Speeches made at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre
By Earl Bousquet
(The annual Cheddi Jagan Memorial Lecture was held at Red House on March 22, 2011 and the feature address, which follows, was given by Earl Bousquet)
Any real story must start from the beginning. My story with Cheddi started from my very beginning. It was 1966 and I was 10 (ten) years old. I had two uncles in the then pre-independence government of St. Lucia – the Bousquet Brothers, Allan and JMD Bousquet. Both were Cabinet Ministers in the then Legislative Council. Dr Cheddi Jagan was on a trip through the islands and on his stop in St. Lucia he was to deliver a lecture at the Castries Town Hall. I knew nothing about who Cheddi Jagan was or why he was coming to St. Lucia or what he was going to talk about at the Town Hall. My strict father used to ensure I was always home before sunset. I was therefore surprised when my father old me he was sending me to a lecture at the Town Hall. A student at the Methodist Primary School at the time, I asked him: “What’s a lecture?” He explained that a man would be talking and after he finished talking he would invite people to ask him questions. He told me to go and sit down up in front to hear everything this man said and make sure I listened properly because when I came back home I would have to tell him everything the man said. And he gave me a piece of paper with three questions he wanted me to ask the man. However, I should cram the questions so that I can remember them and ask them after the man finished speaking, without having to read them from the piece of paper. Here too, I had to listen carefully to the responses and report, accurately, what were the man’s answers.
I did as I was old. I attended the lecture, listened carefully, and took notes on the exercise book that I had taken without my father’s knowledge. (I felt I had to take notes carefully and read them over before reporting to my father because, while he didn’t say it, I suspected I would get a licking if I didn’t report well enough. I was taking no chances, because my father didn’t beat us regularly, but when he did, you’d surely remember forever.)
After Dr Jagan finished speaking, I had four pages of notes. Then, after everybody else bigger than me asked their questions, I asked mine. The three questions I was ordered to ask were about “communism, independence and racism.” After each question, I took more notes.
Dr Jagan took so long answering my three questions I almost regretted asking them. After all, it was after 9pm and I had to go back home and report good enough to avoid a beating.
After he finished his talk, Dr Jagan thanked us and said goodbye.
I stood up and started rushing out of the hall to head home. I had to pass through a cemetery to get home and I was afraid that President Kennedy and Martin Luther King would have pulled my foot on the way home late, because my father had always old me that if any of those guys met me on the road late, they would pull my foot and make me lose my way and I would never see him, my mother or my brothers again (I had and still have no sisters).
Knowing I would be going home late and passing through the cemetery, I had taken the precaution that my loving step-mother had always advised: if going through the cemetery late, put a clean little stone under your tongue. I was taking no chances, so I had three little stones in my pocket.
Heading for the door, I touched my pockets to reassure myself the stones were still there. As soon as I touched them, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I jumped. I was startled. I thought it was Kennedy. But when I turned around, it was Dr Jagan. I felt relieved – somewhat relieved, I should say because if it wasn’t Kennedy, it meant he was still out there waiting for me by the cemetery.
Dr Jagan said he wanted to thank me for my attention and he was glad such “a young man” like me – a child I was – had an interest in what he had to say. He also said I was the only one taking notes in the audience and he was glad about that too.
Thankful, but in a hurry to go home through that Hospital Road cemetery and get home to report to dad, I explained to Dr Jagan that it was my father who sent me and he who gave me the questions and I had to report to him before I went to bed. He asked me why my father hadn’t come too. I explained my father was a pilot and he probably had a ship that night. Dr Jagan said he was glad my father was interested and I should tell him he said thanks for sending me. And he invited me to give my dad a good report. He asked for my name and address and promised to stay in touch with me and my father, He promised to send us books, newspapers and magazines. And he would like to meet my father next time he came to St. Lucia. And he had one further request: that I send him a copy of the report I would be giving my father from my extensive notes. He shook my hand and I left.
There was a lot Dr Jagan and I didn’t know at the time. First of all, after reporting to my father, he picked up the telephone (we were one of the few families with phones at the time), he called one of my two uncles – JMD Bousquet, who was the deputy Chief Minister at the time – and told him I had just returned. Then he handed the phone to me and told me to tell my uncle everything I had just told him about what Dr Jagan said and the responses he gave to my questions. It was only then that I realized I had been an innocent spy – what today you will call in Guyana a “ko-cho’re” but what we in St. Lucia would call “a soucere”.
After reporting to my uncle, I asked my father whether I had done well (because I wanted to tax him a shilling or two for my time and effort). He told me I had done well and that my uncle would give me an ice cream from his restaurant every Saturday. But, he warned me not to believe anything Dr Jagan had said.
I found that strange. If I wasn’t to believe anything Dr Jagan had said, why then, had I been sent to listen and ask questions? And (I asked myself), why had I wasted my time taking all those notes to cram them after passing through the cemetery to make sure I had a good report? I told my dad I was confused. He told me not to worry, just go and sleep, have a nice dream and by tomorrow morning I should just forget it all and go to school.
I was still confused. Something was just not right. Why would I have been put through all of this for nothing? Why was I asked to do and listen, to not to forget a word, only to now be told to erase it all from my memory? Nah, I felt something had to be wrong with that. I suspected there must be a reason they were so pleased with my report, yet wanted me to forget it all. I wanted to revisit my notes before going to bed, but I had thrown them in the Castries River because I didn’t want my father to know. Now I wished I had kept them. But then, it was all still in my mind, so I decided I would go over them tomorrow in my mind because it was late and my father had switched off all the lights in the house. I therefore knelt down and prayed before going to bed, asking God not to let me dream for that dream to erase my memory of what Dr Jagan said. To be sure, I made the sign of the cross twice.
Next morning, I walked along the river bank to see if the notes had somehow washed ashore somewhere. No such luck. I would have to play it all back from my memory. That day at school, I hardly paid attention. I remembered some of the big words like “communism”, “racism” and “independence” and “colonialism” that were used, so I went to the teacher’s desk during the break and borrowed he dictionary to look up the terms. I didn’t want Miss Teacher to see what words I was looking up, so I sat in the back of the class to be able to see if she decided to come my way, so that I could turn the page and pretend I was looking up school words.
The meanings of the world were interesting, but they also turned up some other big words that I also had to look up. I was still confused by those big words, so I decided to give them a rest – at least for now.
