Poor social conditions, discrimination and lack of democracy lead to increasing unrest and several strikes. [5]


October - Britain suspends Guyana's constitution, sends in troops and installs an interim administration after democratic elections for parliament produces a result not to its liking - a victory for the left-wing Indo-Guyanese People's Progressive Party (PPP). [1] [2]

An interim government is installed which tries, unsuccessfully to break up the PPP. [5]


Britain restores the Guyanese constitution, under which a largely elected Legislative Council governs, but ultimate control is retained by the British Governor. PPP splits along racial lines, with Cheddi Jagan leading a mostly Indian party and Forbes Burnham leading a party of African descendants, the People's National Congress (PNC). Despite manipulation of constituency boundaries by the interim government, Jagan's PPP wins 9 of the 14 Council seats. [2] [5]


The USA seeks to undermine the PPP government by supporting chosen opposition parties and union organisations. This is funded by US business men and the CIA. [5] [6]


Guyana is granted internal self governance, with Britain retaining control over external and defence matters; Jagan of the PPP becomes prime minister. [2] [5]


Arthur Schlesinger, U.S. Secretary of State visits British Guiana and concludes that Dr. Jagan's heart is with the Communist world, and although all alternatives to Dr. Jagan are terrible, he feels that if Mr. Burnham 'will commit himself to a multi-racial policy' an independent British Guiana under him would cause the U.S. fewer problems than one under Dr. Jagan. [3]

Jagan announces a budget which is widely praised by international commentators, but the opposition, led by Burnham, condemn it and use it as an excuse to incite violent protests. In this he is supported by the TUC who receive support from certain US union groups funded by the CIA. The British Governor initially refuses to send troops to quell the disturbances, but eventually does so after arson, looting and deaths in the capital. Jagan is forced to withdraw the budget.

Tacitly supported by the UK government, Burnham blocks all negotiations for independence and presses for elections by proportional representation, which he believes can be worked in his favour. [5]

Venezuela, pressurised by the USA, renews its claims to a part of Guyana. This puts further pressure on Guyana's government. [2] [5]


Further violent protests are fomented by the opposition parties, TUC and big business. Weapons and documents are found which show that the PNC, Burnham's party, is contemplating a violent coup. Reports on this are suppressed by the Governor. [5]

June 21 - As U.S. President John Kennedy and a high powered team prepares for a meeting with British Prime Minister Harold McMillan and his team at Birch Grove in the U.K., the State Department instructs its U.K. embassy by telegram to let it be known that McMillan had agreed that H.M.G. no longer has any faith in Dr. Jagan, preferring Mr. Burnham as the more manageable alternative. At the Birch Grove meeting, it is decided to establish a Burnham-D'Aguair Government and grant British Guiana independence. [3] [4]

November - Negotiations on independence commence, but Burnham and D'Aguiar block all compromise. In the face of this deadlock, the British chairman of the negotiations settles the matter by giving the opposition everything they ask for. There are to be new elections based on proportional representation a full year before the PPP's term has expired. A date for independence is not set, apparently in case the election doesn't go as planned. [5]

Despite all this, Jagan's government manages to considerably improve the lot of much of the population, making advances in agriculture, health and education. [5]


Sugar workers strike for the right to choose which union represents them. Racial violence ensues and the governor detains several PPP members of the legislature. This reduces the PPP to a minority in the legislature. The violence continues until arms and explosives are discovered in the possession of a PNC activist. [5]

The USA funds several opposition parties in the elections, apparently to try to undermine the PPP vote. [5]

The PPP win the elections taking 45.8% of the votes, as opposed to the 40.5% taken by Burnham's PNC and the 12.4% taken by D'Aguiar's UF. However the PPP do not have an outright majority, so Jagan tries to form a coalition with Burnham. Burnham refuses. The British Colonial Secretary puts a change to the Guyana constitution through the British Parliament so that Jagan can be dismissed as Premier. The Queen then orders this dismissal and the Governor installs Burnham as Premier, who then forms a coalition with D'Aguiar. [5]


Control of the state of emergency is handed by the Governor to Burnham. Burnham extends the state of emergency, leaving the PPP with no influence in government. [5]

Burnham and D'Aguiar draw up proposals for independence and a new constitution, without any PPP input. [5]


Guyana becomes an independent member of the British Commonwealth, with Burnham as prime minister. [2] [5]


Guyana becomes a republic within the British Commonwealth with Raymond Arthur Chung as titular president. [2]


Nine hundred members of a religious sect commit mass suicide at Jonestown, a community established by sect leader Jim Jones. [2]


Guyana gets a new constitution and Burnham becomes the country's first executive president. [2]

The media is restricted and opposition parties harassed. [6]


Desmond Hoyte (PNC) becomes president following the death of Burnham; economy begins to deteriorate. [2]


PPP wins first completely free parliamentary elections since independence; Cheddi Jagan becomes president. [2]

Some economic growth is experienced. [6]


Jagan dies and is replaced by his wife, Janet, after elections. [2]


Government declares state of emergency in Georgetown in response to violent riots amid allegations of discrimination by PPP against Afro-Guyanese. [2]


Bharrat Jagdeo becomes president after Janet Jagan resigned for health reasons. [2]


Long-running dispute with Surinam over the offshore border comes to a head when Surinam gunboats evict an oil exploration rig from the area. Guyana had approved the exploration in the oil-rich disputed zone. [2]


July - TV presenter Mark Benschop charged with treason. Court says he encouraged protest in which presidential complex was stormed by demonstrators, who were complaining of discrimination against Afro-Guyanese. [2]


April - US embassy employee is kidnapped and released after a ransom is paid. The abduction is part of a wave of violent crime; the murder rate in 2002 quadrupled to more than 160. [2]


May - Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj offers to step down while an inquiry is carried out into allegations that he is linked to a death squad accused of executing hundreds of suspected criminals. [2]