Cheddi and Janet Jagan – Wedding Photo – Chicago/USA – 1943
Photo Credit: Cheddi Jagan Research Centre
On Saturday, at the People’s Climate Los Angeles – Building Blocks against Climate Change, I had the opportunity to chat with the leader of the small contingent from the Communist Party USA. I learned that he had visited Guyana in 1967.
In the 1960s, in what was then British Guiana, the Catholic Church had drilled the fear of communism into my young impressionable mind. Those were the days of the Cold War. With their dread of the Soviet Union and fear of another Cuba in their backyard, the US government covertly ousted from power Guyana’s populist East Indian leader, the Marxist Cheddi Jagan.
“I met Cheddi Jagan and his wife, Janet,” the white American male said with pride.
In college, he had specialized in Latin American Studies and had done a study on Cheddi Jagan. While visiting Guyana, he had the opportunity to stand beside Cheddi Jagan on the platform at a political meeting. Dr. Jagan introduced him to the crowd as a comrade from the United States.
“At twenty-four years old, that was a big moment in my life,” the man added.
In 1942, twenty-four-year-old Cheddi Jagan, who, at eighteen years, had come to the United States to study dentistry, met the “exceedingly beautiful” Jewish-American Janet Rosenberg. Without the approval of their parents, Cheddi and Janet married in 1943 at a simple ceremony at Chicago City Hall.
After losing the December 1964 General Elections, Cheddi Jagan and his People’s Progressive Party, established in 1950, did not win another election until 1992. By then, the Soviet Union had collapsed. Communism was no longer a threat for the United States. Finally, at the age of seventy-four, Cheddi Jagan became the President of Guyana until his death in 1997.
In the December 1997 General Elections, Janet Jagan became the first female, Jewish, and American-born President of Guyana. In 1999, owing to a heart condition, she stepped down from the presidency. Since then, the People’s Progressive Party has retained power in Guyana.
In the meantime, the global political landscape has entered another loop. The United States and its Western allies have initiated a Second Cold War against Russia. This time, communism is not the threat. It’s the Ukraine crisis.
For international trade professionals and import-export companies doing business with Russia, Sanctions Update may be of interest in keeping abreast with the growing number of sanctions.
At the United Nations General Assembly in March 2014, Guyana was among 58 countries that abstained from voting in favor of sanctions against Russia. Under pressure from the United States to support the sanctions, the Minister of Foreign Affairs defended Guyana’s position in a statement to the Stabroek News. American, British, and Canadian diplomats in Guyana continue to pressure the government of the People’s Progressive Party for support in condemning Russia’s occupation of the Ukraine.
Our world has evolved. Unrestrained capitalism threatens our habitats and global climate: the very survival of our species.
Are Cheddi and Janet Jagan now having the last laugh?