Articles by Cheddi Jagan - Opposition Leader (1964-1992)
by Dr. Cheddi Jagan (1969)
It is appropriate that we should join with people all over the world to celebrate the centenary of Mahatma Mohandus Karanchand Gandhi. Though an Indian national, he was a world citizen. By any standard, he would be categorized as great.
The Mahatma’s greatness lay, above all, in his dedication to serve. He was prepared to go to any lengths and to make any sacrifice in order to eradicate the evils in society, which prevented human brotherhood from being achieved in the real world.
His custom was not merely to preach, but also to practice, to set the example. It is said that his explanation for his simple loin cloth attire was that if he were to represent the countless millions of India, he must be one with them; he must look and feel like them.
He not only fought against evils of the cast system, but brought one of the so called "untouchables" into his home. Thought an ardent Hindu, his devotion to Hindu-Muslim unity resulted in his death from a religious fanatic’s bullet.
In the battle against British imperialism, his high moral scruples sometimes dismayed his closest lieutenants.
The Mahatma was essentially a man of peace. But he realized that peace could only come from struggle. He made it clear that his belief in non-violence was not to be confused with cowardice and pacifism. I heard one of his closest associates say that non-violence was for him not a creed; that non-violence, passive resistance and civil were the only methods open to him and the movement he led in the struggle against the British Raj under the then conditions prevailing in India.
In the course of his political struggle in India, he influenced and reared a school of selfless fighters for the people’s freedom.
But his influence was not limited to India. His example in the struggle against British imperialism was an inspiration to many others in the far-flung British Empire and beyond.
The late Christian Martin Luther King was virtually a disciple of the Hindu Mahatma. I myself, during my student days in the USA was largely influenced by his great struggle.
Gandhi did not live to see the complete fulfilment of his dreams. He spearheaded and saw the achievement of the first stage – national independence for India. The winning of social justice in India and on a world scale is yet to be. Others have taken up the fight in new conditions.
The battle for some of the Mahatma’s ideals are now being waged inside the party which he developed. It is regrettable that his advice was not heeded for the disbandment of the Congress Party after Independence. Had this been done, perhaps India would have avoided some of her present-day difficulties and still hold the moral leadership of the third world.
In doing homage to the Mahatma’s great personality, let us hope that his ideals would help the Indian people and government to clean out some of the parasites and barnacles who have attached themselves to the Indian political bandwagon. A people who have fought so bravely deserve a better reward.
Let us hope that his ideals will illumine and encourage in other lands.
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
( Radio Broadcast for Government Information Services) - 1970's
From my party and myself, kindly accept warmest Christmas Greetings.
Christmas is a time of great joy, peace and goodwill, My wish is that not only all of you listening to me, but humanity in the world-at-large will be caught up in the spirit of Christmas. To me, love-thy-neighbour-as-thyself should have no boundaries.
It is said that man is not an island unto himself. This is true for increasingly we are becoming more interdependent, nationally and internationally.
So while we are celebrating Christmas, let us remember that there is much suffering at home and abroad.
Many able-bodied Guyanese cannot find work. Others have been retrenched just before Christmas. Still others face retrenchment in the new year. What peace-and-joy is there in the lives of these our Guyanese brethren?
What peace, what joy is there today for the thousands of young Americans who face the prospect of death in far-off Vietnam and hundreds of thousands more of Vietnamese, who are made homeless, who are maimed and killed?
What peace, what joy is there for the millions the world over who go to bed hungry every night, who face death by starvation?
Jesus Christ said "suffer the little children to come unto me; and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
But today in Vietnam children are burnt alive by incendiarybombs. and disfigured by napalm, while the bomb and napalm manufacturers grow richer and richer, In the Congo and elsewhere hundreds of thousands of children die or become mentally and physically deformed from starvation.
Have we stopped to think of the irrationality, indeed the lunacy, of our world society which permits these evils to persist in the face of potential plenty.
