By Fr. Paul Crane, S.J.
DR. JAGAN, Prime Minister of British Guiana, will go to Lancaster House on Tuesday, presumably to ask for his country's independence. But I have just returned from this vital mission area, Britain's only South American colony, and 1 found it in the hands of the Communists.
Labour is intimidated, the university is a hotbed of Cornmunist indoctrination. The thugs arc at work in the canefields. Evelyn Waugh has called this colony a "microcosm of universal discontent". It is all that and more.
Communist control is the dominating factor bedevilling the country's life on the eve of its independence.
Cheddi Jagan, the Prime Minister, is a Communist. So is his wife, Janet, the Minister of Home Affairs. One fact only prevents, these two from carrying their creed through to the ultimate tyranny demanded by its brutal logic.
British Guiana is not yet independent. It has full internal self government, but it is still under a British Governor. His consent need not he given to every measure proposed. Notably, in the recent past, he has witheld it from bills designed to create a national army and place the police under the Minister of Home Affairs.
It requires no more than the merest knowledge of Communist tactics to appreciate the sinister intent behind these proposals. The first would have armed Jagan's youth wing, the PYO (Progressive Youth Organization); the second would have turned the police into an instrument of tyranny.
Since their election success in 1961 the Jagans have not been idle. Their attack-is three-pronged. Earlier this year, they attempted legislation which would have placed the trade unions of British Guiana under government control.
In self-defence the workers called a general strike. Their conduct during it was exemplary. They held out magnificently for eleven weeks and were victorious at the end though many, at the time, were living on sugar and water: that was all. Government was forced to abandon its slave legislation.
The Christian Churches rallied to the strikers' cause, for it was just, and fed the strikers' children. To do so they emptied their pockets (with little enough in them already) and begged bread from abroad.
During the strike 11,000 meals a day were served from 47 centres to children under 12. This work of mercy met with obstruction from Government.
Asked why, after the strike. by a high dignitary of the Anglican Church, Jagan reportedly replied with surprising candour, "Because it was necessary to break the spirit of the people and you prevented us from doing so". That is the authentic voice of Communism.
The trade unions form a great bastion of freedom in British Guiana. That is why they are still under attack. I was on the Couren type Coast a day or so before I left for home, addressing a great trade union meeting in New Amsterdam.
Most of my audience were sugar workers and members of the Manpower Citizens Association (MPCA), the powerful free trade union which looks after their interests.
From them, I learnt of the attempts being made now to force them out of their union into the government sponsored. pirate union under the control of a Jagan henchman. Assemblyman Harilall, who is reported recently to have undergone a course of training in Moscow.
The weapon used against free labour is intimidatiop. It works like this. A member of the MPCA is approached and told to leave his union. If he does not, any of the following three things can happen to him. His home is burned down, he is beaten up or his children are beaten up.
These foul things are easily done in a lonely, tropical countryside, as I knew only too well from my African experience. Who do the burning and the beating up? Young thugs of Jagan's youth wing, the PYO. The age range is 11-18.
These disgraceful things are being done now in British Guiana to decent trade unionists whose only "crime" is that they favour freedom.
They are being done by the followers of a man who has been in this country now for some weeks attempting to present himself to the British public and the Labour Party as a democrat.
Let him first call off his thugs in the canefields of British Guiana and I might begin to take seriously his protestations of democracy.
I say "might" because he will have to do a good many other things as well before I have any faith in him. He will have to stop trying to stifle free trade unionism within the area of operations of the Rice Marketing Board.
He will have to call off attempts at infiltrating the other free trade unions of British Guiana. He will have to cancel passages of young Guianese to Cuba, the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. (It is reckoned that at least 110 went there for training in 1962 alone.) He will have to close down GIMPEX, the "private" concern serving as a front for Guianese government trade with Iron Curtain countries. He will have to call off the attack on the voluntary schools, which have served the country so well.
Fifty-one of these have already been taken over. Students are being placed in others not as their parents wish, but arbitrarily and in a manner calculated to suit sinister government design. This is a crime against natural law.
Finally. Jagan will have to prove to me and a lot of others that the new University of Guyana is not what I and many others think it to be, a centre of Communist indoctrination and nothing more.
A deadly pattern of penetration emerges from the above. It is typical of every Communist attempt at penetration everywhere in the world. The onslaught is threepronged and directed against the young (via the schools) and, through the young, the family; the workers (through the repression of a free trade-union movement); the economic independence of the nation itself (through the attempt to tie its trade to Cuba and the Soviet Union).
The architect of this attack sits down on October 22nd at Lancaster House to ask once again, I imagine, for the independence of his country. To entrust him with it would be to surrender the people of British Guiana to a fate worse than death itself.
It is time the people of this country were aware of the appalling prospect that faces the Guianese, Despite what I have written (and I am prepared to substantiate everything I have written) some may still doubt Jagan's Communist affiliation. An article next week will prove it beyond doubt.