Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 10, 2014

Tiphanie Yanique Takes 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

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Author Tiphanie Yanique has won the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize for her novel, Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead Books/The Penguin Group).

The annual prize, awarded by The Center for Fiction, was presented to Yanique at the The Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City on December 9. Last year’s winner Margaret Wrinkle, presented the award, which includes a $10,000 cash purse.

Here is more about the novel from the press release:

Her novel is placed in the early 1900s when the Virgin Islands were transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half-brother. Each of them is unusually beautiful and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 10, 2014

Derek Walcott nominated for NAACP Image Award in Poetry

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Derek Walcott’s Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013ˆ has been nominated for a 2014 NAACP Image Awards in the Poetry Category.

Here are the other nominees for poetry:

“Citizen: An American Lyric” – Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)
“Digest” – Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books)
“The New Testament” – Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
“The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013″ – Derek Walcott, Selected by Glyn Maxwell
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters” – Brian Gilmore (Cherry Castle Publishing, LLC)

For a full list of nominees in all categories go to http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-naacp-image-awards-2014-full-list-of-nominees-20141209-story.html#page

Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Fuentes

Writers such as Octavio Paz and Gabriel Garcia Marquez have come back to Guadalajara, this time as wax figures exhibited in parallel with the International Book Fair, FIL, in this Mexican city, the Spanish news agency EFE reports. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

The city’s wax museum inaugurated an exhibition on Wednesday with six of the most important figures in Hispanic culture as a way of bringing more people closer to their works.

“It’s a family museum and parents can help kids become aware of them. It may be enriching; it’s something different than reading the book or going to the conference of a writer,” Alejandra Urbina, the museum spokeswoman, told Efe.

The figures include Mexican writers Octavio Paz (1914-1998), Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012) and Carlos Monsivais (1938-2010), the writer, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695), the Mexican painter Jose Luis Cuevas, born in 1931, and the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014).

Their figures are accompanied by the biographies of these beloved personalities as well as their most famous quotes, while an audio tells visitors about the cultural context in which they thrived.

The immaculately dressed figure of Carlos Fuentes receives visitors leaning on the copies of some of his most well-known works such as “Aura” and the “The Most Transparent Region”. His well kept moustache and salt and pepper hair make him appear almost life-like.

Next to him, stands Octavio Paz in a striped suit poised as if on the verge of starting one of his erudite conversations with Garcia Marquez who is standing in front of him.

It is impossible to quell the urge to go near “Gabo”, as he was popularly known. The smiling countenance and the detailed hands of the Colombian author makes one forget that he died a few months ago.

In the background, the wax sculpture of Sor Juana looks on with an open countenance.

Right in front of the writer and enjoying his place amongst this small group of writers is the smiling wax figure of Cuevas as he finishes one of his drawings.

Simple and carefree, Carlos Monsivais’ wax sculpture watches from a corner. Dressed in a denim jacket and informal trousers, his eyes reflect the curiosity and irony that characterized him during his life.

Joining these delightful figures are 120 others including those of Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, or the popular Mexican singer, Vicente Fernandez, and the Canadian popstar Justin Bieber, the hearthrob of adolescent girls the world over.

The exhibition runs until January with plans to add figures of writers who come to the fair every year, according to the museum directors.

For the original report go to http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2014/12/04/octavio-paz-garcia-marquez-y-sor-juana-reviven-en-museo-de-cera-en-mexico

Museo de Cera, Guadalajara, Mexico

http://www.museodecera.com.mx/guadalajara/g-cera/g-cera.html

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 10, 2014

Havana Named Among New7Wonders Cities

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Two Latin American cities, La Paz ad Havana, were among the seven finalists in the global competition, which included Beirut, Doha, Vigan, Durban and Kuala Lumpur. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

After a two year voting process by the global campaign a new global campaign has named the seven cities, which are considered most incredible in the world.

From a long list of 1200 nominees from 220 countries the list was narrowed down to 28 through qualification and selection process. Top 28 cities go through three phases of worldwide votation until seven cities were chosen.

The seven cities were chosen based on voting from people using the Internet, smartphone apps, international telephone voting lines and text messaging.

The results of the global vote were announced in Dubai on Sunday night, which included the following cities:  Beiruit (Lebanon), Doha (Qatar), Havana (Cuba), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia) and Vigan (Philippines) as the world’s latest urban hot spots.

