Cheddi Jagan Research Centre
Dedicated to Cheddi & Janet Jagan
CJRC Banner

Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan

By Ashton Chase - March 2013

Opening Remarks

This afternoon we will be going into the upbringing life and work of Cheddi Berret Jagan.  I am conscious that many consider this history and are of the view that we should leave it aside and concentrate on the present and on the future.    Good as it is to attend to the latter, I take the view that history is important.  Knowledge of it helps us to plan for the future and to avoid errors of the past.   It is also of great importance in my view that periodic and due review should be given to the work of such a distinguished personality and particularly to someone who up to today and for many years to come will be significantly and properly characterized as the greatest political leader our Guyana has seen.  

Cheddi B. Jagan was born in Port Mourant, Corentyne, on 22nd March, 1918 of humble parentage whose forebears were brought to the Country from India as Indentured Servants.  Living on a Sugar Estate in British Guiana in those days was nothing to be cherished.  His father worked at the Port Mourant Sugar Estate.  Many of you may not know what a Logie looked liked and I have no doubt it is beyond your imagination.

Nevertheless he took in his basic primary education and through the financial efforts of his father he later attended the then exclusive ‘Queen’s College’ and qualified at the then secondary examination.  Unable to get work in Georgetown, he proceeded to the United States of America where he worked and paid for his further education.  At Northwestern University in Chicago he achieved his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), and from the Central YMCA College, in Chicago, USA. his Bachelor of Science Degree(B.Sc).

During his stay in the U.S.A, private social studies and association helped develop his political ideas.   As the Marxist Glossary described it, he accepted Socialism as the social order which, through revolutionary action of the working class and its allies will replace capitalism.  To him it was the social order in which the exploitation of man by man would be ended because the toiling masses would own the means of production.   It led to a classless society in the sense that there would be no exploiting and exploited classes.

He was also convinced that before this stage could be reached in his Country the shackles of colonialism had first to be demolished and the people’s Government duly installed in office and in power.

He therefore returned to British Guiana in 1943 with qualifications that enabled him to be admitted to practise as a dentist which he did with distinction, and with convictions as to the political future of his Country.  Before returning home, however, he was married to Janet Rosenberg, a nurse, who herself had imbibed Socialist Doctrine and Philosophy and was dedicated to its cause.

Shortly after his return to British Guiana he showed interest in both politics and the trade union movement of the Country.  In 1946 he played a leading role in the formation of the P.A.C (Political Affairs Committee).  This was a small group which with the aid of a Newsletter concentrated on improving trade union unity and strength and in generating political awareness to struggle for the end of colonialism in the Country.

In 1947 he was elected to our Legislative Assembly through the East Demerara Electoral District No. 6 that comprised of part of East Coast Demerara including Buxton.  Needless to say that at that time we did not have adult suffrage.  The property qualifications for voters and electors restricted our Legislative Assembly to Capitalists, Landlords and Professionals.  One of the contestants whom Dr. Jagan defeated was Mr. John I. D’Aguiar – a Capitalist.

Our Dr. partly succeeded through his exemplifying four criteria, viz 1. Full Awareness of Working-Class Conditions and Problems; 2. Knowledge of comparative Governments and Legislation;  3.  Identity with Labour’s grievances and aspirations, and vitally No. 4. Sincerity and Honesty of Purpose.

The Legislative Assembly before his entrance was a pristine body.  It was a symbolism of dignity.  Through Dr. Jagan‘s pungent speeches there the solemnity of the Assembly was shaken and dissolved.

He stoutly represented and defended Rice Producers, Peasant Cane Farmers, and the rights of all groups of workers.  He also used the forum to punctuate the need for adult suffrage to enable all adults to vote, their monetary incomes not to form any part of their qualifications.  Those who could see far enough would know what his aim was regarding the composition of such bodies and would also see that Dr. Jagan did not have race in his agenda.

