Crime and criminality under the PNC and the PPP
OCTOBER 20, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
No country can flourish in a society of criminality, crime, wrongdoing and breakdown of the rule of law. This is the kind of society Guyana has become under the PPP. The drug trade flourished under the PPP when other countries in the region saw major decline in drug trafficking. While Colombia has reduced the impact of drug trafficking, Guyana has become a drug trafficking haven.
As long as we continue to have drugs in Guyana, we will have serious crime, corruption and the breakdown of law and order. Guyana is now a full-fledged criminal republic. Criminality has found a safe haven in Guyana. Let’s get something straight. Crime in Guyana did not start with the PPP. Crime has been around for time immemorial and upsurged under the PNC regime.
What the PPP did was that it took crime and criminality in Guyana to an entirely crippling, sickening and frightening other level. Everything in terms of crime we had under the PNC we basically have under the PPP with some differences and exceptions.
In every society we will have crimes of passion, domestic violence, crimes against people and property, crimes of opportunity and crimes of corruption. Guyana under the PNC of particularly the 1980s saw its fair share of such crimes. We have seen more crime and criminality under the PPP despite its boast of economic development.
What is it that has caused these richer or less poorer and better living Guyanese to engage in more murdering, killing, slaughtering, domestically abusing, robbing, thieving, kicking down doors, filling their pockets and corrupting than they ever did when they were dirt poor, starving and destitute under the PNC?
The collapse of the rule of law, the drug trade and the rampant corruption and stealing from the public treasury are important answers. However, the PPP has encouraged a permissive culture of condoning corruption, immorality and stealing. Its bigwigs not only steal, but arrogantly display their stolen goods in extravagant style, throwing up mansions, driving luxury vehicles out of the reach of even the middle class in developed countries and living in brazen style.
This creates greed, covetousness, envy, keeping-up-with-the-neighbours mentality and copycat tendencies, particularly when others know the spoils were from ill-gotten. So, the decent-minded citizen will start accepting bribes or pilfering money from the people. Or the cop will leave his job and become a drug cartel enforcer. Then there is another set of criminals who think there is nothing wrong in invading the homes of these individuals and robbing them.
One cannot discount the skyrocketing cost of living issue. Everything costs a lot of money in Guyana. Criminality has made a handful of criminal entrepreneurs and those they bribe very wealthy. So has those outrageous fat cat salaries paid by the PPP to thousands of party hacks. This has created another small cabal of wealthy, using taxpayers’ money. Then there are the thieves who steal the public money and fatten themselves on the backs of the people. The spending of this small group of crooks and the corrupt, places significant pressure on the working class man and woman. Because these vagabonds can pay more for a product, they are constantly driving prices up.
When Pradoville mansions with ten bedrooms are being built, it drives up the price for building materials for the family of six building a simple home. People pressed economically start making immoral decisions and the downward spiral occurs.
Under the PNC, crime and criminality was kept to a petty level except for politically motivated crimes such as the assassination of Walter Rodney. Gun crimes were infrequent but are now a common occurrence. The drug trade existed under the PNC but was marginal at best. Contraband trading was big business but many viewed it as a moral necessity in the face of food bans.
The drug trade, proceeds from crime and the underground economy are now major centrepieces of Guyana’s economy under the PPP. The fact that the drug trade continues untouched under the PPP suggests the party sees the drug trade and the criminal economy as vital to the country’s economy.
One may argue the VAT was instituted to tax the spending of illegal wealth in Guyana. The PNC did not have a similar tax imposed on the proceeds of contraband trafficking. In fact, contraband trafficking and smuggling under the PPP is much larger than it was under the PNC.
The evidence of inaction against drug cartels points to the PPP strategically deciding to make the proceeds from drug trafficking and the underground economy a facet of its economic policy. The fact that the PPP refused to allow the DEA and the British entry to Guyana to fight the drug scourge and its denial of serious external help, strongly indicates the PPP sought to profit from the economic spinoffs of the drug trade.
Like every other jumbie and voodoo economic miscalculation of the PPP, this one backfired. Guyana grew 3.54% per annum under the PPP and 2.23% under Jagdeo, under whose rule the drug trade flourished in Guyana. There was far greater annual growth in Guyana under Cheddi Jagan when the drug trade was in its infancy.
It was a shameless, gutless and intellectually backward decision to refuse to crush the menace of the drug trade when the opportunity presented itself. Today, the drug trade benefits only a few who control it and those who are bribed by it.