When I say potential plenty I mean such things as the failure of vested interests to take advantage of some of the latest inventions and discoveries; the destruction of foods by dumping, burying and burning; the denial of the use of land or the payment of bonuses to farmers to keep land out of cultivation; the squandering of hundreds of millions of dollars in amassing more and more weapons of mass destruction. So great is the store of these monstrous weapons that if a Hiroshima-size bomb, a bomb that destroyed 100,000 human beings and millions of dollars of property had been dropped every day since the birth of Christ - 1,966 years, 365 days each year - a total of such explosions would consume only 70% of the present US nuclear stockpile.
Clearly, mankind is now precariously poised on the precipice of disaster.
Today nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction pose a threat to the security of mankind. The very existence of these weapons, and the constant threat they pose, coupled with man’s alienation, his sense of not-being-able-to-influence; his sense of helplessness, are also sources of anxiety neurosis, mental disorders and anti-social behaviour.
Some say that the ills of our society stem from greed, from hate, and that efforts must be concentrated to change men's hearts. Others who believe in dialectical materialism say that that is a vain hope. They say that the capitalist system of organization of society is responsible for the ills, that only with the abolition of this system will those ills go and will men's hearts in time be transformed.
One thing is certain. Whatever the differences, international disputes cannot be settled by resort to thermo-nuclear bombs. There must be attempts at peaceful solutions. Dialogue now taking place between Christians and Communists is a step in the right direction.
It is urgent that dogmas be set aside, that scientific analysis and logic be brought to bear to realize our common goals and objectives based on the brotherhood of man and a society free from exploitation, fear, insecurity, mayhem and mass murder.
It behoves us all, whether Christian or non-Christian, whether theist or atheist, to work for world peace; to recognize representative institutions, the free expression of the people's will, and the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty and national self-determination, in the conduct of international relations. Only by the observance of these principles can there be progress on a foundation of lasting peace.
We can all begin to shape a new world and a secure future for ourselves by concentrating our efforts to bring an end to US intervention in Vietnam. The Vietnamese people like all other peoples must be left to decide their own future, free from foreign interference. Once again, a very merry Christmas to all.
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
by Cheddi Jagan
In most "third world" countries, petty-bourgeois nationalist parties are in power. This is due to the fact that the working class is generally underdeveloped, and consequently communist and workers' parties are relatively - weak or non-existent.
As a result of the duel character (labour and capital) of the petty-bourgeois class, nationalist regimes generally vacillate. Sometimes they take labour/progressive positions; at other times, conservative/reactionary positions.
This vacillation is characteristic of the PNC, a petty-bourgeois nationalist party.
In the first period (1964-70), after coming to power with the help of Anglo-American imperialism, its nationalism manifested itself in a reactionary role. Its domestic and foreign policies were geared to foster imperialist interests.
This was made clear by Dr Wilfred David, Economic Adviser to the government; and Dr Ted Braithwaite, Guyana's first Ambassador to the United Nations. Dr David in 1971 stated: "... we have had growth without development, characterized by a high level of dependency."
Dr Ted Braithwaite, the author of "To Sir With Love," exploded a bombshell on his resignation as Ambassador. He said that every time he wanted to take positions at the UN which he thought were in the best interests of Guyana, he would get messages from the government telling him what the Americans felt about those issues, and to take positions in accordance with those views.
In the 1971-73 period, the PNC nationalist regime vacillated, with the balance in favour of imperialism. It was forced to nationalize the Demerara Bauxite Company (DEMBA) after its Canadian owners, Alcan, refused to accept "meaningful participation in bauxite," paid overgenerous compensation, and appointed the US company Philipp Bros., as the marketing agent. At the same time, the regime attacked the Soviet Union by espousing the "2 superpowers - 2 imperialisms" line.
In the 1974-76 period, the dominant tendency of the petty-bourgeois duality in the PNC leadership played a progressive role. It carried out limited national tasks of recuperating the national economy from imperialist ownership and control.
However, through racial and political discrimination, lack of democracy at the political, social and economic/industrial levels, manipulation and corrupt practices, the PNC established a bureaucratic/military, and not a revolutionary-democratic, form of rule.
