From Chicago to Guyana: Janet Rosenberg Jagan takes over as president.When Janet Rosalie Rosenberg was born at Michael Reese Hospital Michael Reese Hospital is an American hospital founded in 1881. It is one of the oldest hospitals in Chicago.
Louis Katz, the Medical Research Institute's first full-time investigator and former president of the American Heart Association, was one of the first to explore the on Chicago's South Side, the odds were a zillion to one that she'd one day be president of Guyana, South America's only English-speaking nation.
Yet when the seventy-seven-year-old, who describes herself as "an old fuddy-duddy," scored a decisive victory Meaning
A Decisive victory is an indisputable military victory of a battle that determines or significantly influences the ultimate result of a conflict. It does not always coincide with the end of combat. in the elections this past December, it came as no surprise to the people of Guyana. She has devoted more than fifty years of her life to this Idaho-sized country, which won independence from England in 1966.
Throughout her five decades of involvement in Guyanese politics, she and her husband, Cheddi Jagan Cheddi Jagan, also known as Cheddi Berret Jagan (March 22, 1918 – March 6, 1997), was the chief minister (1957-1964) and president (1992-1997) of Guyana. The son of ethnic Indian sugar plantation workers, Jagan managed to attend Queen's College in Georgetown. , were jailed for their activities, won high elective offices, and along the way had to fend off both the CIA CIA: see Central Intelligence Agency.
(1) (Confidentiality Integrity Authentication) The three important concerns with regards to information security. Encryption is used to provide confidentiality (privacy, secrecy). and Britain's MI5.
In October 1992, Cheddi became president of Guyana. He served until March 6, 1996, when he died of heart failure. Prime Minister Samuel A. Hinds then became president and named Janet Jagan Janet Rosalie Jagan (née Rosenberg on 20 October 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, United States) was President of Guyana from 19 December 1997 to 11 August 1999, and also served as Prime Minister from 17 March 1997 up until her appointment as President. prime minister.
Now she is president.
Janet Jagan's father, Charles Rosenberg, worked as a plumbing and heating salesman on Chicago's South Side. The Depression and anti-Semitism took their toll. "Business was awful," she recalls. "Father couldn't make a good living." But he did spark her interest in the world. "My father took me to the public library once a week," she says. "He got me reading a lot."
Over the years, people have often asked her whether she is related to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Julius Rosenberg (May 12, 1918 – June 19, 1953) and Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg (September 28, 1915 – June 19, 1953) were American Communists who received international attention when they were executed for passing nuclear weapons secrets to the Soviet Union. , executed in 1953 for being Communist spies. She emphatically denies any familial relationship. "It makes me angry," she says. "People say that maliciously, but we're not related. Look in the New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of or Chicago phone books, and you'll find a couple of pages of Rosenbergs." Janet's family moved to Detroit during the Depression, enabling her to go to Detroit University, Wayne State Wayne State may refer to the following public institutions:
Janet Rosenberg's interest in Guyana began in 1942, when she was a nursing student at Chicago's Cook County Hospital. One night at a party, she met a dental student from Northwestern University Northwestern University, mainly at Evanston, Ill.; coeducational; chartered 1851, opened 1855 by Methodists. In 1873 it absorbed Evanston College for Ladies. . He was a young man from British Guiana British Guiana: see Guyana. named Cheddi Jagan.
Janet's parents strongly opposed her marriage to Cheddi, and his parents didn't approve, either. But that didn't stop them.
Cheddi returned to Port Mourant Port Mourant is a village located in region six, East Berbice-Corentyne, in Guyana. This agriculturally sustained village is famous for producing one of the country's most influential political figures, Dr. Cheddi Jagan. At latitude 6.2500 longitude -57. , British Guiana, to set up his dental practice Noun 1. dental practice - the practice of dentistry
practice - the exercise of a profession; "the practice of the law"; "I took over his practice when he retired" in the fall of 1943, using second-hand equipment he'd bought in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . Janet stayed in Chicago a few months, earning money as a proofreader for the American Medical Association American Medical Association (AMA), professional physicians' organization (founded 1847). Its goals are to protect the interests of American physicians, advance public health, and support the growth of medical science. . She arrived in British Guiana just before Christmas that year.