Two weeks later, something happened. The Hospital Road sub post office was located at my home and my mother was the sub post mistress. My father called me one day when I came from school and asked me what Dr Jagan told me. I told him “nothing”. He told me: “Don’t lie.” The look on his face told me I shouldn’t repeat the lie, so I told him Dr Jagan said he was impressed with me and I gave him my address and his. He smiled and told me, “Okay, you have a letter from Dr Jagan.” It wasn’t really a letter, it was a parcel post slip saying that I had “reading materials” at the General Post Office in town.
I took the slip and went to the GPO and I got a whole bunch of newspapers and magazines – a newspaper called Mirror and several magazines from a place called the Soviet Union. The lady who handed me the newspapers at the GPO wanted to know what I was doing with those “communist papers”. At that age, I was already rude enough to tell her it was “Not your damn business.” She promised to report me to my mother. I didn’t mind, because my mother didn’t used to beat us. Besides, she always told us to “Always mind your business, but don’t let any body mind it too.”
I collected the papers Dr Jagan sent me but I had another problem. From the way my father told me to forget what Dr Jagan said, and the way he behaved when he saw the parcel post slip, I suspected he may not be so happy about me having all those endless newspapers he’d sent me, with so many of those big words he had spoken and all those magazines from this place called The Soviet Union that I had never heard about. Me being my father’s son, it was easy to think like him to get around him. I decided I would give my mother the bulk of the papers and magazines and I would only show my father two or three, so that if he decided to take them, hide them throw them away or told me not to read them, I would have my back-up. And I knew my mother wouldn’t tell him our secret, because he would beat both of us.
When I gave my father what I put aside to give him, he put on his glasses, skimmed through the pages and told me: “That’s not for you. This is about politics and you have your school work to do because I want you to pass your Entrance exams to go to college.”
Being my mother’s son, I wouldn’t give up without at least trying something. Stepping back – just in case he decided to slap me for what I was going to say – I told him, “But Charles (I called him by his first name because I was the only child in the house and that was what everyone called him) But Charles, you always told me that ‘Reading makes the man’ and that ‘reading is food for the brain’, so why you don’t want me to read?”
He paused, looked at me and smiled. Then he said, “Okay, you have a point. Read it, but don’t believe what you ready in these papers.”
Again, I was being told not to believe something from Dr Jagan.”
I asked: “But Charles, why don’t you want me to believe anything Dr Jagan says?”
He replied: “Because you won’t understand.”
I said, “Make me understand.”
He told me, “Son, Dr Jagan may be a good man, but his politics is bad. He is a communist and he wants to put us in Russia’s hands.”
Russia? I reminded him, “But Charles, you always said that if it wasn’t for the Russians, we would be speaking German. So, what’s so bad about the Russians?”
Charles got annoyed, but he controlled his anger. He watched me and said, “You must stop listening to what I’m saying when I’m talking to people on the phone. As for the Russians, they are communists and although they saves us from speaking German, I still don’t want us to speak Russian – and that’s what Dr Jagan wants.”
So, he had his own plan. He told me, “Okay, read the newspaper and the magazine – if you can – but give me both when you’re finished.”
I knew he didn’t want the newspapers and the magazine to read He simply wanted to keep them away from me. But I – in fact me and my mother – had something on him: the other magazines and newspapers my mother had hidden behind the large wooden letter box.
For good manners sake, I told him “Thanks Daddy.”
He replied, “Don’t try to bribe me by calling me Daddy, Charles will do.”
As it turned out, even I did not even realize what was happening to me at that time. There and then, at age 10, Dr Cheddi Jagan had, through his visit to St. Lucia, influenced the rest of my life. The extensive notes I had taken and memorized and reported on satisfactorily, turned out to be the beginning – I can say now, with the benefit of hindsight – the start of my career in journalism. The Mirror and Soviet magazines (with all their nice colour pictures) were the beginning of my exposure to socialist propaganda. And, put together, I can say that Cheddi’s visit was the beginning of my future as the journalist and political activist that I have turned out to be.
But that would not be Dr Jagan’s last visit to St. Lucia. As it turned out, the very next time he came to St. Lucia he found me where I’m living. I eventually introduced him to my father, but warned him that while he was a nice guy, he hadn’t sent me to the lecture because he liked Dr Jagan, but because I was supposed to spy on him for the government.
Cheddi laughed it out and told me, “That’s okay. I’d like to meet him.” I didn’t think that was a good idea and I told Dr Jagan so. He laughed and said he would still like to meet him. I made the introductions and the rest was another history in itself.
My father and Dr Jagan were contemporaries and they were able to discuss things that happened in their lifetime – especially the Second World War, which with of them experienced. My father belonged to the Royal Merchant Navy and had travelled the world during the war with his other here brothers, all serving on the Cable Ships of the time that laid cables on the ocean floor to facilitate telephone calls and other forms of communication.
As it turned out, Dr Jagan had so charmed my father that after they first met, my father told him he had a room at my home to sleep anytime he came to St. Lucia. Of course, I never realized that it was my room he was talking about, but I was glad each time to have Dr Jagan stay at my home – without my two uncles in government knowing. Finally, my father and I shared a secret – a secret called Dr Cheddi Jagan.
So close had they become that one day, when Dr Jagan went to take his daily siesta after lunch at home, the children were playing ball in the yard and making endless noise. My father asked then to stop and leave the yard because there was “an important man sleeping inside.” They ignored my dad and continued. He got vex. He went home and – being one of the few licensed firearm holders in our area – he returned with his 12-guage shotgun and fired a single blank shot into the air.
The children ran away, but the bullet awoke Cheddi. Startled, he came to the balcony and asked my father what had happened because he heard a bullet. My father replied, “Not to worry. Just go back and sleep.”
That, my friends, was the beginning of a lasting friendship between my father and Cheddi. And, like I said before, it started the process that would result in me being who I am today, who I was in Guyana yesteryear and why I am here today talking to you about what I know about Dr Cheddi Berret Jagan.
I took that much time to tell you all that about Cheddi’s first visits to St. Lucia in my lifetime, so that I could use his role in St. Lucia as a springboard to offer some insights into Cheddi’s role in the development and transformation of Caribbean politics.
I will start in St Lucia because that is where I know best about. But I also know of Cheddi’s Caribbean story, which I will also tell you about a little later.
But first, St. Lucia.