Nationalization under the PNC regime is serving not the masses of the working people but the bureaucratic-bourgeoisie, the neo-comprador parasitic bourgeoisie (contractors, commission agents and others servicing the state corporations) and the emerging rural monopoly bourgeoisie on the other.
The same petty-bourgeois nationalist leadership which played a progressive role in the 1974-74 period has become a force of conservatism, on an obstacle to change in the liberation process. The balance of forces in the PNC leadership has shifted in favour of the conservative/pro-capitalist tendency in the petty-bourgeois duality. Bureaucratic-state, cooperative and parasitic capitalism fetters the productive forces, thus wrecking the economy and opening the way to imperialist political blackmail and dictation through "aid with strings."
By refusing to make changes at the super-structural level, by making the party and state indistinguishable, and by declaring the doctrine of paramouncy of the party (in effect, the dominant role of the PNC petty-bourgeois nationalists serving the middle strata, the petty-bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie and not the working class and peasantry), the state has become an instrument of accumulation and gain for the PNC as a party and its leaders.
The petty-bourgeois nationalist PNC has built up a corrupt bureaucratic/military elitist structure and is unwilling to make any fundamental changes at the superstructure level (political, ideological, institutional and cultural).
During the 1977-82 period, the PNC vacillated, as in the 1971-73 period, with the balance in favour of imperialism.
From 1983, the regime moved against imperialism in foreign policy, although not as firmly as in 1974-76. At the same time, in domestic policy, it takes an anti-working class position. The dichotomy cannot be maintained for long. If there is no change in internal policies in favour of the working class, the economy would be further undermined and the progressive anti-imperialist position would be lost.
The two aspects of nationalism were demonstrated in Egypt: under President Nasser - progressive/revolutionary nationalism; under President Sadat who succeeded Nasser - reactionary nationalism.
In India during World War II, one saw within the Congress Party the different faces of nationalism. One faction saw Britain, which was denying independence to India, as enemy number one. It was prepared to fight with German fascism and Japanese militarism to get India free. A second faction saw as enemies both British colonialism and Hitler fascism; it decided to remain neutral. A third faction, the communist saw Hitler fascism and Japanese militarism as the main enemy; it joined the war on the side of the anti-Hitlerite coalition, which included Britain.
As a petty-bourgeois nationalist party, the ruling PNC has 2 tendencies - a majority conservative/reactionary tendency and a minority labour/progressive tendency. The latter can talk about socialism, but the former cannot put it into practice.
Cooperation between communists and revolutionary-democrats in possible and necessary for liberation and social progress (revolutionary-democratic are the left-wingers of the petty-bourgeois class). Guyana offers a unique opportunity to move forward along this path. It has abundant resources; the PNC has complete control of the bureaucracy, military and mass media; and the majority PPP is struggling to go forward to a socialist-oriented course. Salvador Allende's Popular Unity government did not have such favourable conditions: it did not control the state apparatus and the media, and his opposition was rightist, pro-imperialist and linked with the CIA.
The class struggle must be intensified to push the PNC to a revolutionary nationalists to a patriotic and internationalist left position in internal and external policies. This struggle must be waged inside and outside of the ruling Party.
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
by Cheddi Jagan
(First PPP 1973 General Election broadcast delivered by Dr Cheddi Jagan on June 17, 1973)
Soon it will be time for another important decision - which party to vote for. Fortunately, you are now in a better position to judge; you have had experience of 7 years of the PPP in office and 8 ½ years of the PNC in power.
I have deliberately used the words; "the PPP in office" and "the PNC in power" to make one point clear - when we were in the government, Guyana was not independent; we had very limited powers. Not so with the PNC.
Yet we scored many successes, some of which are today taken for granted - independence, republic, nationalization, recognition of socialist states, Guyanisation and so on. Yes, we pioneered them. And we had to fight every inch of the way as well as suffer to achieve them.
In the economic field, we blazed a revolutionary trail. We severed some of the shackles with which sugardom bound our nation and stultified our development. The PPP removed the brakes on agriculture; we released the land, long "bottled up," and we embarked on a comprehensive scheme of drainage and irrigation.
