Walter Rodney Inquiry – The distortions and deceptions – Commentary

The distortions and deceptions


It was William Shakespeare who first zeroed in on a comedy of errors. Certainly in life there are these comedies, some of which have a lasting impact on a situation. The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry is turning out to be a comedy of errors and at the end, one wonders whether the desired result would be achieved.

Walter Rodney died thirty-four years ago. Since then there have been an aborted inquest and numerous attempts to get to the bottom of the issue. In the end, depending on which side of the political fence one stood, one would have come to distinct conclusions. One conclusion would be that people opposed to the late Dr. Walter Rodney conspired to kill him by whatever means.
However, there is an equally compelling conclusion that Dr. Rodney died by his own hands, albeit by misadventure.  

Given the inconclusive nature of events, the government has at last managed to put together a Commission to ascertain the cause of Rodney’s death.  From comments by President Donald Ramotar, Rodney’s wife wanted to know what really happened, at least before she headed to the Great Beyond. Certainly, anyone would want to know what actually happened to their spouse if something untoward were to happen to that person.

But it is rather strange that her brother-in-law Donald Rodney did not brief her. He was there when Walter Rodney died; he knew what was there in the car with them and for which purpose; he knew who presented them with the object and above all, he knew what his brother would have been involved in, if anything at all.

Sometimes, what is told to a family is often hidden from public view, but if President Ramotar is to be believed, Mrs. Rodney wanted the wider society to know what really happened. So we now have a number of people parading before the Commission. This past week, we have been regaled by comments from a man who started life as Clive De Nobrega, but who has since become known as Robert Allan Gates.

As is done in a court, witnesses swear to tell the truth. What seems to be happening is that some people have a problem with identifying the truth. In some cases, it was clear that Gates was a stranger to the truth, yet the Commission seemed to have bought everything that he uttered. If this is the case, history will be distorted. Perhaps in life there is need for parallel history to pander to the minds of those who want endings that are different from what really is the truth.

There was Gates talking about the then government paying one million dollars to kill leading lights in Walter Rodney’s party. From today’s standpoint, such a comment would not raise an eyebrow. However, when one attributes this statement to 34 years ago, one can suspect that a falsehood is being told.

There was no house in Guyana at that time that was worth even a quarter of that sum. And the records would show that the highest paid public servant earned no more than $1,500 per month. One million dollars then would be worth at least $100 million today.

One gets the idea that Gates was actually carried away by the moment, transporting with him the Commissioners and even the lawyers. In the end he gets them trapped somewhere between the past and the present.

But there is another part of Gates’s tale that makes one wonder whether the Commissioners and the lawyers wanted an escape into fantasy. Gates identifies as a senior police officer back in 1978, a man who was still in high school and not even considering a job. Balram Persaud, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, is three years from retiring. When Walter Rodney died 34 years ago he would have been no more than seventeen years old.

The tales told by Gates must surely serve to reduce the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry to a farce. One must now wonder at the real reason for this Commission and the possible outcome.

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  • Wilfred Daniels  On 06/27/2014 at 8:13 pm

    Is it Balram Persaud or he, Gates, meant Balram Ragubeer?

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