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Reminiscences of Cheddi Jagan by Janet Jagan

Cheddi Jagan - The Dentist by Janet Jagan


Cheddi Jagan returned to Guyana (then British Guiana) in mid-1943 and I arrived in December 1943.

We rented the second and third floors of 69 Main Street, Georgetown, two buildings south of the Main Street, Roman Catholic Cathedral where he opened his dental practice on the second floor and had bedrooms on the top floor. We had our dining room/sitting room and kitchen behind the separating walls of the surgery.

Dr. Jagan taught his brother Naipaul and cousin "Kootch" to do the dental laboratory work while I performed as his dental assistant. My 2½ years as a nursing student helped me to be a useful dental assistant.

He had a few patients in the beginning and this grew larger as his reputation as a good dentist, not charging high fees, brought him a rather comfortable practice in the early days and later, a larger practice.

Dr. Jagan was a very meticulous person and could not stand anything second rate or not of the highest standards. In the beginning, he was very stern with his two laboratory assistants and would send back their works – bridges, dentures, inlays etc, until they reached the perfection he demanded.

These early proceedings were mere examples of the character he had and indication of the man who would later lead his country to its independence and become known as the Father of the Nation.

He refused to accept second-best. He demanded the best from those who worked with him and gave the best to his patients – whether poor or rich, and he had both. He never ‘short-changed’ anyone and was always totally honest. If he did something, whether it was in his profession as a dentist, or later as a political leader, he gave the best that he could.

In dentistry, as in his later life devoted fully to the political life of his country, he excelled. His dentures, for example, looked real. Even today with more advanced technology, I see prominent dentists giving their patients dentures which I can immediately detect as being false. Not his! He would spend long hours being sure that the colour and shape of the false teeth were correct, and if they did not look good, he would start all over again.

There are not enough professionals today who try that hard to meet perfection. But that was part of his unusual character.

The other dentists were annoyed at his low fees, but he felt he could not exploit his patients.

Also, he refused to ruin good teeth by gold crowns, which then were in fashion. He was responsible for ending the gold crown craze that existed and destroyed good teeth.

While his dental practice was growing and he had enough money to begin the education of his brothers and sisters, it was evident then, back in the 1940’s, that wealth and status were not his goals. He was not interested in money as the accumulation of money. In fact we never had much, since most of his income in those days went to his family. We lived frugally with just the minimum of clothing, the most inexpensive household furniture and goods and in rented houses until 1967 when we finally built a house in Bel Air, on land we had purchased in 1957 for $3,000.

During this period which was the beginning of Dr. Jagan’s political career, we began visiting workers on the sugar estates, at their request. But more on that later.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


Cheddi Jagan - The years 1943 to 1948 by Janet Jagan

When Dr. Cheddi Jagan return to the then British Guiana in 1943, he was a young man of 25 years. His first task was to establish his dental surgery, which he opened in 1944 at 69 Main Street, Georgetown. He soon had a fairly good practice. In the two years up to the formation of the Political Affairs Committee in 1946, he began to move around, meet people and lay the basis (even though unaware of it to the time) of what was to be his lifetime career.

He was to the people of his home estate, Port Mourant,, a phenomenon, the first to reach professional status. A doctor's degree at that time was unusual and people then paid great respect to anyone with a degree, especially one who came from a sugar estate.(These were the days of "doctor" politics). There was a pride that one of their own had reached such great heights.

Fortunately, this never went to his head and he was little affected by the esteem in which he was held for achieving his professional status.

Dr. Jagan was, however, concerned about conditions of sugar workers in the estate in which he was born and soon was being called in by workers for advice on how to fight various issues. The two unions at the time failed to gain the confidence of the workers and were known to be puppets of the planters.

Workers in other estates in Berbice also sought his advice. I accompanied him on those trips and began to see and understand the country and its people. He joined the Man-Power Citizens' Association (MPCA) for a short period, hoping to provide representation to the workers, but he soon found this to be futile because of the nature of that union, which was in fact a company union. All this came to the fore a few years later when the workers of the East Coast Demerara sugar estates went on strike, which culminated in the Enmore shooting and the death of the five workers, now know as the Enmore Martyrs.