As a result of my early acquaintance with Cheddi, I got attracted to those big political words: colonialism, independence and communism. I did study hard enough to pass my Entrance test to go to St. Mary’s College – the best boys school on the island, which happened to be owned by the Catholic Church. (So powerful was the church in education back then that I had to be removed from the Methodist primary school to the Roman Catholic Boys School in order to sit the entrance test to college. After my first year, I passed the entrance exam with distinction, earning a scholarship from the Civil Service Association to go to college.
In college – the late 1960s and early 1970s – my generation became attracted to world events. There were two world events taking place that attracted the more radical college boys like myself: the “hippy” peace movement in America that opposed the Vietnam War, and the Black Power movement that was starting to shake down White America. But it was also at that time that George Odlum, a radical St. Lucian graduate of the University of Bristol, had left the regional public service to launch a movement for political change called The Forum. It promoted radical ideas like self-sufficiency and co-operativism, while encouraging St. Lucians to forget England and take a closer look at what Black people were doing in America to claim or reclaim their African roots.
Me and other students like me became so radical under the teachings of Odlum and the Forum that we started to take radical action at the college against those white Irish Presentation Brothers who were insisting that we should cut our hair and don’t come to school with Afro hairstyles, but maintaining their own right to grow their hair as long as they liked. So rebellious had we become that after the church and the school administration felt they couldn’t take it any more, almost the entire Form IV B radical group was expelled. Our parents were simply told -- in our report books – that they shouldn’t bother to send us back to school when it reopened in September.
My father, disappointed with me, did what he’d done to my elder brothers: he deported and exported us to the world. He got me a job on a banana boat and told me to “Go out there, see the world and learn the world.” In five years I moved from ship to ship and went around the world two and a half times – not to every country in the world, but circling the globe. But, as fate would have it, I was so busy being the happiest and youngest sailor on the boat that I neglected my diet and soon developed ulcers. I needed an operation and had a choice of doing it in France or in St. Lucia. Afraid to die on an operating table in France, I opted to go back home.
Back home, with my introduction to socialism from Cheddi and appreciation of my history from Odlum and others in the Forum, I started to wonder what would my future be. I knew I wouldn’t be able to return to the sea, so I had t get a land job.
By then, apart from sailing, the only other thing I knew how to do well was to write. I saw an advertisement in The Crusader – George Odlum’s newspaper – for an Editor. I had no journalistic experience, but considering that I kept diaries of my travels by sea and my facility with the English language, and further considering that I had one GCE (the British General Certificate of Education that preceded the CXC), I decide to take a chance and apply. After all, I had nothing to lose.
I never expected to get the nod, so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to get a call from Odlum a week later informing me that I had the Editor’s job. I started working as Editor of the Crusader on 1st April 1976 – a date I can never forget, and for the same reasons you may be thinking: was I a fool to start a job on All Fools Day? As far as I was concerned, that was just a date. The more important thing was to be editor of the paper and working directly with George Odlum.
By then, I’d lost original touch with Cheddi. But he turned up one day at the Crusader and we started talking the day’s politics. I told Cheddi that it was his lecture in St. Lucia ten years earlier that had turned me into the radical I had become.
This was also the era of the initiation of the advent of the Rastafari Movement in the Caribbean. Radical Caribbean islanders who attended the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Mona, Jamaica, returned home with Rasta vibes and with Bob Marley and the Wailers wailing the freedom songs of the day, it was just a matter of time before I stopped combing my Afro and started growing Rasta “locks”.
After four months as Crusader Editor, with a much better understanding of those words Cheddi planted in my mind earlier and having read the disguised Communist Manifesto from page to page along with fellow radicals Lawrence Poyotte, Carl Pilgrim and others, we established the Workers Revolutionary Movement (WRM) on 17th August 1976. The idea was to promote progressive politics, encourage the fight against imperialism, garner support for the Cuban Revolution and encourage people to take a second look at socialism.
When Cheddi visited me for the first time at the Crusader, we developed an exchange of the Crusader for the Mirror and exchanged addresses of comrades who we needed to read each other’s newspapers in Guyana and St. Lucia. It was from that time that the WRM started to get invitations to PPP and PYO Congresses in Guyana, as a result of which we were also introduced to other like-minded parties and movements in the Caribbean.
In 1978, I represented the WRM at the PYO Congress, where I first met many of my permanent Guyanese PPP friends. I met Janet Jagan for the first time, but also met for the first time three women comrades I have never lost touch with since then – June Ward, Gail Tiexeira and Shirley Edwards. (I also met a whole long list of other comrades, too numerous to mention, some of whom are gathered right here in this place tonight, including Moses Nagamootoo, Navin Chanderpal, Donald Ramotar, Ralph Ramkarran, Feroze Mohamed, Clement Rohee, Clinton Collymnore, Cyril Belgrave, David Westmaas – and all the other stalwart Freedom House comrades who are here whose names haven’t been called, but who know themselves.Thanks to Cheddi, the WRM of St. Lucia has become embraced as a partner in the regional anti-imperialist alliance.
But that was just the beginning.
Less than one year after I visited Guyana for the first time to represent the WRM, the Grenada Revolution took place on March 13, 1979, followed by the Nicaraguan and Iranian Revolutions. This was a watershed for world revolutions and, thanks to Grenada, the Caribbean was in the middle of it all.
How Cheddi and the PPP related to the Grenada Revolution is an interesting story. In the decade of the radical 70s, Cheddi had become the acknowledge “Dean of the Caribbean Revolutionary Movement”. He had played a role – one way or another – in the establishment or growth or every single left, socialist, progressive, anti-imperialist, revolutionary democratic party or movement in every Caricom country: the Antigua-Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM) , the Movement for National Liberation (MONALI) of Barbados, the New Jewel Movement (NJM) in Grenada, the Workers Liberation league (WLL) that became the Workers Party of Jamaica (WPJ), the Youlou Liberation Movement (YULIMO) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that became the United People’s Movement (UPM), the WRM of St. Lucia and the February 18th Movement, the People’s Pressure Movement (PPM) and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), all of Trinidad and Tobago.
