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Quotations by Dr. Cheddi Jagan

Personal Beliefs

A copy of Dr. Jagan's handwritten quotation.

"We must all remember the lessons of the past as a guide for the management of the present and the planning for the future."

"I believe that my first charge is to raise my people from the mire of poverty in which, for too long, they have suffered. I have never made any secret of my views. I have been thrown out of office. I have been subjected to violence, indignity and jail. I am willing to face these things again, and gladly, in the fight to free my people and aid them. Here I stand. Here I will stand until I die." 1961

" I first wanted to be a doctor. Didn't want to be merely a specialist and craftsman and cure individual aches and ills. I wanted to cure the ills of society. I want to know that I have served humanity as a human being. All of us want recognition - I am not interested in recognition conferred on the basis of my bankroll. When I would have passed away, I would like it to be recorded that Jagan did his bit in the service of humanity." 1964

"I am the son of sugar workers who hasn’t forgotten his roots. Many politicians like me have forgotten where they came from but Jagan will never forget and you can be sure of that!" 1992

"My wife, Janet influenced me with a deep and abiding faith and caring for the poor, the disadvantaged and the handicapped, the oppressed and the marglinized, and she has a very deep commitment to honesty in politics. As a result I do not worry about anything. I work together with her very closely, we debate soundly without anything to worry about or anything to hide. She has given me peace of mind." 1993

"If I could relive my life, basically I would not want to change the journey, the route I went through, and the course I charted, no doubt it was tough but it was all a learning experience and looking back, with the experience I acquired maybe some of the things I did with a lot of youthful exuberance, could have been done more delicately with the experience I now have, but there is nothing I regret in any way that I did, and I would do it all over again." 1995

"I don’t think I have reached the pinnacle of my life, for the Presidency is only a means to an end, to attain the end is to attain a sane and safe world, to bring an end to exploitation, suffering and misery, to construct a New Global Human Order. The struggle will continue." 1995

"I am aware of the changes that are still necessary for the people of Guyana, because I look at them with the eyes of the people and not with the privileged eyes of the privileged few who have always had things easy and so did not want a change."

"My opponents say ' Jagan you are honest and sincere, but we don't like your connections and associations and methods. Your goals, your ends may be good, but your means are foul, wicked and bad.' My answer to that is very simple. If I am honest and sincere, it is because of my beliefs, my ideology. For me, there is a unity of ends and means. Every means must be good in itself no matter in what stage of struggle. Freedom is inseparable from struggle."

"It may be true chronologically, I may be justly called an old man - but I am an old man whose visions are as fresh as the day when I first conceived the idea that we, the descendants of slaves and semi-slaves, could become a free people - a people free to pursue our dreams and to grow both in the individual as well as the national sense - and I promise you here today that I will spend whatever years, I mean them to be long years that remain to me in trying to create a situation where the dreams of every Guyanese can be converted to reality - once they pursue those dreams without trampling on the rights and dignity of others." Oct. 5, 1996

"I have never associated with "Prophets of Doom" rather I have always been and will always be a supreme optimist." 1997

"My parents made the necessary sacrifices for my formal education. My wife insisted that though bread is important, man does not live by bread alone; that life is not just two cars in every garage and 2 chickens in every pot. Karl Marx made me understand what makes the world go around. Our own heroes and Lenin, Gandhi and King taught me how to change Guyana and inspired me to struggle: Gandhi for independence, King for equality and against racism, Lenin for socialism.  And my comrades' steadfastness gave me the strength to continue, especially in times of adversity." Dec 18, 1987



"On Monday we will all be voting to elect a people’s government. Your vote then will decide whether this country becomes free and independent and, if so, when.

The fact that you have the right to vote at all, the fact that your vote may make you free – these are monuments to the courage and to the efforts of the PPP. Whatever our adversaries now may say, this cannot be denied. We wrung from the reluctant British, promises of that independence which we all now wish and for which we all must fight.