While he was learning first hand about the real problems facing sugar workers, the largest group of workers in the country, he was starting to have a view of the dismal political situation There was no organised political party to enunciate national issues. There was an antiquated Legislative Council dominated by the Colonial Office which, due to the war, had not had members elected for a number of years. It was not until 1947, that elections were again held. Political groups sprang up at election time, but did not continue on a permanent basis.

Both of us attended a discussion circle at the then Carnegie Public Library. These were thought provoking and doubtlessly led to his ideas about finding a solution to the barren political situation. By 1946, we had met two people who seemed also to be concerned about the need for political action and a political vehicle to express demands for representative government and to address the needs of the people in a colonial environment. Further, we were influenced by the anti-colonial struggle of the post World War II period and in particular, the way the Indian Independence struggle was proceeding.

It was in November 1946 that Ashton Chase, H.J.M. Hubbard and the two of us formed the Political Affairs Committee which gave a specific commitment that we would strive to lay the foundation for the formation of a political party based on the concept of socialism and dedicated to achieving improved social and economic conditions for the people.

Two years later, June 1948 was Enmore and the brutal slaying of five sugar workers. Dr. Jagan led the funeral march of the workers from Enmore to La Repentir cemetery in Georgetown. This event had a deep effect on him and furthered his belief that he had a role to play in the liberation of the Guyanese people from tyranny, exploitation and colonial rule. In his book "The West on Trial", he expressed this more decisively when he wrote that he had made a silent pledge at the graveside of the five Enmore Martyrs that he would devote his life to freeing his people from exploitation.

Another aspect that would become part of his political outlook was his strong belief in internationalism. This would be expressed later in his life as demonstrated in his intense campaign to bring about a New Global Human Order.

During this early period of his political life an event took place which gave expression to this concept. The Canadian Seamen's Union had e strike of the seamen on all the Canadian ships throughout the world. Two of the ships were in Port Georgetown when the strike was called, and all the seamen went on strike. There was no one to back them so we did out best That included providing the ships with water and food which we would carry late at night in a small boat to the ships, as the authorities were trying to force the men off the ship by denying them supplies.

Later, when they had to leave the ships, we helped by providing accommodation, legal aid and by making arrangements for their return to Canada. It was a good example of international solidarity, something he felt strongly about all his life.

While he continued his dental practice, eventually moving to 199 Charlotte Street in the heart of the city, a practice which was growing due to the exceptionally high quality of his dentistry, he was devoting more and more attention to his political activity.

He had another responsibility, to his family, and from the very beginning after his return from studies in the USA, he began the systematic education of his younger brothers and sisters, sending them abroad for studies in dentistry, law, medicine, optometry and nursing. Unlike many in his professional class, he was little interested in the accumulation of wealth and living in style. We lived frugally in simple rented houses for some 25 years before building our home in Bel Air.

It was in 1947 that Dr Cheddi Jagan entered the hurry burly of politics when he ran for the Central Demerara seat as an independent labour candidate. He won office and was a popular candidate, his well-known charisma coming into full view of the electorate (restricted as it was without universal adult suffrage). He confounded the old guard in the Parliament of the day who didn't know quite what to do with this young man who came from the bowels of the sugar estates. They were concerned and hostile to his radical approach of most issues and his determined efforts to get to the truth, as he did when he exposed the control of the media, newspapers and radio, in the hands of interlocking directorates of those who also controlled the political and economic life of the country.

They were accustomed to bombasts who came into the Legislature and made a lot of noise; the noisier they were, the higher the pay-off. But while Dr. Jagan made a lot of noise, he was not for sale.

To appease their chagrin at this upstart who seemed to know too much and wanted a lot for the people, they began to say that his white wife was the one who had all the brains and that he was just doing her bidding. This slander which aimed at denigrating his intelligence and his worth continued through the years and one still hears it said. It was in fact, a racial slur, that a 'coolie' boy from the estate could not have an intellect of his own.

It is a great pity that later this year, we would have celebrated Dr. Jagan's 50th year in Parliament, a monumental record of achievement which expresses what he has done, and what he has meant to the people and the nation he served.

