In a talk at the National Library last week to celebrate my father’s 100th birth anniversary, I spoke of the Romans and compared their relentless stamina when faced with the worst calamities which befell their Republic. I mentioned the Second Punic War when Hannibal from Carthage, crossed the Alps to storm the Roman republic for 16 years. At Cannae, 216 years before Christ, Hannibal inflicted a devastating victory, killing 80,000 Roman troops , but after a short period of time, the Republic fielded 80,000 new troops in 15 fighting legions and after many more years of great battles Hannibal was driven out of Italy. It is in that context and with that narrative that I was trying to show that President Cheddi and his party were like the Romans, in the sense that you can defeat him but you had better believe that he’ll be back, with persistence and determination, and that is what President Cheddi accomplished in his lifetime with his victory in 1992. In the context of Guyana, I further stated that the PPP started modern politics in Guyana and will, in the end, command great positions in government one day, all because of Jagan’s great contribution , honesty and enduring legacy of patriotism to Guyana.
Editor, lo and behold, the Guyana Times published an article on Monday stating that I was endorsing the PPP for the 2020 elections, which is a deliberate lie and a gross distortion of what I said at the library. It just goes to show the desperation of PPP leaders and their claims of a victory of 50,000 votes come 2020 ‒ ‘jumbie’ politics and an illusion which will lead to certain defeat.
But, Editor, let me digress a moment back to the Roman Republic as that conversion was used by the distortionists to convince mostly themselves that I was endorsing them for 2020. The history of Rome would show there were great leaders like Scipio Africanus who defeated Hannibal, but on the other hand, there were terrible leaders who betrayed the Republic’s constitution and principles and sullied the Republic’s image, like Brutus. Thus, in the context of my remarks, let me be blunt and state for the record, that in no way would I support the ‘leaders’ of my father’s party who have soiled, sullied and betrayed the very principles of Jagan’s beliefs which encompassed humility, intolerance of any speck of corruption, hearing the cries of the dispossessed and fuelling the drive for racial and working class unity in Guyana. Cheddi Jagan’s principles have been assassinated and I say, “et tu Bharrat”.
Editor, President Cheddi always talked about “living a Cadillac lifestyle in a donkey-cart economy” when he criticized the political players who talked through the sides of their mouths, and isn’t it ironic that the very people who claim Jagan’s legacy, live the Cadillac lifestyle over at Pradoville ‒ No sir! I certainly cannot support or endorse leaders who distort the essence of Jagan’s life and works. I can testify that Jagan lived a humble life; I can testify that Jagan lived an honest life; I can testify that Jagan hated corruption or perception of corruption; I can testify that Jagan lived and worked for the betterment of our country all the time, because I grew up in his home and felt his passion .
Editor, on this, my father’s anniversary, I would like the public to know that Jagan was a true son of Guyana; a gentleman in more ways than one, a scholar in his own right and a national leader who always accepted the responsibility of his position in and out of government. Plutarch, a Roman historian, wrote in 150 ad that great leaders should not be judged by their political or military conquests, but by their very character and their spoken words. President Cheddi’s spoken words, both privately and publicly, to me, over the years, resonate in my brain and time expands the love myself and my immediate family have for him. And it is his character, as Plutarch believed, which defines Jagan as a leader, with human flaws and follies, but, on the whole, a human being whose character God would surely be satisfied with. God bless you Dad, your name is etched in the very essence of the Guyanese nation ‒ forever!
Cheddi (Joey) Jagan (Jr)