History of PPP
December 1943 - Dr. Cheddi Jagan, at the age of 25 years, returned to Guyana after studying in the USA. His wife, Janet, to whom he was married earlier in 1943, joined him in 1944.
July 15, 1946 - The Women's Political and Economic Organisation (WPEO) was formed by Janet Jagan, Winifred Gaskin and Frances Stafford.
November 6, 1946 - The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) was launched by Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Jocelyn Make peace Hubbard and Ashton Chase. The group began the publication of the PAC Bulletin. The PAC announced in the first edition of the PAC Bulletin that it aimed "To assist the growth and development of the Labour and Progressive Movements of British Guiana, to the end of establishing a strong, disciplined and enlightened Party, equipped with the theory of Scientific Socialism." The PAC held discussions on social, economic and political issues with the people in Georgetown and in various parts of the country, and was able to win many adherents to its cause.
November 24, 1947 - General elections under a limited suffrage took place. Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan contested as independent candidates in the Central Demerara and Central Georgetown constituencies respectively. Cheddi Jagan won, but Janet lost. Cheddi Jagan entered the Legislative Council on December 18, 1947 at the age of 29 years. In his victory speech after the election, Dr. Jagan declared: "We, the people have won. Now the struggle will begin."
1948 - The Guiana Industrial Workers' Union (GIWU) was formed under the leadership of Dr. Joseph P. Lachmansingh. It won the support of the sugar workers who were fed up with the company-union, the Man Power Citizens' Association (MPCA). The PAC gave support to the GIWU.
June 16, 1948 - Five sugar workers were killed by the Police during a strike against a field system that would result in loss of wages. The strike which lasted for four and a half months was also a show of support for the GIWU. The five dead workers became immortalised as the Enmore Martyrs. During the strike, the PAC agitated on behalf of the sugar workers and organised fund raising and soup-kitchens to assist them. At the funeral of the five Enmore Martyrs, Dr. Jagan made this silent pledge: "I would dedicate my entire life to the cause of the struggle of the Guianese people against bondage and exploitation. "
26 December, 1949 - The final issue of the PAC Bulletin was published as the PAC made final preparations to establish itself as a political party.
1 January 1950 - The People's Progressive Party was formally launched with Dr. Jagan as Leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham as Chairman and Janet Jagan as Secretary. The first headquarters of the Party Dr. Jagan's Dental Surgery at Charlotte Street, Georgetown. The first issue of the Party's organ, the Thunder, was published to coincide with the Party's launching. The first Congress of the Party was held on April 1, 1951 at which time the Party's constitution was adopted.
December 1950 - The PPP fielded three candidates in the Georgetown Town Council elections which were conducted under a very limited franchise. The candidates were Dr. Jagan, Forbes Burnham and Janet Jagan. Only Janet Jagan was successful.
1950 - The Waddington Constitution Commission visited Guyana and the PPP, in its presentation to it, called for an advanced constitution and the introduction of universal adult suffrage. These proposals were accepted by the Commission.
1949 - 1952 - Because of the PPP's agitation against the exploitation by big business of their workers, efforts were made in official circles to deny a platform to Party leaders. In 1952, Cheddi and Janet Jagan were banned from Trinidad and Grenada.
1951 - Dr. Jagan visited the United Kingdom and held discussions with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Alan Lennox-Boyd and other officials of the Colonial Office. At public meetings in London, he called for immediate independence for Guyana and the West Indies.
1952 - The anti-progressive majority in the Legislative Council passed the Undesirable Publications Ordinance. This "Dunce" motion was bitterly opposed by Dr. Jagan.
1952 - The Pioneer Youth League, a youth section of the Party, was established.
March 1953 - At the Third Congress of the Party, Burnham made an unsuccessful bid to become Leader.
24 April 1953 - In the first general election under adult suffrage, the PPP won 18 of the 24 elected seats. "Crisis Week" followed this victory when in the General Council of the Party, Burnham demanded to be "leader or nothing". When he failed to have his way, he called a public meeting in Georgetown, against the wishes of the Party, to state his demands. However, the meeting broke up in disorder and he was forced to back down. It was only after this crisis was resolved that the Party was able to choose its Ministers.
May 30, 1953 - The Legislative Council met for its opening session.
