project atTiger Bill which is estimated to cost about $30 million.
These two projects are going to be the beginning of the realisation of some of our dreams. As regards the future development of British Guiana I have two dreams ¾ one based on timber and the other on bauxite as raw materials. I have in mind two giant industrial complexes.
The first would be based on wood which covers so much of our territory and which at the moment is lying idle and in many instances has to be got rid of by burning. Such an industrial complex based on wood can produce not only sawn lumber but also pulp, paper, cellulose, charcoal and many other chemicals which, as by-products, can be utilised as raw materials for other industries. I have seen such an industrial complex in Germany. It is only left for us now to get technical experts to work out in great detail such a project.
The other industrial complex which I have in mind is the one which will permit of, after the installation of hydro-electricity, the smelting of our bauxite into aluminium and the setting up of a whole series of ancillary industries which will utilise pig aluminium as a raw material. By ancillary industries I mean pre-fabricated buildings, roofs, pots and pans, motor car blocks and bodies and the whole range of other articles which are fabricated from aluminium.
The Cuban deal points the way for payment to be made not in hard cash but by the sale of our own products.
The Cubans have also promised to give us technical assistance in other fields. I am thinking particularly of light cigarette tobacco which it is felt can be produced here. With such technical and financial help, we are now on the threshold of real industrial development of our country.
By the way, the Cubans have also agreed to purchase any surplus rice which we may have. They have been purchasing rice from the US at a price higher than we now get from the West ladies. They are prepared to open their markets for our rice and to give us the advantage of a reasonable price.
You may wish to know that during my stay in Cuba I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Nicholson, the Acting Director of Medical Services, who was attending a medical conference in Havana
In Venezuela I had discussions with Government official on several questions about economic cooperation generally between our two countries, about a visit of a combined economic, technical and commercial mission to British Guiana, about the three fishing boats recently seized, and about the sale of paddy.
The visit of the mission is likely to take place soon and it is hoped it will come off at about the same time as History and Culture Week.
I raised the issue in the Ministry of External Relations about the fishing boats seized in Venezuelan waters. Unfortunately, it was not possible for me to see the Minister of Interior because of the political crisis which developed during the last day of my visit there. However, I am told that there is every hope that the boats will be released.
I have also had discussions to see if it will be possible to permit of certain courtesies to be extended by both Governments. In such a case fishing boats which find themselves in difficulties will not be held up so long as they are not engaged in any contraband activities.
About the possible sale of paddy to Venezuela, the Venezuelan authorities are anxious to have trade relationship developed with British Guiana. But, at the present time, they are not in need of paddy. They informed me that they will be in a position by February to say precisely what are their needs with respect t the importing paddy from outside sources.
In Trinidad, I had discussions with Dr. Carl La Corbiniere, Minister of Trade and Industry, on matters relating to industrial development and incentive legislation for the area. I took up the question also of an early meeting for the Rice Conference which is to decide two questions, firstly, the prices to be paid next year, and secondly, the extension of the contract. As you are no doubt aware, the contract comes to an end in December 1962 but provision is made for a review every year to see if it should be extended.
I have returned home feeling a definite sense of satisfaction ¾ satisfaction that people, even in difficult positions as the Cubans, are willing to help. I feel a sense of exhilaration that we are now beginning to get all the loose ends together from which we can move ahead
In Cuba I felt thrilled and excited at the generous offer. But what do I find on my return? The same criticisms and misrepresentations amounting to direct lying, not easing up in any way, but actually becoming more intense. . . .
Before I arrived in London, very influential journals such as the Financial Times and the Observer carried statements, which were forwarded by local correspondents, that we were taking over the Demerara Bauxite Company. The gloom with which the local press greeted the announcement of the success of the electricity talks leads one to suppose that the local press would have preferred the talks to fail.
I am aware that the press is violently opposed to the Majority Party which I have the honour of leading. Considering the interest which the press represent, I do not see anything wrong with this. But what I consider wrong is the harm which the press is doing the country as a whole. By all means attack us but do not frustrate the national aspiration of the Guianese people.