On the question of independence also, let your minds be clear. Our Party, and our Party only, has ceaselessly demanded independence. As recently as in 1959 when the Constitutional Committee sat, the PPP was the only major party which demanded independence." 1961

"From this day forward we shall need the goodwill and hard work of all our people so that we may proceed to make our country a fit and proper home for heroes in the struggle for political and economic independence. Let there be an end to sectional racial quarrels and suspicions so that national unity may be restored." 1961

"The People's Progressive Party, the vanguard of the National Liberation Movement, welcomes the announcement that British Guiana will soon attain nationhood. The party fails to understand, however, the significance of the date, May 26, unless it is the wish of the British and British Guiana governments to make it symbolic of their contempt for the Guyanese people and a grim reminder of the unfortunate events at Wismar on May 25/26, 1964, and their aim to keep the Guyanese people divided..." Nov. 19, 1965

"The violence and disturbances of 1962 and 1963 did not succeed in their immediate objective of bringing about the fall of the government or the suspension of the constitution. But they did result, as we shall see, in the delay of independence and the imposition of a constitutional and electoral formula designed to bring the opposition to power. It was a major tragedy for Guyana that a section of the working class was deluded into forging its own chains by directing its attack not, as previously, against the capitalists and landlords but against a national, pro-working class, socialist-oriented government." 1966 (from The West on Trial )


Poverty - Cause & Cure

"...the gap in living standards today is very high between the rich countries and the poor...Instead of the gap narrowing over the last decade, we now find that the gap is widening. Certainly this is not in the interest either of the rich, developed countries, or the poor. Because, if this situation continues, there will be explosions everywhere. I say that explosions are not in the interest of anyone because poor people die in the process. I feel that it is a moral obligation on the part of the rich to come to the assistance of the under-developed countries...I say that this sort of situation cannot continue. If we are to live like brothers, if the purpose of the United Nations Charter is to be served, if we are to have one world, and not be divided into two worlds, one of the rich and one of the poor, if we are not to have explosions, then I say that the rich countries must come forward and assist us, not with handouts and doles, but giving us money, sound advice, experts who are independent, who will be prepared to look at the situation objectively, combining theory with practice so that we can get out of the rut. And, in doing so, solve the economic problems of our countries." May 1961

"It seems to me, generally speaking, that the problems of underdevelopment have all the same familiar aspect, whether we are living in Asia, in Africa, in the Caribbean, or in Latin America. There is the same dependence on primary products, the same unstable world markets for such products, the same balance of payment difficulties, the same exploitation of irreplaceable natural resources by foreign interest, the same imbalances between agricultural and industrial production, the same lapse of financial resources, the same poverty and maldistribution of income, and the same inability to accelerate the momentum of economic growth in the face of a rapidly growing population.

These are the symptoms and effects of underdevelopment. A mere recital of these symptoms and effects of underdevelopment, in my view, is not enough. If we are to break out of the vicious circle of poverty, it is necessary for us to recognize the causes and, indeed, to prescribe the cures." May 1961

"If, like other poor countries we are to break the vicious circle of poverty we have to try to ascertain its root causes and to rely more heavily on our own internal resources, material and human. The job is difficult but it is not beyond our capabilities, given good-will, cooperation, and hard work on all sides." August 24, 1964

"My philosophy: Very Simple - the world is big and can provide amply for all - there need not be poverty and suffering. Man is capable, given the opportunity of fantastic cultural and intellectual attainment. But first there must be an end to the system of capitalism - the system which because it is based on individual greed breeds insecurity, poverty, ignorance and suffering." 1964

"For years, I have been citing facts and figures to show that US domination of Latin America was responsible for the poverty and misery of the large majority of the 200 million people who live in this area.

I warned that if we are to avoid the pitfalls of the Latin American people, we must prevent US takeover of Guyana.

