Although the administration has questioned the credibility of leaked US diplomatic cables that accuse it of collusion with criminal elements, including convicted drug lord Roger Khan, but APNU presidential candidate David Granger says “nothing less” than a judicial inquiry would put to rest the mounting allegations.
President Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday dismissed the most recently leaked cables, which detail the overnment’s unwillingness to move against Khan as well as efforts by western diplomats to prevent the appointment of Henry Greene over alleged drug ties, as “impressions,” and former Home Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira has also disavowed reports of her concerns about Greene.
Granger, presidential candidate for the opposition coalition APNU, said the new details were the “most significant evidence” of the government’s “complicity” with criminal interests that were responsible for many deaths. He conceded that it can be argued that the cables are perception of a single foreign embassy, but added that the details are similar to the reports of the trend of events between 2002 and 2008. “The government… had a good idea of what was going on and did not do anything and was not willing to act against drug traffickers,” Granger said, while reiterating an earlier call for a judicial inquiry into the illegal drug trade.
Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee is on record as saying that a judicial inquiry “makes no sense in light of the proactive approach” by the Government of Guyana, together with the law enforcement agencies.
Cables sent to Washington in 2006 by former US Ambassador to Guyana Roland Bullen said the government was so compromised by Khan that nothing would be done about him, especially since he and a former government official had been instrumental in a “phantom” death squad. The Bullen cable is the first where the activities of the phantom squad—believed to have murdered dozens of people—has been discussed.
Additionally, cables by Thomas, dated between 2005 and 2006, also detailed engagements with then Home Minister Teixeira, whom he said tried to persuade both President Bharrat Jagdeo and Presidential Secretariat Head Dr Roger Luncheon to come around to her view on the issue. Thomas also reported that Teixeira genuinely wanted “to fight the corruption and inefficiency” and called her “the voice of reason” in the government.
A secret cable authored by Thomas, and dated March 23rd, 2006, said that he and the UK and Canadian High commissioners met with Teixeira on March 20 and discussed a purported recorded conversation of a conversation between then Commissioner Winston Felix and PNCR MP Basil Williams.
“Teixeira agreed that given the dubious origins of the tape and likelihood that it had been edited before its release, there should be due consideration before any decisions are taken regarding Felix’s continued employment. However, Teixeira also indicated that the tape and Felix’s future would be a major subject on the agenda for the March 21 Cabinet meeting and that she could not guarantee that cooler heads would prevail,” he said.
Thomas added that he and the High Commissioners indicated that there would be “serious difficulties for continued bilateral police cooperation” if Greene were promoted. “Teixeira concurred that Greene would be a problem for many reasons and asked for assistance in leaking to the media the fact that the tape originated with Khan,” Thomas also said.
According to the cable, Thomas also suggested “an uncomfortably convenient link” between President Jagdeo and Khan, through Private Sector Commission Chairman Gerry Gouveia, whom he said had “ready access” to the president and was a “cheerleader” for Khan.
“…I wish to say that two thirds of what is reported by the then Charge d’Affaires Michael Thomas appear to be his opinions and certainly do not reflect the content of conversations between him and I,” Teixeira, however, said in a statement on Friday.
“Factually and historically the cables are inaccurate and replete with his own personal views and deductions,” she added, while noting that she was clear about their conversations and her records substantiate her recall.
Teixeira explained that she could not have had any discussion on Greene’s suitability as Commissioner as it was not on her agenda. “My focus was the violent criminal wave that was wreaking havoc on Guyanese society and killing innocent people,” she said, while adding that she was concerned about the identity of “the political masters” trying to destabilise the country in the run up to the 2006 elections.
“I have no doubt that the Americans like the British and Canadian diplomats were more concerned with Roger Khan and certainly this was the focus of many of their representations,” she further said.
According to Teixeira, it was Thomas who released the alleged Felix-Williams recording to her, with the explanation that he had gotten it from Khan. She said the government officially asked the US Embassy in March 2006 to assist in checking whether the tape had been tampered with.
“There was no discussion concerning members of the private sector and the president nor is it comprehensible how the author Thomas could have deduced that this ipso facto meant a link between the president and Roger Khan.
“Furthermore, I am known for not disclosing internal party or government matters to outsiders,” she said.
In response to the details in recently leaked cables, Granger told Stabroek News that similar ground had already been established in Professor Clive Thomas’ writings on the criminalisation of the state as well as his own writings, collected in his book, ‘Criminal Violence and Policing in Guyana.’
He said the new cables pointed to “a more than casual relationship” between the government and criminals, including drug traffickers like Roger Khan and its involvement with rogue elements of the Guyana Police Force, including senior officers suspected of criminal behaviour.
“And it points to a government that has studiously ignored attempts to set up a DEA bureau,” he said, while also noting its unwillingness to implement the recommendations of the Drug Strategy Master Plan, and the Disciplined Forces Commission report, or work with the UK under the Security Sector Reform Project.
While Granger said government must now act to remove the “rotten eggs” in police force, he emphasised that the allegations further justify a call he made for a judicial inquiry into all aspects of the drug trade. He noted that he was not satisfied with the responses of President Jagdeo, Teixeira and current Home Minister Rohee. “Nothing less would do,” he emphasised.