So long as we are in the Government I ask that an objective rather than an emotional evaluation be made of all the things which we are pursuing and which we contemplate to do in the future.
Let us rid ourselves of emotional thinking. Let us look at the economic realities which today face not only our country but underdeveloped territories all over the world. Let us unitedly face these realities objectively and rationally. . . .
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
"You are all Alike; You all want to be generals."
(Printed in the Daily Chronicle on Saturday, October 15, 1960
October 14, 1960
Dear Mr. D'Aguiar,
I have read your statement of last weekend with great interest. I address you this open letter so that you may clarify certain issues in the public interest.
You say we are Marxists and without Marxism we have no policy, that Mr. Burnham's PNC has no policy, that your policy is economic dynamism.
Firstly, let me say that Marxism is not a dogma but a guide to action and that although the PPP is not Marxist party, it has a definite policy. In the field of politics, it has written from its very inception the word "independence" on its masthead; in economics it is for a planned economy. Like India and Ghana, it believes that only a planned economy can generate rapid economic growth and necessary social changes. For planning purposes these countries provide for four sectors - public, cooperative, public private and private.
You say that Mr. Burnham has no policy, that yours is economic dynamism. What is economic dynamism? I humbly submit that Mr. Burnham's PNC has a policy. It's the same as the policy of the NDP and UDP of John Carter and Rudy Kendall with whom Mr. Burnham is now allied. It's the same as yours. It's indistinguishable from the policy of the imperialists whose theme song and panacea for all our economic and social ills are foreign capital(ists) and the free enterprise system. This underlying similarity is what drives you all together to gang up to defeat us.
All the Same
This is the cold economic fact. Let's be honest, and forget for a moment the emotional breast thumping, the flag-waving, all the blahs about freedoms, and big words like economic dynamism. You’re all the same; the only difference between you is a difference of personalities. You all want to be generals.
We saw this underlying similarity not too long ago in the political field. In the Constitution Committee, Mr. Tasker of Bookers and Mr. Burnham of the PNC basically sang the same tune - with minor variations on the theme - internal self-government only, Upper House, and Proportional Representation. Does it make any difference that Tasker is white and a foreigner, and Burnham, an African and Guianese? Incidentally, this was more or less the same stand taken by the so-called Constituent Assembly, Big Business and the Sword of the Spirit (now Defenders of Freedom).
You state that your policy of "economic dynamism" is a plan based on the "latest and soundest Western economic ideas"; that "it is specially suited to a country like ours. A country which has made little or no use of its greatest economic advantage, namely, its huge land area. A country whose people suffer from unemployment and low standards of living and yet has within it all the basic essentials for full and dynamic development. Economic dynamism would help everyone in British Guiana. To the workers without work it would mean work; to the workers at work it would mean better wager; it would mean homes for those who need homes; and land for those who need land. For those who have farms or business it would mean expansion and prosperity. Far everyone it would be a place in the sun. Economic dynamism would mean the most rapid advancement for all people in British Guiana."
Now, all the above sounds very well but it is only a lot of words. Please illustrate with precise facts and figures. Assuming that you were the Premier of the new Government what would you do? What would be your five-year or ten-year development plans to achieve all the things which you mentioned above?
Let me pose the problem. Heads of Departments told us in early 1959 that they required $260M. for a five-year plan. Even this would be inadequate. Take roads for instance. At the rate of roughly $½M. per mile (estimate for East Coast Road) coastal roads alone would take more than $100M. The Hutchinson Drainage and Irrigation Schemes which we supported years ago would take another $100M. Add to this the many more millions required for transport, education, health and welfare schemes including adequate pensions and unemployment relief. I have not added such things as rural electrification, hydro-electricity and industrialisation. In other words we need several more millions than the $110M. which has been placed as a ring around us.