During this period before the formation of the People's Progressive Party in January 1950, it was a very important stage in the life of the man who was to become President of Guyana after waging a 28 years battle to restore democracy and end the despotic regime of the PNC led by Messrs Burnham and Hoyte.

These distinct characteristics of Dr. Jagan were emerging at this time of his life when he was in his 20's and 30's. The internal discipline that permitted him to do so many things and to carry such heavy loads of responsibility was emerging as a distinct aspect of his character.

His ability to concentrate in the presence of many diversions was also becoming apparent. For example, after he and his government were catapulted out of office in 1964 following the CIA intervention and all the horrific events of that period, he sat down and wrote "The West on Trial". His toughness of spirit which allowed him to take an objective view of situations despite unusual, excessive and persistent attacks and obstacles was now becoming evident.

Also emerging as his character was further developing, was an aspect of what was to become a life-long love and commitment - studying, reading and writing. He read extensively. He enjoyed reading and then discussing, arguing, persuading and the general cut and thrust of debate with friends and opponents alike.

Later in life, writing articles, pamphlets and books were very important to him as were speaking engagements, lectures and the political platform when he could teach as well as campaign on issues and for elections.

His unpretentious dignity and humility were part of his being. His stately posture, his gracefulness and his famous warm smile were part of the aura, the charisma of this outstanding man. He exercised daily, ate moderately and did not smoke or drink).

A very important part of his character was his love of people, his humanity and his unswerving desire to make the lives of people better.

His enemies have always accused him of 'race politics' but this is so far from the truth that it is an abomination. He never saw people as belonging to one race or another; he saw them as the exploited or the exploiters. He always, without exception, saw people without any regard to ethnic origin. He was in fact 'colour blind'. His goal was always national unity.

In my view, Dr Jagan's formative years were during this important period of his life, 1943 - 1948. 

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009



November 1947 – “A People’s Victory” by Janet Jagan


In the 1947 elections 60 years ago, Cheddi Jagan declared himself a candidate for Central Demerara (Buxton to Kitty), which was held by John D’Aguiar (no relation to Peter D’Aguiar) who had represented that constituency since 1939. Mr D’Aguiar was a member of the Executive Committee (something like a Cabinet), Chairman of the Rice Marketing Board, Managing Director of J.P. Santos and Co. Ltd. and held top positions in many Boards and Committees. Other candidates for that seat were Frank Jacobs, a lawyer and member of the Labour Party, and H.L. Palmer, an elderly village leader.

One of the main contestants at the 1947 elections was the newly formed Labour Party However, according to Dr Jagan in “The West on Trial” … “with only 14 elected seats to share it could not accommodate all the ambitious individuals who wanted legislative honours. Consequently, this jockeying for position left the LCP (League of Coloured People) and the BGEIA (British Guiana East Indian Association) still dominant.”

According to Cheddi Jagan in his book: “So certain of victory were his (John D’Aguiar) backers in the Catholic Church and in business circles that they concentrated their power, influence and propaganda not against me, but against my wife” (referring to my campaign in Central Georgetown).

Cheddi Jagan won the Central Demerara seat by a close margin. He put this victory to his regular visits to the area over a period of time, working in the sugar estates and villages.

As he noted in “The West on Trial”: “And so I was in the legislature, an end of sorts, yet in fact only the beginning of the long, hard struggle ahead.” How right he was!

Further he noted: “I regarded my victory at the 1947 general election as the people’s victory. In a brief post-ballot-count speech, I said: `We the people have won. Now the struggle will begin’.”

He was only 29 years old at the time and he had entered a Legislative Council made up of 4 ex-officio members including the Governor, 7 nominated non-official and 14 elected members. It was a traditional colonial parliament; fearful of granting too much power to the people being governed under colonial rule. And as I had noted in my previous article, the franchise was restricted to property or income qualifications, as well as literacy.

Again, it is useful to refer to Dr Jagan’s book which in reality, is a history of our country. He wrote about his early experiences in the Legislative Council: “I brought a new dimension to the politics of protest, a continuity between the legislature and the street corner; the legislature was brought to the “streets” and the “streets” to the legislature. The Legislative Council was no longer the hallowed Chamber where “gentlemen” debated at leisure and had their words recorded in Hansard for posterity. The legislature at last became part and parcel of the struggle of the people.”