In 1946 Dr. Jagan  became Treasurer of the M.P.C.A. (Manpower Citizens Association).  However he shortly thereafter resigned that position as despite his agitation and arguments he could not articulate that Union’s Executive to take militant action in the interest of the workers’ causes.  He went on thereafter to help Dr. Latchmansingh (and Mrs. Jane Phillips-Gay) in the establishment of the G.I.W.U. (the Guiana Industrial Workers Union) later the GAWU to struggle for its recognition and improvements in the conditions of work and wages for sugar workers.

I will be proceeding to refer to some of Dr. Jagan’s contributions to the Trade Union movement.  It might be due to my association with him in this field or to convenience treating with this here. 

At the end I will return to Dr. Jagan’s further political career.  But permit me also to interject here that whenever here or in his political career P.A.C. or Mrs. Jagan is mentioned his contribution ought be taken into account.  For the benefit of the ladies here, let me say that in his activities on both fronts Dr. Jagan had the full and undivided support and contribution from his wife – Janet.  The marriage was a successful partnership.  Let me with your leave also add here that because of their public commitments their two children (Cheddi, Jr (Joe) and Nadira) did not have the overwhelming love and affection of their parents that other kids at that age may have had from theirs, but not much was lost as they both turned out to be fine qualified citizens, the elder qualifying as a dentist like his father.

Between 1947 and 1948 there were three very important labour strikes in this Country that left their mark in the industrial field and in which the above characters played a very important part.  There were the Bauxite Strike, The Teare Strike and the Enmore Strike.

The Bauxite strike lasted nearly 2 months, but it ended in a new trade union agreement being signed with the M.P.C.A., a State appointed Committee that ushered in improvements in working conditions such as to vacation leave where employees were only getting 6 days vacation leave per year and they had to be working for 12 years with the Bauxite Company to get 12 days vacation leave.  More importantly, unions were permitted thereafter to hold meetings at McKenzie which they could not do before and the discrimination that prevented locals from being in Watooka after dark (except in certain exceptional circumstances) came to an end.

The support of the P.A.C. through its publicity organ and in raising funds to help the strikers as trade unions did not have such resources in those days were important contributory factors to the result of the strike.

The Teare Strike only lasted 3 days.  It was called by the Transport Workers Union to arrest the T & H.D. attempt to break up the Union.  Three leading Union Officers Messrs John H. Pollydore, Ivan Edwards and Hendricks were being transferred from Georgetown to Essequibo and Berbice with 3 days notice.  There was also an insistence on the Department’s Personnel Officer attending the meetings of the Union.  In the end Colonel Teare, the T & H.D. Manager from the U.K. had to go and the check off system for trade union dues was introduced through this strike.
P.A.C. commendation and support were apparent.

The third strike began in April 1948 and lasted for about 2 months.  Ostensibly it was over an opposition to “cut and load” vs. “cut and drop” but the real base was the demand for recognition of the G.I.W.U.

Needless to say it was the P.A.C.’s ‘soup of kitchens’ to feed those concerned and its successful fund raising efforts that played a vital part herein.  Dr. Jagan’s advocacy, speeches and organization throughout the sugar belt strengthened support for strike.

As you are no doubt aware, five sugar workers were killed by police guns (as a Committee found) towards the end of the strike.  It is through the Union and later the P.P.P. that annual commemorations are held to mark this effort.  The five martyrs are still being honoured yearly.

Following the strike two Commissions were set up.  One under Justice Bolland before which both Dr. Jagan and Dr. Latchmansingh declined to give evidence.  The second was set up by the Secretary of the State for the Colonies in the United Kingdom (the Venn Commission) and its recommendations made significant improvements in the following among other areas – It ended child labour in the Sugar Industry and improved the conditions of work of women; Transport Services for persons working in the far backdams were introduced;  Ranges (i.e. logies)  were cleared and new proper housing schemes established throughout the Sugar Industry belt, it caused amendment to the Workmen’s Compensation Act as the “wives” of Hindu marriages who were not recognized under that Act became eligible for benefits if their ‘husbands’ died by accident at work and importantly the foundations for a pension scheme for the Industry workers were laid.

