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Sunday, April 23, 2006

by Rakesh Rampertab

The PNC Minister of Education during the late seventies.

Questions to ask and Questions to answer:

  • Was the killer a former senior PNC member or was Minister Teekah killed on orders by Forbes Burnham?
  • Was Teekah an "agent" of the Cubans, by whom he had become a beloved?
  • Was the minsiter killed because he was being "friendly" with an American doctor (a dental specialist), who was
    also liked by a former senior PNC figure?
  • Was the correct name of this American female (originally born in Jamaica) doctor Oswaldene Walker or was this a fake name? Did she conspire to kill Minister Teekah?
  • Was she really killed on her way out of the country the day after Teekah's murder, in an auto accident or is she still alive today?

What are considereed in the public domain as "facts":

  • Dr. Oswaldene Walker was the only "witness" to the close-range shooting of Minister Teekah.
  • She was with him when he was taken to the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
  • Teekah carried a .25 handgun; he did not shoot himself.
  • The weapon used on Teekah was a .32 handgun.
  • He was shot at least once in the right hip area...the bullet exited at the other side of the hip/pelvic region.
  • He died subsequently of internal bleeding and the body.

Images

  • Images One of partial document re-staging the final day of Minister Teekah.
  • Image two (of same document)
  • Teekah at Guyfesta ceremony.


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Did Burnham Kill Dr. Walker?

By Frederick Kissoon

Scholarship must never be put to serve the purpose of propaganda. Recently, one learnt of the sudden death of Dr. Tyrone Ferguson in Trinidad. Dr. Ferguson, as many readers would know, was the predecessor of Dr. Roger Luncheon in the Presidential Secretariat under the presidency of Desmond Hoyte. Ferguson's appointment showed the extent to which Hoyte was prepared to go to diminish the influence of the PNC in his new government.

One must erase the belief that the Hoyte period was an era of the democratization of Guyana by the PNC. The PNC as a party was virtually side-lined from 1988 up to when Hoyte lost power in 1992. It was Ferguson himself, writing an eulogy on Hoyte in the Stabroek News days after the death of Hoyte, who pointed to the fear among Hoyte supporters that his life was in danger. Ferguson went on to add that indeed there was a plot to harm Hoyte for his sustained manoeuvres in the direction of both glasnost and perestroika after 1988.

Hoyte's appointment of Ferguson demonstrated some fine qualities Hoyte had. Ferguson was given one of the most crucial roles in the state without him having any meaningful party connection. It was a master stroke by Hoyte even though some of us, including this writer, believe that Hoyte was never good at practical politics and strategic thinking in political policy-making. Since Ferguson was raw, then his only loyalty would have been to Hoyte. A Burnhamite in the position of Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) could have undermined Hoyte's power-base. Of course, there is a counter-argument to this that says Hoyte was concerned with the professionalization in the public service so he needed non-political personnel in the essential services. So he elevated Goolsarran to Auditor-General, Ragubeer to Police Commissioner, Singh to commander of the army, and Ferguson to HPS. It was certainly a retrograde step when Cedi Jagan appointed Roger Luncheon, a party leader to HPS.

Ferguson did not live long enough to face academic grilling from Guyanese intellectuals on a piece of analysis of Forbes Burnham in his book, “To Survive Sensibly or to Court Heroic Death,” (Guyana National Printers, Georgetown, 1999). I did critique his book for the Kaieteur News and the Chronicle. I was severe on him for his interpretation of the murder of Walter Rodney. Here is a typical advantage of scholarship serving the interest of propaganda. On page 297, Ferguson pontificating on the character of Burnham when looking at the possible motives for the assassination of Walter Rodney, wrote, “Burnham would have been acting uncharacteristically to have given the go-ahead for such a politically costly act.”

This is either propaganda posing as scholarship or it is poor intellectual analysis. Without dwelling on the topic of who is to be blamed for the riots and mayhem of the sixties, the X-13 plan puts Burnham as one of the central plotters in the conspiratorial obsession to use violence to burn and kill in the sixties as part of a Western plot to destabilize the Jagan Government. Burnham's political direction in the sixties was characterised by the massive use of violence in which lots of people were killed. Who was Ferguson trying to fool when he speaks of the uncharacteristic style of Burnham if he had consented to kill Rodney? On the contrary, this would have been very characteristic of Burnham.

