| The Dutch began colonizing this South American region in the early 17th century. The British and the French also sought to dominate here and eventually, the British succeeded: it became a British colony in 1831. In 1966, independence was declared and from then till 1992, the same party was in power (People's National Congress). The party, socialist in ideology, nationalized most of the large companies in the country which contributed to a resource-rich country remaining relatively poor and dependent on foreign aid. In 1992, the People's Progressive Party took over but made little inroads into privatizing the potentially lucrative bauxite and sugar industries. After the death of party leader Cheddi Jagan in March 1997, the prime minister became president and Jagan's widow became prime minister. Elections held later that year brought Mrs. Jagan into power but opposition to these results by the members of the People's National Congress led to mass demonstrations and rioting. The PNC represents the interests of black Guyanese while the PPP is primarily the party of Guyana's East Indians. In 1999, Mrs. Jagan resigned and was succeeded by Bharrat Jagdeo.