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Gregory Smith lied about WPA membership

Nigel Westmas

An executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) on Monday said that the man, who allegedly supplied the bomb-in-walkie talkie that exploded and killed Dr. Walter Rodney, lied by claiming that he and three others were party members.

Testifying before the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Dr. Nigel Westmas said neither Smith, Yarden, Fowler, Morris nor Winston were ever members of the WPA.

Attorney-at-Law, Keith Scotland, who is representing Walter’s brother- Donald- sought to discredit a book titled “Assassination- Cry of a Failed Revolution,” by Smith and his sister Ann Wagner in which he basically claims that an assassination plot backfired on Walter Rodney who was killed in the explosion on June 13, 1980. The book was published after Smith died several years ago in French Guiana where he had been living and working under the name of Cyril Johnson since leaving Guyana under questionable circumstances shortly after Rodney’s death.

Scotland: Relative to your knowledge, your investigation and your recall; this statement would be an untruth? 
Westmas: Yes

Scotland: According to the archives, there are no persons who were at the time on the roll of the WPA with those names?
Westmas: No

Westmas, who was the Membership Secretary of the WPA during 1979-1980, said none of the members was referred to by those aliases.

Led in his evidence-in-chief by Commission lawyer, Latchmie Rahamat, the United States (US)-based Westmas said he was never involved in gathering arms and ammunition, never given any by WPA executive members and he never saw any WPA members with such items.  He said he never heard of any plot to arrest then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. “Absolutely not….At that time it would have been inconceivable to arrest Mr. Burnham,” he said.

The now governing Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), WPA, Democratic Labour Movement and other parties and interest groups had waged vigorous opposition against the Burnham administration that had been classified as a dictatorship.

Fellow WPA Executive member, Tacuma Ogunseye has already told the Commission of Inquiry that the WPA had explored various options of collecting arms across the borders but thought that it would have been risky. Ogunseye said that the leaders of 12 WPA security cells were at one point provided with pistols in an effort to appease their anxieties to take action against the Burnham administration.

The three commissioners under the Chairmanship of Barbados Queen’s Counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham; Trinidad and Tobago Senior Counsel,  Seenath Jairam and Jacqueline Samuels-Browne (Queen’s Counsel) of Jamaica.