Dr. Jagan was the only medically qualified practitioner to be a member of the Guyana Trades Union Council.  He represented his Trade Union there for a relatively short period. 
Dr. Jagan in 1950-1 as President of the Sawmill & Forest Workers Union gave evidence before the Cost of Living Advisory Committee appointed by the State in 1950.  His knowledge and treatment of statistics were remarkable.   (Incidentally he also made use of this ability in Legislative Assembly).  The Committee recommended and this was implemented that the Cost of Living Index be replaced by a Retail Prices Index.

He also supported the 1952 Labour (Conditions of Employment of Certain Workers) Ordinance in the Legislative Assembly.   Shop Assistants and Clerks benefitted from this.  He sought among other amendments to have included in this Act a half day off for every Sunday worked, but this amendment was not accepted.

Also in 1952 when our Trade Unions held a Rally at the Parade Ground to protest and bring an end to the dumping of Milk by the Government he was the only Legislator there and on invitation gave a pungent address supporting the Unions’ cause.

It should also be noted that while the State of Emergency was in force from 1953 that in 1955 the Sawmill and Forest Workers Union of which he was President held its Conference in Bartica but he could not attend it because of the embargo placed in him.

Such was his dislike of fraud that in the very year he caused that Union Secretary to be reported for falsification of Union accounts to which he pleaded guilty and for which he was fined and bonded for six (6) months.

Due to time, I only note en passant the full co-operation and support of NACCIE (of which I was then President) received from the G.A.W.U. in the Sugar Industry of which Dr. Jagan was Honorary President.

The reference to the G.I.W.U could not be ended without noting that divisions took place therein after there was a split in the PPP in the mid 1950’s when Dr Latchmansingh went with the Burnhan PPP  but whichever side Dr. Jagan was on won the day.  The Guyana Sugar Workers Union was formed and later renamed Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) in 1962.  Still later the another name that followed was the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union, but it maintained the initials (G.A.W.U.).  In 1975 a poll was held and in the result the GAWU was recognized and begun negotiations from February 1976 for the Sugar Workers.

To revert mainly to the political side, after winning that seat in the Legislative Assembly, it became clear to him and to the P.A.C. that the time had arrived for the establishment of a Political Party to represent the interests of the working class.  The Labour Party which he joined did not survive for long and it disintegrated.   It is against this background that Dr. Jagan and his cohorts established the Peoples’ Progressive Party in 1950.  It was well organized and had substantial support.  The immediate objective of the Party was to have the working class enfranchised, terminate colonialism here and secure independence for the Country.

The Waddington Commission appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies came here in 1951 and received representation from various groups.  Dr. Jagan was a strong advocate for adult suffrage so that all persons then aged 21 years and over regardless of their incomes should have a say in the selection of the Government of the Country.  It was as result of the recommendation of this Commission that universal adult suffrage was introduced in British Guiana.

In 1953 the first General Elections under adult suffrage were held in British Guiana.  By then new Constitutional arrangements were prescribed providing for Ministerial appointments and setting the stage for self government.

Apart from the comprehensive organization of the P.P.P. (the People’s Progressive Party) Dr. Jagan’s advocacy and his struggles for improvement in the standard of living of the workers were a significant factor in the results of that first Election.  The PPP won 18 out of 24 seats in the Legislative Council, and won the right to propose the Ministerial appointments.

Immediately after those Elections a difference arose in the PPP over Hon. L.F.S. Burnham’s claim to be put forward as the Ministerial Leader and therefore Leader of the Government.  He was then Chairman of the PPP.  True, he had made a worthwhile contribution, but it was Dr. Jagan who had done the ground work for the Party and it was his vigilant representation in Legislative Assembly and elsewhere that laid the foundation for this victory by the PPP.

The difference held up the opening of the Legislative Council and the appointment by the Party of Ministerial nominees to which it was entitled.  After some time had elapsed and by virtue of a conciliatory approach by your humble servant a settlement was reached giving Dr. Jagan his due and the Party’s Ministerial nominees were appointed to their posts by the Governor.  The Government proceeded on its mission.

