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Cheddi Jagan

Biography

Guyaneese Government Officials

Date of Birth (DOB): 3/22/1918
Died: 3/6/97
From: Guyana
Best Known for: First Premier of Guyana

Bio: Jagan was born on a sugar plantation in British Guiana where his father served as a foreman of the work crew. His grandparents came from India as indentured laborers. He attended secondary school in Georgetown earned high grades, and become a top debater and batsman on the school's cricket team. Jagan went to the study pre-med at Howard University and graduated from the Northwestern University Dental School in chicago. He married Janet Rosenberg, a student nurse involved in left-wing causes.

Upon return to British Guiana, Jagan divided his efforts between a dental practice and organizing labor groups. He was soon the leader of the sugar, rice, and woodworkers' unions. In 1947 Jagan entered the political arena by being elected to the assembly. Three years later created the People's Progressive Party and became the Minister of Agriculture, Lands, and Mines, as well as the leader of the House of Assembly, in the colony's first democratically elected government in 1953. The rising power of Jagan caught the attention of English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who feared the Marxist leader's potential for leading a Communist revolt in the colony and sent troops and warships to depose him.

Jagan tried to incite dissent with peaceful rebellions. He was imprisoned for six months for allegedly not obeying an order limiting his movements to Georgetown, but then he was re-elected leader of the People's Progressive Party in 1955. His party came to power again in 1957 and Jagan was named Minister of Trade and Industry; 4 years later he became Guyana’s first prime minister. His authority was threatened by labor unrest that was later found to have been fomented by the CIA. His former ally Forbes Burnham became Prime Minister in 1964, and Japan remained leader of the opposition until 1992, when Jagan winning over 50% of the vote became president. He is survived by two children and his wife Janet, who led the country After his death in 1997 until 1999.

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