Kaieteur News – There are four persons in this life, the shape of whose existence I did not admire and I would never have developed a close relationship with. But all four showed a more than passing fondness for me. I would say they liked and appreciated me.
It will forever remain for me an inexplicability why they related to me the way they did. All four were African Guyanese involved in Guyana’s political world where their existence was connected to the politics of a Black president and his Black oriented political party. I, as an East Indian, never had a relationship with the PNC and/or President Forbes Burnham.
The four personalities were Laurie Lewis, Former Commissioner of Police; Mortimer Codette, lawyer and founder of GUYOIL; Elvin McDavid, President Burnham’s trusted advisor and African rights activist, Oliver Hinckson. The first three were very attached to President Burnham.
In a past column, I speculated on the reason. I don’t think it was my politics. I believe it had to do with Guyana’s racial volcano. All four men saw me as a genuine multi-racial personality whose life had no use for racial accommodation.
I believe they never trusted Indian people to be genuinely multi-racial and they saw me as an exception and treated me with some amount of appreciation. Remember I was born in the south Georgetown ward of Wortmanville and four of my siblings married Africans. I don’t know if the race factor was the real reason but I have to believe in some reason.
Of the four, I knew Lewis very well. He knew my father as a cricket umpire. We got along during my student days at UG. Of the four listed here, Lewis had done something personal for me for which I was grateful. I rejected the compulsory imposition of Guyana National Service (GNS) as a UG student and was expelled.
My life was going nowhere. My parents were extremely disappointed that I didn’t finish UG. Since Lewis was the main man in the GNS and I knew him well, I discussed my GNS requirement with him. He suggested I rejoin GNS and work directly with him at its Broad Street branch. For my impression of Lewis see my column of Tuesday, July 12, 2016, “Laurie Lewis told President Jagan who killed Monica Reece.”
Lewis was facing the fatal side of irreversible diabetes and I think he knew it was a foregone conclusion. I will not repeat what he told me about the identification of the killer of Monica Reece because it is contained in the 2016 article. The purpose here is to look at the role of President Jagan in the Monica Reece murder investigation.
President Jagan was criticised consistently for not becoming no-nonsense with Lewis who was the commissioner at the time. But both men had their reason for wanting the Monica Reece tragedy to fade away. Let us get Lewis’ role out of the way. Simply put – Lewis was compromised. I think temptation overcame him.
It is important for history to outline President Jagan’s position. Knowing the nature of Jagan, it would be dishonest for the researcher to assert that Jagan didn’t care about the conclusion of the investigation. There was a bigger picture facing Jagan.
After 30 years in political Antarctica, Jagan had just come into power and his plate was enormously burdened. But more importantly, he inherited the state machinery shaped by the PNC for 30 years. One of the crucial actors on that horizon was Lewis who as intelligence chief knew everything about everybody.
Could Jagan have risked alienating Lewis? The answer was simply no at that stage of his presidency. Jagan had to tread carefully because his administration could have been seriously undermined by a state sector that was in complete control of PNC personnel.
Khemraj Ramjattan, at that time the head of the PYO, the youth arm of the PPP, was pressuring Jagan to remove Lewis. He got up at a Central Committee meeting and lambasted the president for retaining Lewis. Mrs. Jagan showed her annoyance in pyrotechnical ways. This was Ramjattan the radical youth who has since become one of the stupidest and least liked politicians in the history of Guyana. It just goes to show. Do not predict people. A loving priest down the years can become a monster.
The Monica Reece murder probe stalled for two reasons. First, Lewis was not interested and deliberately let evidence slip, for example, the 4X4 of the main suspect was never swept before it was returned then it was impounded again thus the evidence was long gone. Secondly, a brand new president played it safe for reason of survival.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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