Because St. Lucia is bilingual and we speak and understand the same creole spoken in the French Caribbean, we in the WRM were able to bring to the Caricom fold the Communist Parties of Martinique and Guadeloupe, as well as representatives of the liberation Movements in French Guiana (which you still call ‘Cayenne’) as well as the movements and parties from Haiti. I was glad to have opened the channels of communication and cooperation with those comrades from the French-speaking territories. The only down side was that whenever we attended PPP Congresses or any other Caribbean progressive party congress, it always ended up as my task, as a foreign delegate, to be the official translator for all those delegations. That seriously limited my full-fledged participation in discussions and debates, but in the end I always accepted that I could always follow-up on what I missed, but it was important that our French-speaking friends return home with a good understanding of what was happening in the English-speaking Caribbean, which had a new, very young history of anti-imperialist, pro-socialist, revolutionary politics. Where communist parties were decades old in the French and Spanish-speaking Caribbean, no party went by that name in the English-speaking Caribbean – except the Communist Party of Jamaica (CPJ), which had more of a name than a national presence. (of course, the PPP had been painted and labeled (by the British and the Americans, in particular), from its inception in 1950, as a Communist, Marxist Leninist Party.
During the week of celebration of the first anniversary of the Grenada Revolution, the entire English, French and Spanish-speaking Caribbean progressive revolutionary and democratic movement was invited to our first official gathering outside of a PPP or Cuban Communist Party (PCC) congress.
Cheddi led the PPP delegation to the meeting, to which the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) was also invited. Also invited was Guyana’s People’s National Congress (PNC), which enraged the other Guyana delegates. They protested, albeit quietly, but in the context of the Grenada revolution, there was good reason for the NJM not to exclude the PNC from the meeting. What many of the protesting Guyana delegates did not know was that the Guyana Government, under Forbes Burnham and the PNC, has dispatched a contingent from the Guyana Defense Force to Grenada within hours or days after the revolution, to provide training to the fledgling People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) to help defend the revolution against any attacks, whether locally or from abroad. The GDF guys were able to melt into the PRA and provide that absolutely necessary support that couldn’t have been got – at least at that early stage – from Cuba, or even Nicaragua. (The simple fact was that the Guyanese soldiers looked like Grenadians and spoke English, but that would not have been the case with Cubans or Nicaraguans.)
While the other members of the PPP and WPA delegations were livid about the PNC’s presence at a regional anti-imperialist gathering, Cheddi understood and appreciated the vital role that then PNC was playing in Grenada in that situation, offering support of the quality that the PPP itself, even if willing, would not have been able to. Cheddi, inimitable strategist and technician that he was, did not oppose the PNC’s presence. But he took the opportunity of their presence to expose some of the PNC’s actions against the PPP at home, which militated against anything that a progressive or anti-imperialist party would do to another in the same country.
Having started off his presentation on exposure of the unknown elements of the battle between the PPP and the PNC in Guyana and placed it into proper perspective, Cheddi them would move into those aspects of his presentation advocating left anti-imperialist unity, the need for solidarity and support from stronger and better off parties for smaller movements like ACLM, DLM. MONALI and YULIMO. As it turned out, the only two parties in power that offered such support for the smaller movements were the PCC and the NJM.
It was during that meeting of the first gathering of Caribbean revolutionary movements that my other friend and comrade, Maurice Bishop, who often took refuge in St. Lucia and visited to promote the struggle against the Gairy Dictatorship, invited me to come to Grenada to help build the new state media and guide it along progressive lines. I discussed it with Cheddi and his only concern was whether the WRM could do without me, its General Secretary, who would be living and working in Grenada. After assured him there were comrades to carry on, he recommended that as part of the arrangement, I should ask to be allowed to return to St. Lucia every month for consultations with my WRM colleagues. As a result, on May 1st 1980, I started working in Grenada at the Free West Indian newspaper and as News Editor of Radio Free Grenada (RFG).
Again, Comrade Cheddi had influenced an important decision in the direction of my life as a young Caribbean revolutionary committed to the anti-imperialist struggle in our region.
Truly, during the four and a half years of the Grenada revolution (1979-1983), Cheddi remained a bulwark of support for the revolution and the revolutionary democratic movements throughout the Caribbean, most – if not all – of which he had personally helped plant the seed that bore the revolutionary fruits they eventually became.
The decade of the 1980s started well for the Caribbean Left.
In 1980, there was a popular uprising in Dominica against the government of Patrick John, which had sought to hand over a large chink of the island to South African racists. The Interim Government that replaced Patrick John included some progressive elements associated, though quietly, with the Caribbean revolutionary movement. It now meant that after the John Compton administration was booted out in St. Lucia in July 1979 – three months after the Grenada Revolution – there was also a progressive government in Dominica.
With three progressive administrations in place in three of the four Windward Islands (Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada), those opposed to a progressive political process in the Caribbean started going to work.
As it turned out, the decade of the 80s was very costly to the Caribbean Revolutionary movement.
In 1980, Walter Rodney was killed – or should I say murdered -- in Guyana. On June 19th that same year, in Grenada, an attempt was made to execute the entire leadership of the Grenada Revolution when a bomb was planted by internal counter-revolutionaries next to a pillar below the pavilion at Queen’s Park in St. George’s where the leadership of the People’s revolutionary Government (PRG) was gathered for a public commemorative event.
As a journalist, I was standing with my camera just feet away from Maurice Bishop, Bernard Coard and the other members of the revolutionary leadership when the bomb went off under us.
Fortunately for the leadership, the counter-revolutionary who planted the bomb was not sufficiently trained in demolition tactics. The bomb was wrongly placed, so it had the undesired effect. Instead of exploding upwards, it blew sideways. As a result, the leadership escaped unhurt, but not so for the people gathered downstairs. Some 90 women were injured, and three died from the blast. Not one man was hurt. Even in our sorrow and grief, we – typical Caribbean people – found a way to describe the bombing as a ‘gender-biased counter-revolutionary action’. That’s because it turned out that the bomb was placed next to the pillar by a woman and all of it’s victims were, sadly, women.
I remember Cheddi making the point to us in Grenada after that, that the counter-revolutionary attack in Grenada was no less an attack against the progressive and revolutionary Caribbean movement than the assassination of Walter Rodney. But while Cheddi was correct in his analysis, here again, the PRG leadership was reluctant to make that sort of analysis publicly, due to the unreserved and valuable support the Guyana government of the day, under Forbes Burnham, had given to the revolution from Day One. The emphasis in Grenada at the time was to go after and round up the counter-revolutionaries responsible for the Queen’s Park bombing. Indeed, they were identified and rounded up within days – unlike in Guyana where, to this day, the assassin of Walter Rodney, though known and located, remains out of the reach of justice 31 years later. For some reason Rodney’s assassin seemed to have been pardoned.