He joined forces with the Labour Party which had won 6 of the 14 seats. He describes some of the problems of that party which worsened as party decisions were flouted and members did not support positions arrived at. A crucial break came when the issue of Universal Adult Suffrage came up, with Mr Kendall and Dr Nicholson of the Labour Party voting with the colonial government side. After this debacle, the Labour Party faded out and never revived.

There is always a humorous side to many aspects of life and the Legislative Council and Cheddi Jagan produced one. Cheddi, as those who knew him or heard him were aware, was a speaker who spoke at length on many issues, bringing out all the facts and statistics to prove his points. This was his style and he spent many hours doing research and gathering material for his speeches. But the aristocrats of the Legislative Council could not believe that a product of plantation life, the son of a “coolie”, could be so knowledgeable and fluent. To them, it was an impossibility, so they began the rumour that his white wife wrote all his speeches and he memorized them. Even though they detested me, I was still of their colour.

But after a while, it became clear that no one could memorize all he had to say, and Cheddi had a lot to say in his almost one man battle to fight for the rights of the oppressed, the poor, the neglected, and the exploited.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


Dr Jagan 60 Years Ago -- A Voice Calling for Justice by Janet Jagan

 We commemorate on December 18th the 60th anniversary of the entry of Cheddi Jagan to the Legislative Council of the then British Guiana (BG) after the elections of November 24, 1947. The year before, he, along with three others, had formed the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) which set out as its goal, the formation of a political party to lead the country in its quest to end colonial rule by Britain.

Cheddi Jagan’s spirited and positive advocacy of the rights of the Guianese people helped prepare the ground for the formation of the People’s Progressive Party in January 1950. His forthright, able and consistent stand in the Legislature gave him an unusual status and acceptance as a leader in many parts of Guiana, through which he and the members of the PAC travelled, held meetings and met the working people, assisting them in their problems and articulating their hopes and desires for the future of the country.

As Cheddi Jagan recorded in his book “The West on Trial”: “The struggle in the next five years was to become intensified – a struggle in which I stood practically alone in the legislature against big business, though with growing support among the peoples; a struggle in which the task was to expose and attempt to break the hold the sugar planters and the Chamber of Commerce had on the legislature, the administration and the economy of the country.”

He tackled early on the role of bauxite and its very low contribution to the economy, even though British Guiana and Dutch Guiana were the largest producers of high grade bauxite, supplying then two-thirds of the world’s bauxite requirements. The Demerara Bauxite Co. (Demba) paid no royalty on bauxite mined from its own land and a small royalty of 10 cents per ton on ore mined from leased crown lands. Dr Jagan urged, in the legislature, increased royalties on bauxite. He challenged the government: “It may well be asked whether government is satisfied that the wealth of the people of this country should be dug out of the earth and shipped out of the colony without one cent being paid in royalty, with the exception of a small percentage…which the company pays 10 cents per ton.”

He dealt in full with the ramifications of price control of aluminum by the monopoly ALCOA, charging manipulated prices, low taxes, forcing BG to be a primary producer only, etc. Obviously, he put much time and effort into his research on bauxite and its international control.

Today there are some hate-filled writers who attempt to lower the prestige and love Dr Jagan earned through some 60 years of work and dedication to the interests of the people and his country, forgetting the quality of the man, his intellectual grasp that led to a better understanding of the exploitation of the nation and to the man himself, a man of dignity, integrity, culture and most of all, his fighting spirit.

Not only did Dr Jagan tackle the issue of Demba getting away with ripping off BG as regards taxation, he also exposed other wrong-doings of the British colonialists and their flunkies. He exposed the machinations of the sugar planters, showing not only their control of sugar, but other controls. For example, he showed how the radio station was owned jointly by Booker Brothers, Mc Connel & Co. Ltd., William Fogarty Ltd., Wieting & Richter Ltd and the Argosy Co. Ltd., and was given a 15 years contract and a government subsidy equivalent to 90% of the licence fees collected from owners of radio sets. Also, the three daily newspapers – the Guiana Graphic, the Daily Argosy and the Daily Chronicle, along with the radio station, had interlocking directorates. The sugar planters and the leaders of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce owned the Graphic and Mr HG Seaford of Bookers was chairman of the Chronicle. In other words, the name this country once had was “Bookers Guiana,” a British company which was almost in full control of the country’s economy, its media and its politics – all under colonial rule.