But what did Mr. Berrill, Mr. Adler of the World Bank and the Colonial Office tell us. They said quite categorically that if we had to raise money at prevailing high rates of interest (6 %) we could not have a bigger 5-year programme than $110M. They have advised that we should try to contribute more from our own funds for our development; that we depended too heavily on borrowing from outside. We are supposed to contribute $15M. from our budgetary surpluses towards our 1960/64 Programme. In other words, roughly $3M. a year. You say that you would pay better wages, perhaps $4.00 per day to the unskilled worker. So would I. But every 25 cents increase on the existing wage would cost us roughly $¾M. to $1M. And then there are civil servants and pensioners and social assistance to consider. You are no doubt against borrowing from the East at nominal rates of interest. How then you will solve the problems?
No doubt you would say that you would be able to create confidence abroad, that foreign capital would help you to do all the things which you have mentioned. If this is your argument, please tell us how much you feel foreign capitalists will spend in the next five years. What fields they will enter, by how much the national income and national revenues will be increased (keeping in mind your give away tax concessions). Please keep in mind that unlike countries like Brazil, we do not have a large home market. If you are thinking of Jamaica and Puerto Rico, remember that foreign capitalists produce mostly for export to North America. Our conditions are entirely different. Our plan is to make bi-lateral trade agreements, obtain plant and equipment on credit and pay back with our national products. We cannot wholly rely on the inequality of international trade.
History and experience have taught us that in most underdeveloped territories foreign capital has hindered development by distorting the economy, by concentrating on extractive industries, by causing a greater flow of money outside the country over a period of years.
Ravages of Imperialism
Permit me to cite just a few examples. In Persia, in fifty years, an investment of £21½M. in oil yielded a return of between £700 to £800M. In Latin America, during the decade 1945/55, US foreign investment yielded a profit after taxes of $7 billion. Of this amount $1½ billion was reinvested in the area and $2 billion new investment came in thus leaving a net drain of $3½ billion. Space does not permit the citing of other examples which tell the same story in underdeveloped territories of the ravages of imperialism.
What do you mean by the "latest and soundest economic ideas"? I presume by this that you do not mean a completely planed economy as in the Soviet Union or a partially planned economy as in Ghana and India. You will recall that because of this emphasis on planning, the second five-year plan of India was opposed by financiers abroad. The World Bank at first refused to help finance this plan. The West is now in a big way helping India financially. This is to a great extent due to the fear that China will outstrip India and thus become a model for underdeveloped countries. By "economic dynamism" you obviously mean western monopoly capitalism and its imperialist relationship with the underdeveloped regions of the world. How sound is this system?
Far From Sound
Imperialism is today is on the defensive. Monopoly capitalism is moribund. In the US, productive capacity is employed only to the extent of 60 percent to 75 percent. Persons like Allan Dulles, Head of US Central Intelligence Services, and Economists of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee are now alarmed. They point to the almost twice as rapid economic growth in the Soviet Union as compared with the USA. They call for changes if the West is to win the race of peaceful economic competition. Such changes, however, require economic planning. Planning, the so-called freedom lovers say, is anathema to the free enterprise system, is akin to socialism and communism. This is the dilemma of the West.
Obviously, the so-called latest western economic ideas based on monopoly capitalism are far from sound. They can no more solve the problems of developed countries in the West than they can solve the colossal problems of underdeveloped countries such as ours.
Reading between the lines, I can see that you are an exponent of elitism; the masses are all well and good, you seem to say (after all, they have the votes), but they must do the dirty work; the elite must rule. My advice to you is don't underestimate the intelligence of the masses. The mere possession of wealth is no real evidence of high intelligence or moral probity.
Service Not Self
You put great store on having an integrated team -five Indians, five Africans, one Amerindian, one Chinese, one Portuguese, one Creole. Surely this alone - this thinking in terms of race, this counting of heads, this noting of the colour of the skin - can't be enough. We tried such a balanced integrated team before. Remember October 1953? Did not five people - one Indian, two Africans, one Portuguese, one European - go to praise and give support to the British Government for destroying an elected government? Whose money paid for this trip? Did you not volunteer your trucks to transport troops who came here ready to shoot down what Burnham says you regard as the "rabble"? An exploiter of the poor, whether he be an Indian, African, White or else is an exploiter none-the-less.