Now at long last from the mouth of big business and its spokesmen is coming out what I have been saying. The emphasis is not the same, but figures and facts are clearly revealed." 1977

"As I stated in November 1993, a development strategy for the eradication of poverty must be global and positive, not the South against the North and the North against the South, but the North and South in interdependence, cooperation and partnership. It would be disastrous for humankind if the East/West conflict of the Cold War era were to be transformed into a North/South conflict." May 1, 1994

"Democracy can only prosper in an environment of economic, social and ecological development. Poverty atrophies the vigour and initiative of the individual and deprives the society of incalculable human resources. If left unattended, the expansion of poverty with hunger and the hopelessness it engenders will undermine the fabric of our civilization and the security of the democratic state, thus threatening world peace." August 2, 1996

" ... if the rich and poor countries do not act together to overcome the problems of poverty and the attendant maladies of hunger and environmental degradation, there will be no secure peace." Nov. 13, 1996

"Debt relief in the form of debt cancellation, grants, soft loans and rescheduling is urgent, if the developing countries are to eradicate poverty, protect the environment, play their meaningful
role in expanding world trade and help end stagnation and recession in the industrially-developed countries. Debt relief must be seen as an investment not only in the development of poor  countries but also in the security of the rich nations." Feb. 13, 1997


Race/National Unity

"The four cornerstones of our present needs - racial harmony, national unity, national Independence and peace and progress. Without racial harmony there can be no national unity, and without racial unity there can be no national Independence and without Independence there can be no progress." 1960's

"I give my solemn pledge that my Government will never discriminate against any person or persons on the ground of race, religion or political creed, that the essential freedoms will be preserved and we will respect the rights of all.

Our Party has always been and will always be, a multi-racial Party. Within it there is room for all. Its leaders come from every racial group. I call upon the Guianese of every race and every creed to rally now behind us." August 28, 1961

“Racism is the greatest curse of our land … anyone who spread racial propaganda must be severely dealt with. Such a person is an enemy to himself and his country.”

"From this day forward we shall need the goodwill and hard work of all our people so that we may proceed to make our country a fit and proper home for heroes in the struggle for political and economic independence. Let there be an end to sectional racial quarrels and suspicions so that national unity may be restored." 1961

"I know that there are many fear mongers who go among you and try to influence you emotionally. Some go among the Indo-Guianese and say that I am sacrificing them and wooing and embracing the Afro-Guianese. Others go among the Afro-Guianese and tell them that my Government is an Indian Government, that because of racial considerations it does everything for the country and little for the city, that the Indo-Guianese own the land, real estate, and dominate business, and that if the Afro-Guianese do not get together, they will soon lose even their jobs. In this way I am caught in the crossfire. Needless to say my Government cannot be for and against Indo-Guianese, for and against Afro-Guianese, at the same time. All this propaganda is meant to build up fears in your minds." June 6, 1964

"The PNC's defeat at the 1961 election caused it to move further in the direction of African racism; its leadership launched a racist campaign at home and abroad. In New York City and in the UN corridors, American Blacks and African diplomats were told that the PPP government was penalising the Africans. At home, the African workers were told that the Indians owned the lands and the big houses in Georgetown ..., and if they (the Africans) were not careful, the Indians would soon be taking over their jobs.. The PNC denies that it resorted to the powerful slogan of race." 1966 (from The West on Trial )

"In multi-ethnic societies like Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, it is necessary to fight against racist ideology and racial stereotypes which were created and fostered by the capitalist/colonialist ruling class, and later exploited by self-serving politicians. It must be recognized that whatever our racial origin, we have a common heritage. Our forefathers, regardless of ethnic, religious and cultural differences, watered the sugar cane with their blood, sweat and tears." 1988

"Those who see only race/ethnicity in politics in Guyana, as others who see tribalism and religion in other countries, are not viewing reality comprehensively, objectively and scientifically. In Guyana, because of the strong foreign monopoly domination by the sugar plantrocracy, the class struggle was more intense. And, although the two major racial/ethnic groups are culturally different, they are not uni-class and class different as formally the case in the colonial period in East Africa. Both groups are largely made up of working people. As such, the PPP/Civic, with its working class sympathy and policies oriented to material and cultural fulfilment, can lay the foundation for unity in diversity." 1996



" ... I am told that I am a controversial figure. I think therefore the first duty today is to put my personal position before you as briefly and clearly as I can.