May - October 1953 - The PPP Government began to institute its legislative programme which included the repeal of the Undesirable Publications Ordinance under which any publication which carried views contrary to what the British Government accepted was regarded as "communist". The passage of the Labour Relations Bill by which employers were to be required by law to negotiate with the trade unions enjoying majority support, upset the sugar planters since they would be put in a position to grant recognition to the GIWU at the expense of the MPCA. To them, this Labour Relations Bill was a "communist measure" and they were part of the forces that demanded that the British Government remove the PPP from power.
October 9, 1953
- The British Government announced the suspension of the constitution of Guyana
and deposed the PPP Government. British troops landed in Guyana on the same
day. A few days later, Dr. Jagan and Burnham travelled to London to put the
PPP's case to the British people. From London, they went to India and met with
Nehru and members of the Indian Government and toured the country to urge condemnation
of the British action. The British Governor declared a state of emergency and
put a number of PPP leaders into detention without any charges being laid. Others
were restricted to their residential areas. Many PPP activists were hounded
by the police and victimised in their jobs. The Pioneer Youth League was declared
an illegal organisation and banned. However, it renamed itself constantly to
continue its activities. It is today known as the Progressive Youth Organisation
(PYO). The police also closed down the PPP headquarters which by this time had
moved to Regent Street, Georgetown.
1954 -August 1957 - The Interim Government was appointed by the British Governor. Many of its members were those who were unsuccessful candidates in the 1953 elections. The first acts of this repressive body were to repeal all the legislation passed by the deposed PPP Government.
April 3, 1954 - Dr. Jagan broke his restriction order by travelling to Mahaicony and was charged. On the following day he was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour.
September 1954 - Janet Jagan was imprisoned for six months for breaching her restriction order. She had attended a Hindu religious function in West Demerara.
1954 - The British-appointed Robertson Commission whitewashed the British role in deposing the PPP Government. Its report
encouraged opportunistic leaders to split from the PPP.
February 13,1955 - The PPP was split by Burnham and his supporters. The basis of the split, encouraged by the reactionary press and the Robertson Commission Report, was the prospect of new elections and the calculation that the splitters would take away majority support from the PPP. Burnham felt that he would carry with him the 5 seats in Georgetown and Lachmansingh the 8 seats in the sugar belt, thus gaining between them a majority of 13 of the 24. It was this calculation which culminated in a special, but irregular conference at the Metropole Cinema in Georgetown. Attempts to prevent this finally succeeded in converting the conference into one in which it was agreed that no elections could be held because it was not a regular conference of delegates. Burnham betrayed the agreement which he had signed and got one of his supporters to move a suspension of the standing orders to hold elections. It was at this point that the majority of the Executive Committee - Cheddi Jagan, Martin Carter, Rory Westmaas, George Robertson, Fred Bowman, Lionel Jeffrey and Janet Jagan - along with 200 floor members walked out. Burnham carried on his elections and then formed a new party, calling it at first the People's Progressive Party, but which he renamed the People's National Congress in 1957 after his defeat in the general elections.
August 1957 - General elections were held under a limited constitution. The PPP won 9 of the 14 seats, while Burnham's group won 3. Dr. Jagan was appointed Chief Minister. Shortly after, Burnham's group merged with John Carter's United Democratic Party and with Sydney King to form the People's National Congress (PNC).
1957 -1961 - The PPP Government faced a number of stumbling blocks placed in its way by the British Government which vetoed almost all its plans to garner development assistance from friendly countries. During this period work began on a number of agricultural projects including the Black Bush Polder and Tapakuma land development schemes. The Canadian-owned electric company was also nationalised. Advances were made in primary and secondary education, and 51 Church-controlled schools were taken over by the state. The PPP continued to make strong demands for independence for Guyana. At the Constitutional Conference in London in March 1960, the Dr. Jagan presented a strong case for independence, but the British Government, supportive of the anti-independence position of Burnham, agreed only for internal self government.
August 1961 - General elections took place. A new right-wing party, the United Force, led by Peter D'Aguiar, entered the scene and contested along with the PNC to unseat the PPP. The result was that the PPP won 20 out of the 35 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Dr. Jagan was appointed Premier.
1961-1964 - During this period, the PNC and the UF allied with the TUC to remove the PPP from the government. They were given
assistance by the US Central Intelligence Agency, and in the process, strikes, riots and racial disturbances occurred. Despite
this, the government carried out an impressive programme to develop education, health, agriculture and manufacturing. The University of Guyana was established in 1963. The PPP also continued to agitate for independence for Guyana and launched two massive Freedom Marches across Guyana's coastland in support of its demands.