The progressive Interim Government in Dominica led the embattled country into elections following two hurricanes – David and Allen – that had hit both Dominica and St. Lucia hard, as well as inflicting significant damage to St. Vincent and Grenada. (In Grenada we called them ‘Imperialist Hurricanes’.) The Dominica left movement was still small and insufficiently influential to have scored electoral gains, resulting in the election of the conservative Dominica Freedom party (DFP) under Eugenia Charles. The initial progressive gains in Dominica were now lost. But at least there was a significant progressive opposition elected under the leadership Michael Douglas, the brother of Rosie Douglas, who led the Dominica Labour Party (DLP).
The next big loss to the Caribbean Left in the 1980s came with the loss of the progressive St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government in 1982. That was the result of the internal power struggle between Prime Minister Allan Louisy and the unrelenting George Odlum, who insisted that the conservative Louisy – a former Judge who led the party to victory – should step aside and hand the Prime Ministership to him. It was a selfish approach (by Odlum) that put the person before the process. Louisy was obviously unwilling to hand power over to Odlum; and Odlum was obviously not willing to play Number Two in Charge. With Number Two not being enough for Odlum, he engineered the government’s downfall with a Vote of No Confidence against the Budget presented by his own government. With his government broken, Louisy left and was replaced by an Interim Prime Minister who led the way to fresh elections. Odlum established his own Progressive Labour Party (PLP) to campaign against the SLP, but in the end all was lost: the conservative United Workers Party (UWP) led by John Compton -- which had been defeated by a margin of 12-5 just two-and-a-half years earlier – returned to power with 14seats, with the SLP winning two and Odlum’s PLP winning one. It was a typical classic case of the dog with a bone in its mouth looking into a river and opening its mouth to go after that other bone it saw in its reflection in the water.
With Dominica and St. Lucia gone at the polls, Grenada was again alone. With Guyana under Burnham and Jamaica under Michael Manley as the only two Caricom Governments supporting Grenada under Bishop, the revolution was again isolated.
In 1982 after St. Lucia’s loss, Cheddi warned us in Grenada that the imperialist cowboys will start to circle the wagons to attack the revolution. He warned, however, that while all efforts were being made to defend the revolution against external aggression, and while the internal counter-revolution had been routed and rendered ineffective, it was important to broaden the base of the revolutionary vanguard. He always warned that if the NJM remained as secretive and small and difficult to join as it had become after the revolution, the party would isolate itself from the masses, with inestimable political consequences. Cheddi always pointed to the experience of the PPP as a mass-based party with a firm ideological leadership. Those were words from the wise and experienced, but many of the young revolutionary greenhorns in Grenada were too blinded by the benefits of the revolutionary process to see beyond the beautiful horizon.
Sadly, it turned out that while all seemed well and hunky dory in Grenada, what none of us from outside realized was that there was a simmering dispute in the leadership of the PRG. There was absolutely no sign of anything wrong between Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard, but in truth and in fact there was everything wrong – worst of all the decision to keep the internecine internal power struggle locked within the bounds of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the NJM.
I returned to St. Lucia from Grenada in 1982 to try help pick up the pieces broken by Odlum. The WRM maintained that we would not give blind support to either of the two Labour Parties, advocating instead that they consider the national political costs of going into the elections divided.
On October 17th 1983 I was in Grenada, in transit to Cuba for medical attention for the ulcers that had dogged me since 1975 and forced me to leave sailing to take up journalism and politics. I had gone to visit my first son, Samora, when a senior in the revolutionary youth movement and in the top leadership of the party informed me that Maurice Bishop had been placed under house arrest that morning.
My first reaction was: “If you imprison Bishop you imprison the revolution and the people will not like that.” But the comrade insisted that “We had to put Maurice under manners because he was getting too soft.”
I flew out of Grenada that afternoon on what would turn out to be the last flight out of the island by a Cuban plane. (Also present was another young Caribbean revolutionary from a neighbouring island whose name I cannot here reveal because of the very senior regional institutional position he holds today. We both agreed that “The comrades will bury the revo.” So said, so done. The masses revolted against the party, the party revolted against itself, Bishop was killed and the revolution committed suicide.
Cheddi had warned long in advance that the Grenada comrades should assess the regional balance of forces and understand the implication of the election of Ronald Reagan in the USA and Margaret Thatcher in England. He had warned that it was counter-productive that after two years in power, the NJM had remained a cloistered group of 80 ideological purists instead of opening up to the masses. He had warned that if the party did not sink itself among the people, it will not be able to get the people to respond or come to its defense and the defense of the revolution in times of danger. The Grenada comrades ignored Cheddi’s wise words of advice, at their own peril. With the revolution isolated and the leadership committing political and evolutionary suicide by killing Bishop, it was easy for Reagan to get the support of Grenada’s neighbours to mount the invasion that followed five days after Bishop was killed. The rest is sad, sad, history.
The rest of the 1980s saw the almost decimation of the left in the Caribbean. Progressive and revolutionary forces were hounded and we all suffered tremendous loss of political support for the actions of our comrades in Grenada – those who killed Bishop and the revolution that so many supported across the Caribbean. The US launched the Caribbean Basin initiative and the US Republican Party, under Reagan, established new political institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy that funded the Caribbean Democratic Union (CDU), which was a coalition of the Caribbean’s right wing political parties. They also established and funded a Caribbean Assembly of Youth (CAY), which was based in St. Lucia and run by someone who would later become a PPP/Civic government minister and another who now serves as Prime Minister of St. Lucia.
With Grenada gone in October 1983, it was back to Square One for the Caribbean Left. It was now up to Cheddi and the PPP, once more, to offer leadership and direction to the Caribbean liberation movement for the rest of the 1980s. This he did, drawing – as usual – the lessons from Grenada and learning that they be learned well – especially the need for the party to always be firmly rooted among the masses.
At home, the PPP not only strengthened its base after Grenada, but also strengthened its alliances with other opposition parties with a view to providing the best possible challenge to the ruling party. Here again, the flexibility of the PPP and its leader came into focus in the various forms and shapes of alliances, first with the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy(PCD) and then with the PPP/Civic.
The decade of the 90s saw Cheddi and the PPP’s ultimate triumph in Guyana. The PPP/Civic won the elections in 1992 and Cheddi and Janet, thanks to my other comrade Moses Nagamooto, asked me to come give internationalist assistance to the new process under way in Guyana. I therefore moved to Guyana with my family for six years, during which I served at GBC, GTV and The Mirror, in addition to my other political tasks of an advisory nature.