...I am, I believe, generally dismissed in this country (USA) as a Communist. That word has a variety of meanings according to the personal views of the man who makes the charge.

...But first of all, I am a passionate anti-colonialist. I, like your forefathers, believe that colonialism is wicked. I believe so strongly that colonialism is utterly wrong that I would gladly accept any help from whatever quarter to help me in my fight against it.

...I wish to see my country prosperous and developing, its people happy, well fed, well housed and with jobs to do. Second only to my passion for the independence of my people, is this dedication to their economic advancement, so that their lives may be more abundant . Now, in this I am a socialist. By this I mean that I am in favour of the workers reaping the full fruits of their labour through public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

... I have won my place in the political life of my country in three successive general elections. I have not come to power by revolution or coup d’etat. I believe in parliamentary democracy, by which I recognize the rights of opposition parties, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, regular and honest elections, an impartial judiciary and an independent civil service. I have been accused of plotting the destruction of freedom in my country. The truth is that those who accused me of this have themselves been responsible for the denial of freedom to the broad masses of our people. I have struggled for these freedoms and it was I who first proposed that a Bill of Rights guaranteeing every citizen his fundamental rights, including the right to hold property, but buttressed by an appeal to the courts, be entrenched in the new constitution of British Guiana." 1961

"As a passionate anti-Colonialist, I am interested in the independence of my country - political independence; as an anti-Imperialist, I am interested in putting an end to the domination and subjection of the economy of my country; as the Democrat, I am interested in preserving the liberties and freedom of the people - not only in preserving but in enlarging them; as a Socialist, I am interested in the creation of a new society which will lay the basis for the end of exploitation... It is because I have stood up for the working-class, that they have voted for me. I have not put a bayonet on their backs and said " Come vote for me . I am interested in creating a free Guiana and a new society – a society free from exploitation, a society of equality and brotherhood where truly human relationships will prevail." 1961

"Today, any serious attempts to look at alternative strategies are looked upon with suspicion and some continue to raise the communist red herring. But those of us who have to answer to the masses of poor people must be able to find answers lest our people fall prey to those who would give them a false sense of security. Good governance, a democratic culture and accountability must be accompanied by concrete plans to solve real problems faced by real people." August 2, 1996

"The word “Communism” means different things to different people. This explains why I have consistently refused to answer “yes” or “no” to the question. The term Marxist is a more apt description of my position."

"For us, politics is an art, based on principles, programs and policies with a high ethical and moral content."

"My opponents say ' Jagan you are honest and sincere, but we don't like your connections and associations and methods. Your goals, your ends may be good, but your means are foul, wicked and bad.' My answer to that is very simple. If I am honest and sincere, it is because of my beliefs, my ideology. For me, there is a unity of ends and means. Every means must be good in itself no matter in what stage of struggle. Freedom is inseparable from struggle."

“I have always associated myself with the ideology of the working class and I have led a strong working class party for the past 47 years. Different people see and call working class ideology by different names. But what was important were the concrete historical conditions in Guyana and the creation of a programmatic platform that caters to the needs of the working class. In many ways we were different from the mould in which many people placed us .... For me Marxism neither was nor is a dogma, but a scientific guide to action. It gave me strong ethical beliefs in social justice, particularly in helping the poor, the underprivileged and the exploited." Feb. 1997

"We didn't come in the government just to have glory, big names, to make big money and to live in high style. We came in the Government with the help of the working people and other democratic forces in this country to see that we have real development, to build a new democratic culture, to make a new ethic, not that one person must live at the expense of others, but an ethic based on humanity and high moral content." June 16, 1993

More Quotations by Dr. Jagan