Ferguson omits vital facts of the seventies and eighties when assessing Burnham in his flawed book. For example, there is no attention paid to the cause of Vincent Teekah's death. There are two explanations for Teekah's death. I offered one of these theories in a Kaieteur News article of August 6, 2001. One of Teekah's very close relatives told me that it was in fact Burnham who ordered the liquidation of Teekah because Teekah was a high-level agent of the Cuban Government. The other story is that one of Burnham's deputies murdered Teekah in the knowledge that Teekah was about to be elevated as second to Burnham. The latter position is inflexibly adhered to by devout Burnham fan, and former advisor to Desmond Hoyte, Halim Majeed. (See Majeed's article on Teekah's death in Kaieteur News of Feb 26 - March 4, 1999.)

Whichever of these competing formulations you accept, Burnham was undoubtedly involved in Teekah's murder. Teekah was done away with before Rodney was blown up. To secure Burnham's credibility, Ferguson chose to ignore the death of Vincent Teekah in his book and speculate widely on Rodney's death because he was a propagandist for the PNC. I am absolutely sure that had he remained in Guyana, he would have faced extensive questioning of his unashamed support for Burnham in his book.

But leaving aside the academic failings of Burnham, what about Burnham's role in other killings? According to Majeed, a person who wanted to succeed Burnham organised the destruction of Teekah. The principal plotter was Dr. Oswaldene Walker. She came to Guyana, became a confidante of the government and befriended Teekah. The conspiracy was indeed sophisticated. Dr. Walker would become the lover of Teekah, he would be killed, then it would be fixed to look like a tragic triangular love affair. Along the way, some changes were made. Dr. Walker ran out of her car during the uncivilised hour of a morning in the Industrial Site area of South Georgetown, crying to a security guard that her lover (Teekah) was robbed and killed.

According to Majeed there was no blood in the car. Majeed who remains an unapologetic supporter of Burnham to this day, believes Burnham's closet trustee killed Vincent Teekah. Ferguson, Burnham's propagandist, remained silent in his book on the fate of Dr. Walker. Vincent Teekah's brother told me that Dr. Walker was smashed to pieces in a strange car accident in the US shortly after she left Guyana. The long arm of Burnham could not have reached anyone he wanted to kill. Time for an inquest into Rodney's and Teekah's tragic murders. Time to unmask Forbes Burnham as a deadly killer. (See Kaieteur News, May 27th, 2005)

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Frederick Kisson Responds to former PNC minister Rashleigh Jackson on the Teekah Case

"Fearing not only the loss of power, but perhaps imprisonment, if he was toppled, Burnham ordered the assassination of Rodney. Where was Ferguson when all this was happening? He was out of Guyana. I was part of that great event. I know how close Burnham was to falling. Before Rodney's death, Burnham had ordered the killing of Teekah. He then ordered the murder of Dr. Walker, whom Burnham felt may have been the weakest link in the murder conspiracy. I am certain if Burnham did not kill Dr. Walker and Rodney, then one day, Rodney or one of his charismatic WPA colleagues may have got Dr. Walker to talk about her role in the gruesome killing of Vincent Teekah.

Up comes Ferguson in 2000 in his book and tell us that it was not in Burnham's character to have ordered the killing of Rodney. Ferguson sadly allowed his scholarship to become a servant in the service of propaganda. Maybe, race or party loyalty can best explain this. But when it came to party loyalty, Burnham cultivated a true crop of sycophants. Burnham wanted Teekah out of the way because he felt Teekah was working with the Cubans to oust him. After he killed Teekah, he set up an elaborate diversion. One of his top party loyalist (we all know who he is) allowed the rumour to spread that Teekah was killed in a power struggle by this loyalist."

—See letter ("When do I make sense, Mr. Jackson?") by Frederick Kissoon in Kaieteur News, dated June 17th, 2005, in response to another letter by former PNC minister, Rashleigh Jackson, who objected to the article, "Did Burnham Kill Dr. Walker?"

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Who Killed Forbes Burnham?
(The Cuban-Teekah Connection)

By Frederick Kissoon

Today marks sixteen years since Forbes Burnham died mysteriously at the Georgetown Hospital. Burnham lived a controversial life, died in controversial circumstances and even before he made his last breath, said something controversial. On his hospital bed, he asked for a taste of condensed milk; an item he had banned in Guyana.

