After Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom conspired to remove Jagan from office by destabilizing the country internally. The two nations were concerned about Jagan's Marxist ideology. He was active in the government as a labor activist and leader of the opposition and was elected president in 1992, having broken off links with the increasingly authoritarian Burnham.
His presidential tenure was characterized by the revival of the union movement and a re-committment to education and infrastructure improvement. Towards the end of his life, he abandoned his socialist philosophy and began to move his country to a free-market capitalist system.
He married Janet Rosenberg in 1943, and the couple had two children. Mrs. Jagan followed her husband's footsteps and held the positions of prime minister and president in 1997 (succeeded as president by Bharrat Jagdeo in 1999). A museum in the capital, Georgetown, celebrates Cheddi Jagan's life and work, complete with a replication of his office.
Jagan was also an important political author and speechwriter, and his publications include Forbidden Freedom: The Story of British Guiana, The West On Trial: My Fight for Guyana's Freedom, and The USA in South America, among others.