What we need are leaders chosen nor on the basis of the colour of their skin. Our leaders must be chosen regardless of race or religion. The criteria must be service, not self. What we need is clear economic thinking. The people do not have to be fed on mere mumbo jumbo, superstition and high sounding phrases. This may be good business advertising technique; but the people want much more from their politicians. Plunder and profit and the law of the jungle must give way to an ordered society, to a new humanism.
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
(Editorial in Thunder, 29 April 1961 )
THE fighting is over. The Cuban Revolution has survived its first major attack. To what extent was the US involved? Was this an affair a la Guatemala?
In 1954 when Guatemala was attacked, US Government denied involvement. Time Magazine, however, in its Latin American edition, on August 8 said that the US Central Intelligence Agency had supported the army which overthrew the Arbenz Government. The exact quote was: “. . . . with the US Central Intelligence Agency as a silent partner, a Guatemalan colonel named Carlos Castillo Armas launched his counter-revolutionary invasion of the Red-dominated country.”
The US Government said that it is not directly involved in Cuba. However, it has expressed sympathy for the counter-revolutionary forces. These forces seem to get a lot of money in the US. Also they can operate openly and freely in Miami and elsewhere.
Compare treatment that Castro got when he was in exile from 1955 to 1957; he was hounded and, even in Mexico, his training ground for his handful of revolutionaries had to be completely secret and changed from time to time because of government raids. New York Times exposed the training of the anti-Castro rebels in Guatemala. Time Magazine blew up what was happening in Miami. No wonder Fidel Castro has pointed the accusing finger at the US Government. History will judge.
Why did Castro succeed and Arbenz fail? Let’s hear what Arbenz himself had to say. Last May he gave an interview in Havana to US newspaperman, Lyle Stuart:
Stuart: One criticism of the Castro regime has been that the people are whipped up too much to prepare for an invasion. But they say that one weakness of your regime is that your people were not sufficiently alerted against an invasion possibility. Do you believe there is substance in that?
Arbenz: In the few days that I have been in Cuba I observed that the Cuban people are not frightened by a possible aggression and that they are ready to defend their revolution. They will defend it even at a cost of their lives. The error of the Guatemalan situation was that our country’s defence was all in the hands of the army and many agents of the United States infiltrated the army. Also, the Guatemalan people were not armed as the Cuban people are.
Stuart: Do you think that the people would have fought?
Arbenz: I am absolutely sure that they would have fought until the end. The army which had the support of the people, betrayed the people.
There you have it – the difference between the Guatemalan and Cuban situations. In Guatemala, after Arbenz won the elections, he maintained the old army and its top brass military leaders, and did not arm the people. When the invasion took place, the military betrayed the Government. The people, particularly the peasants, were prepared to fight. Land reform had helped them. United Fruit Company land holdings were broken up and given to the farmers. Unfortunately, the farmers were not armed or trained.
Fidel Castro, no doubt, learned from the mistake made by the Arbenz regime. He disbanded the regular Cuban Army. Its place was taken by his own Rebel Army. And he called for volunteers. These militiamen – farmers, workers, teachers, shop- clerks, civil servants – were trained and guns put into their hands. These are the people who have defended their revolution and repulsed the attackers.
The attackers have been caught napping. They have fooled themselves with their own propaganda. The capitalist press blazed headlines about anti-Castro defections and internal rebellion in Cuba. Castro was a dictator; he was holding the people by force and terror. Such were the lies spread. Any objective observer could have seen that 90 percent of the Cuban people were supporting the Revolutionary Government. As José Miro Torres, son of the counter- revolutionary leader put it: I walked for 26 miles and at every turn there was a militiaman.”
Last May Day, Fidel hit back at all these lies and propaganda. Answering the charge from the USA about being undemocratic he shouted back that the real test of democracy was to put guns in the hands of the farmers, the workers, the clerks. He challenged the US Government to do as he did, to arm the Negroes who constituted a majority in the South. That, he said would be a time test of American democracy and the real freedom of the Negro people.