February 1962 - The PNC, UF and TUC mounted protest against the budget which was presented by the PPP Government. In the process, rioters supportive of these organizations burned down a large portion of the business district of Georgetown.
April 1963 - The opposition in alliance with the TUC, and supported by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), mounted an 80-clay general strike to protest the Labour Relations Bill which the government had introduced in the Legislative Assembly. The Bill was similar to that of 1953 which Burnham had championed then. PPP supporters were attacked on the streets of Georgetown during the period of this strike. Civil servants who refused to join the strike were also violently attacked by opposition elements. During the period of the strike, a number of government buildings were bombed.
May 1963 - The Police raided the headquarters of the PNC and found a great deal of arms and ammunition and documents detailing assassination plans on PPP leaders. One of the documents was the infamous X-13 Plan which detailed the plans of violence by the PNC against the PPP. During May, PPP leaders were attacked by opposition supporters while leaving the Legislative Assembly. On June 10, Dr. Jagan himself was attacked by a vicious PNC mob while he was leaving the Assembly. The Government received aid from Cuba which sent shipments of food and fuel. This threw opposition elements into a frenzy and the opposition media went into a anti-communist hysteria in attacking the government.
October 23, 1963 - The Constitutional Conference opened in London. All the demands of the PPP were rejected by the British which, influenced by the Kennedy administration in the USA, imposed Proportional Representation as the new electoral system. The British also decided that independence would be delayed and that elections would be held in 1964.
February 17, 1964 - GAWU called a strike on all sugar estates to protest the non-availability of work for many of the workers. Scabs were sent in to do the work of striking workers and both groups clashed. Violence ultimately resulted and racial clashes occurred during which over 160 Guyanese, mainly Indians and Africans, were killed. Hundreds of others were injured.
June 6, 1964 - In an effort to bring peace, Dr. Jagan invited Burnham to have the PPP and PNC form a coalition government with an equal number of ministries. However, Burnham rejected the invitation.
July 13,1964 - The PPP headquarters, Freedom House, on Robb Street was bombed and Michael Forde, an employee of the Party's bookshop was killed. Today the bookshop at Freedom House, is named the Michael Forde Bookshop in his honour. In an effort to weaken the PPP, over 32 of its leading activists including the Deputy Premier, were put in detention. When a PNC activist, Emmanuel Fairbain, was arrested at his home in which the Police found an arsenal of weapons, the violence immediately subsided throughout the country.
December 7, 1964 - At the general elections, the PPP secured the highest proportion of the votes (46 percent). The PNC received 41 percent and the UF 12 percent. Four other splinter parties contested. The Governor refused to follow the normal convention by asking Dr. Jagan to form a government. Instead he called in Burnham who joined with D'Aguiar to establish a coalition government.
May 26, 1966 - Guyana became independent.
1965 - 1968 - The PPP suffered from a few defections in the National Assembly.
December 1968 - By this time, the PNC, aided by defections from the PPP and the UF, held a majority in the National Assembly. With the PPP opposing, the PNC and UF had earlier approved voting for overseas Guyanese. In the elections, the PNC fraudulently converted the overseas vote for itself and declared itself the victor with 56 percent of the votes. In this rigged election which was also marked by extensive proxy voting,the PPP was allocated 36 percent.
1969 - The PPP began transforming itself into a Marxist-Leninist party. As part of the organisational change, the leader of the Party position was removed The General Secretary of PPP became the highest office in the party.
July 10, 1973 - Another rigged election was held. The PNC gave itself a two-thirds majority. The PPP boycotted the National Assembly for over a year in protest. A few more defections from the PPP took place. The PNC began proclaiming itself as a Marxist-Leninist party.
August 1975 - In light of the border threat from Venezuela and certain pro socialist political and economic moves by the PNC regime, the PPP offered "critical support" to the PNC regime. The PPP was criticised by some for giving this support while some others condemned it for not giving total support. A few leading members from the latter group, including leading PPP members Ranji Chandisingh and Vincent Teekah, defected to the PNC. These defectors claimed that the PPP was too diverse and liberal in its philosophy, while the PNC was grounded solidly in Marxism-Leninism.
1977 - The PPP issued its proposals for a National Patriotic Front and a National Patriotic Front Government. The PNC rejected the proposals outright. The newly formed Working People's Alliance (WPA) expressed limited support saying that it was not supportive of the PNC being included.