Announcing the results at the New7Wonders voting center in Dubai, Bernard Weber, Founder-President of New7Wonders stated, “We congratulate each of these cities on achieving their New7Wonders status, and we look forward to celebrating their election to the “canon of 7″ with their citizens in 2015.”

Launched two years ago, New7Wonders Cities is the third global vote and follows the New7Wonders of the World and New7Wonders of Nature campaigns.

Established in 2001, the foundation seeks to contribute to the protection of the world’s human-built and natural heritage and cultivate respect for the planet’s diversity.

For the original report go to http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/La-Paz-Havana-Named-Among-New7Wonders-Cities–20141208-0005.html

See also:

The seven wonders of Havana

http://voxxi.com/2014/12/havana-la-paz-part-of-new7wonders-cities

New7Wonders website

http://world.new7wonders.com/2014/12/07/new7wonders-cities

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 10, 2014

Memorial Service for Juan Flores

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Juan Flores made a profound impact in many lives and we are committed to keeping his legacy alive. Please join us as we celebrate Juan’s life and honor his memory on Saturday, December 20, 2014 from 2:00pm-5:00pm at the NYU – Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012. For more information, please email us at info@afrolatinoforum.org.

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Simon Bolivar planned to conquer the Spanish Caribbean in the first quarter of the 19th century to cut the supply lines with the mother country, a plan that was frustrated due to illness and that could have changed the course of history, Spanish writer Fermin Goñi claims in his latest book, as the Latin American Herald Tribune reports.

The author, who is in San Juan to present his book on Bolivar “Todo llevara su nombre” (Everything will bear his name), said Monday in an interview with Efe that the Venezuelan politician and military leader had devised a plan to snatch Puerto Rico from the Spaniards given that it was an island with significant strategic value for the control of the colonial Americas.

“Puerto Rico was the key from the strategic point of view for the supply line between Spain and its American colonies,” said the author, who is also a journalist, noting that taking control of the Caribbean island was part of a plan that included the capture of Cuba, a move that would have inflicted the coup de grace on the mother country’s activities in the New World.

“If Bolivar had not suffered from tuberculosis he would have gone to Puerto Rico,” said the writer, who in recent years has specialized in the study of the great American forefathers.

“It would have meant taking the San Felipe del Morro castle, which nobody had taken up to then,” said Goñi, who is convinced that taking control of a military bastion like San Juan would have led to the unraveling of Spanish power in the Caribbean more than half a century before it finally occurred.

Goñi said that Puerto Rico was not a completely strange territory to Bolivar, given that the Venezuelan military man had been to the island-municipality of Vieques – which is part of the larger island – in 1816 during a resupply stopover en route to Haiti.

Bolivar died on Dec. 17, 1830, in the Colombian town of Santa Marta from complications of tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for years, and so his plan that could have meant Spain’s early exit from the Caribbean region came to naught.

As history unfolded, Cuba and Puerto Rico remained the property of Spain until Madrid’s defeat in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The idea of invading Puerto Rico, and afterwards Cuba, appears in the correspondence between Bolivar and Diego Ibarra, the Venezuelan army commander during that country’s war for independence.

Goñi said that his speculation and analysis is backed by his critical reading of some 16,000 pages of Bolivar’s correspondence, significant historical source material on which he based his novel.

Published in the Americas by Roca Editorial, Goñi’s work on Bolivar follows three other books he has published in recent years: “Los sueños de un libertador” (2009), “Una muerte de libro” (2011) and “El secreto de mi jardin” (2013).

For the original report go to http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2364247&CategoryId=14092

The skull of the Caribbean monk seal. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, the seal was last seen in 1952 on small coral islands between Jamaica and Honduras. The archipelagos that it frequented had no large carnivores, so when humans arrived it didn’t feel in the least bit threatened—a sad and frequent happenstance in island habitats. The seal is now officially extinct, though unconfirmed sightings have trickled in over the years.

The skull of the Caribbean monk seal. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, the seal was last seen in 1952 on small coral islands between Jamaica and Honduras. The archipelagos that it frequented had no large carnivores, so when humans arrived it didn’t feel in the least bit threatened—a sad and frequent happenstance in island habitats. The seal is now officially extinct, though unconfirmed sightings have trickled in over the years.

Native San Franciscans largely appreciate the California Academy of Sciences as somewhere you can go on Thursday nights and get drunk among circling sharks and taxidermic lions and even an albino alligator named Claude, who may or may not be French, Matt Simon writes in this article in Wired magazine.