These revelations were all steps in the direction of educating the people about what being a colony meant and why there was need to begin the struggle for independence. This began in earnest when the People’s Progressive Party was formed in 1950, with its declared intention of seeking an end to colonialism.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


A Piece Of Guyana's History - 1953-1955

by Janet Jagan

In 1983, I wrote the following article published in Thunder marking the 30th Anniversary of the suspension of the constitution in 1953 and the arrival of British troops which invaded and took control of British Guiana after removing the democratically elected government of the PPP led by Cheddi Jagan.

The year 1953 was one of great historical importance to all Guyanese. It was the year of the first Guyanese people's victory of this century, when, organised and led by the newly-formed People's Progressive Party, a resounding success was obtained at the first elections ever held under universal adult suffrage. Led by the PPP, the people's demands for self government had been partly won with Guyana (then British Guiana) having one of the most advanced constitutions in the British Empire.

For 4 1/2 months, exactly 133 days, the PPP in office fought for and won some significant changes for the people. The subversive literature law (introduced in the previous parliament by Lionel Luckhoo) was repealed; the first steps for the removal of church control of the schools were made; and a battle was waged over the right of workers to be represented by the union of their choice by way of a poll. (Those were the days when MPCA was foisted on the sugar workers who were denied the right to join a trade union of their choice). It was on this issue, as well as others considered by the British to be controversial, that the British government made the decision to remove the PPP from office and suspend the Constitution.

The reasons given for this drastic decision were so ridiculous that the Churchill government had a hard time making convincing charges. The government White Paper on the suspension of the British Guiana Constitution alleged that there was a fire plot hatched by the PPP to burn down the City of Georgetown! But those were the cold war days and even the slightest tint of 'red' sent the Anglo-American imperialists into a frenzy. In the same year, 1953, in June, the Mossadegh government which had nationalised the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, was overthrown by the CIA in Iran and one year later, the progressive government of President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala was to suffer the same fate.

British warships landed in Georgetown harbour, despatching marines and other troops on that troubled day in October 1953. This was the beginning of a period of martial law, of curfews, restrictions on the movements of certain leading members of the PPP, the curtailment of most civil liberties, detention, searches and imprisonment.

The PPP decided to vigorously resist the measures and after opposition from the opportunistic faction in the Executive Committee was out-voted, it was agreed that PPP leader Cheddi Jagan would break the restriction orders on him (restricting him to the boundaries of the City of Georgetown). This he did and was arrested, brought back to Georgetown, held at Brickdam Police Station, put on trial and sent to prison. At Brickdam Police Station, a large protest demonstration took place in which a number of leading members of the party was arrested. 

From then on there were many acts of defiance of the unjust restrictions placed on the people by the British authorities. The intension of the Colonial Power was to, once and for all, destroy the PPP and terrify and intimidate the awakened people. It must not be forgotten that the Party was formed on the principles of fighting for the full independence of British Guiana and then the building of a socialist society. This would mean, of course, the end of British plunder of the wealth of the territory.

When Cheddi Jagan went to prison in 1954, it heightened the anti-colonial struggle, sparked off the people's resistance and focused world attention on the violations by Britain against our country. It was the first time in Guyana that the jail held a political prisoner since the days of Rev. John Smith, over a century before.

Cheddi Jagan's days in prison were very full ones and reflect on his complete commitment to the cause he represented and his thirst for more and more knowledge and understanding, as well as his unrelenting drive to develop the people's consciousness and lead them into struggle.

In his book The West On Trial, he said: "Prison life was for me a new experience, a novel and welcome one in some respects. It gave me opportunity for real leisure and rest. Apart from scrubbing floors, I developed a hobby in carpentry... What I enjoyed most was the luxury of almost limitless time for reading and writing. Novels, which I had never had much time to read, constituted the bulk of my reading. Serious books were rare. And in the political field there was very little, other than Tory propaganda material; the prison authorities had instituted a thorough screening process. My articles for my party paper had to be written on toilet paper and smuggled out because of the system of prison censorship."

