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"PNC Surveillance State"

"PNC Surveillance State"

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It was also around this same time following the burning down of the PNC headquarters that Norman McLean was moved from being Director General of the Guyana National Service (GNS) to head the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), an appointment which shocked many.
It was also around this same time following the burning down of the PNC headquarters that Norman McLean was moved from being Director General of the Guyana National Service (GNS) to head the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), an appointment which shocked many.

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Published by: Brigadier David Granger on Jun 15, 2014
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04/01/2015

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“PNC surveillance state”
Guyana Times – June 7, 2014 By Alexis Rodney
…WPA infiltrated by Police/Army double-agent assassins
 Amid threats to his grip on power posed by the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), former President Forbes Burnham had employed an elaborate surveillance network here during the 1980s, with undercover cops being set upon political activists, some with instructions to kill, the Commission of Inquiry probing the death of Dr Walter Rodney heard on Friday.
Guyana Times
 was told that State surveillance during that era was so  pervasive that ordinary citizens were spied on, creating an atmosphere of tension across the country, which reached its apex following the July 1979 burning down of the National Development Building, that had also housed the Secretariat of the People’s National Congress (PNC). Burnham himself had declared publicly at the party’s Third Biennial Congress in August of 1979 that the arson happened because “We had not activated our full intelligence services that are part of the State Apparatus.” Both Dr Rodney and Dr Rupert Roopnaraine along with other WPA activists were arrested and thrown in lock-ups for the incident. Addressing party faithful at the August 22-26 Congress, Burnham said: “While we number thousands, they number at most a few hundreds. Must be suspicious Therefore, we should be in a position to have a proper intelligence service which I shall discuss with you at a group level.” He continued: “We have already infiltrated them, so much that the Dr Walter Rodney does not sleep in the same place any two nights in succession; so much so that when he has his conspiratorial meetings, he shifts from downstairs to upstairs, but let him know that walls have ears where the People’s National Congress is concerned.” Burnham had charged his members then to be vigilant. “We must be suspicious and all details must be reported. Up to now I would say that about 75 per cent of the WPA consists of PNC members, I do not want any more. But that 75 per cent there plus others must be reporting from time to time and we must ferret these mice out of their holes.”
Dr Rupert Roopnaraine
 
Allan Gates during his testimony
 
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It was also around this same time following the burning down of the PNC headquarters that  Norman McLean was moved from being Director General of the Guyana National Service (GNS) to head the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), an appointment which shocked many. It was widely believed that due to reported family relations, McLean got the nod as Burnham had  become distrustful of the high command in the GDF, as it was around the same time the WPA had begun to make significant inroads into the army. Current PNCR Leader, Brigadier David Granger was also appointed Commander of the GDF in that same year. Asked about this on Thursday when he testified at the inquiry, McLean said while he was surprised at Burnham’s move to make him Chief-of-Staff and knowing that the office of the PNC General Secretary was  burnt down, he did not connect his appointment to that incident. He said he was not sure about the reason for his appointment but disclosed that the head at that time, Colonel Price had passed the age of retirement. He said too that many senior officers were disgruntled as they had expected to be promoted. Double-agent Gates It is against this background that former Policeman Allan Robert Gates, who was used as a double-agent for both the WPA and the State, gave his testimony at the inquiry on Friday. Gates, who holds himself out as security expert, told the Commission that he was a bodyguard for Dr Roopnaraine, while at the same time working as a spy agent for the State. He told the inquiry at one time he was given overpacked ammunitions by his superiors whom he named as Laurie Lewis and Police Officer “Chico” to kill Dr Roopnaraine, but because of his love for the WPA Co-leader, he opted to abscond from the Force and instead disposed of the ammunition in the Berbice River during his escape to Sand Hills, Upper Berbice River. He shared that he first met Dr Roopnaraine while the WPA co-leader was in the lock-ups for the  burning of the PNC Secretariat. Allan Robert Gates alias Clive De Nobrega Gibbs , who is currently serving a 48-month sentence at the Camp Street Prison, for allegedly obtaining money  by false pretence, said he was paid an extra $500 dollars on his monthly salary of $365 back in 1979 by the Guyana Police Force, to work as an undercover agent in the WPA. His role was to survey the activities of the political party, while being bodyguard to Dr Roopnaraine. A section of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry’s Terms of Reference speaks to the involvement of all security forces during late 1970s and early 1980s in surveillance of the  political Opposition. Gates said he was told by his superiors also that he needed to take notes of all Dr Roopnaraine’s movements. “Wherever he went, whoever spoke to him,” Gates said. He told the inquiry that his involvement in the surveillance activity came at a time when members of the WPA were going through a difficult period. He said following the burning of the  building sometime on July 11, 1979, the morning after the fire, Dr Roopnaraine found himself in custody, sitting before him at a unit at CID headquarters. According to him, his instructions were “not to allow him (Dr Roopnaraine) any phone calls”. Gates said he was surprised, since it was not the normal trend of the Police Force to refuse anyone in custody phone calls unless they were considered a threat to national security. He said he found himself in conversation with Dr Roopnaraine and it was then that he found out that the  politician was in search of a bodyguard. The former Police Officer told the inquiry that he accepted the offer and had made plans to remove himself from the Police Force. However, that decision was shortlived, since, instead of him getting out, he was pushed in deeper.
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