Let the Tellos and Ishmaels in our country take note. Are the ordinary people slaves – according to our so-called trade union leaders – who have wiped out the invaders? Why didn’t they use the guns given to them against Castro if their rights and freedoms were suppressed?
Imperialism is dying. It used force to overthrow several democratic regimes – the Callegos Betancourt Government in 1948, the Mosadeq Government in Iran in 1951, the PPP Government in 1953, the Arbenz Government in 1954. The turning point came in 1956. Then we saw the attack on Egypt failed. Fidel Castro is lucky. He has not only the people of Cuba on his side. History is on his side. 1961 is a world of difference from 1951. The reactionary imperialist forces will fight back. But the hand-writing is on the wall. The death knell of imperialism is sounding on all fronts.
To sum up in the words a liberal American, Dr. Shapiro, Assistant Professor of History at Michigan State University: “Some day we are going to have to recognise the permanent nature of the social revolution that has taken place in Cuba, just as we eventually came to terms with similar upheavals in Mexico and the USSR. Meanwhile, one can only echo the sentiment expressed to me by a number of Cubans: ‘Que nos dejan en paz!’ – ‘If they would only leave us alone’!”
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
Straight Talk by Cheddi Jagan
Some people say that we don’t have an economic plan, that we don’t know where we are going, that we have no policy. This is certainly not true.
We have definite objectives. We are dedicated to the goal of socialism. The primary aim of our economic policy is to raise living standards, to end the scourge of unemployment and to provide for a more equitable distribution of the national income.
How will we achieve this goal? We will not follow in the footsteps of the Interim Government whose policy and programme the World Bank severely criticised — what the late Mr. Raatgever dubbed mere show pieces. We will not squander money.
We will formulate a sound programme, carefully balancing the economic and social aspects of development. Where will our emphasis be? Will we give priority to agriculture or to heavy industry?
Some say that we should concentrate on heavy industry. They criticise us for spending two much money on agriculture. We are accused of doing so for political reasons. These persons charge that we are doing so because our supporters live in the rural areas. This is obviously foolish. Did not Mr. Adler, the World Bank economist, say that we had correctly assessed priorities in our development plan?
Let me say this to our critics. We are fully aware as they are that industries generate wealth more rapidly, that industrialisation results in faster economic growth.
But we are equally aware that heavy industries are highly capital-intensive; that is, they employ fewer people per unit of capital invested.
For instance, the recently built alumina plant cost $65 million, about $162,000 per person employed. Compare this with about $9,000 per family for land settlement schemes like Black Bush Polder.
More than any other, we are terribly conscious of the need for a balanced industrial-agricultural development. But however much we desire industrialisation, we could not proceed faster because of several factors. Almost nothing by way of exact plans, blue prints and feasibility studies were made by previous governments. We assumed office with a huge and growing unemployment and under-employment problem. We were not building from scratch. We had to build on a base we inherited.
It should be noted that our economy like that of almost every underdeveloped country is based on agriculture. For a backward country, therefore, agriculture must play a leading role in the short term period. Every country which is today highly developed and industrialised has done so by first building an agricultural base. This was their jumping off ground. And it must be ours also.
Our opponents in the Legislature and elsewhere who criticise us for concentrating on agriculture must not forget three facts. Firstly, unemployment in the towns is aggravated by the influx of people from the rural areas because of land hunger and ravages of floods and droughts.
Secondly, for every family employed directly in agriculture, three or four others gain indirect employment in different fields – in transport and shipping on the steamers, railways, on the waterfront, in commerce, in stores and in banks; and also in marketing organisations — the Rice Marketing Board, the produce department, the milk plant, etc.