My presence here (in Guyana) allowed me to better and closer relate to not only Cheddi but also Comrade Janet Jagan, with whom I worked daily at The Mirror. My immediate access to the two top leaders of the PPP and Guyana and the close relationship I developed with Prime Minister Sam Hinds, as well as my role as Vice President of the Guyana Relief Council (GRC) led by Yvonne Hinds put me in the best position I could to be of help to the process.
Given who I am and where I was, I saw myself, among other things, as a bridge between the races, which is what I sought to do in the five years that I hosed Action Line on GBC. Cheddi, as President, had insisted that Cabinet Minister listen to the program every Monday night and be available to answer questions asked by callers relating to their respective ministries.
I enjoyed every minute of my six years here, but one of the best highlights was the way in which it allowed me to better understand Cheddi and Janet and their respective roles in the Guyana and Caribbean liberation process.
It was while here – between 1993 and 1999 -- that I was able to daily and closely observe Cheddi as the master observer and analyst that always was. He always took time out to read the political and economic tea leaves in Guyana, the Caribbean and the world. He browsed newspapers from the world over, cut clippings and underlined facts and figures, which would be the bases for his analyses and lectures, his political education classes, whether at Freedom House or at Accabre College or at UG or at Imbaimadai, where I sat with him in 1994 as he explained the budget to an assembly of village chiefs (Touchaus) and “pork knockers” (small gold miners).
Cheddi’s ability to translate facts and figures was inimitable. So was his ability to retain data, dates and events. And so too was his ability to connect historical events and draw appropriate lessons.
In the case of the events leading to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, Comrade Cheddi was able to link today’s events to those of the Bolshevik Revolution and show the difference in the situation facing the CPSU in the 1990s vis-à-vis what Lenin and the Bolsheviks faced back in 1917 in Moscow. He made the appropriate analysis of the situations facing Gorbachev in his time, vis-à-vis what Stalin might have faced in his time and draw the necessary lessons.
In his analyses, he would make mention of countries we’d never heard of, but the lessons he would draw would invariably make the local connection in a way that everybody listening would understand. Cheddi was simply a brilliant communicator.
Cheddi Jagan was also a prolific writer. Not only was he a journalist, but also a writer of immense proportions, as can be seen in the numerous volumes of writings on political and economic subjects, as well as the hundreds of collected speeches he delivered. He read and wrote immensely, which is why he was always informed. He lived by the journalistic rule that reading is food for the brain and that all information is important. The International Organization of Journalists (IOJ) documented his work and record, even though the Cold War scenario painted him into one of the two world ideological blocks.
Even while in office in the new dispensation, he was regarded or described as everything from a communist to a pro-Soviet ideologue and still accused (at home) of leading “a racist party” in which “the only blacks are red all over”. But none of those labels ever contained his passion to write and tell the truth, to draw on the lessons of history and share his perspectives with all who’ll listen.
Back in office 39 years to the day after his government was overthrown by the British an Americans in 1953, Cheddi was the only surviving Caribbean leader from the 1950s and thus in the best position to counsel his Caribbean counterpart heads of government on the directions the Caribbean should take in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
A committed Caribbean Regionalist, Cheddi always urged his Caribbean fellow heads of government to look beyond their national borders and return to the thinking that decades earlier saw Guyana as the “Bread basket of the Caribbean”. He had been there before the West Indies Federation (which he supported as far back as 1945 when he adopted – in Montego bay, Jamaica -- a resolution of the Caribbean Labour Congress calling for a Federation of the West Indies with dominion status and internal self-government for each unit.
In his first address to fellow Caricom leaders in Trinidad on October 28, 1992 – just 19 days after taking office – he recalled that “Federation came, Independence came, Carifta came, Caricom came…” and with them came all the new plans and strategies for development – from Arthur Lewis’ Puerto Rican model of “industrialization by invitation” to Reagan’s “Caribbean Basin Initiative”. Cheddi told his colleagues that the region had over the last 50 ears been “over-examined by wise men” who, at every step, promised the Caribbean that the next step would be better. “But,” Cheddi noted, “betterment never came and the masses of the people have become disillusioned with Independence and the trappings of sovereignty and power.”
True to himself, Cheddi quoted reports from close and far, offered figures from UN and other international agencies to impress his friend that while the Cold War was over, the collapse of the socialist camp left the Caribbean and the so-called Third World in positions of being The Last World. He said the West was not interested in offering solutions to the Caribbean and that was why the leaders of the day needed to ensure they set the stage for survival of future Caribbean generations. He warned that “We now confront the challenges of the 21st century during which those who are left behind will find little or no sympathy from those who prepared themselves, took resolute actions and are in the lead.”
In that first speech to fellow Caricom leaders, Cheddi made it clear that the region needed to see and treat itself as part of the world, but not to expect the world to give us a helping hand without us being ready to help ourselves. He warned them that “We cannot have Cadillac-style living with donkey-cart economies.” He called for establishment of a Caribbean Commission with a Caribbean Convention on Human rights, for the Caribbean to be declared a Zone of Peace, for the Caribbean to develop closer relations with South America, for collectively seeking debt relief and debt write-offs for the Caribbean and for the Caricom Secretariat to be strengthened with more power to the secretary-general to ensure that policies and decisions are implemented with skill and without delay.
It was also at that first meeting with fellow Caricom leaders that Cheddi put on the region’s table his call for a New International Human Order. He had been advocating it at home in the wake of the new global dispensation and he was now in a position to table it at regional and international fora, including his address to the United Nations on 1st October 1993. There, before the world’s leaders, Cheddi used facts and figures to impress his colleagues that Latin America and the Caribbean needed debt relief to address poverty, failing which 181 million out of 441 million people in the region will continue to live below the poverty line. And there too, he supported the call for a “Development Agenda” that will address the core problems of “Alleviation of Poverty, expansion of productive employment, enhancement of social integration, particularly of the more disadvantaged and marginal groups.”
But, he warned, “To attain these objectives, the people must play a central role. They must be fully involved in all aspects of policy, to take advantage of their initiatives and creativity for the fashioning of a better future, a peaceful and prosperous role.”
These words continue to haunt those who heard them at the UN and treated them as mere utterings of an aging revolutionary. To his fellow Caricom leaders in subsequent Caricom Summits, Cheddi always highlighted the reasons why the Federation failed and urged that instead of still crying tears, we should learn from the lessons of the Federation’s failure and ensure they are not repeated.