Dr. Jagan was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Honourable Burnham was appointed Minister of Education.   The other Ministerial appointees were Mr. Sydney King (now Eusi Kwayana), Dr. J.P. Latchmansingh, Mr. Jainarine Singh and your humble servant.  We worked harmoniously and well together as Party Ministers.

I have written a booklet entitled “133 Days Towards Freedom” that sets out what each of the above Ministers accomplished during the short time they held office.  Hence, I will not set them out here, but putting self praise aside, they were noteworthy and praiseworthy.

The Constitution was suspended by the British on the 9th October, 1953 and all the Ministerial appointments revoked on that date.  A State of Emergency was declared by the Governor.
British troops were sent into the Country before that day and deployed to various parts.  When a couple of days before the 9th October, 1953, Dr. Jagan protested this in the Legislative Council where some of them could be seen, the Speaker Sir Eustace Woolford responded that he was not officially informed that British troops were in the Country.

While Dr. Jagan represented the East Demerara Constituency to which reference was earlier made he was precluded from going on the Sugar Estates there where some of his constituents resided.  He vigorously opposed this discrimination.

Following the suspension of the Constitution Dr. Jagan was banned from going beyond his residential area (Greater Georgetown).   He defied this ban.  He was arrested, charged and sentenced to six months imprisonment.

It was ironic that his wife, Janet, who was later charged and sentenced to six months imprisonment  on a virtual political charge started to serve her imprisonment on the same day that her husband, Dr. Jagan completed his term of imprisonment.

None of this daunted them.  Their activities continued for the restoration of democracy and for the freedom of this Country.  Although for sometime thereafter their movement outside of today’s Greater Georgetown was restricted they found ways and means of getting their messages and exhortations  to the working class far outside the area of their limitation.  

Dr. Jagan’s determination was unshaken.  Many of his comrades were detained at Sibley Hall, Essequibo, but he campaigned for their discharge.

In 1954 the British set up a one Chamber Legislative Assembly with handpicked Guyanese loyalist.

The British suspension was later declared to be on the basis that Dr. Jagan, his Government and the PPP were misusing their offices etc.  to set up a Communist State in British Guiana.  The British had strong backing in this from the USA Government as well as later in their introducing Proportional Representation (PR) voting aimed at getting rid of the PPP from Government.

After the suspension of the Constitution in 1953 Dr. Jagan and Chairman Mr. L.F.S. Burnham travelled to London to meet Leaders of the Labour Party and others to put our people’s case to them and to rebut the misrepresentations that  the Conservative Government was stigmatizing us with.  From there they went to India to meet its famous Prime Minister  J. Nehru and others to put our case to the Indian Government and seek their assistance. 

In 1955 the PPP was fractured.  Immediately thereafter there were established the Jagan PPP and the Burnham PPP.  Both parties (with others) contested the 1957 Elections and it was Jagan PPP that triumphed.  (Immediately thereafter Burnham’s wing quashed its name and set up the People’s National Congress (PNC).

In 1957 an elected Legislature was restored and it was the PPP with Dr. Jagan at its head that won the right to govern - against much opposition.

From 1957 to 1963 Dr. Jagan formed and headed the Government of the Country. 
It was during this point that the statue to the founder of trade unionism in British Guiana- Hubert N. Critchlow - was erected in the compound of Parliament Building.  Dr. Jagan’s principal rival was very critical of this and boasted of its removal when he got into power - but it is still there up to today.

It should also be remembered  that it was during this period that Dr. Jagan founded and established the University  of Guyana.   His aim was to the future because it has grown to be of great service to future generations.  Few here will know that at its start in the compound of Queen’s College it was branded by Dr. Jagan’s opponents as “Jagan Night School”.   History has credited it as being a worthwhile achievement.  He also played a part in its present location.     
Some vital pieces of Legislation were passed and efforts made to improve the economy of the Country.  Dr. Jagan pressed the British for independence and this resulted in Conferences being held in London chaired by the Minister for Colonial Affairs.

