|Thunder in Guyana|
Janet Jagan in later life
|Directed by||Suzanne Wasserman|
|Produced by||Suzanne Wasserman|
|Written by||Suzanne Wasserman|
|Music by||Basya Schechter|
|Edited by||Amanda Zinoman|
|Distributed by||Women Make Movies|
|Country||Guyana, United States|
Thunder in Guyana is a 2003 film directed by Suzanne Wasserman. It is a brilliant love story of two idealistic young radicals, the Chicago-born Janet Rosenberg and Cheddi Jagan, a native of Guyana on South America's northern coast, who fell in love, married and set off for the British colony to start a popular socialist revolution, that led them first to jail and later to the Presidency of the nation. It was featured in numerous film festivals and more widely in February of 2005 on Independent Lens , a series on PBS.
A Jewish girl from Chicago, she grew up to become president of Guyana; a South American nation. Janet Rosenberg Jagan, pegged "the Second Eva Peron",in an effort to explain how her typical Jewish upbringing led to her out-of-the-ordinary adult life pursuing service work and Marxist politics in Latin America. “I don’t know that people see White when they look at me,” Janet said in an interview, believing that her years in Guyana allowed her to resemble the general population. “I’ve been around for a long time. Fifty-four years is a long time.”
Thunder in Guyana uncovers an atypical story of a woman who refused to allow her reservations or others' opinions to prevent her from doing what she believed in. Using Janet’s biography, the film brings life to her extraordinary history. Newsreel footage traces the British colony’s slow emancipation and assertion of independence, while discussions with Janet and her followers describe what the courageous female elected official did to organize and educate the country’s impoverished working class.
Her youth was relatively ordinary in many ways, but she was by no means an average youngster. Relatives and relations remember that in her younger years, Janet was remarkably energetic and good-looking, and she was a stand out in all she undertook. Possessing exceptional discipline and goal orientation she successfully trained to become a world class swimmer, who might have competed in the Olympics. But it was also in her nature to be defiant. In the film, Janet laughs recalling how enraged her mother and father were when they learned that, as a teenager, she took flying lessons with the allowance they provided.
Rebelliousness was not why Janet journeyed to Guyana; it was love and it kept her in the country for the remainder of her life. While a student at university, a handsome Guyanese exchange student, Cheddi Jagan, caught Janet’s eye. As a team, they ventured into leftist politics, sharing controversial political ideals that excited them and would serve as the bond to their relationship. When Janet traveled with Cheddi back to his native country, her father believed she would return to the United States within one year. He was mistaken; Janet lived the majority of her adult life in Guyana, working with the government and public sector.
It is the suggestion of the film that Janet’s Jewish background enabled her to connect to the poor laborers of Guyana. Ms. Jagan grew up in an antisemitic, mostly-gentile community that made her feel subjugated and diminished. She recalls that her male relatives struggled to find employment, and that her school friends would tell racially prejudiced stories that they didn’t completely understand. Her efforts for civil rights in Guyana was her personal means of opposing the discrimination she had experienced growing up.
The film asserts that Janet was viewed by the Guyanese population as a self-sacrificing and relentless force. “She’s been there from the very beginning. She’s put her neck out more than most Guyanese,” Janet's Guyanese daughter-in-law exclaims. “She’s more Guyanese than most Guyanese you’ll meet,” and adds, “she’s more Guyanese than me!”
Janet, of course, was not an object of admiration by all Guyanese citizens. At the beginning of her involvement with Guyanese politics, her opponents spread rumors that she was a family member of the legendary American coupleJulius and Ethel Rosenberg who were put to death for spying and an American journalist implied she was spreading propaganda to enlist communists.
At eighty-two she still kept an office, happily working for the citizens of Guyana.
The politics of Guyana takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guyana is the head of government and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the President, advised by a cabinet. Legislative power is vested in both the President and the National Assembly of Guyana. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
The history of Guyana begins about 35,000 years ago with the arrival of humans coming from Afro-Eurasia. These migrants became the Carib and Arawak tribes, who met Alonso de Ojeda's first expedition from Spain in 1499 at the Essequibo River. In the ensuing colonial era, Guyana's government was defined by the successive policies of Spanish, French, Dutch, and British settlers.