But Cheddi was not only a committed Caribbean regionalist; he was also a classic proletarian internationalist. He advocated a New International Economic Order at the United Nations before Fidel Castro did; he advocated a cancelling of Latin America’s international debt in the face of the international economic crisis long before Fidel or Hugo Chavez did. His voice might not have been as loud as theirs, but he was no less respected by any world leader.
Cheddi’s addresses to world bodies – OAS, UN,OECD, CARICOM, IADB, UWI – all included his analyses of the history of the world’s problems from the standpoint of the developing countries vis-à-vis the developed countries, between the North and the South, between the world’s poor and the world’s super rich. But there was one needle through all those speeches: the world’s problems will not be solved without each nation honestly and meaningfully involving the people in the process of solving problems for change. He told the UN (in 1993) that it was still regarded as a talk shop by the world’s poor and that it would remain regarded that way until it found a way to translate its resolutions into action they could see, feel and benefit from. He was a champion for better prices for the raw materials and other exports of developing countries, whether rice and sugar, bananas or bauxite. He constantly railed about the cyclical effects of the world capitalist crisis and the ability of the rich countries to always bale themselves out at the expense of the poor in their countries
At the World Summit for Social development in Copenhagen in 1995, Cheddi Jagan promoted the concept of a New Global Human Order (NGHO). It was adopted and supported by several international fora, including Caricom, the Non-Aligned Movement, the South Summit, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Group of 77. It was also eventually discussed at the 55th UN General Assembly in 2000, then again 2002 and 2007. This concept was promoted actively by the Guyana Ministry of External Affairs and by Guyana’s UN Mission. Eventually, on December 10 last year, the 65th session of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on “The role of the United Nations in promoting New Global Human Order.” That resolution had been sponsored by Guyana and was supported by 54 countries. The link between the NGHO and several other UN initiatives was underlined by no less a person than present UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his report on the implementation of the 2007 resolution. He said the principal objectives of the NGHO also encapsulated and “echo the central vision of the Millennium Declaration that gave rise to the Millennium Development Goals.
Throughout his political life, Cheddi Jagan supported the Palestinian cause. He and Yasser Arafat travelled the same long road of struggle for freedom for their homelands from the locking jaws of colonialism and imperialism. Had he been here today, he would have been able to tell any of us the wide difference between Yasser Arafat and his successor Abu Mazen. He would also have been able to help us better understand the roots of the unfolding events in the Middle East.
Had he been here in my place at this moment, any of us could have asked for his opinion on what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and what’s happening in Libya today. He would certainly have offered us an understanding of the historical roots of today’s conflicts and what led to the distancing of the Arab and North African dynasties and monarchies from their people.
Had he been here this evening and any of us asked about the role of the internet and the Social Networks in toppling the regimes that have already fallen in the Arab World, Cheddi would have told us that he was not surprised that the Internet became a tool and weapons of protest. He would most likely have recalled that he and others in the leadership of the party and who understood the historical role of use of propaganda tools by imperialism to foment unrest against unfriendly regimes did have some very early concerns about the unfolding power of the world wide web on the information super highway, if left to just hang in the air to be used by anyone for any purpose in the name of freedom of information and press freedom.
Back then – 17 years ago – he and others with concerns about an unfettered world wide web were accused of wanting to censor the press and monitoring what people say or write on the Internet. There was no Wikileaks, no cyber warfare, no hacking into government and military databases, no cyber theft of today’s magnitude, no pedophile use of the Internet as is done now, no use of the internet by Osama Bin Laden and his networks, no use of the social networks to urge rebellions without a cause. But Cheddi’s understanding of the role of the media in his early times and its role and influence worldwide during his second coming, armed him with the instinctive concerns he always had about good things possibly going bad if not handled properly. When Moses Nagamootoo and Rovin Deodat established the Internet in Guyana, they argued for protective measures to guard the public against use of the internet to spread pornography. All of us who advocated caution back them were accused of stifling and suppressing press freedom. However, history has proven us right: today, the internet is a bastion of pornography and pedophilia, children are being abused in countries all over the world by pedophile rings, pornography is available at schools -- by Blackberry.
It was precisely because of his own experiences decades earlier and what he’d seen during his 39 years out of office that Cheddi was hesitant to sign when the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) came up with the idea that led to the Declaration of Chapultepec, requiring governments to declare they will or will not do certain things relating to the press. Comrade Cheddi listened attentively to the positions of advocates of the Declaration of Chapultepec (such as Stabroek News Editor in Chief David DeCaires and the Catholic Standard’s Fr Andrew Morrison). He knew there were some good intentions on their part, but he also knew the history of the IAPA in promoting the Cold War and its propensity to oppose and work against progressive governments in Latin America and the Caribbean. Besides, like most OAS and other documents addressing the Latin American reality, the Declaration of Chapultepec was not drafted with Guyana and the Caribbean in mind. But, we were being told that if we wanted to be part of the Latin Club, we in Guyana and the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean had to dance to the Latin beat by signing the Declaration of Chapultepec.
Apart from my ministerial boss Moses Nagamootoo, I had several discussions with both Cdes Janet and Cheddi on Chapultepec. The last time I discussed Chapulepec with Cheddi was the day before he took ill – February 13th 1997. My phone rang at the Mirror and it was Cheddi on the line. He wanted to invite me to a meeting at the National Park at 4:00pm. By 3:30, two members of the Presidential Guard arrived at the Mirror to take me to my meeting with the President at the Park. I had no idea what he wanted to speak to me about, but I was sure it had to be something important.
Arriving five minutes before the appointed time, I observed Cde Cheddi in his usual posture: explaining something to a group of persons, his hands and fingers painting invisible designs consistent with his lines of thought and expression. I had walked with my pen and paper for the meeting (We had no laptops or Blackberrys then.) Ten minutes into his talk, Comrade Cheddi saw me. He eventually headed to me and asked whether I was ready. I thought I was, so I told him “yes”, so he told me “Let’s go.” I thought we would be going to some room, somewhere – until he explained to me that he was having his usual walk and I should walk and talk with him. That was the meeting he had invited me to.
Me? Walk around National Park? And more than once Cde Cheddi must have seen my reaction, so he quickly gave me a brief lecture on the importance of healthy lifestyles to revolutionary longevity. I had a different view of a healthy lifestyle – eat good, live good, do good – and, whenever possible, be good. But walking – far less running – never featured on my diet for a good and healthy life. But the Boss wanted it that way, so, who was I to tell him no?