Mr. Tasker a Bookers official had calculated that if there were P.R. here it would be a means of ridding the Country of a Government of Dr. Jagan and the PPP.   The coalition parties of Burnham and D’Aguiar agreed to this.  Towards the end of the above Conferences with deadlock between the two sides the U.K. Minister for Colonial Affairs offered to arbitrate.   Dr. Jagan influenced by Jomo Kenyatta (of Kenya) as to what could be the result of such arbitration agreed to it.  It was after this that P.R. was introduced here and that was to be followed by Independence.

Dr. Jagan was shocked at the P.R. ruling.  Nonetheless it was introduced and elections took place in which the PPP got the largest set of votes but by the combination of the PNC and Mr. D’Aguiar’s United Force Party they formed the Government with Honourable L.F.S. Burnham as Prime Minister.  Dr. Jagan became thereafter the Leader of the Opposition. 

Honourable Burnham remained in Office from 1963 until his death in 1985.  His party remained in Office until 1992.  His Party being in Office for this extended period was due to rigged elections.  Both the Elections held under his rule and a referendum were fraudulently conducted.  Dr. Jagan at all times condemned this and canvassed for fair and free elections.  He conducted a responsible Opposition but Governments both on this side of the Atlantic and in the U.K. did not respond positively to the call for fair and free elections.

The Country did not benefit from this imposition.  Some worthwhile instances apart, due to indebtedness there were at times no flour and other vital goods that were normally available in the Country, there was an upsurge of migration, particularly to the U.S.A., overseas indebtedness climbed upwards, bauxite although nationalized plummeted, so did  rice production, there was no housing development and standards of living declined.

The Electoral crisis was aggravated by the Government’s introduction of the National Registration Act, 1967 and the Regulations thereto. The Legislation endorsed and promoted overseas voting, circumvention and derogation of the authority of the Elections Commission (giving the Minister of Home Affairs vital power in the actual conduct of Elections) and promoted the incidence of proxy voting.

Dr. Jagan never gave up.  He opposed all the foregoing.  In the course of the protests at these rigged elections 3 Guyanese were shot and killed on the Corentyne.

When at long last the American Government listened and their former President Carter came here, President Burnham’s successor Honourable H.D. Hoyte agreed to supervised general elections.  These were held in 1992 and resulted in Dr. Jagan and the PPP being substantially  returned to office and power.

Dr. Jagan passed away from natural causes in March 1997.  By then, a clean Government was established by him. He introduced measures to cause the Country’s overwhelmingly burdensome debt to start to decline; he then established the foundation for an improved economy in the Country and thanks to him we witnessed the standard of living positively improving for Workers and Farmers.

The Labour Relations Bill was first introduced and passed by the Lower House on the last day of the 1953 PPP Government.  Due to the suspension of the Constitution this Law similar to the U.S Wagner Act was not enacted.  A further effort by Dr. Jagan when at the termination of the suspension of the Constitution his party was again returned to office was unsuccessfully made.  It was not until after Dr. Jagan’s passing that Act No. 33 of 1997 – the Trade Union Recognition Act 1997 was passed to give effect to certification of recognized majority Trade Unions.  Honourable Sam Hinds the then President of the Republic had the honour of assenting to same in October, 1997.

There were many other people’s issues that Dr. Jagan championed.  What the British did not do for Amerindians Dr. Jagan and his party canvassed on their behalf.  When the Amerindians Lands Commission Bill of 1966 was introduced by the then Government, Dr. Jagan attacked it for not carrying out the letter or the spirit of the decisions embodied in the Report of the 1965 British Guiana Independence Conference.  It was Dr. Jagan’s successors in the PPP who were the first to appoint Amerindians to be Ministers in the Government of this Country.

Among Dr. Jagan’s demands while in the opposition was that for Hire Purchase Legislation to protect purchasers.  A Bill to effect this was on the PPP Government last Order Paper but before it could be dealt with the Government was changed, nonetheless he pressed his successors to introduce this Law.

