Mr. Rakesh Rampertab, in his letter published in Stabroek News Saturday, June 19, 2021 edition, under the caption, ” CLR James had warned the WPA to protect Dr. Rodney” contended that the WPA betrayed Walter Rodney. This is not a new accusation. We have been living with this for decades. However, over time the old tune has found new orchestras with new musicians singing the old chorus. Mr Rampertab seem to be playing the race/political card when asked, ” Why was Dr Jagan singled out?” He later cited CLR James accusing the WPA of delivering Dr Rodney to Burnham.
Since CLR James observations are not germane to understanding Rodney’s assassination I will address this matter first. Many years ago when comrade CLR James became part of the public polemics on Walter’s demise, I penned a response expressing my disagreement with the great man. My recollection is he had criticised the WPA for not providing Walter with adequate security, and Walter, for not mastering the art of taking power. He was critical of Walter for personally dealing with Smith and testing the walkie talkie. Mr Rampertab cited James’ California lecture in 1981, ” (see “Walter Rodney and the question of power”), at which time in similarly harsh language he faulted the WPA for betraying Dr Rodney.” It is not true that James accused the WPA, of ” betraying Dr Rodney”. As I stated above, he accused us of been careless with Rodney’s security. Even if he did he would not have meant what Rampertab is claiming: He wrote, ” That an inquiry was completed abruptly and its findings denied to the public by the former PNCR-lead administration (including the WPA), shows how very nervous some are regarding Guyanese becoming informed as to what really happened to Dr Rodney, including the role played by members of his own party.” For the record the WPA from the day of the assassination to the present, wanted Guyanese and the world to know details on the assassination – we have nothing to hide. Ironically, Rampertab consciously or unconsciously, is doing Burnham and the PNC’s work of blaming Rodney and the WPA for his demise.
What I found interesting is Mr Rakesh Rampertab willingness to accept the Nandlall/Jagdeo narrative that the WPA claimed that the Rodney family was no longer interested in the commission of inquiry. Common sense should have informed Rampertab that if this was true the PPP would have used it in its propaganda war against the WPA at the time. I challenge Rampertab to cite any time before now the PPPC making such an accusation. The issue was the use of the term “assassination” in the PPPC sponsored resolution. I recollect that in consultation with the Rodney family it was agreed the term ‘assassination’ would be removed to facilitate the passing of the resolution since from the family’s point of view the important thing was to have the inquiry. This was what was communicated to the then government. But for Rampertab he can only see, ” … blatant misrepresentation and flagrant lie” on the part of the WPA. Rampertab refuses to question the Nandlall/Jagdeo motives. For him, their word is gospel truth from political angles. Why would the WPA make such a ridiculous claim with the knowledge that the PPPC government was in contact with the Rodney family and with one phone call check what the WPA was saying? But in the propaganda war, truth and objectivity is never the goal.
Mr Rakesh Rampertab has joined the camp of Dr Rupert Roopnarine’s detractors who opportunistically jump on his remark about the WPA acquiring arms. This self-defence measure is now being portrayed as the WPA justifying the Burnham regime’s assassination of Rodney.
The Rodney family’s position on the assassination/commission of inquiry was premised on the fact that the PPPC did not kill Rodney and therefore, more likely to have an inquiry into Rodney demise than the guilty PNCR. The WPA was of the same view. We felt that the PPPC will only act when it is politically convenient for them – their concern was not Rodney but political mileage, then and now.
Mr Rampertab ended his missive, “Indeed, it is a robust rebuke of those who have sinister reasons for singling out Dr. Jagan but not CLR James for uttering the same betrayal condemnation.” As I pointed out in the introduction that Rampertab seems to be playing the political/race card. His motive is now clear. The WPA in its June 13th statement cited Dr. Jagan’s remarks of delivering Rodney head on a platter because it was factual and Jagan was a major political personality at the time. CLR James was an observer from a distance and his observations are not of the same importance to the matter been addressed in the WPA statement.
CLR James also did not have his facts right about the local politcal situation. This is what James wrote in the same document that Rampertab alludes to: “Later Walter was able to get people together and decide to form an anti-Burnham organization that would include Jagan and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). Jagan, however, insisted that the coalition should also incorporate Burnham and the People’s National Congress (PNC). He wanted to form an anti-Burnham organization with Burnham in it.”
Apart from the fact that when Rodney returned to Guyana the WPA was already in formation does Rampertab also accept the fact, based on the same James document he cites that Jagan was insisting on a Burnham alliance? And if he doesn’t does he accept just only some aspects of James statement?
I end this polemic with the following observations: (1) CLR James was in his right to speak to the Guyanese struggle led by the WPA and Rodney in which Rodney was assassinated.
However, he made his assessment with inadequate information but meant no malice to Walter Rodney or the WPA. The fact is that once rulers decide to assassinate a political opponent it is usually almost impossible to avoid their action once you remain in the country. Even US President John.F.Kennedy fell to an assassin’s bullet despite his enormous security detail. (2) Something is wrong with Guyanese political culture that places more weight on the views of non-participants than that of those who were directly engaged in the struggle. Dr Jagan then Opposition Leader’s negative utterances on the Walter Rodney assassination is more important than those of the iconic CLR James since Jagan and Rodney were in competitive politics at home.