Please allow me space to pay tribute to a friend and brother who recently migrated to a destination for which he did not need a visa or a passport. He is now a citizen of a truly borderless cosmic. Regardless of the pull or push factors, he stood his ground in the grassroots of Guyana, and consistently, expressed his views. Wendell Persaud George was an outstanding freedom fighter. Last year, when I visited our homeland, to bid goodbye to one of my very best, lifelong friends, sister and freedom fighter (Terry Forte McAndrew), Wendell, Pandit Chrishna Persaud and I, shared a wonderful 90 minutes of conversation.
I met Wendell in 1985. He had written a letter explaining a disagreement he had with a former party of which he was a member. I had publicly referred to his letter. He turned up at the DLM Office, and after an hour of extensive conversation about his views on Guyanese burning issues of the 1980s, he told me that as the 1985 elections approached, his “political blood was boiling,” and he would like to denounce the then dictatorship on the DLM platform. There was one condition he said: “I must be allowed to speak as I see it and feel it, and I must let you know, also, that is how people see and feel because I am down there with them…” That was the beginning of his steadfast commitment to fight in the ranks of the DLM until we obtained free and fair elections in 1992. He was a freedom fighter who never earned a cent in the DLM, but he was on permanent call for the movement and shared the political platform all over the country.
Wendell was very much liked by all in the DLM. He often told me that he was constantly inspired by the selflessness and deep commitment of DLM youthful cadres. He travelled to Costa Rica and assisted to make the case for free and fair elections in Guyana. Wendell, Claudius London and I, met extensively with the former President of Costa Rica, who later accompanied President Carter to Guyana, at a decisive conjuncture in the advance of our then noble cause for freedom. Unfortunately, he became severely ill, but we obtained the finances through the generosity of the CLAT and support of our friends in San Jose, to ensure he received the best medical attention. He often looked at me in the eyes and movingly expressed how much he appreciated DLM/NWU/CLAT solidarity. At UWI, he shared the platform with Hulsie Bhaggan, Brindley Benn and I, when we launched International Solidarity for Democracy in Guyana (ISDG) in T&T, to coordinate and intensify the DLM International Free and Fair Elections Campaign. He also participated in training seminars for DLM/NWU cadres on the south coast of Barbados and Curaçao.
Inside Guyana, he became an integral part of DLM/NWU grassroots’ militancy and commitment. He coordinated with a school teacher in Grove to provide a safe house for Latchman Tularam, Claudius London and I, when Desmond Hoyte’s dictatorhip sent over one dozen policemen in search of me in Lusignan. Fizool Baksh and Raymond Moakan were chained to a bench at CID headquarters. The false allegations and persecution were intended to stop a DLM-NWU announced independent May Day march from Grove to Georgetown.
Wendell was the one who met me at the airport and informed me, in a way only he could, that Latchman Tularam had an accident and may die. He knew that Latchman was very close to me and crucial to the movement. He broke down in tears.
Wendell’s wife was also his political partner. Angie was the Chair of the DLM Women’s Section and not only assisted in organizing in the grassroots but marched with the PCD from Buxton to Kitty. She too was trained at home and abroad as a DLM/NWU cadre and managed a sewing project at Grove and supported others in Linden and Leonora. CNV-ActieCom of Holland financed those successful projects.
Wendell was elected to the DLM leadership at a National Convention. I differed, majorly, with him over two issues regarding the GHRA and the Elections Commission.
We voted in the leadership on both issues. Angie and I were on one side and Wendell on the other. After the votes were taken at the meetings, he just continued in the struggle as if nothing had happened.
Wendell wrote his last piece a few days before he died. It was published in Kaieteur News New York issue. I have over a dozen boxes of documents and two suitcases of photos that will be sourced to record the contributions of the numerous DLM/NWU cadres who tirelessly and successfully fought for free and fair elections in Guyana. I have many photos of Wendell in the struggle, but one stands out. It was taken at Leonora market square.
DLM/NWU publicly paid a tribute to a Guyanese female elder who was indentured and celebrated her 105th birthday.
In the photo, Wendell has his arm around the elder with touching tenderness and reverence, while Vaidram Persaud knelt before them, offering a prayer. Wendell was not only from the grassroots but genuinely loved those who resided there. I continue to be fascinated how the DLM in pursuit of a pure ideal was an effective vehicle for folks in the grassroots to make history in our beloved homeland. It is a story to be told.
Paul Nehru Tennassee