The PNC had the same moral and economic dilemma as the PPP. During the heyday of the drug trade in the 1980s, where drug cartels made their most profits, the PNC could have allowed this scourge to take root to reap the economic spinoffs. But for all its skulduggery and wrongdoing, the PNC refused to take this step. Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte were patriotic enough to know the price of social devastation from encouraging criminal cartels and drug networks. They knew that drug cartels do not benefit a nation. They benefit the few leaders of that cartel and the corrupt who feed off of them. Corruption under the PPP dwarfs the stealing by the PNC. The PPP is showing us what thieving and bribery really is.
A bribe for a soft drink and a tennis roll or a small pittance to feed the family for a day in the PNC days is now a demand for millions, a car, a house and school fees for an entire year for the crook’s children. When men stole under the PNC to fix the leaking roof of their existing house or their fences, men today under the PPP are stealing enough to build several mega-mansions.
The scale of corruption and pilfering under the PPP is alarmingly outlandish. These are men with the impunity and unchecked greed. There is far more money collected from tax revenues available to the bandits within the PPP. It is evident that both the PNC and the PPP created criminal states or nations wracked by criminality. But the criminality and crime has attained a catastrophic scale under the PPP. Guyana is a narco-state.
For all their wrongs, Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham knew when to draw that line in the sand. For all their flaws and there are many, these men knew that some things simply could not ever be allowed to set foot upon the country of their birth and the land of their political sacrifices. They may have loved power and worshipped foreign ideologies and run dictatorships, but they knew when nation trumped everything else. These were men who were wrong on many things, but right on a few things that matter. The prospect of economic prosperity from drug trafficking at enormous cost to the nation was not an option to these men. They preferred a life of poverty, free of drug cartel-created crime, than a life of illicit wealth created by a poisonous substance that filled the nation with crime, fear and the rawness of blood spilling.
Drug cartels and crime networks are run by a few for the benefit of a few. Wherever the drug trade blooms, death, crime and inequality take off. This is the deathly legacy of the PPP.
By STABROEK STAFF | EDITORIAL | MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2012
As President Ramotar settles into his mandate and comes to grips with his agenda for the year and beyond, nothing will test his freedom of action and sincerity in reforming the security sector like the question of a full investigation into the rampage here of convicted drug lord Roger Khan and whether his activities ensnared senior members of the last two administrations or at worse criminalized them.
It is the proverbial elephant in the room. No other issue can hold a candle to it. Every other security matter will be a jigsaw missing its biggest piece without a true accounting for the Khan penetration of the security apparatus, his run-amok phantom squad and the ease with which he trafficked in cocaine. In his previous roles as PPP General Secretary and as presidential hopeful, like many others high up in the PPP/C and the government, Mr Ramotar did not grapple with the seriousness of the problem. His position then was quite likely in conformity with the stance of former President Jagdeo. Mr Ramotar is now, however, the person in the seat of the presidency and he now has to answer as President.
Whenever they get their act together, the parliamentary opposition will no doubt press the issue of the Khan inquiry and whether this entails a full-blown investigation of all of the violence and carnage of 2002-2008. The parties aside, there would be few independent-minded people in this country who would be opposed to a full-fledged Commission of Enquiry into the Khan reign of terror and drugs. This enquiry must be done for all the people of this country, particularly those who were directly affected by the terror and lost loved ones to the actions of this man who now sits in a US jail instead of having been subjected to the full extent of the law here and possible incarceration at Lot 12 Camp Street. The enquiry must not be seen as a trade-off between the parties or haggled into a reductive undertaking as was the case of the hearing into the allegations against former minister Gajraj.
Indeed, President Ramotar is in pole position to stake out the high ground. He can declare his intention to investigate the Khan period and enable a commission of enquiry with full powers. There may be challenges within his party and administration to it but it would be the right and appropriate thing to do. It is also worthy of note that Minister Ramsammy whose name was mentioned in a US court in relation to the permission for the purchase of spy equipment for Khan’s use has been retained in the Cabinet.
Despite the absence of a criminal investigation here into the many crimes that Khan was alleged to have committed, the disclosures in several cases in New York coupled with the revelations contained in the WikiLeaks cables place beyond any doubt that Khan was allowed to conduct his affairs here without fear of prosecution because of his connections. Where government officials are alleged to have been caught up in these matters the Rubicon has been crossed and the pathway to law and order and just governance has to be swiftly retraced.
Whether the government proceeds with foreign-funded reform of the police force which was so perversely obstructed by senior government members in the Jagdeo administration will not matter much if the nub of the Khan reign isn’t unlocked, understood and extensive walls built to defend against a recurrence.