The couple quickly became involved in leftwing politics. "When the sugar plantation workers had problems, they always called on Cheddi," Janet Jagan recalls. Soon the couple started to participate in the trade-union movement. "We met the general secretary of affairs of the British Guiana Labor Union labor union: see union, labor. and formed a political-affairs committee. In 1946, there was a bauxite bauxite (bôk`sīt, bŏk`–), mixture of hydrated aluminum oxides usually containing oxides of iron and silicon in varying quantities. workers' strike, and in 1947, the British-controlled parliament restricted suffrage. A lot of workers came to Cheddi and wanted him to run for a parliament seat. Cheddi won; I lost in another district. Cheddi was a great success. He was the only one who spoke for the workers. Others got bought out, and there was a media monopoly."
The 1946 bauxite workers' strike was followed by a sugar workers' strike. "We were involved," she says. "I collected funds and food, organized soup kitchens. The strike lasted a long time, and I got to know the five men who became the Enmore Martyrs--the police shot them in the back."
She went on to organize domestic workers and helped found the Women's Political and Economic Organization and other groups. With Forbes Burnham Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham (February 20 1923 – August 6 1985) was a Guyanese political leader and leader of Guyana from 1964 until his death, as the Prime Minister from 1964 to 1980 and as President from 1980 to 1985. (later a rival), Janet and Cheddi launched the People's Progressive Party There are several parties named People's Progressive Party:
In 1953, when the British introduced limited self-government, the People's Progressive Party won. Janet was elected to parliament and became the legislature's deputy speaker, the first woman in that post. Cheddi was chief minister. But "the British kicked us out after four and a half months," she recalls. "The constitution was suspended and the British Marines brought in. The party was split. Race entered into it sideways."
Race has played a prominent role in Guyanese politics. About 48 percent of Guyana's population is East Indian East In·dies
Indonesia. The term is sometimes used to refer to all of Southeast Asia. Historically, it referred chiefly to India.
East Indian adj. & n.
Noun 1. , 33 percent Afro-Guyanese, 6 percent Amerindian, and the rest are of British, Portuguese, Chinese, or mixed heritage. British colonialists abolished slavery in 1834 and then turned to India to import indentured workers to labor in the rice fields, sugar plantations, and mines, a system of quasi-slavery that didn't end until 1917.
Cheddi Jagan was of East Indian heritage; Forbes Burnham was AfroGuyanese. In the mid-1950s, Burnham split off and formed the People's National Congress The People's National Congress is a socialist political party in Guyana. At the last elections, in August 2006, the party won 34% of the vote and 22 of the 65 seats in Parliament.
From 1964 to 1992, the PNC dominated Guyana's politics, mainly through rigged elections. .
The British rulers slapped heavy restrictions on Guyanese politicians, and in early 1954, Cheddi was jailed for six months for violating a rule--he traveled out of town. The day Cheddi was released, Janet was jailed.
"I was jailed for attending a Hindu thing called a Yag, and I had a copy of Nehru's book," she says. "The British called it a political meeting--illegal, though there were prayers. They raided the house for prohibited literature. There were some political books, some stuff by Lenin. And they planted a police manual. I'm sure it was planted. We weren't supposed to have such things. We had our choice a fine or jail. We decided no fines, go to jail, civil disobedience civil disobedience, refusal to obey a law or follow a policy believed to be unjust. Practitioners of civil disobediance basing their actions on moral right and usually employ the nonviolent technique of passive resistance in order to bring wider attention to the . Cheddi's father tried to pay my fine. I had to stop him. We were resisting the colonialists."
She was in jail nearly six months. But that didn't alter her political outlook, which has remained consistent over the years.
"Cheddi and I always have believed in socialism," she says. "To us that meant getting rid of oppression, so the poor man can get out of this poverty, get the fruits of the country. Now, after the Cold War, there's a new human global order, a different global outlook. Now all the spending for arms can go elsewhere. We can get rid of wars and poverty."
In 1957, the British restored constitutional rule and the People's Progressive Party won the election. Janet Jagan was reelected to the legislature and became minister of labor, health, and housing. "In four years, we did pretty good. We opened lands to housing, brought in new riverboats," she says. "I was considered the minister who got things done. I took bureaucrats into the country to show them how people lived, set up a network of doctors and dentists a dozen health clinics, got about 5,000 houses and apartments built with very low rents, like $20 a month. There was no bribery or favoritism, people who needed help got it--mainly blacks in the slums got it."
