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Walter Rodney’s death records to be amended and children’s books placed in schools

Originally published: Demerara Waves on June 10, 2021 by Denis Chabrol (more by Demerara Waves)  | (Posted Jun 18, 2021)

The martyred revolutionary’s assassination has finally been acknowledged by the Guyana state, and his works will become part of the educational curriculum.

The Guyana government has announced a raft of steps that would be taken to correct the historical wrongs concerning the bomb-blast death of Guyanese historian and co-leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. Walter Rodney, 41 years ago.

In response to a request by Dr. Rodney’s widow and children, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said the government would amend Dr. Rodney’s death certificate from death by misadventure to assassination.

“For too long, Dr. Walter Rodney’s death has been the subject of an irreverent mis-description. It was not a misadventure. It was an assassination. A great stain on our Republic. This sadistic misrepresentation on Dr. Rodney’s death certificate, prevented his family from recovering not a blind cent from his life insurance policy, the only financial provision he had made for his family, his wife and three infant children. This desecration must end now. His death certificate will be amended to delete the words ‘’misadventure’’ as the cause of death and substitute therefore, the word ‘’assassination,’”  said Nandlall.

Mr. Nandlall said the records would also be amended to read that Dr. Rodney was Professor instead of unemployed. Further, he said the inquest that had been conducted in 1988 would invalidated because of its “perverse” findings.

The Attorney General said government would also be moving to resuscitate the Walter Rodney Chair at the University of Guyana, the use and placement of several of the late historian readings as part of the school’s curriculum and the recently renamed Walter Rodney Archives.

Nandlall said the materials from the 2014 Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry would be digitized and stored here at the archives and at a university in the United States. Mr. Nandlall also announced that Dr. Walter Rodney’s graveside and monument will be “declared national monuments” and would be managed by the National Trust. According to the Attorney General, a motion to adopt the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Dr. Rodney’s death would be tabled in the National Assembly.

“This Government hereby commits to move another Motion in this house shortly, seeking the approval of that Report by this House and a resolution that the recommendations contained therein be approved,” he said. The Attorney General said those steps were part of a process to right this tragic wrong and to begin the process of  rectification of a the historical record.

The Commission of Inquiry had found that the then Forbes Burnham-led administration had played a major role in the assassination of Dr. Rodney by using then Guyana Defense Force electronics expert, the late Sergeant Gregory Smith, as a state agent.

Dr. Rodney’s brother, Donald, had minutes earlier on June 13, 1980, collected a bag containing a walkie-talkie from Mr. Smith at his Russell Street, Charlestown, Georgetown home. That device later exploded, killing Rodney as he was seated in his Mazda Capella car, PBB 2349.

Years later, Smith had expressed a willingness to return from French Guiana to testify if he had been given amnesty. He could not have been extradited to Guyana because France does not allow extraditions to countries where there is the death penalty.

Denis Chabrol managing editor at News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1, Demerara Waves Online News, and a former news correspondent at the Caribbean News Agency (CANA).

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