Ultimately Khan is the one who is answerable. He has thrown in the towel and pleaded guilty. Surely he may now be in the frame of mind where he recognizes the futility of denying his role in the cocaine-spiked bloodshed here. He faces the prospect of being returned here upon the completion of his sentence in the US. He must certainly be aware that he would be a person of enormous interest in any number of murder investigations in connection with which his name has been called but for which there was never any prosecution. He might be prepared to make a clean breast of it and perhaps provide testimony to the Commission of Enquiry. On a state to state basis the Ramotar administration should be prepared to approach Washington on the prospect of having access to Mr Khan in his cell. This as we have said before is a matter that is perfectly in the domain of the President. There need not be any acrimonious parting of ways with the opposition over this matter.
Mr Khan fled here as a fugitive from American justice in 1993 – months after the PPP/C came to power – and at the time of his arrest in June 2006 he had taken over Kaow Island, owned and operated several businesses, had a private army and had been on the verge of securing a forestry lease in the south of Guyana undoubtedly for the continuation of his nefarious business. The collapse of that deal has raised questions about his possible involvement in the killing of Minister Satyadeow Sawh. All of this transpired under thirteen uninterrupted years of PPP/C governance and it is the PPP/C that has to enable its own conduct to be examined. Khan’s free reign was clearly a product of the compromised and broken security sector which the PPP/C never bothered too much about as control of the apparatus was its prime consideration. This commission of enquiry would be not so much about Khan’s mastery of the degraded security apparatus but as to whether government officials or the government knowingly facilitated his ascendancy for whatever reason. This is what President Ramotar’s government needs to get to the bottom of before it can embark on the much needed reforms to the security sector.
Greene was bad for drugs-fight; good for street-crimes- Wiki-leaked US cables
Written by Demerara Waves
Friday, 02 September 2011
Western Nations had threatened to withhold key security cooperation fromGuyana because they could not trust Henry Greene as Police Commissioner due to his alleged links with the drug underworld and inability to protect sensitive information.
“Greene’s new position will have consequences on foreign assistance involving the GPF,” Charge D’Affaires, Michael Thomas said in a July 24 cable that was Wiki-leaked late Thursday night.
The cable from the American embassy here questioned Greene’s confidentiality and labeled him as “crooked” and “grossly incompetent” when he was Crime Chief.
“He is unwilling or unable to protect sensitive information or to fulfill straightforward extradition requests. Greene as Commissioner would be bad for Guyana’s security and would compromise all international cooperation with the Guyana Police Force.
Greene, whose American diplomatic and tourist visas were revoked in days leading up to his July 24, 2006 appointment as acting commissioner has already publicly denied benefiting from the proceeds of drugs. None of the cables released so far has disclosed specific cases of Greene’s alleged criminal activities.
US laws bar the American government from releasing reasons for visa revocations or denials to third parties like the media. But one of the cables says Greene cried when he was told that his visa was being revoked on July 20, 2006 because of information gathered by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“Greene broke into tears when informed of this, fearing the embarrassment the revocation will cause, and denied involvement with drug trafficking. He expressed surprise that the revocation was not due to his “troubling the girls”,” the cable states.
One of the cables noted that the DEA had given specific language to inform President Jagdeo that the Greene had benefited from drug funds. “U.S. law enforcement has reliable reports from multiple sources that Henry Greene has benefited from, and continues to benefit from, the proceeds of drug trafficking.”
The cables reveal a flurry of shuttle-diplomacy by the American, British, Canadian and European Union envoys here to Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon and President Bharrat Jagdeo to “head off Greene’s appointment before his swearing-in within the next few days.”
The cable titled “GOG picked crooked police chief despite revoked visa” states that due to Greene’s appointment the US is not pushing ahead with a plan to establish a DEA vetted anti-narcotics unit under Greene’s commissionership. Moves by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to install a gun-trace computer terminal to help the GPF track firearms had been also pulled back.
Similarly, British High Commissioner, Fraser Wheeler had told President Bharrat Jagdeo thrice between July 21 and 24 that the UKgovernment had “concerns about Greene’s elevation” and pre-2006 election training for the police force would have been quashed. The Canadian High Commissioner also told Charge that his government will cease all cooperation with the police if the Greene appointment goes through, states the cable.
But in another cable titled ‘Police Commissioner Greene: Give us Barabas’, then Ambassador David Robinson credited Greene with better dealing with street crimes and that the United States would eventually have to work with the police force under his stewardship.
“Henry Greene is corrupt but he is more effective than his predecessor in controlling the streets. The president is happy in the role of Pontius Pilate and is betting that the donors ultimately will work out some accommodation with the commissioner. He is probably right. We will not rehabilitate Greene, but we will have to cooperate with his police force if he becomes permanent,’ states Robinson in the cable.