In 1961, the Burnham-led People's National Congress challenged them. "We won again, and all hell blew out as the CIA spent a lot of money on the PNC PNC Purdue University North Central (Westville, Indiana)
PnC Point 'n Click
PNC Police National Computer
PNC People's National Congress (Guyana)
PNC People's National Congress ," Jagan says. It was the early years of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution. The CIA and Britain's MI5 "tried to destabilize de·sta·bi·lize
tr.v. de·sta·bi·lized, de·sta·bi·liz·ing, de·sta·bi·liz·es
1. To upset the stability or smooth functioning of: the government, tried to get us out of government by stimulating a racial war, by creating antagonism between blacks and East Indians."
In 1963, Janet Jagan became minister of home affairs, which is supposed to control the police, but "the commissioner of police sent reinforcements to the mining town of Mackenzie, dozens were slaughtered, the town's whole East Indian population had to be evacuated. I resigned because the commissioner wouldn't follow my instructions."
She remembers one terrorist attack that occurred at the headquarters of the People's Progressive Party. "There was the Progressive Bookshop below the second-floor headquarters of the PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) The most popular method for transporting IP packets over a serial link between the user and the ISP. Developed in 1994 by the IETF and superseding the SLIP protocol, PPP establishes the session between the user's computer and the ISP using in Georgetown. An Afro-American woman who worked there saw a box and asked, `What's this doing here?' No one knew, some man came in and didn't take his change. The woman told [party member] Michael Forde, `Just to be safe, take it out.' Michael took it and was crossing the street toward the cinema when it blew up. If it had blown up in the bookshop, there would've been about sixty people killed or injured. Michael was killed, a few people were injured, Michael's hand was blown off and landed in front of the cinema." The book shop now carries Michael Forde's name.
In 1964, the British changed the electoral system electoral system
Method and rules of counting votes to determine the outcome of elections. Winners may be determined by a plurality, a majority (more than 50% of the vote), an extraordinary majority (a percentage of the vote greater than 50%), or unanimity. to proportional representation proportional representation: see representation.
Electoral system in which the share of seats held by a political party in the legislature closely matches the share of popular votes it received. . That enabled Burnham's People's National Congress to ally itself with a much smaller businessman's party. In the 1964 vote, the People's Progressive Party got 46 percent of the vote, but the People's National Congress and its ally got 51 percent. Burnham took charge.
When independence came in 1966, Burnham got rid of the business party and ruled as a virtual dictator until he died in 1985, at which point his prime minister, Desmond Hoyte Hugh Desmond Hoyte (March 9, 1929 – December 22, 2002) was a Guyanese politician. He served as Prime Minister of Guyana from 1984 to 1985 and President of Guyana from 1985 until 1992. He was born in Guyana's capital, Georgetown. , took over and in 1987 won a disputed election to a five-year presidential term, giving up that post when a free, fair election put Cheddi in office in 1992. In 1993, Janet was named Guyana's ambassador to the United Nations.
"We fought for free, fair elections for twenty-eight years," says Jagan, who is the author of History of the PPP, Rigged Elections in Guyana Elections in Guyana gives information on election and election results in Guyana.
Guyana elects on national level a unicameral legislature (the National Assembly). The National Assembly has 65 members, 53 members elected for a five-year term by proportional representation . "When we were struggling for democracy, not a single voice in the Caribbean was raised on our behalf No one would say `boo.'" In that category, she includes the Organization of American States Organization of American States (OAS), international organization, created Apr. 30, 1948, at Bogotá, Colombia, by agreement of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, , the Inter-American Development Bank Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
international organization founded in 1959 by 20 governments in North and South America to finance economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere. , and the fifteen-member Caribbean Community, Caricom.
Ironically, her opponent in the December 1997 presidential race, Desmond Hoyte, along with other minor party candidates, charged that Jagan rigged the election. Hoyte also said it was illegal for the chairman of the elections commission to declare her the winner and have her sworn in before all the votes were tallied. With more than 90 percent of the votes tallied, Jagan was leading with 56 percent to Hoyte's 42 percent, clinching the election for her, since she was leading by more votes than were left to be counted.