HE Cheddi Berret Jagan was a Guyanese politician who was first elected Chief Minister in 1953 and later Premier of British Guiana from 1961 to 1964. He later served as President of Guyana from 1992 to 1997. Jagan is widely regarded in Guyana as the Father of the Nation. In 1953, he became the first person of Indian descent along with being the first Hindu to be a head of government outside of South Asia.
Samuel Archibald Anthony Hinds is a Guyanese politician who was Prime Minister of Guyana almost continuously from 1992 to 2015. He also briefly served as President of Guyana in 1997. He was awarded Guyana's highest national award, the Order of Excellence (O.E.) in 2011.
Janet Rosenberg Jagan OE was a Guyanese politician and American expatriate who served as the President of Guyana, serving from December 19, 1997, to August 11, 1999. She was the first female President of Guyana. She previously served as the first female Prime Minister of Guyana from March 17, 1997, to December 19, 1997. The wife of Cheddi Jagan, whom she succeeded as president, she was awarded Guyana's highest national award, the Order of Excellence, in 1993, and the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Gold Medal for Women's Rights in 1998.
Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham was a Guyanese politician and the leader of Co-operative Republic of Guyana from 1964 until his death. He served as Prime Minister from 1964 to 1980 and then as its first Executive President from 1980 to 1985. He is often regarded as a strongman who embraced his own version of socialism. Throughout his presidency, he encouraged Guyanese to produce and export more local goods, especially through the use of state-run corporations and agricultural cooperatives. He was widely regarded as one of the principal architects of the postcolonial Guyanese state.
The People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is a centre-left to left-leaning political party in Guyana. As of 2020, the party holds 33 of the 65 seats in the National Assembly and forms the government. It has been the ruling party in the past as well, most recently between 1992 and 2015. In Guyana's ethnically divided political landscape, the PPP is a multi-ethnic organization that is supported primarily by Indo-Guyanese people.
Cheddi Jagan International Airport, formerly Timehri International Airport, is the national airport of Guyana. The airport is located on the right bank of the Demerara River in the city of Timehri, 41 kilometres (25 mi) south of Guyana's capital, Georgetown. It is the larger of the two international airports serving Georgetown with the other airport being the Eugene F. Correira International Airport.
Cheddi "Joey" Jagan Jr. is a dentist and a politician in Guyana.
Joyce Sparer Adler was an American critic, playwright, and teacher. She was a founding member of the faculty of the University of Guyana, writer of important critical analyses of Wilson Harris and Herman Melville, and 1988 president of the Melville Society.
Sharon Maas is a Guyanese-born novelist, who was educated in England, lived in India, and subsequently in Germany and in Sussex, United Kingdom. She also wrote The Sugar Planters Daughter
Guyana, officially the Co‑operative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America. It is considered part of the Caribbean region because of its strong cultural, historical, and political ties with other Caribbean countries and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Venezuela to the west, and Suriname to the east. With 215,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi), Guyana is the third-smallest sovereign state on mainland South America after Uruguay and Suriname.
The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
Guyanese Americans are an ethnic group of Americans who can trace their ancestry back to Guyana. As of 2011, there are 208,899 Guyanese Americans currently living in the United States. The majority of Guyanese live in New York City – some 140,000 – making them the fifth-largest foreign-born population in the city.
The Progressive Youth Organisation of Guyana is a youth organisation in Guyana, the youth wing of the People's Progressive Party. The membership of Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) is predominately Indo-Guyanese, like its mother party.
The National Labour Front (NLF) was a political party in Guyana.
Cannabis in Guyana is illegal for all uses, but is both grown and consumed in the nation. Possession of 15 grams or over can result in charges of drug trafficking.
Suzanne Wasserman, was a Chicago-born historian, Professor, writer, and film director. Besides her exceptional tenure as Director of the Gotham Center for New York City history, she may be best known for her first film, completed in 2003, Thunder in Guyana, which she wrote, produced, and directed. The film documented the remarkable life of her mother's first cousin, Chicago-born Janet Rosenberg Jagan, who served as the President of Guyana, South America from December 19, 1997 to August 11, 1999.
Jagan is an Indian film actor and comedian active in Tamil films.
Isahak Basir CCH was a Guyanese historian who was a member of the National Assembly of Guyana from 1977 to 1991. Basir was nicknamed "Uncle Tabrak" and was of Indian descent.