By virtue of the key role he played in the education of soldiers, David Granger bears some responsibility for the ballot box killings

Dear Editor,

I write this note as Press and Publicity Officer to President Bharrat Jagdeo so that future records would not be distorted.

It is well known that President Jagdeo’s comments about David Granger were taken out of context.  A close examination of his comments would see that President Jagdeo suggested that since Granger was in the leadership of the army at that time he bears some responsibility for the horrific act of the ballot box martyrs.

I refer to Mr. Rishi Thakur’s letter in the SN,  “ We need to have the true story of what happened in Guyana for the next generation”. (10-14-11) Inter alia, Mr. Thakur claims President Jagdeo, “has no hesitation in accusing APNU’s Presidential candidate, Retired Brigadier David Granger of having blood on his hands over the death of two PPP activists at No. 64 Village Polling Station during the elections of 1973. Where is the evidence for the charge? Of course, none has been forthcoming because there is none.”  This has been the position taken by all the defenders of Granger.

However I submit the following:

After the April 1970 aborted army mutiny in T&T, Burnham rushed to subvert the GDF from a professional army into one subservient to himself.

He launched an Army “Education Corps” to explicitly drum in the new orientation of the army. From the very beginning David Granger was a member and leader in the Education Corps.

In Scarlet Beret Vol 1 #1 of 1971(p54) “Extracts from LFS Burnham’s address to officers and new recruits GDF Oct 26 1970.” Burnham declared the new ethos of the army:

“I do not share with the British the concept that the Army is separate and distinct from everything else and loyal to the government of the day.

As Prime Minister, I expect you to be loyal to this government. If there is any other government, it is a matter for you to decide about that, but as far as I am concerned I don’t want any abstract loyalty.”

“I have now arranged with the Chief of Staff that, in future, all recruits, apart from their military training, will also have to attend a course of lectures on the philosophy and ideology of the government and the Co-op Republic”.

In the same army magazine, (p72), Elvin Mc David, personal assistant to Burnham expanded on the army’s new role in November of 1970: “The Education Unit is the People’s institution in the People’s Army charged with the task of establishing complete understanding of the new role.

For it is to be successful it will mean that it has to receive the support of the whole army in a militant programme of political education of the people, regardless of whether it is in direct opposition groups whose roots are in traditional society and in whose interest it is to forestall the course of relevant development.”

We note the categorisation of the “direct opposition” (which meant the PPP in 1970) as having “roots” – meaning its core support base in the Indian community was “traditional” or in the context of the discussion, “backward”, and that their interest was “to forestall the course of relevant development”. This was the pernicious propaganda that was beaten into the heads of all recruits, ranks and officers of the GDF from 1971.

As George K. Danns, later a PNC candidate, pointed out ( “Domination and Power in Guyana,” p. 148)

“Reminiscent of the junior officer courses and other seminars held for police sometime later, courses were continuously held for both officers and enlisted ranks and government ministers, and other officials delivered lectures on the philosophy of the government…The political education was further reinforced by the officer corps who all belonged to the Social, Political, and Economic Council (SPEC) which was set up by Minister of Information Elvin Mc David as a body for doing “backroom research” for the PNC.

Mr Granger was a card-carrying and enthusiastic member of SPEC and in 1971 he was duly rewarded when the army command was shaken up to ensure the personal loyalty to Burnham was unquestioned. Col Clarence Price was promoted to brigadier and kicked upstairs as chief of staff and adviser to Burnham, where he was ignored. Nine other mid-level officers were neutralised. According to David Granger (in his “New Road”, 1976, p 42, by then the Education Officer of the GDF) the shake-up facilitated “far reaching structural changes which permitted greater flexibility and mobility”.  On account of his slavish loyalty to Burnham, the young Granger became a key resource to Burnham and earned upward “mobility”.

It is against this background of David Granger playing a key role in the “education” of the army from 1971 that he bears some responsibility for the killings of the two PPP supporters at # 63 during their protection of the ballot boxes in the now universally acknowledged rigged 1973 elections.

We quote the words of Granger himself (New Road, p 43-44): “…to forestall an obvious and overwhelming PNC victory, a campaign of violence and resistance was planned by the PPP.” History records that the only violence meted out during the 1973 elections was by the GDF.

Granger continued, “The GDF was called in to aid the Civil power and prevent a breakdown in law and order that was planned by the gangsters.”

For those that claim that the GDF operations in the 1973 elections were sanctioned from “top”, according to the Caribbean Contact (Nov 1977:p18) Brigadier Price claimed in the Guyana High Court “that he was ‘unaware’ of the army’s involvement in the July 1973 general elections and that he knew no authority for the GDF soldiers to take the ballot boxes to the army headquarters.”

But we return to the culpability of David Granger:

“The soldiers behaved splendidly in the face of provocation.” For soldiers to shoot two unarmed civilians protecting ballot boxes nothing is “splendid”.

And we arrive at the smoking gun: “The sound political education that the officers and soldiers received during 1971 and 1972 enabled them to act with tact, discretion and firmness in 1973 and saved the day.”

It was David Granger, more than anyone else in the army, that provided “the sound political education” that defined the PPP supporters as incorrigible enemies of the state and he is therefore responsible for the “firmness” that resulted in the loss of two innocent lives.

Yours faithfully,
Kwame Mc Coy  

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