Because of these and other measures too numerous to mention, our agricultural policy proved successful; it wasn't just propaganda as we have nowadays. The farmers were happy - they got many benefits, good prices and were meaningfully involved. And the workers and consumers too were satisfied - they were able to get a good supply of inexpensive foods.
But our concern was for industry as well as agriculture. So we set up the Industrial Development Corporation and Industrial Estate at Ruimveldt. We nationalized the Demerara Electric Company and began the programme of rural electrification.
The river front land at Garden of Eden, now used by the Guyana Defence Force for farming, had been cleared for glass and cement factories.
Unfortunately, these and other factories from socialist countries including a Cuban-financed $32 million hydro-electric scheme at Malali, were blocked by the British government.
But despite that, the foundations for a post-independence industrial future were laid. We got the United Nations to carry out several vital surveys.
In the monetary field we established the Bank of Guyana and were the first government in a British colony to impose restriction on sterling.
We had a proud pro-labour record. The now famous "Kaldor" budget of 1962 had as its aim the redistribution of income; we wanted the shifting of the tax burden from the poor to those who could afford to pay.
The PPP government pioneered free medical care and established a network of health centres; we began a country-wide programme of immunization and the environmental sanitation scheme. We extended pure water supplies.
In the sugar estates the logies were tumbled down; they are now only a memory.
In Georgetown, we started cheap subsidized housing for the working people, with a minimum rental of $5 and the maximum of $17 per month, something the PNC government has not yet done despite all its propaganda about housing.
Towards the development of a national people's culture, we set up the University of Guyana, derogatorily dubbed "Jagan's night school" by the PNC; instituted a national History and Culture Week; established a national steel band; gave annual prizes for literature and art, and initiated dress reform - the shirt jac.
And we brought down the symbol of foreign domination, the Georgetown Golf Club. Its lease was terminated for a people's national park.
And in our draft independence Constitution. we inserted a Fundamental Rights section, including the right to vote at age 18.
Yes, ours was a new vision and a new approach. We made far-reaching innovations. We truly laid the foundations for change and for a free society.
That was the foundation which the PNC inherited. And what has it achieved with its unlimited power and all the advantages it had?
You have been told of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent, about a high growth rate, and so no. But what has it all really meant for the "small man"? For him, success is measured in terms of jobs, standard of living, peace of mind and security - security in old age and security at home and in the streets.
For the large majority of Guyanese housewives, life has become a nightmare. If it is not high prices, it is shortages. Also anywhere I go, it's always the same cry: "Doc, things bad."
A few weeks ago, a former PNC activist stopped me at the north-western gate of Bourda Market, opened her shopping bag and cried out: "look what $5 buy; wha you guine do about it?"
And the unemployment situation worsens daily. It's commonplace to find an advertisement for one job bringing out no less than 300 to 500 applicants for interviews.
And the results of the daily frustrations of living are plain for all to see - a growing crime rate, a bigger prison population, more mental cases and suicides, more émigrés.
Thousands, seeing no hope in the future, want to get out as fast as they can. The queues for passports and visas to emigrate are never ending; they get longer and longer.
Of course, we are asked to have faith in the future. The new PNC Development Plan, you are told, will solve all your future headaches; by 1976, you would be fed, clothed and housed.
To those of you who have been seduced into believing this propaganda, I say: "remember 1967." Then you were told that under a PNC government, there would be free milk and cassava; that not a soul would go to bed hungry. Remember how the last $300 million D-Plan was to have put us on the "New Road" and the "Highway to Happiness. " The new plan will fare no better; it will land us in a deeper hell than we are now in; things will definitely get worse - the inevitable result of the course charted by the PNC.
Don't let the big figures mesmerize you. Spending huge sums of money alone does not make for real progress. Far more important is the economic planning strategy and what is given priority and emphasis. This means a sound philosophy, correct policies and a revolutionary, anti-imperialist programme.
We have always said that the root cause of our ills was foreign ownership and domination. Unfortunately, political independence and republican status with the PNC in power have not materially altered the situation from colonial days .