We started walking and talking. Eventually, my gasps for breath between words became more frequent and longer. Still walking ahead of me, he slowed down and asked me whether I wanted to stop and let him complete his rounds and we’ll continue after that. Ashamed, I immediately said “No” – and silently started praying that my heart didn’t skip that last beat to arrest my life. I felt really bad. The comrade was so much older than me and he was challenging me to keep up with him. I mean, the most I could have tried to do was go the distance, even though I was destined to finish last. At least I could say I ran the race... But this was no race. It wasn’t a fun run either -- and it wasn’t just a walk. Instead, it was a talk – a meeting in motion, walking the walk while talking the talk about Chapultepec and why its local proponents were pressing so hard to have him commit Guyana to sign even before the state had completed its own assessment of the pros and cons of so doing.
The proponents of Chapultepec seemed to be rather in a hurry, always wanting the agreement signed ahead of some upcoming meeting of the IAPA or the OAS. But Cheddi wasn’t only interested in Chapultepec for Guyana. He wanted my assessment – not my view, but my accurate assessment – of how the individual Caricom governments would relate to Chapultepec, and vice versa.
Eventually, the walk and the talk were over. I went home swearing that Comrade Cheddi would never catch me again and make me strain my muscles and get cramp with that type of meeting on the move. But little did I know that I would, the very next day, be wishing that he’d be able to call me to walk with him – from anywhere to anywhere, every morning.
I have – in the last 10,391 words – told you all that time has allowed me to say to you here and now about what I wanted to say about my friend, colleague and comrade, Cheddi Jagan. It would have taken me more than 20,000 words, however, to have said all I would have liked to say about both Cheddi and Janet. I knew Cheddi personally over a longer period, but I worked personally with Comrade Janet for a longer period of time. Indeed, all of my six years here were spent working every day at the Mirror with Janet. I can say as much about her – maybe even more. But my brief on this occasion was to deliver the Cheddi Jagan Memorial Lecture. Suffice to say, this month marks the death anniversary of Guyana’s best known political couple, “the Jagan patriarch and matriarch” as they were described in a supplement in today’s issue of the Chronicle celebrating the Jagan legacy.
I was here when Comrade Cheddi died in Maryland and when his body was returned home, but I refused to go see him in a coffin. I simply did not want my last impression of the comrade to have been seeing him in a box. I preferred it to be that first and last -- that only -- walk-and-talk around the National Park that I felt so bad about.
When June Ward called to tell me two year ago that Comrade Janet was at hospital, something in her voice told me she didn’t tell me everything. When she called again to say that the comrade had passed away, I felt that same lump in my throat like when the woman wearing the US Army uniform at the Walter Reid Memorial Hospital informed the world that Comrade Cheddi had passed away. I was not able to get here in time for her funeral, but then, I have no regrets because I just may have been tempted to go near her coffin to pay my last respects. I am however happy that my last impressions of her was at the last PPP Congress at Diamond and the two occasions we spoke at her home at Belair before I returned home.
Like all of you I am pleased that Comrade Janet has been posthumously honoured as one of the 16 most rebellious women in the history of the world. After all, to be equated with Joan of Arc is no simple achievement. But then, which of the others named alongside her gave nearly seven decades of her life to a country and people in a land not of her birth?
Tonight, I dedicate this lecture to the eternal memory of both of my eternal comrades in struggle, Cheddi and Janet Jagan.
I thank you.
By Eddi Rodney
t is not often that in a single event where a political discussion is part of a commemorative agenda, that there emerges such a perception of solidarity as was the case last Tuesday evening the Annual Cheddi Jagan Lecture. Earl Bosquet’s presentation, his version of the Jagan persona in my view was not only definitive in terms of coming to terms with the legacy of the Jagans but his grasp of the issues sent clear signals to the political class currently dominant in Guyana. For one thing Bosquet is no stranger to the Guyanese condition. A considerable amount of years was spent here working with the Mirror, the PPP Newspaper. Bosquet also became closely identified with other parts of the media community and in these instance opposition media representatives. His understanding of trends that were characteristic of the Cheddi Jagan era must therefore be accepted as one that is from a direct participant in the period of the restoration of democracy.
Despite the fact that Earl Bosquet is a national of St Lucia he is foremost, an international media practitioner. Listening to him speak to an appreciable audience I was impressed perhaps in a different way to several others. For me there was that unmistakable tradition that is part of all oral based cultures that of story telling. Story telling as a formal tool is highly value in countries such as India, Thailand, and the Philippines and indeed throughout Asia.
That art is also an important factor in the establishment of literary cultures in Africa both Sub-Saharan and North Africa. It is evident that Cheddi Jagan had a unique impact on Bosquets generation of radicals in the Caribbean that is unquestionable. But what is not as generally known is that the Jagan influence transcended or overcame the English/ Patois/Creole or Kryol linguistic barriers imposed by Euro-colonialism and slaver societies in the Caribbean.
This is both a subjective and an institutionalised cultural mobilising factor when one considers the element of multiculturalism in West India evolution. Here the unique contribution of Cheddi Jagan becomes much more expansive, and listening to Bosquet one could begin to understand why the Imperialist powers tried so much to isolate Jagan by honouring others such as Eric Williams, Arthur Lewis, Alexander Bustamante etc. whilst at the same time sparing no effort to demonise Cheddi and Janet Jagan.
In other words at the elite level Cheddi Jagan was always capable of matching the intellectual prowess of those favoured by the colonialists, and it is time that all Guyanese have that clear in their heads. Bosquet talked about the role of Jagan and Walter Rodney viz the (Grenada) revolution and a covert? Military unit intervention of the Burnham PNC. Given what in reality played out in that crisis of 1983 is it not possible that the New Jewel Movement bureaucracy fell victim to a form of quasi opportunism by not recognising that Burnham was simultaneously supporting African freedom fighters and pursuing a policy of striking deals with South African corporations (Phillips Brothers/Rio Tinto Zince).
And this opportunism influenced others who believed in the PNC freedom fighting credentials as an ‘alternative’ to the principled anti imperialism of the PPP. These are all very important issues and Earl Bosquet should be congratulated for his genuinely straight forward lecture. Yes, it is true in one sense Cheddi Jagan lives.