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Cheddi Bharat Jagan

In office
9 October 1992 – 6 March 1997
Prime Minister Sam Hinds
Preceded by Desmond Hoyte
Succeeded by Sam Hinds

Born 22 March 1918(1918-03-22)
Georgetown, Guyana
Died 6 March 1997 (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., United States
Political party People's Progressive Party
Spouse(s) Janet Jagan
Religion Hinduism

Cheddi Bharat Jagan (March 22, 1918 – March 6, 1997) was a Guyanese politician who was Chief Minister of British Guiana from 1961 to 1964, prior to independence, and later President of Guyana from 1992 to 1997.[1]

The son of ethnic Indian sugar plantation workers, Jagan managed to attend Queen's College in Georgetown. He later studied at the Howard University Dental School in Washington, D.C., and Northwestern University in Chicago before returning home in the early 1940s.

He was elected to the colonial legislative body, the Legislative Council, in November 1947 as an independent candidate from Central Demerara constituency. On January 1, 1950, the People's Progressive Party (PPP) was founded, with Jagan as its Leader, Forbes Burnham as its Chairman and Jagan's wife Janet as its Secretary.[2]

Jagan won in a colonially administered election in 1953, but was removed from power militarily by Britain, which, under strong behind-the-scenes pressure from the United States and the CIA, asserted that he had ties to the Soviet Union.[3] Jagan resigned as British Guiana prime minister after 133 days. Britain suspended the constitution and chose an interim government. Jagan's movements were restricted to Georgetown from 1954 to 1957.

After a PPP victory in the August 1961 election, Jagan became Chief Minister for a second time, serving for three years. In the December 1964 election, the PPP won a plurality of votes, but Burnham's party, the People's National Congress, and the conservative United Force were nevertheless invited to form the government.[2]

Having broken off links with Burnham Jagan was active in the government as a labor activist and leader of the opposition. After 28 years in opposition, he and the PPP won the October 1992 election with about 54% of the vote, and Jagan became President.[4]

Jagan suffered a heart attack in the morning of February 15, 1997 and was taken to Georgetown Hospital before being flown by U.S. military aircraft[5] to Walter Reed Army Hospital in the U.S. capital, Washington, DC, later that day.[1][5] He underwent heart surgery there and died in Washington on March 6, 1997. Prime Minister Sam Hinds succeeded him as President and declared six days of mourning, describing Jagan as the "greatest son and patriot that has ever walked this land".[1]

His presidential tenure was characterized by the revival of the union movement and a re-commitment to education and infrastructure improvement. Towards the end of his life, he abandoned Marxism-Leninism and began to move his country to a free-market capitalist system while preserving a social democracy.

He married Janet (née Rosenberg), an alleged former member of a communist youth organization, in 1943, and the couple had two children, Nadira and Cheddi Jr. (who in turn produced five grandchildren, Cheddi B. Jagan II, Vrinda Jagan, Avasa Jagan, Alex Brancier, Natasha Brancier). Mrs. Jagan followed her husband's footsteps and held the positions of prime minister and president in 1997 (succeeded as president by Bharrat Jagdeo in 1999). A museum in the capital, Georgetown, celebrates Cheddi Jagan's life and work, complete with a replication of his office.

Jagan was also an important political author and speechwriter, and his publications include Forbidden Freedom: The Story of British Guiana, The West On Trial: My Fight for Guyana's Freedom, The Caribbean Revolution, and The USA in South America, among others.


  1. ^ a b c Larry Rohter, "Cheddi Jagan, Guyana's Founder, Dies at 78", The New York Times, March 7, 1997.
  2. ^ a b History of the PPP, PPP website.
  3. ^ The Suspension of the British Guiana Constitution - 1953 ((Declassified British documents)
  4. ^ "Cheddi Jagan Elected As Guyana's President", The New York Times, October 8, 1992.
  5. ^ a b "In the Americas", The Miami Herald (, February 16, 1997.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Office established
Chief Minister of Guyana
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
Office established
Premier of Guyana
1961 – 1964
Succeeded by
Forbes Burnham
Preceded by
Desmond Hoyte
President of Guyana
1992 – 1997
Succeeded by
Sam Hinds


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