There is no biography of this powerful, erudite and politically astute Third World leader. The PNC, the party he founded, should ask their scholarly friends abroad to do a computer search to find out if a doctoral dissertation has been completed on him at any university in North America. In Ohio, there is a data base for such a search. One of Burnham's proteges, Festus Brotherson, lives in Ohio. He once expressed a desire to do a definitive study of the Kabaka. Brotherson is an admirer of Burnham but is caught in a really weird circumstance. He does a weekly column for the Sunday Chronicle made possible by Mrs. Janet Jajan so it may not be a wise venture to go on a eulogy of Burnham in the state media at this time.

It is not possible to treat such a complex subject in a newspaper column; lack of space would not permit it. I have decided therefore to look at the mystery of Burnham's death rather than an analysis of his long rule over Guyana. But one opinion of mine that is irremovable and must be said when one is writing about Burnham was that he was obsessed with power and had total contempt for fair play, democratic procedures and accountability of power. The fact that he was intellectually brilliant and he built roads and bridges is completely irrelevant in any analysis of his use of power.

I was on the ferry returning home from Berbice from teaching duties at the Tain campus of the University of Guyana when my contemplation of the river was interrupted by this gentleman who introduced himself. After the conversation, I told him I would print what he described to me. He agreed but instructed me not to reveal his exact blood relation with Vincent Teekah -- the resemblance is unbelievable. All I can say here then, is that this man is related to Teekah and in a very, very close way. You, the reader can figure out the nature of the connection. He told me how Teekah met his death. Teekah called his friend, a visiting female American doctor, Oswaldene Walker to fix a bleeding tooth. They met at the headquarters of the Guyana Defence Force where a senior police officer whose name he gave me and who now lives in New York was instructed by Burnham to kill Teekah. The relative stated that contrary to what most Guyanese believed at that time, and perhaps still do, it wasn't a certain strong man in the PNC leadership who killed Teekah.

After he died, the dentist was conspiratorially involved in covering up the crime. After she drove the body to St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital, she gave the police a statement of being attacked by bandits while she and Teekah were in a deserted lover's lane. The next morning, Shirley Field-Ridley arranged for her return to the US. The man on the ferry told me that Burnham subsequently arranged for the dentist to be killed because she saw the assassination and could implicate him, and was beginning to crack unlike the senior police offficer who did the hit. Like Vincent Teekah, Oswaldene Walker died in a strange context. While she was emerging from her car, a fast moving vehicle smashed her into pieces.

Why did Burnham kill Teekah? There is one explanation the relative gave me. I believe there is another. The relative's thesis was that the Cubans admired and loved Teekah and saw him as the best hope for Cuban-style socialism in Guyana. The communist islanders felt Teekah was more committed to them than Burnham. The relative was keen to point out to me that Burnham killed Teekah soon after he returned from a trip to Cuba. The story I heard on the ferry was indeed fascinating. Burnham was mad at Teekah because he believed that Teekah was conspiring with the Cubans to undermine his hold on Guyana. In others words, there were two sources of Burnham's wrath. One was that Teekah was ungrateful because he was made into a powerful figure over and above other founder-members of the PNC. The other was that he used that position to subvert the power of his benefactor.

I was silent, and just kept listening. I was further told that the Cubans were mad, really mad that Burnham had wasted Teekah so senselessly. And planned to get their revenge. He opined that the Cubans were now eager to win Burnham's confidence so he wouldn't suspect that they wanted to kill him. They got closer and closer to him until August 6, 1985 came. The doctor was instructed to kill Burnham, he killed him and then the next day went back to Cuba. The other explanation is that maybe indeed Teekah was plotting against Burnham but the relative didn't want to blemish Teekah's character by telling me this. We will never know if the Cubans killed Burnham but you have to be stupid to think that Burnham had nothing to do with the deaths of Vincent Teekah, Walter Rodney and Oswaldene Walker. And that is three we know of. (Written in August 2001; subtitle inserted by GUS.)


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"Incidentally, my old comrade informant, on the other hand, despised the other high-profile defector to the PNC, from those dogs, the younger Vincent Teekah who collided with his demise under still-mysterious circumstances. The old stalwart’s opinion was that Teekah was merely an opportunist who probably claimed to know more about the ideology than many of Burnham’s own young Turks of the time. He claimed that many PNC insiders were not sorry to see Teekah go." —Alan Fenty (See Frankly Speaking column titled "Old Politics, New Politics," by Alan Fenty in Stabroek News, October 10, 2003.)




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