But behind the scenes of this premier scientific institution, which combines an aquarium, a planetarium, and giant bubble with a rainforest inside, are marvels few people beyond scientists see: 46 million creatures, all preserved and squirreled away (sorry about that) in row after row of cabinets, 56,000 square feet in all. From tiny beetles to hulking dino bones, it’s an indispensable catalog of nature’s awesome biodiversity.

Ace WIRED photographer Josh Valcarcel and I spent some 15 hours touring the stacks with the Academy’s many curators, and during the next three weeks we’ll bring you the most amazing critters we found. First up are these remarkable mammals and birds, many of them extinct or extremely threatened, specially selected for us by collections manager Moe Flannery.

Now, given the grief I got on Twitter when I tweeted photos of creatures during our visits, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why such collections are absolutely essential to science. Sure, it’s hard to appreciate preserved specimens as much as living ones, but trust me on this: Scientists aren’t going out and indiscriminately murdering things they happen upon. And many of these creatures are sent to the Academy by regular folk who find them dead, or come from the confiscation of smuggled specimens like shells and corals.

The specimens provide invaluable information to scientists that you just can’t get from photos or written descriptions when observing them firsthand in the wild. Say you’ve found yourself what you think is a new species. To help confirm that, you can go back into the collections and run gene tests on similar preserved critters. And with a lineage of a particular preserved species at our disposal, we can show how it’s evolving before our eyes (yes, observable evolution can happen that quickly).

There’s no evidence to suggest that overzealous scientists have ever collected a species into extinction. What does tend to do that though is global warming, overhunting, destruction of habitat, etc. (I could go on but I’m depressing myself). Appropriately enough, comparing new and old specimens of threatened species can actually help inform how we go about conserving them to keep them from extinction.

Preserving specimens also means that when our stupidity drives a species to extinction, we can at least retain a material reminder of its time on Earth. It’s hard to explain the feeling of even seeing an enormous egg of an extinct elephant bird, much less touching it. So with any luck, that egg will be locked up safe and sound at the California Academy of Sciences for generations to come, a reminder not just of our negative impacts on Earth, but of our foresight in remembering lost species as best we can.

For the original report go to https://www.wired.com/2014/12/academy-of-sciences-birds-and-mammals/#slide-id-1621505

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Seven Latin American and Caribbean countries have launched Initiative 20×20, an effort to begin restoring 20 million hectares of degraded land—an area larger than Uruguay—by 2020. The initiative has secured $365 million in funds to support reforestation (natural and assisted) and efforts to recover land functionality (soil conservation and recovery; carbon storage; water retention and stable hydrologies; biodiversity conservation and recovery) through agroforestry, silvopastures, and other sustainable land use schemes.

Initiative 20×20 is a country-led effort to restore 20 million hectares of land in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. The initiative—launched formally at COP 20 in Lima—will support the Bonn Challenge, a global commitment to restore 150 million hectares of land around the world by 2020.

WRI, in association with CATIE, CIAT, and IUCN, supports Initiative 20×20 through our Global Restoration Initiative. WRI facilitates the dialogue between governments, civil society, and the private sector to build an effective coalition that can achieve the initiative’s goals.

In recent years, more than 40% (650 million hectares) of forests in Latin America and the Caribbean have been completely deforested or degraded. Latin America and the Caribbean contain some of the most ecologically valuable forest ecosystems in the world, but in recent history 20% of forest lands (nearly 350 mha) have been completely deforested and a further 20% (300 mha) badly degraded. The drivers of this change include large-scale and small-scale agricultural, infrastructure, mining. As a result, the bulk of the emissions in the Latin American region are generated not from energy but from land use, land use change, and forestry. Of the 4.2 GT emitted by Latin American and Caribbean countries in 2012, about 49 percent were from land use and loss of forests.

3 Activities of Initiative 20×20:

  1. Inspire national commitments to restoration by engaging in a robust dialogue with Ministers of Agriculture and Environment in the region;
  2. Make the economic case by assessing the societal benefits from restoration and avoided deforestation; and
  3. Establish a financial mechanism that allows private sector impact investors to fund restoration projects

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Key Facts:

49% of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012 resulted from forestry, land-use change, and agriculture.

Latin America and the Caribbean account for about half of the world’s remaining tropical and southern temperate forests.

Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean expanded onto an additional 36 million hectares since 2000. This expansion came at the expense of forests and natural landscapes.

Land-use activities like agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry contribute 5 percent of the region’s GDP and about 14 percent of its employment.

