John F. Kennedy and the British Guiana

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John F. Kennedy Before 1953, the United States showed no interest in the small British colony, the British Guiana. The poor and isolated country had minimal trade with the United States, but the country’s 1953 presidential elections caught Eisenhower’s attention. The poor country held elections, in which Cheddi Jagan and his Peoples Progress Party (PPP) won. Both the British and the United States saw Jagan as a possible communist. The United States put pressure on the British to avoid creating a communist country. Hesitantly, the British suspended the country’s independence for the time being. The British Guiana became a Cold War battlefield, one in which the United States saw itself responsible to prevent communist takeover. Jagan was seen as very dangerous, especially when he publicly declared himself a Marxist-Leninist in 1961. Therefore, during the 1961 British Guiana elections, Kennedy was determined to deny Jagan power. John F. Kennedy did not make a good choice by carrying out a coup in the British Guiana to overthrow Jagan. Although Cheddi Jagan was a declared communist, he posed no threat to the United States. The British Guiana was an insignificant colony for the Western Hemisphere; however, Kennedy was unwilling to let any country become communist. Besides that Cheddi Jagan was a communist, John F. Kennedy did not have a valid reason to overthrow the British Guiana government. Kennedy was resolute in his decision and sought to deny Jagan and the PPP any power. Cheddi Jagan won the 1961 elections against the socialist Forbes Burnham, who Kennedy supported. Jagan’s victory made Kennedy believe that the country would allow for the growth of communism in the Western Hemisphere. Despite the United States’ concerns for the creation of a communist country, the British were unwilling to interfere. The British believed the situation was insignificant. A
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