The Archives of the PPP contain 233 pages of letters and articles which Cheddi Jagan wrote from prison, all without the knowledge of the prison authorities. There were more, but these were lost.

While in prison, his fight for better conditions for prisoners continued throughout his term, causing him to be taken before the Superintendent of Prisons on more than one occasion, and being charged for organising hunger strikes of protest. He wrote articles on prison conditions, exposed the poor state of meals, led prison protests and prepared questions to be sent to the British Labour Parliamentarian Jennie Lee, who, in fact, tabled such questions in the House of Commons.

He wrote articles on - "British Lion Skinned", "End Wage Slavery", "Surplus Value - Profit, Interest, Rents", "Guatemalan Invasion", "Amerindian Sweat", and a series of definitions on freedom, self determination, the almighty dollar, class struggle - to name a few.

In prison he organised a reading circle for prisoners and arranged for literature (mostly political) to come into the prison clandestinely, so that prisoners could read and learn.

He described an amusing, yet telling, episode in prison. There was in the Georgetown prison at this time every Sunday, an "Uplift Hour." He got the prisoners to request the Superintendent's permission to speak. The latter's answer was: "since when is Jagan a parson?" Jagan told the prisoners to go back and tell the Superintendent that he would speak on crime: "Thou shall not steal." Permission was granted.

On Sunday, June 6, 1954 Prisoner Cheddi Jagan was the Speaker. He first dealt with petty thievery, the laws and punishment from the early days when persons were drawn and quartered for stealing things like sheep and goats. He then pointed out the nature of capitalist robbery of the working class and told the prison audience that the biggest thieves, who generally made the laws and were quick to apply the 'cals' were outside the jails.

Two days later Cheddi Jagan was ushered before the prison authorities and told that in future he could not take part in the "Uplift Hour." In protest of this, the prisoners on the next Sunday, June 13, 1954, quietly lined up and marched back to their cells.

From the books available to him, in the prison library and smuggled into prison, he made many extracts for quotations to be printed in Thunder. Thunder was at that time a weekly paper, edited by various members in and out of jail including Rory Westmaas, Janet Jagan and Eric Huntley. Dr Jagan, in one of his prison letters, highly praised the printer of Thunder for his courage in the face of many threats. Eventually, a permanent police guard was stationed at the printery. At that time, the vicious editor of the Daily Argosy, Seal Coon, was calling for the banning of Thunder and the deportation of the Jagans.

One of the beautiful quotations he picked out was from the writing of the late American Communist Joseph North (who visited Guyana in the '60s, and addressed a Party Congress): "The people are indestructible. You can beat them down, chain them, gag them, toll the bell for them, but they rise again, not mysteriously - inevitably! And stronger each time! And those who speak their aspirations will never be silenced."

Another quotation he made from Faiz Ahmad Faiz, then in a Pakistan jail, a poem entitled A few days more -

"Few are the moments left to oppression's sharp tooth
Patience, injustice has only a brief moment to reign!
In this parched desert of earth, this lingering sand.
We must endure for today - not for ever more." stay!
Nameless affliction, the weight of the foreigners' hand
We must endure for today - not for ever more."

In an article on Freedom of Movement, he chastised Barbados Premier Grantley Adams, who, while restricting freedom of movement of PPP members, was criticising Trinidad for not agreeing to this principle in framing the Federation's Constitution. Jagan and Burnham had been denied entry to Barbados when returning from London in early 1954 and Ashton Chase was refused entry on his way to Caracas to attend a Conference.

And included in the prison letters was a poem Cheddi wrote, perhaps the only one he ever had time to write:

Today we strive to end our humanity's pains
To extract your oppression's painful tooth,
To cut your vicious circle of our lives -
- No work, no land, crime punishment, crime
But you tread with savage fascist steps
With quislings, and hired mercenaries
Willing and unwilling slaves and shares of your loot.
You keep your bayonets at our throats and shout
Law and Order must prevail!
Don't read that!
Don't say that!
Don't do that!
Don't go there!
Our beautiful country a vast prison you have made
And fences built to wrench us from our beloved -
our homes
our children
our brothers
our comrades
You beat us on our heads in the name of peace
While in cleric robes you call for peace
For you, peace is our grave and life hereafter
For us, peace is joy and life and laughter
For this we march tomorrow!