Land restoration can increase food productivity and security for an estimated 49 million under-nourished in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For more information, see http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/initiative-20×20

Also see http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/12/reducing-latin-america%E2%80%99s-carbon-footprint-means-restoring-life-degraded-lands, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/world/americas/investors-recruited-to-restore-farmland-.html?_r=0 and http://e360.yale.edu/digest/latin_american_and_caribbean_nations_pledge_major_forest_restorations/4315/

Posted by: ivetteromero | December 9, 2014

Ebony Patterson among the 11 Artists to Watch In 2015

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Our congratulations to Ebony G. Patterson, who was featured in the Huffington Post article “These Are The Artists To Watch In 2015,” by Priscilla Frank. Another Caribbean-born artist she mentions is Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso, from Cuba. Other artists on the list are Marlene Mocquet, Mika Tajima, Brian Belott, Ajay Kurian, Rainer Fetting, Jesse Greenberg, Elena Stonaker, Lucy Kim, and Daiga Grantina. Frank writes:

Good news, art world. Art Basel Miami Beach has come to a close and your various social media feeds will soon return to their normal states. You can exhale now. The past week came with sunshine, booze, celebrities, hotels, hangovers, tiny food on long skewers, dirty looks, slinky ensembles, unforgivable fedoras, and, of course, the art.

We’ve compiled a list of the 11 artists whose work stood out amongst the hundreds on view. Artists from around the world and across the board in genre and medium. Artists whose work was even greater a treat than a much-needed espresso after a day of fair hopping. Here they are — the 11 artists heating up Miami Beach this winter. Keep an eye on them in the art-centric year to come.

About Patterson, Frank says:

Monique Meloche Gallery was filled with this Jamaican artist’s brilliantly patterned coffins, adorned with fringe, beads, flowers and lace. The fixtures, which represent the murders that took place in Trinidad during the week of Patterson’s residency in Port of Spain, couple a fanciful first impression with a macabre aftertaste.

About Castillo Pedroso, Frank writes:

Pedroso, based in Cuba, was born with severe hearing loss and thus has spent most of her life communicating through non-traditional methods. She visually expresses herself using a repeated pattern of brightly colored figures, at once hyper-macho and occasionally androgynous. The nude forms, resembling pro-wrestlers or mythical demons, are cut-out and installed on the wall of her family’s home with the help of meticulously applied tape.

For full article, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/09/art-basel-miami-beach-art_n_6284954.html?utm_hp_ref=arts

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 9, 2014

Commission of Inquiry into the Assassination of Walter Rodney

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It is necessary to remind ourselves of the importance of the on-going work of the commission of inquiry, Wazir Mohamed and Horace G. Campbell write in this article for TeleSur.
Introduction and Context

On June 13, 1980 Walter Rodney was assassinated in Guyana. Since that date there have been many calls for a Commission of Inquiry into the Assassination. The government in power at the time of the assassination was led by Forbes Burnham and the Peoples National Congress. Since the 1990’s the new government of the People’s Progressive Party vacillated on the calling of the inquiry. In 2005, at the commemoration events for Walter Rodney in Guyana there were intensified calls for a Commission of Inquiry. Peoples from all over the world have been constantly reminded of the international climate at the moment of the assassination. The year 1980 was particularly significant for the wave of conservative violence.

Just three incidents highlighted these developments. Firstly, there was the execution of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador. Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was gunned down in cold blood by right wing death squads. Archbishop Romero had become a marked person because he spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980. For many years the peoples of El Salvador called for an investigation into this murder. In 2000, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found in its investigation that the state of El Salvador was responsible for the killing of Archbishop Romero.

In the same month of the assassination of Walter Rodney, in fact six days afterwards, there was a bomb placed under the platform of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop at Queen’s Park in Grenada. Two schoolgirls died (a third, injured, died later). Approximately 100 people were injured.

The Caribbean and the Central American Region has not yet healed from the decades of state sponsored violence that continued throughout the region of Central America and the Caribbean. The friends and family of Walter Rodney had pushed for this Commission of Inquiry as part of the process of truth telling and healing in Guyana and the Caribbean. However, there are powerful forces in Guyana that are afraid of the truth, hence the vacillation of some sectors of the political class in Guyana about the future of the Commission of Inquiry. Below, we summarize the key developments of the Commission of Inquiry since it started its hearings in April 2014.