He also struggled while out of Government for Local Government democracy, for the protection and advancement of civil servants and was vehement in his criticisms of Budgets presented by various Ministers of Finance especially where they made concessions to the capitalists and trampled on the rights of workers.

The frequent and long extensions of the State of Emergency was the subject of bitter attacks by him.  Under these Regulations after Honourable Burnham came into power several PPP supporters remained detained at Sibley Hall.  Fundamental Rights in our Constitution were in effect suspended, and the rule of Government by force rather than by consent was viciously attacked by Dr. Jagan.

As was pointed out a short time ago the 1992 Elections saw the return of Dr. Jagan to the Government after 28 years in the Opposition.  The 1992 Elections proved - if proof was needed - that the immediately preceding General  Elections under the P.N.C. were fraudulent.
Despite that, there has been no hint or word of regret or apology by that Political Party.  Hon. Burnham could not do it alone and the onus rested on those with him and succeeding him to make amends and to pledge its non repetition.

Their failure to do so leaves a great deal to be desired.

No tribute to Dr. Jagan could  be completed without recording his written work.  Apart from his hundreds of articles he has left books and other writings that will enlighten Guyanese and others.
The books are:-

              Forbidden Freedom – The Story of British Guiana;

          The West on Trial – My Fight for Guyana’s Freedom;

          Selected Speeches -   1992  -  1994;

          Trade Unions and National Liberation;

          The USA in South America


      A New Global Human Order.

The last has confirmed him as being internationally famous.  It points the way of alleviating poverty in Countries and raising the down trodden from their poor and humiliating state to standards of well being.  The UN apart, Political Leaders the World over have recognized and honoured him for this magnificent production.

His work was marvellous, and our deepest regret is his passing so soon after being returned to head the Government depriving us of his eminent leadership.  There was conferred on him posthumously our highest national award.

He has carved a niche for himself in our history and remains today and will remain for an indefinite time the greatest political leader our Country has produced.    

Thank you.



by Peeping Tom

A few years ago, declassified documents published under the review of U.S. Foreign Relations confirmed that regionalism was simply a pawn for Forbes Burnham to consolidate his grip on power in Guyana.

These documents went further. They explained that there was a plot by Burnham to create a union with St. Vincent which would allow Burnham to offset the racial imbalance in Guyana that militated against him winning the 1968 elections.

However, long before that, in fact on September 11, 1967, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) declassified a Special National Intelligence Estimate, 89.2-67, in which the following was noted:
“Burnham, whose coalition with the small, conservative United Force (UF) has always been fragile, is working on various schemes to enlarge the Negro vote. He will try to obtain a substantial number of absentee votes from Negro Guyanese residing abroad. Beyond this, he is exploring means to merge Guyana with one or another Caribbean island (most likely St. Vincent) so as to increase the proportion of Negro voters.”

This was virtually confirmed during a visit to Guyana by a former Prime Minister of St Vincent, it was mentioned that Guyana had attempted in those years, under Burnham, to forge a union with St. Vincent.

What these revelations unearth was the use by Burnham of the race card so that he could be assured of winning an election in Guyana against the PPP which was heavily supported by the East Indian community. Burnham never succeeded in forging such a union and instead had to revert to rigging election after election in order to retain political power.

But in exposing his hand, he also revealed his lack of sincerity to his regional counterparts who, over time, became highly suspicious of Burnham’s own intentions, seeing him as using the regional integration movement for his own benefit and being fearful of a perceived ambition on his part to become Prime Minister of a united CARICOM.

As more and more documents are declassified, Burnham’s record and motivations as regards regional integration are likely to face testing scrutiny. In this context, it is highly ironic that revisionists have sought to instead cast the glare on Cheddi Jagan, accusing him of not supporting Federation because of ethnic considerations.

Cheddi Jagan, himself, had been soundly criticized by elements of the middle-class East Indian community for having supported regional integration even before he had become Premier. He was accused of selling out the interests of East Indians by the support he had given to regional integration, long before he became Premier.

