Your editorial of March 20, 2018, on the late Cheddi Jagan, was timely, given that it was his 100th birth anniversary.
It seems that the names Jagan and Burnham are symbiotic in that any reference to one always seems to occasion the mention of the other. Your editorial was no different. It is in relation to that reference that I pen this letter.
Your editorial stated that: “Cheddi Jagan founded the People’s Progressive Party, fashioned out of a merger of the PAC (Political Action Committee) and the then British Guiana Labour Party (BGLP) led by Forbes Burnham”. The correctness of that assertion is hereby questioned and the truth proffered based the following irrefutable facts:
1. The BGLP’s formation predated Burnham’s return to Guyana.
2. There was no merger between the PAC and the BGLP. The two were established in the same year. Ashton Chase was a founding member of both. Nanda Gopaul in the Bengal Tiger, his biographic work on Ashton Chase, in reference to the BGLP noted that, “The party went out of existence shortly after the 1947 Elections”, in which it had participated.
3. The PAC remained in existence until 1949.
4. Burnham returned to Guyana in 1949 and the PPP was formed in 1950.
5. The PPP’s website (www.ppp-civic.org) in the article ‘History of the People`s Progressive Party’ does not acknowledge any such merger between the BGLP and the PAC to form the PPP. In fact, three years had elapsed between the expiration of the BGLP and the formation of the PPP.
6. Burnham was a co-founder of the PPP and its first chairman. He did not transition from the BGLP to the PPP.
7. Burnham’s role as co-founder/chairman of the PPP was essayed before his return home when Ashton Chase, a founding member of the BGLP and the PAC, declined the offer and eminent Caribbean leaders proposed Burnham as being best suited, in view of the potential that he portrayed as a student leader in the West Indian community, in London; and his political and progressive activism, while in London.
8. In preparation for his activist role in the anti-colonial struggle in British Guiana, Burnham detoured to Jamaica on his way home, for an induction into, and orientation on, the anti-colonial struggle in the West Indies. His political association, upon his return home, was with the PPP, as a founding member.
Unfortunately, Stabroek News’ version seemed to have been culled from Wikipedia which facilitates lay versions and discourses on matters of public interest. Wikipedia is not a credible nor authentic academic source of information
It is my sincere hope that Stabroek News acknowledges that it would have been revisionist and thus misinformed its readership on an important matter in the country’s history, and the biography of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.