Political Impasse

The Walter Rodney Commission of inquiry concluded its longest session on November 7, 2014. At the end of that session, Chairman of the Commission, Barbadian Queens Counsel Sir Richard Cheltenham made the following announcement — “We will issue a notice well in advance as to when next we will be meeting, but the days and months ahead might be uncertain. Even though we have agreed on a date, we will let you know closer to the time because we may have to change depending on what is happening on the ground. We adjourn now and I just wish to take the opportunity on behalf of myself and my fellow Commissioners to wish you all a Happy Christmas Season. We look forward to seeing you all again at a date to be announced.” This announcement came in light of political uncertainty in Guyana — where a motion of no confidence in the government was on the agenda of parliament. Passage of this motion would have necessitated new elections. However this process was pre-empted by the President of Guyana who in an address to the nation on Monday, November 10 announced the prorogation of parliament — thus suspending the parliament. As we write the political opposition and sections of Guyanese civil society are massing and planning political and civic action to force the President to rescind the order of prorogation and restore parliament. We have no immediate understanding as to how the current crisis of governance in the country will affect the work of the commission of inquiry, especially the resumption of hearings officially scheduled to restart on January 26, 2015.

The work of the Commission and the public hearings are also being held against the backdrop where one of the main opposition parties within the opposition coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the Peoples National Congress (PNC), has repeatedly threatened to oppose continued funding for the Commission of Inquiry. In their view the commission of inquiry should have stuck to its original four month deadline. They argue that the hearings are open-ended, and that the inquiry should be concluded. Lead counsel at the hearings representing the interest of the PNC, Attorney at law Basil Williams has repeatedly made the claim as reported by sections of the media that the COI “is not likely to reveal the truth in relation to the circumstances under which Dr. Rodney died.” In this context he argues that the COI should be brought to a close quickly after hearing from Donald Rodney, who was in the car with Walter Rodney at the time of the assassination; and the two major leaders of state security agencies at the time: former Crime Chief Cecil ‘Skip’ Roberts, and former Army Chief Norman Mc Clean.

The three person Commission of Inquiry staffed by Sir Richard Cheltenham, Jamaican senior counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, and Trinidadian senior counsel Seenath Jairam have held open public hearings on several occasions since April, 2014. Over this period many important witnesses gave sworn testimony. Among these were former co-leader, and Pan Africanist activist Eusi Kwayana — who gave detailed testimony on the political character of Walter Rodney, the political climate within which Rodney operated, the nature and character of the state and government of the period, and the evidence unearthed by the Working Peoples Alliance and other groups and individuals on the connection between former Guyana Defense Force Sergeant, Gregory Smith, who was fingered by Donald Rodney as the person who gave Walter Rodney the device that blew up on his lap.

Gregory Smith and his handlers

Gregory Smith and his disappearance has been the center-point of the inquiry. In this connection, former Guyana Defense Force Pilot, Gerry Gouviea appeared before the commission and testified to having flown someone fitting the description of Gregory Smith on an army plane from Georgetown to the remote hinterland district of Kwakwani on June 14, 1980 — the day following the assassination of Walter Rodney.

The commission has listened to witnesses who testified that in the weeks following the assassination, the police, the army, and the government repeatedly denied the existence of Gregory Smith, who it was discovered had been living in the neighboring French colonial territory Cayenne (French Guiana) since late 1980 until his death through natural causes. One of the important issues before the commission is the role of the police and army in removing Gregory Smith from the jurisdiction, while at the same time they had denied his existence. Based on the contents of three out of ten police files on Rodney laid before the commission (seven of the files are missing and no one is able to account for them) by the sitting Crime Chief Leslie James, and through his testimony on the stand, the commission learnt that the police had visited the home of Gregory Smith on June 14 and removed several pieces of equipment. Among other things, it was also revealed that Gregory Smith was of interest to the police from as early as April 1980.

This is significant for several reasons. Firstly, they had visited his home while denying his existence. Secondly, they visited his home and removed equipment, while not declaring an interest in him in the assassination of Walter Rodney. The existence of Gregory Smith as an agent was revealed in testimony on the stand by former police officer, Leslie Gates who gave detailed account of being recruited to befriend close colleague and confidant of Dr. Rodney, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, and also of being given the task to assassinate Dr. Roopnaraine. In his testimony, the former police agent revealed of having met Gregory Smith at Walter Rodney’s home, and of meeting with him (Gregory Smith) at a secret location to talk about their roles.