The PPP believes in scientific socialism, not the PNC's illusory cooperative socialism.
We say: nationalize the commanding heights of the economy; we are against playing the so-called "partnership" game with imperialism.
We say: put emphasis on industry and agriculture and not on infrastructure. And to achieve this we advocate foreign policy based on the closest cooperation with the socialist world.
Our land reform policy will place the land in the hands of the tillers.
And we will deal ruthlessly with corruption and discrimination.
We believe in the fullest development of our human resources and the meaningful involvement of the workers, farmers and intellectuals.
We give you these broad outlines of your programme because it has been charged that we are irresponsible and have nothing to offer.
They also say that we are planning violence, that we want to disrupt the peace. I am sure you are not fooled by these falsehoods. You know very well who, to serve personal ends, started the violence in the 1960s.
Recall the terrorist plan, X-13, and the large quantities of detonators found buried in a certain yard. Remember Peter Owen, former Commissioner of Police, describing in 1964 the PNC as "an organized thuggery which is centrally directed." In fact, you also know that it is the sense of responsibility of the PPP leadership which has preserved the peace - responsibility in the face of gross discrimination against, and provocation of, our supporters, the pulling down of their homes, constant police harassments, arrests and raids as well as the unleashing against workers of terror, tear gas and police dogs.
With the PPP, you know where we stand; we are consistently behind you.
Ever since the mid-1940s, we fought relentlessly against terror and intimidation to win for you the right to vote. Don't let the professionally-trained riggers deprive you of this sacred right. Turn out as never before. On Monday, July 16, record a massive vote of no-confidence against our common enemy, the PNC, and send them reeling out of office. Vote solidly for your party, the PPP.
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
Once again Muslims throughout Guyana will be celebrating the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr which climaxes the period of fasting of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
This period of fasting is associated with self-denial, remembrance of the sufferings and sorrows of humanity and a dedication to service.
It is good that this is so. For in these times in which we live, strength of purpose and will, and a rededication to principles is paramount. Now more than ever, it is necessary in Guyana and the world to resist with unity and unshakable will the injustices, corruption, discriminations fraud, oppression and attack on Human Rights which have become so common in certain high quarters.
Today on this great Festivals I offer to our Muslim brethren in every part of Guyana our sincere good wishes. Eid Mubarak!
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000
by Cheddi Jagan
Sugar workers not only get low wages. Engaged mostly in task or piece work, they suffer exploitation from low rates and speed-up. And because of MPCA-company unionism, the sugar planters generally take advantage of the certain variable factors - soil conditions, moisture, etc. to change the task rates.
But the greatest hardship facing workers is the lack of work, thus the lack of income, in non-grinding periods. Two or three days work per week cannot sustain a family, especially under today's daily rise in the prices of consumer necessities.
What is needed is a minimum guaranteed wage; work or no work. This has been instituted in several countries. The workers and their militant unions have fought and obtained this right as a condition of their employment. And this right must be fought for in Guyana. After all, it is not the role of the workers only to slave while the employers continue to make huge profits.
The sugar planters must accept blame and responsibility for the present plight of the sugar workers. At the latter's expense, the former continue to modernize and mechanize and to export raw products - rum, molasses and dark sugar to be processed and manufactured abroad.
From the days of slavery, raw sugar is still being sent abroad and sent back as refined sugar. Rum and molasses are sold overseas at dirt-cheap prices - about $2 per gallon for high-proof alcohol and about 50 cents per gallon for molasses.
The sugar industry can provide more jobs and the workers have to struggle for this. Take Cuba as an example. Before the Castro revolution, the sugar workers suffered from the usual problems affecting Guyanese workers - poor living and working conditions and high unemployment.
Today, there is no more unemployment. Cuba has a labour shortage problem. Civil servants have to volunteer one week's labour every month to help with cane-cutting.
The unemployment problem has been licked in Cuba because a transformation has taken place in the countryside. Ever sugar estate has become a hive of activity and the centre of a huge agro-industrial complex. Waste and by-products of sugar are now being used to establish other industries for the enhancement of national income and employment opportunities. As much income is earned from by-products of sugar as from sugar itself.