The PPP’s position on Federation has always been consistent. Jagan supported regional integration even before the PPP was established. His position, however, has always been conditioned by his Marxist outlook. He saw regional integration within the context of creating a socialist and independent Caribbean.

Jagan viewed regional integration in an ideological context rather than on ethnic grounds.
The PPP, which he headed, was wary of the possibility of the West seeking to stem the influence of Cuba, by creating an amalgamated Caribbean Union which would amount to nothing more than an enlarged colony.

Since the days of the Political Affairs Committee, Jagan had argued for a Federation with dominion status and self-government, instead of a union with a crown colony government.
He would later argue for regional integration to be tied to independence. Cheddi saw the pitfalls that would emerge from Federation without either dominion status or independence. Federation would amount to nothing more than a commonwealth of colonial states in the Caribbean, tied to the interests of Britain, which would use the movement to deny rather than promote political independence.

Burnham on the other hand, as negotiations for Guyana’s Independence got underway, called for independence only within federation. In effect, he was interested in Guyana being granted independence only under Federation.

His objectives were obvious. He did not wish for Jagan to have the honour of negotiating for Independence, since this would erode any chance he may have had of gaining power.
It was not Cheddi’s refusal to be part of the flawed Federation which caused it to collapse. In fact, Cheddi was vindicated by that collapse, since the movement ended up being nothing more than a façade of integration.

By the time Jamaica washed its hands of the experiment, the Federation was long dead.
One of the region’s foremost advocates for Federation was CLR James. He saw Federation as a vehicle for achieving political independence for the Caribbean. Jagan saw Federation as only being viable either with dominion status or independence.

But James, who was critical of the stance that Jagan took in relation to Federation, never accused him of embracing an ethnic position. This is what he had to say about Jagan:
“…Dr Jagan is no petty racialist, not at all. I am unalterably opposed to the political philosophy which he accepts. I am unalterably opposed to its methods. I have told him so in person. And therefore there is no reason why I should not say so in public. He has not hidden his views; there is no reason for me to hide mine.

“But in regard to his aims for British Guiana, and for the West Indies as a whole, they are those of an enlightened modern person. He is not counting up how many Indians, and how many Africans and how many acres of land, and basing the future of British Guiana on that. Some of his supporters might be doing that, but his general view is not that at all.”
There is therefore not one grain of truth in the speculation that Jagan was opposed to Federation, because it would marginalize East Indians on whose support he depended. The uninformed revisionists who are making this claim have axes to grind.

March 15, 2013 | By KNews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom


Tribute to Comrade Cheddi Jagan by the Women’s Progressive Organization - Babu John, March 3, 2013

On March 6, 1997, Guyana lost the physical form of its greatest Hero and Patriot, Comrade Cheddi Jagan.  But even as we mourned his passing, we gained strength from the fact that his spirit would always be there to guide us through his great deeds and visionary ideas.

The Women’s Progressive Organisation was blessed by the inspiration given to it by Comrade Cheddi since its formation nearly sixty years ago on May 27, 1953.

By then, Comrade Cheddi had already sounded the call for an end to the inequality practiced against women and had been encouraging women to stand up for their rights.  He worked side by side with Comrade Janet Jagan to like the struggle for Equality for women with the wider struggle to liberate our country and to improve the lives of the Guyanese masses.

Today, as we recognize the numerous gains in these struggles, we must remember the selfless sacrifices and dedicated struggles of Comrade Cheddi.

He was the Liberator of our country from British colonial rule.  He was not deterred by imprisonment or forceful removal from the office.  Instead their attacks only served to strengthen his resolve.

After Independence, He continued the fight against the PNC dictatorship.  When many were giving up hope, he remained steadfast and inspired the people to realize that with persistent struggle, victory was inevitable.

His victories were many.  But he never stopped. For him, each new victory was another step for the improvement of the working and living conditions of all Guyanese.

After he led the PPP-Civic to victory in 1992, Comrade Cheddi started the monumental task of rebuilding a ruined country.  Even though his untimely death prevented him from completing his five year term, the achievements were tremendous.