July 1978 - The PNC postponed the general elections and called a referendum to vote for a constitutional change to allow the National Assembly to make future changes to the constitution. The PPP led a boycott, and over 70 percent of the voters stayed away. However, the PNC rigged this referendum to give itself over 97 of the votes agreeing to its proposal. It also declared that over 75 percent of the people turned out to vote!
1978 - 1979 - The PNC drafted a constitution which was approved by its two third majority in the National Assembly.
December 1980 - Elections were held and totally rigged by the PNC which gave itself almost 70% of the votes. Burnham became the first executive President.
August 1985 - Forbes Burnham died during throat surgery. Desmond Hoyte succeeded him as President and leader of the PNC.
December 1985 - The PNC held yet another rigged election and gave itself over 70 percent of the votes. 1986 -- After this rigged election, the opposition parties grouped themselves into the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy (PCD) to agitate for electoral reform and to lobby internationally for pressure to be placed on the PNC to hold free and fair elections. These parties were the PPP, WPA, DLM (Democratic Labour Movement), PDM (People's Democratic Movement) and NDF (National Democratic Front). The United Force did not join the PCD. The PCD at first limited its activities to the struggle for free and fair elections and human rights. Later, it was proposed to transform it into an electoral front, with a consensus presidential candidate, and a joint slate of candidates for the National Assembly. The PPP proposed simultaneous consideration of, and work on, a PCD Programme.
1987 -1988 - On the PCD Programme, however, agreement was reached after nearly two years of discussion.The PPP, in a spirit of compromise,agreed to drop its previous insistence on socialist orientation. Unfortunately,agreement was not reached to publicise the Programme,which the PPP wanted. The Party felt the publication at the Program before the election was necessary so that all ethnic groups, classes and strata would see that their interests would be protected.The DLM did not agree on the ground that publication of the Program was linked to agreement on the consensus presidential candidate and the joints late. There
were difference son the consensus candidate -DLM wanted a person outside of the parties; WPA at first wanted the person chosen by the parties, but later changed its position; the PPP was always in favor of a party person. There was disagreement also on allocation on the joint slate for the different parties. The PPP Congress in 1988 reiterated the Party's position for a joint PCD
slate to contest the general elections due for
-The stalemate in the PCD talks was broken when the Democratic Reform Movement,
the precursor of the Guyanese Action for Reform and Democracy (GUARD),approached
the PPP. But its proposal was virtually the same as that of the DLM and WPA.
When the PPP was told that the Presidential candidate must be an Afro-Guyanese,
the Party proposed Dr Roger Luncheon for the position. However, he was rejected
outright by the others. To them he was unsuitable because he was "Black
but Red", meaning that although he was an Afro-Guyanese, he was a communist.
In other words, the PPP was black-balled on the ground of race (Cheddi Jagan
was not acceptable because he was Indo-Guyanese) and ideology (Roger Luncheon
was not acceptable because he was labelled as a communist"). The PPP could
not accept those conditions for unity. In principle, the Indo-Guyanese, the
largest ethnic group in Guyana would not accept the view that an Indo-Guyanese
regardless of his ability, suitability and reliability,should be excluded simply
because of ethnicity. The PPP also noted that placing it in a minority position
in the Executive and in the National Assembly was unrealistic and unacceptable.
Its position was that in the interest of the nation and the people, it did not
want to dominate nor to be dominated in any future government.