A factory converts molasses into high-protein yeast. Molasses, yeast, bagasse (burnt in Guyana) and fish meal (produced from fish waste from an expanded fishing industry) produce a cheap stockfeed, which has revolutionized the livestock and dairy industry.
Guyana has to pay in cash for the buses bought from Leland Motors of Great Britain. Cuba pays for buses from the same company by the sale of eggs, millions of which are produced yearly by chickens feeding on cheap stockfeed.
Then there is the cattle - beef and dairy - industries. Here again cheap stockfeed has radically changed the situation.
Beef cattle not only provide beef, but the raw material for many related industries - leather, medicinal, etc.
From milk, there are the dairy industries - butter, cheese, ice cream, condensed milk, etc.
Little wonder that Dr Iton, Chief Livestock Officer of the Trinidad delegation which visited Cuba told the press that Cuba had made more progress in ten years in the livestock industry than Trinidad had made in fifty years.
Norman Girwar, the manager of Trinidad's Cane Farmers Association, after a visit to Cuba in 1971 told newsmen that "the Cuban experience indicates that a greater measure of diversification of the economy and the dedication and commitment of its people to nation-building hold lessons for us which might be followed by profit in Trinidad and Tobago."
Mr Girwar went on to say that Cuba had more than seven million head of high grade cattle and the total area for cattle farming was greater than that for sugar cane. In addition, large acreages was under citrus, corn, tobacco, pineapple and coffee. Nickle and copper were being mined and an increasing quantity of petroleum was being won.
He observed also that there was no unemployment, no begging in the streets. A cane farmer lived in a house a little less comfortable than that of a general manager of a factory.
In Guyana, on the other hand, there is not progress but retrogression under the PNC and the poor are getting poorer. Rene Dumont, FAO agronomist had recommended that Guyana should concentrate on the dairy industry. We have a captive market, he said. About $8 million of milk and milk products are imported into Guyana annually. But under the PNC regime, which penalize the farmers, milk production is going down.
In Guyana, the problems of the people are compounding. Apart from unemployment, there are rising prices and cut in educational and health services.
In Cuba, on the other hand, one is constantly hearing of more and more benefits and free services for the people.
In addition to previous tree-of-charge services (in housing, education, popular participation in sports), there have been added the following items to the free or nearly-free list.
1. Nursery schools, entirely free of charge since January, 1967, including pedagogical and medical care, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in some, bed and board for six days of the week.
2. Free admission to all types of national sporting events.
3. Reduction of urban bus fares.
4. Elimination of the tunnel fare under Havana Bay (the only installation of 800 additional public telephones).
6. Completely free funeral services (since August 1967).
7. Elimination of the tax on water on all kinds of dwellings.
8. Elimination of a series of taxes on the peasant population (which had been paid by the private peasants).
To all this, we must add free education from grade school to the university, including technological training; public medicine on a nation-wide scale; reduction of charges for electricity and private telephones (earlier achievements).
The coming years will bring the elimination of payments in Cuba's clinic or "mutualist" system, the elimination of all rents (on dwellings whose owners still pay rent) for all dwellings throughout the country, without forgetting that the Revolution had already reduced rents by 40 to 50%.
The latest praise for Cuba has come from a study by the Twentieth Century Fund. Entitled "The Alliance that lost its way," the study stated that Cuba had come closer to some goals of the Alliance for Progress than most of the Latin American countries, and in health and education, the Castro Government had carried out more ambitious and nationally comprehensive programmes than any of the other Latin American counties.
Guyana must follow the lead of Cuba. Sugar faces a difficult future with Britain's proposed entry into the European Common Market. The sugar planters will either curtail production or go into further mechanization. In either case the workers will suffer.
While the sugar workers are fighting for reforms - increased wages, profit-sharing, better working and living conditions - they must demand revolutionary changes. This means firstly, the nationalization of the sugar industry; and secondly, transformation as has been carried out in Cuba.
April 14, 1972
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000