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WPA never planned bloody overthrow of PNC govt- Kwayana

WPA Co-founder, Eusi Kwayana testifying at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry

Founding member of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA), Eusi Kwayna on Tuesday rejected suggestions that that party had planned to unleash bloody violence to remove the then Forbes Burnham administration from office.

Testifying at the Commission of Inquiry into the bomb-in-walkie-talkie death of Dr. Walter Rodney on June 13,1980, Kwayana was explaining the late politician’s utterance that “the PNC must go and by any means necessary”.

Credited with writing the battle/party songs for the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Peoples National Congress and the Working Peoples Aliance (WPA), Kwayana said the WPA had “not exhausted the means of struggle” to make it necessary to resort to violence. “The WPA had not come to a stage where it could say it tried everything and I don’t think anyone in the WPA was of that mind,” he said. “In fact, it had come to a stage where it had said that violence was totally out of the question,”  he said.

He argued that no one could justifiably accuse the WPA or any of its known members of being involved in bloodshed, murder, break-up of meetings, or an attack on a police station or a residence of someone. “I am urging that all suggestions that there was this kind of thing planned, especially immiment in some near future around that time is not a serious suggestion at all,” he added.

Earlier Tuesday Eddie Rodney, testifying under cross-examination, said that his brother- Walter- had publicly advocated the toppling of the Burnham administration by labour strikes and violence.

Rodney, Kwayana said, had maintained in an interview that violence was always regrettable. The veteran Guyanese politician remembered Rodney saying that sometimes regimes push people into violent struggle.

He described Rodney as an educator who lacked the power in the WPA or Guyana to launch a revolution. He noted that the WPA activists had regarded themselves as revolutionaries who had fought against a negative and stultifying environment in which rights had been eroded. “…We all say something to the effect that ‘by any means necessary’. Any popular organization worth its salt has said that. It does not mean that you are looking forward to blood,” he said.

Kwayana said the stage was set locally by the government and then ruling Peoples National Congress (PNC)  for Dr. Rodney’s demise by, among other things, an interview in the State Media in which the interviewer, Carl Blackman, had said the renowned historian was refused a job at the University of Guyana because he had been a “troublemaker” in Tanzania and Jamaica. Kwayana said that interview was done in February, 1980, four months before Rodney was “liquidated”.  “So as far as I am concerned, a scene is being set. Here is a man, a public danger in several countries coming back home to make trouble and if anything happens to him, you can fill in the rest, fill in the blanks; no body’s business, no body’s fault,” he said.

He reiterated that successive governments have shown regard for the dignity of human life, resulting in the deaths of persons like then former Minister of Education, Vincent Teekah, who was shot dead while in the company of a female dentist. He noted that that woman was whisked out of the country within 24 to 36 hours after Teekah’s death in 1975 in like manner as the suspect in Dr. Rodney’s death, Guyana Defence Force Sergeant Gregory Smith. “There is a change in government but not a change of culture,” he said.

Rodney and several other WPA activists had been arrested and prosecuted for burning down of the Ministry of National Development.