Not only did Comrade Cheddi set the course with rapid economic growth, but he demanded and ensured that such growth translated to effective benefits for the masses.  He paid special attention to the health and education sectors as the basis for physical and mental development of the people and started the massive programme of wide-scale provision of house lots to people in need.

Very importantly also, Comrade Cheddi restored the human and civil rights which were suppressed under the PNC dictatorship.  He created a new air of Freedom for the individuals and spread the democratic gains to communities across the countries by holding free and fair local government elections.

March 6, 1997 was indeed a tragic day for all Guyanese when the Father of our Nation passed away.  He departed much too early, but he left a great foundation.

The WPO remains firmly committed to the high ideals of our Great Leader.  We are especially encouraged by his exemplary personal and public life.  His honesty and integrity were beyond question.  He was and is a model for young and old alike.

As life poses new challenges, Guyanese need to remain faithful to Comrade Cheddi’s ideals.

Long live the memory of Comrade Cheddi Jagan!

May he continue to guide and inspire us to greater achievements for the good off our people!



March 23, 2016 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom 


There is something called false equivalence. This is when two things are presented as the same when in fact they are not.

False equivalence is a fallacy, and this fallacy was exemplified by equating the call, by the PPP, for the firing of the Minister of Public Security, following the prison riots, with the demand, by APNU in 2012 for the then Minister of Home Affairs to be removed from office after the incident on the Wismar Bridge in which three persons were killed by gunfire.

APNU and the AFC had attempted to argue that a minister was responsible for the actions of the agencies that fell under him even if he was not in direct command, and that by virtue of this doctrine of ministerial responsibility, the then Minister of Home Affairs should resign.

The basis for the call for the removal of the present Minister of Public Security, by the People’s Progressive Party, is not based on that doctrine of ministerial responsibility. It is based on what the PPP sees as the failure of the Ministry of Public Security to prevent the riots. This is completely different from the doctrine of ministerial responsibility. It is therefore a mismatch to equate the two scenarios.

Recently declassified documents have nailed a lie which was being peddled by some supporters of the PNC. These supporters had contended that the Guyana Defence Force had trained members of the New Jewel Movement, prior to the toppling of then Prime Minister of Grenada Eric Gairy.
It is also a case of false equivalency to contend that the Caribbean was in a revolutionary upheaval at the time of the Grenada Revolution. This argument is self-serving, because it attempts to reduce the culpability of the People’s National Congress Reform for the death of Dr. Walter Rodney, by placing Rodney’s assassination in the context of revolutionary upheaval in the Caribbean.

The assassination of Rodney took place in the context of revolutionary change in Iran and Nicaragua. But the changes that took place in the Caricom region at that time were not revolutionary changes. The toppling of the regime in Suriname was a military coup and not a revolution.  There was a political insurrection, not a revolutionary insurrection, in Trinidad and Tobago. The incident in Grenada was no revolution. It was a coup.

The toppling of the Eric Gairy regime by the New Jewel Movement was a pseudo–revolution. The leaders did intend revolutionary change, but they had neither the means nor the expertise to undertake such a task. Maurice Bishop and his band of merry men did not have a clue of what to do to create a socialist state in a small island. They bit off more than they could chew and the so-called revolution ended up revolting against itself.

It is also a case of false equivalency to try to speculate what may have happened if the leaders who led the countries of the Caribbean to political independence had not become reformists. The leaders of the English-speaking Caribbean that led their countries to Independence, without exception, were reformists.

None of them, including Forbes Burnham, had any revolutionary mettle. All of them were reformists. They were ill-prepared to challenge imperialism because they were not revolutionaries.

The English-speaking Caribbean had one revolutionary leader that held power, but he did not lead his country to Independence. In fact, he was deposed by the imperialism. He was the only true revolutionary among the Caribbean leaders and he is so recognized in the world.

That leader was Cheddi Jagan. The rest of them were political reformists who could never create revolution or bring about revolutionary change.