(Note: reference to "Savage" had a double meaning as the British Governor's name was Alfred Savage).

The experiences of the early 1950s were of tremendous value in the future development of the PPP. The Party gained experience of a popular mass party winning limited power through elections and then to have the gains suddenly ripped away. The people experienced gun-boat rule, the compliance of quislings who formed a puppet Interim government, the manipulations and promises leading up to the split in the Party in 1955 and the continued efforts to break the spirit of the left-wing of the PPP (for from the time of the split until after the 1957 elections there were 2 parties calling themselves PPP, one led by Cheddi Jagan and the other by LFS Burnham) and to smash the Party.

That the British failed was made clear in 1957 when the people responded to all the threats, calumny and slander by again giving the PPP a resounding victory at the polls. It proved the validity of Joseph North's words that the people always rise again, despite all that is done to keep them down. And that, we can say, applies to our situation in the '80s!

Explanatory Notes:

British Lion Skinned - deals with Britain's decline "it's roar a faint whisper," rising influences and power of USA, displacing Britain as a world power... contradictions in the struggle for loot and markets.

Surplus Value - Profits, interest, rents: the ruling class makes the laws, extracts the profits; explaining in simple language, using examples, the ways in which capitalism makes profits.

End Wage Slavery: A continuation of above article, showing how workers are exploited, switching from time to piece work, speeding up production - all to make profits from workers' labour.

Guatemalan Invasion: The 1954 rape of Guatemala, the anti-communist campaign the US "upholding the rights of Guatemalan citizens" as its excuse.

Amerindian Sweat: Exploitation of Amerindians by the Rupununi Development Corporation, Analysis of its annual report, the Peberdy Report on Amerindian Welfare and the fact that they were a landless and exploited people.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


Reminiscences of Cheddi Jagan -1964-1966 by Janet Jagan


 After the 1964 elections and their aftermath, we moved out of Red House, our home since 1961. It was a beautiful old building from the 19th Century and was occupied until Dr. Jagan became Premier by high-ranking British Civil servants, the last being the Colonial Secretary Mr. Jakeway. It was always called Red House because of the colour of the shingled building.

Although the PPP won the most votes of any single party – 47% - under the newly introduced electoral system of proportional representative (PR), we did not win over 50% which would guarantee us the government. Two small parties – one Muslim and one other were urged to contest in order to split the PPP votes. The other Party was headed by the disgruntled Balram Singh Rai, a former Minister of the PPP government who left under highly controversial circumstances.

The complete changing of the electoral system from constituency to PR was introduced to prevent the PPP from again winning elections, as it had done in 1953, 1957 and 1961. This was all a reflection of the Cold War atmosphere.

According to normal parliamentary procedure, the Party with the greatest numbers of votes should have been called in to form the government. If it failed, other parties could be approached. However, in this instance, the British, behind the scenes, brought together the People’s National Congress headed by Forbes Burnham and the United Force led by big businessman Peter D’Aguair to form the government, which they did.

With these changes, we immediately moved out of Red House to a hastily rented house on Camp Street, a very noisy area of the City.

What I found amazing was how Dr. Jagan reacted to all these changes – from living in Red House to living in the new quarters– from Premier to Opposition Leader. He sat down quietly at a table and started assembling papers; then sat down for long hours in the day and night to write "The West on Trial." His powers of concentration were indeed impressive.

Of course, his daytime writings were frequently broken by internal party meetings, fulfilling his duties as General Secretary and going around the country side talking to Party members and supporters, helping them understand what had taken place and keeping their spirits high.

I cannot now remember how long it took him to complete the book, but I believe it was over a year, since he had so many other duties to perform, including his role of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.

On top of all of all of that, he started making plans for his family to have a permanent place of abode, as we had been renting our living quarters since 1943. A simple house was constructed on a house lot in Bel Air that we had purchased in 1957 and we moved there in 1966, by this time with very little furniture, and with our two children, Cheddi Jr. and Nadira and our dog and monkey.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009