Despite Hoyte's threat to make Guyana "ungovernable," Jagan sounded conciliatory con·cil·i·ate
v. con·cil·i·at·ed, con·cil·i·at·ing, con·cil·i·ates
1. To overcome the distrust or animosity of; appease.
2. notes in her victory talk. "I intend to be a president of all the people," she said.
The Jagans raised two children, Nadira, forty-two, a jeweler in Toronto, and Cheddi Jr., forty eight, a dentist with practices in New York and Guyana.
"Through all the busy years, my parents always spent time with my brother and me," says Nadira. "My mother always took care of all the finances, the general running of the house, so my father never had to bother with such things. She remembered everyone's birthday or anniversary, sent out cards and gifts. My parents complemented each other and even though their opinions may have differed sometimes, they had a common cause and commitment. I never heard my parents argue about personal things, only about politics."
Nadira acknowledges, though, that it was hard for her mother when she first arrived in Guyana. "Life was very difficult and different for my mother due to the cultural differences and diet to which she wasn't accustomed," she says. But Janet Jagan adjusted, and she didn't complain when she and Cheddi moved to Georgetown for six years to live with Cheddi's four brothers and his sister.
"My mother did not care about possessions and had always been willing to go out of her way to help others," says Nadira. "She accepted without reservation my father's responsibility to give higher education higher education
Study beyond the level of secondary education. Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, and art. to his brothers and sister, and never hesitated to allocate whatever financial outlay was necessary."
Nadira calls her mother "a very private person." But private or not, most Saturdays while she was serving as Guyana's prime minister, Janet Jagan sat in her little second-floor office at party headquarters, listening to the complaints of her constituents from 8 A.M. to noon.
Now it's her turn to rule. And it may not be easy. Guyana started out relatively wealthy in 1966 and by 1990 was nearly as poor as Haiti. It is only in the past seven years that the country seems to be turning around. And it still has a long way to go.
Per-capita income in this nation loaded with bauxite, gold, diamonds, timber, fish, rice, and sugar, remains low--around $650 a year. But that's a vast improvement over the $400 annual per-capita income registered around 1990.
Guyana's economic growth has averaged about 7 percent yearly since 1991. Inflation also seems to be under control, falling from an annual rate of 70.3 percent in 1991 to 4.5 percent in 1996. Unemployment stands at around 10 percent, says Bharrat Jagdeo Bharrat Jagdeo (born 23 January 1964) is the socialist President of Guyana (since 11 August 1999). He had previously been a member of Janet Jagan's cabinet, and became president after Jagan resigned for health reasons. He is the youngest head of state of the Caricom countries. , Jagan's finance minister. Jagdeo studied at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow for five and a half years and is Jagan's likely successor.
But today Jagdeo, thirty-three, sounds like a free-market advocate when he talks about approaching privatizations. He is delighted that a Malaysian company and a Singapore company are both interested in opening a 600,000-acre palm-oil plantation. There's also much talk in Georgetown about the possibility of a Dallas bank investing in a new satellite launching center like French Guiana's Kourou Space Center, from which more than half the world's commercial satellites are now launched. Two oil companies are doing offshore exploration, the timber industry is booming, and both rice and sugar production have come back nicely, with bauxite not too far behind.
Like other Latin American socialists, Jagan has struggled to balance her ideals against tough economic realities. In July, she led a team to Canada to negotiate a management takeover of Guyana Electric Corporation, which she hopes "will end our blackouts." The deal is for Saskatchewan Power to enter a joint venture--and a $20 million investment--so as to improve electric power around the nation.
Another challenge is to attract more skilled Guyanese to come back home. In the last twenty-five years, when populations in most Third World nations were doubling and tripling, Guyana's has barely budged.
Many Guyanese took off for the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or English-speaking Caribbean islands. The outflow is estimated between 500,000 and a million people, many of them trained and talented, and many sending remittances to their relatives in Guyana to this day.
None of this is simple, but there continues to be a lot of public confidence in Janet Jagan, despite what she calls "the racist attacks" from her political rivals. Jagdeo says what many of her supporters believe: "Janet is going to do excellently as president. She's extremely strong, but she's also very caring."
In the new global order, that latter quality may be most important of all.
William Steif is a veteran reporter who lives in St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands.