wife, ex-Guyana president dies at 88
Guyana, March 30, 2009
Janet Rosenberg Jagan, 88, w/o Cheddi Jagan- ex-president of the
Republic of Guyana has died Saturday at Georgetown Public Hospital.
She belongs to a middle-class Chicago Jewish family. At the age
of 22, she fell in love with Cheddi Jagan, a dental student from
British Guiana. She was a nursing student at Cook County Hospital.
They were married in 1943, even with the objections of her Jewish
and his Hindu parents. They moved to Georgetown, Guyana to set up
Cheddi Jagan was the son of East Indian Guyanese indentured sugar
plantation workers. He was a descendant of Indians who were brought,
under a system of indenture, between 1838 and 1917.
Cheddi Jagan, was elected president in 1992, and his wife took
over the job shortly after his death in 1997. She resigned after
nearly two years in office because of a heart attack.
Guyana, known as Republic of Guyana and previously known as British
Guiana. Its population is about 850,000. Guyana is culturally associated
with the English-speaking Caribbean states, commonly referred to
as the Anglophone Caribbean
Janet Rosenberg (President: Dec 19, 1997 - Aug 11,
Janet Jagan was born on October 20, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois,
USA. She was educated at the University of Detroit, Wayne University,
Michigan State College and Cook County School of Nursing.
She married Cheddi Jagan on August 5, 1943 and in December that
year came to British Guiana. During her first 10 years in Guyana,
she worked as a Dental Nurse in her husband's clinic. At the same
time she became active in labour and political affairs.
In 1946, Janet Jagan founded the Women's Political and Economic
Organization (later called the W.P.O.). She co-founded the Political
Affairs Committee (PAC) and edited the PAC Bulletin. Mrs. Jagan
was the first editor of Thunder, the official organ of the PPP.
In 1950, she co-founded the People's Progressive Party (PPP), and
was elected the party's General-Secretary, she held that post between
1950 - 1970. Janet Jagan held numerous positions of note. She was
also the first woman elected to the Georgetown City Council. Following
the suspension of the British Guiana Constitution and the removal
from office of the PPP Government, she was jailed for six months.
In 1957, she won a seat in the Legislature, representing Essequibo
and was appointed Minister of Labour, Health and Housing. Later
she served as Minister of Home Affairs and a member of the Senate.She
served as a member of the Opposition from 1964 until 1992, when
the PPP won the election and Dr. Cheddi Jagan became the President.
After the death of Dr. Jagan on March 6, 1997, she served as Prime
Minister of Guyana. In December 1997 Mrs. Jagan was sworn in as
President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana after successfully
leading the PPP/C to victory at the Polls.
Janet Jagan became the first female president of Guyana on December
19, 1997. She had been sworn in as Guyana's first female Prime Minister
on March 17, 1997, following the death of her husband, President
Cheddi Jagan. Mrs. Jagan resigned from the Presidency on August
11, 1999 because of ill health.
- Cheddi Bharat (March 1918 March 1997)
- Executive President of the Republic of Guyana: Oct 9, 1992
- Mar 6, 1997
- His grandparents had come from India as indentured labourers.
- He graduated in dental surgery (DDS ) in 1942, and a Bachelor
of Sciences degree (B.Sc).
Jagan was born on March 22, 1918 on the sugar plantation of Port
Mourant, Berbice. His father was a foreman of a work crew on the
- After primary school and two years of secondary school, his
father sent him to Queen’s College in the city of Georgetown.
- In September 1935, Cheddi left for the United States where
he did pre-dental studies at Howard University. He was able to
earn a scholarship to pay for his second year at Howard.
- In 1938, he entered Northwestern University and embarked on
a four-year dental program graduating in 1942. While studying
dentistry he was also doing courses in social studies.
- On August 5, 1943 he married a student nurse, Janet Rosenberg
before returning home in October that year. Cheddi set up his dental
practice with the help of his wife, as dental assistant, his brother,
as laboratory assistant, and a cousin. He also spent a great deal
of time with the workers and was soon established as a labour leader.
The political arena:
- In 1947 Dr. Jagan formally entered the political arena with his
election to the National Assembly.
- In 1950, three years later, he created the People's Progressive
Party (PPP). In 1953, the PPP won the first elections held under
Universal Adult Suffrage. However, Britain suspended the Constitution,
citing the PPP's pro-communist ideology. The British sent troops
and warships to deal with any resistance they might encounter but
there was only peaceful demonstrations. Dr. Jagan was imprisoned
for six months for not obeying an order limiting his movements.
- In 1955 Dr. Jagan was re-elected leader of the People's Progressive
Party. Between 1953 and 1957, the PPP was split in two factions.
Dr. Jagan continued to be leader of the PPP, while the new faction,
named the People’s National Congress PNC), was led by Forbes
The PPP won the 1957 and 1961 elections becoming the country’s
first Premier, and formed the Government. In 1964 the PPP again
won the election with a majority of the votes cast. However, the
elections, was held under the system of Proportional Representation,
the Government was formed by a Coalition comprising the PNC, led
by Burnham and the United Force (UF), led by businessman, Peter
Dr. Jagan was leader of the Opposition until 1992, when the PPP
won the elections that year. He became President and remained so
until his death on March 6, 1997.