Remembering Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan

Dr. Cheddi Jagan on his visit to York University in Toronto.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan on his visit to York University in Toronto.

With the future of Guyana weighed and found wanting through a backward-ever mentality by the current administration, members of the Guyana Diaspora will converge at Twilight Family Restaurant March 20 at 1 p.m. to reflect, tell personal stories and share ideas for a forward-ever Guyana, in memory of  Freedom Fighter Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

“Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan always walked the talk. He was the change that he wanted to see in Guyana. God Bless his soul,” Indra Hardat told the Eyes Guy.

Hardat added, “None of them … no one can come even close to Guyana’s recipient of the South Africa O.R. Tambo awardee Dr. Jagan.”

He stressed, “But it’s the underprivileged Guyanese who I am concerned with and are the primary reason that we must continue Dr. Jagan’s struggle and fight for Guyana’s continued freedom and democracy.”

Balwant Prasad said, “All his – Dr. Jagan’s – thoughts, speeches and actions were aimed at bettering the lives of the struggling Guyanese people. Who can match this?”

In his paper at York University on Oct. 31, 1996, on Sustainable Development in the Americas, Jagan posited,” It is almost two years since the Summit of the Americas was convened by president Bill Clinton. The conference theme, Democracy and Free Trade, was evidence that many of the lessons of the past, especially the devastating eighties, had not been heeded.

“A critique of the failed economic models foisted on Latin America and the Caribbean seemed unnecessary as the new gospel of free trade was put in place as yet another panacea. The fundamental differences in the level of development between the post-industrial giants and banana republics faded into nothingness and were replaced by a new-found ‘consensus’.”

Jagan, a prolific author, including his seminal work The West on Trial, The Fight for Guyana’s Freedom, said the Miami Summit (the Eyes Guy covered the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City with former president Bharrat Jagdeo) returned not only to democracy as enunciated by President Betancourt of Venezuela and supported by President Kennedy but also to President Johnson’s regional integration and free trade (ideological frontiers rather than geographical frontiers) which led to the formation of the Latin America Free Trade Area (LAFTA) and the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA), which later became CARICOM.

Jagan who fought for the elimination or at least amelioration of poverty stressed market-driven economic globalization and unbridled modernization, coupled with inhumane and ill-designed structural adjustment programs were leading to a spiral of marginalization and exclusion, to poverty, unemployment and social disintegration.

“The former World Bank president Lewis T. Preston told the UN Population and Development Conference: ‘A billion people already struggle to survive on a dollar a day. Two billion people are without clean water, three million children die each year from malnutrition’,” Jagan said.

“Caribbean countries are also very likely to be affected by sea level rise caused by global warming and their environment is being subjected to the impact of severe weather systems. There is need, therefore, for increased cooperation and collaboration within the wider Caribbean region and between the Caribbean and the rest of the world in the field of environmental protection, conservation and enhancement for sustainable development,” he noted.

Jagan said Guyana presented a classic example of the inherent contradictions and pitfalls experienced by developing countries over the past several decades. “The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) united the Guyanese people in the 1940s in the fight against British Colonialism. Through various devices the PPP, which consistently won free and fair elections, was replaced by the PNC / UP coalition in 1964, with the help of external assistance. But not before the country was divided along racial lines.”