1990 -1991 - The resumed PCD talks also reached a deadlock on the Presidential candidate and party allocation for the joint slate. Both the WPA and DLM argued for party equality. WPA proposed that 50 percent of the joint list should be allocated to the parties and be divided equally among them,and the other 50 percent to the civic bodies. Under this formula PPP would have only twelve and a half percent of the joint slate. The DLM's proposal was that 80 -90 percent of the joint list was to be allocated to the 3 political parties (PPP, WPA, and DLM) and divided equally among them while the remaining 10 - 20 percent was to be allocated to the NDF and other bodies. The PPP disagreed with this concept of party equality on the ground of unrealism especially since it was the largest party in Guyana. The PPP proposed as its Presidential nominee, Cheddi Jagan, in the context of the party's proposal for reduced powers for the president and a racially balanced government, which it would not dominate; 50 percent of the
cabinet and 51 percent of PCD list (not 51% of parliament, and less than 24 seats the PPP secured at the 1964 elections). After the PPP's suggestions had been rejected, it put forward a new set of proposals for a provisional Presidential candidate and a provisional allocation in the joint slate in the proportion of 4-3-2-1 for the four PCD parties (the PDM had dropped out of the PCD) -- an allocation which had been suggested previously by one of the parties. Its argument was that the PCD parties should contest together with a joint slate, headed by the Presidential candidate, for the National Assembly, but separately for the Regional
elections; and to use the latter results for the various parties to decide on the allocation for the National Assembly and for the President and 2 Vice-Presidents for a collective Presidency. However, this proposal was not acceptable to the other parties. In further discussions on the Presidential candidate, the DLM's suggested nominees were neither available nor acceptable. Of the 3 names put up by the WPA, only that of Clive Thomas was deemed to merit serious consideration. At that point, prominent executive members of the Guyana Manufactures Association and GUARD expressed at a meeting their preference for Cheddi Jagan over Dr Clive Thomas but through the PPP's pleas, they were prepared to accept Clive Thomas as the Prime Minister Vice Presidential candidate. And since a Jagan/Thomas combination was deemed too left, DLM's Paul Tennessee was added as Deputy Prime Ministerial candidate to give balance to the slate. On the eve of a PCD meeting when it appeared that agreement would be reached on a Jagan/Thomas Tennassee formula, GUARD at a public meeting threw a "spanner in the works" by announcing the name of Ashton Chase as Presidential candidate. On the following day, at a PCD meeting, the WPA adopted the GUARD proposal. Thereupon, the PPP, on account of the fact that the WPA was substituting Ashton Chase for Clive Thomas, proposed Ashton Chase instead of Clive Thomas for the Prime Ministerial position. But no agreement was reached. To break the deadlock on the eve of the then planned December 1990 elections, Sam Hinds, who had been selected at a retreat as GUARD Chairman, was approached at the PPP's request by some of his GUARD associates, and he agreed to accept the position as Prime Ministerial candidate. But the Jagan/Hinds ticket was not acceptable a small faction of GUARD who insisted that the
Presidential candidate must come from outside the political parties. The PPP preferred a PCD electoral front and a joint slate. But
since its realistic and reasonable proposals are not acceptable, it entered the elections as PPP/CIVIC joint slate, ethnic-balanced
and class-balanced. The Jagan/Hinds ticket won approval from the membership of the PPP and was approved by the Party Congress in July 1991.
1990 - The PPP declared that it was supportive of a market oriented economy with the state, private and cooperative sectors co existing side by side. It added that the private sector should play the leading role in economic development. Further, it added that with drastic political changes taking place especially in eastern Europe, socialism was no longer on its current agenda.
Meanwhile, the PNC called elections for 1990 with a flawed electoral list, but after intense opposition from the PPP and other opposition parties, and a visit from former US President Jimmy Carter, the elections were postponed and eventually a new
Elections Commission was appointed with a new Chairman and a new list of voters was prepared. President Hoyte was forced to concede to a number of electoral reforms demanded by the PPP and other opposition parties. October 5, 1992 Elections were eventually held and the PPP/Civic emerged victorious with 54 percent of the votes. These elections were monitored by an international team of observers, headed by former US President Jimmy Carter. The 1992 elections were
declared by the observer team as free and fair. Dr. Jagan became President and Sam Hinds was named Prime Minister.
1992-1997- The PPP/Civic immediately launched its program to rebuild the country and has shown remarkable progress in this direction. March 6, 1997 The Party suffered a great set-back with the death of the President of Guyana and the PPP's General Secretary Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Prime Minister Sam Hinds was sworn in as President and Mrs. Janet Jagan was later named Prime Minister.
March 29, 1997 - Donald Ramotar was unanimously elected as the new General Secretary of the People's Progressive Party.
December, 1997 - The PPP/Civic contested the 1997 general elections with Mrs. Janet Jagan as their candidate for President, Sam Hinds as their candidate for Prime Minister and Bharrat Jagdeo as their candidate for Vice President. The trio was popularly called the 'A' Team during the election campaign. The PPP/Civic was victorious at the election, capturing some 55 percent of the vote. Mrs. Jagan was sworn in as the fifth Executive President of the Republic of
August 11,1999 - Due to health concerns, President Janet Jagan resigned the office.
Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo was sworn in as the new President of Guyana.