Thirdly, our agricultural policy has led to a more plentiful and cheap supply of foods — rice, ground provisions, milk, beef, pork, etc., resulting in our population being the best fed in the British Caribbean area. It has also kept the cost of living relatively stable. The West Indian Economist of April 1961 shows an increase in the cost of living in the three-year period 1957 to 1960 of 13 points in Jamaica, 16 points in Trinidad and only 4 points in British Guiana. Had our food index risen to the same extent since 1957 as Jamaica and Trinidad we would have had to spend nearly an additional $1 million each year to feed ourselves. This means nearly $3 million for the last three years — quite a substantial saving for this country and the urban people too.
(Printed in Thunder, 5 August 1961)
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
Straight Talk by Cheddi Jagan
The Evening Post in the issue of Thursday, June 1. 1961 carried an article by one Juan Gonsalves, head lined "Cuban Negroes Find Castro’s Communism Costly".
We are all aware of the stream of propaganda now being directed against the Revolutionary Cuban Government, This propaganda was so intense that it fooled its own authors and disseminators into believing that the Cuban people were going to turn against their Government and join the invaders. When is this lying propaganda going to stop?
It is a great pity that the Evening Post joins in spreading such wicked propaganda particularly on this question of treatment of Negroes. Negro-White unity has been basic to the Cuban Revolutionary efforts. And the Castro Government is dedicated to and has accomplished much in wiping out all discrimination.
It has set itself as one of its most urgent duties the utter extermination of all segregation and racialism. Negroes hold important posts at all levels. Joseph North in his book, Cuba, Hope of a Hemisphere, says that "the bead of the air force was a Negro; the Head of the Army is Negro, the Chief of the Oriente contingents of the armed forces, a Negro."
The editor should publish what some more important people saw and had to say. Professor Paul Baran, economics professor at Stanford University in his pamphlet Reflections on the Cuban Revolution says that he is thrilled by "the leaps that the Cubans are making in education, health, culture standard of living and dignity."
Professor C. Wright Mills, of Columbia University, author of important books such as Power Elite, in his book on Cuba, Listen Yankee, announces himself as for the Cuban Revolution and as recognising that anti-communism is counter revolution. This is important as Mills himself is not a communist. He explains in great detail in direct interviews with Cubans about what’s happening there, and leaves no one in doubt that it was monopoly capitalism which kept Cuba enslaved.
There is Professor Douglas R. Dowd of Cornell University. Rejecting the monstrous picture of a "communist Cuba" that is peddled all over the world, he says:
"Why should there not be Communists participating in Cuban public affairs, as there are in most countries of the world, including most countries of the NATO alliance? The Cold War extends throughout the world, but not all countries have seen fit to follow the American example summed up in the term McCarthyism, annoying though such sentimentality must be to J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Dodd."
Every Cuban, as every nationalist leader everywhere, recognises the imperative need for the broadest possible unity. Che Guevara writes: "For the old, the very old imperial maxim of ‘divide and conquer’ remains today the basis of imperialist strategy."
Bias Roca, General Secretary of the Popular Socialist Party in Cuba, says: "The motto of the imperialists, of the sell-out governing class, of the reactionaries and exploiters of every kind
is: Divide and Rule. In logical contradiction, the maxim of the revolutionaries, of the representatives of the workers, peasants, and the people generally, the maxim of the Marxist Leninist is: Unite to triumph over the enemies of the nation, the people and the toiling masses. The maxim guided all our activity against the tyranny and has guided and guides today all our activity in the course of the revolution, its triumph and its development."
Cuba is not fat from here. The editor of the Evening Post should send an observer to make an on-the-spot assessment. It’s important for us.
Mr. Hurbert Matthews of the New York Times says that in all his 30 years of reporting he has never seen a situation more misunderstood and misinterpreted than the Cuban Revolution. Let’s not just dish out the daily doses of propaganda sod venom put out against the Cuban Government and people.
One last quotation. It’s another one from Professor Dowd of Cornell University. He says:
"I do not believe that Castro and his supporters are angels, nor that their revolution is flawless or without serious problems, nor do I believe that Americans actions and attitudes have been those of devils. But I do believe that American values, and American needs, taken in conjunction with the past and present Cuban situation, point to a position sharply opposed to the one we presently hold."
(Printed in Thunder, 8 July 1961)
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000