The US, according to the cables, appeared upset that Jagdeo and Luncheon had lured the diplomatic community into believing that once Greene’s visa had been revoked his appointment would have been reconsidered.
“This contradicts what he told Charge — that revoking Greene’s visa would give the GoG cover to back down. Luncheon and Jagdeo have been disingenuous throughout this episode, especially in protesting they were unaware of our concerns about Greene,”
Jagdeo had told diplomats that he had been under intense political pressure to stick with Greene but, according to one of the cables “the source of this pressure is unclear.”
The cables released quote the Ambassador as alleging that Greene was linked criminal activities. “Greene’s name appears repeatedly in reporting by various USG agencies in connection with criminal activities,” he said.
The ambassador had told government officials that the US government could not have provided details but “it would be very embarrassing for the GoG if a sitting Police Commissioner were indicted in a foreign court.”
Then Home Affairs Minister, Gail Teixeira, described as the “voice of reason” in the Guyana government had described to diplomats “in some detail her struggles to get Jagdeo and Luncheon to come around to her point of view” concerning Greene.
Roger Khan funded Muslim activities, planned to blow up DEA operation
Written by Demerara Waves
Friday, 02 September
Convicted cocaine trafficker, Shaheed ‘ Roger’ Khan, who had allegedly helped build mosques and fund scholarships, had allegedly promised to blow up a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) location and kill the United States Ambassador.
Labeled “Secret,’ the latest Wikileaked diplomatic cable from then American envoy, Roland Bullen likened Khan untoColombia’s one-time drug baron, Pablo Escobar.
Khan was arrested in Suriname in June 2006 and put on a plane to Trinidad where he was snatched by US agents and taken to New York. He was convicted for cocaine trafficking in October 2009 and sentenced to 15 years jail after a plea bargain.
In the February 1, 2006 missive, he detailed Khan’s operations that included arms and trafficking connections with the Colombian rebel group, FARC, with links to Panama and France.
Bullen recalled that Khan had allegedly threatened to kill the Ambassador and the Regional Security Officer when an informant leaked an American plan to set up a DEA counter narcotics operation inGuyana.
“After the leak, Khan threatened to blow up the site of the operation and threatened the lives of Ambassador and the then RSO (Ref D). These threats forced the operation’s abandonment,” said Bullen.
Recounting that Khan enjoyed business ties with now late Farouk Razac of Swiss House Cambio, “a big money laundering operation, to launder his narco-trafficking proceeds,” the cable noted that “Khan’s drug proceeds have also funded mosques and sent Muslims to study abroad.”
The then US Ambassador noted that Khan was operating in Guyana with apparent impunity and tacit approval of the Guyana government (GoG)
“It is believed that GoG is compromised to such an extent that it will not pursue Khan, despite paying lip service to the fight against narco-trafficking.
“Ambassador has spoken with GoG to little avail about Khan’s drug activities and unaccounted wealth. The GoG has adopted a head-in-the-sand approach to Khan and narco-trafficking in general. The GoG asks for hard evidence and pretends not to know how Khan acquires his means,” states the cable.
Bullen alleged that former Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj had employed a death squad whose principal was Khan to crack down on crime from 2002 to 2004. The cable quoted Gajraj as telling American embassy officials that Khan regularly traveled to Suriname to meet with Desi Bouterse. The two had met at a hotel in Suriname as recently as 2005.
Bullen alluded to what he termed “strong indications that Khan was deeply involved in a December 2005 shipment of weapons to FARC in Columbia.”
The cable disclosed concerns that Khan had been negotiating with former Chairman of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco), Vic Oditt to purchase a 200 square mile ranch at Pirara in the Southern Rupununiregion. “The ranch has a large airstrip, and Khan is believed to be acting at the behest of Colombian or Panamanian narco-interests.”
He had already bought out Kaow Island, Essequibo River from local entrepreneur and Harry Rambarran in February 2005. Once owned by the now bankrupt Willems
Timber, Kaow Island has a wharf for ocean going vessels, an airstrip, access to Guyana’s bush roads that radiate out from Bartica, and a 136,000-acre timber concession. In September 2005, Rambarran sued Khan for defaulting on a USD 1.1 million
promissory note made in partial payment for the island.
The embassy cable quoted a senior functionary of Office of the President as saying that sophisticated cell phone intercept equipment and high-powered weapons that had been seized by a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) roadblock in December 2002 had been handed back to Khan.
“Our interlocutor said the arrest had been “a mistake” because Khan was “working with the police” when the arrest was made,” states the cable.