Intervention of Patricia Rodney

In her testimony before the commission, Walter Rodney’s widow, Dr. Patricia Rodney confirmed having seen Gregory Smith at her South Ruimveldt home in Guyana on a single occasion through a window as he ascended the stairs in her husband’s absence. She also recalled the he (Gregory Smith) once telephoned their home at 2am and tried unsuccessfully to get Walter Rodney to leave the family home at that time. Gregory Smith who was fingered by Donald Rodney and by housewife Pamela Beharry, a neighbor of the Smith household is a center point of the inquiry. The device given by Gregory Smith to Donald Rodney, which apparently blew up in Walter Rodney’s lap have occupied much of the commission’s time. In Gregory Smith’s account told by his sister Anne Wagner in the book purportedly co-authored with Gregory Smith, “Assassination: Cry of a Failed Revolution,” details are given as to his account of what took place, and the nature of the device. The commission heard expert testimony from Rohit Nirmaul Kanhai, who used the information provided in the official reports from the British Home Office experts, Skuse (the British Bomb expert) and Johnson (the British Pathologist) to deconstruct the story told by Smith and his sister in the book. Kanhai’s expert findings were based on both reports and on his own research on the Harris Porto Phone. In his testimony Kanhai threw light on the most intricate aspects of the investigation, including the nature of the device. It must be noted that the Skuse report (the British bomb expert) had been withheld by the state both in the prosecution of Donald Rodney, and at the discredited inquest into the death of Walter Rodney in 1988.

Frank Skuse and Johnson who were commissioned by the government of Guyana gave detailed account in their report on the forensics conducted on the physical evidence found on the scene. According to Kanhai, Frank Skuse in his report identified the components found on the scene as being parts related and consistent with that of the Harris Porto Phone, normally used by the military, professionals and law enforcement agencies. This was pointed out by Kanhai as contradicting to Smith’s account that the device used was a modified toy walkie talkie set. In contradicting Smith’s account, Kanhai told the commission that, “when you look at Smith’s book that is Smith’s thesis that it was accidental. When you look at the fact it was a Harris Porto phone you can never come to that conclusion. This is why Smith is saying he had a toy walkie-talkie set. Once we accept the forensic evidence of Dr. Skuse, that it was a Harris Porto phone, then everything Smith says becomes non-sense just to put it mildly.” Furthermore, Kanhai clearly established, according to Dr. Skuse’s report that the device had to be remotely triggered. This theory he explained to the commission is backed up by both the technical and physical evidence. The commission learnt that the Skuse report did not only establish or point to remote triggering of the device; it also intimated that the frequency (151.025 megahertz) used could be traced. In his testimony Kanhai informed the commission that the range of frequencies pointed to in the report is only available for use by the state and its agencies. It is important to note that although this information was available to the police in 1980, there is no evidence that any attempt was ever made to trace who or which agency of the state had access to the frequency used for triggering the device. It is now left up to the commission to follow through if they deem it necessary to find answers as to who had access to the frequency used on the night of June 13, 1980.

Awaiting the outcome of the political impasse and the future of the Commission.

The future of the COI is now caught in the infighting between the political classes. The opposition, which includes the PNC has called for a vote of no confidence in the Government of Guyana.

As we await the resumption of the work of the commission, which it seems given the political climate on the ground would be likely sometime in the first quarter of the New Year; it is necessary to remind ourselves of the importance of the work of the commission of inquiry. While assignment of guilt is necessary; it is imperative that we note some of the other principal reasons why this inquiry was clamored for over the last 34 years:

Firstly, Walter Rodney represented the struggle of the working people against oppression – such an inquiry will represent a permanent record for students to study, learn from, and draw lessons.

Secondly, since Walter Rodney was assassinated the conditions of everyday life and the life chances for working people have not improved, it in fact has gotten much worse in many instances – such an inquiry helps the society to understand the deep seated issues that divide its people, and can therefore point the way towards some kind of national reconciliation.

Thirdly, since Walter Rodney was assassinated, killings and police killings have increased, it has not waned – such an inquiry gives the country an opportunity to pause, in order to understand the ways and the reasons why wanton killing and death has become a sub-culture in the society.

Fourthly, such an inquiry creates the climate for a more fulsome understanding of the nature of the state, and how dictatorial state apparatuses and ideologies (paramountcy of the party over the state in Guyana) established in the period of the cold war by client regimes of hegemonic powers, have helped to produce a philosophical structure that furthers state dehumanization of the citizenry.

And fifthly, such an inquiry helps us to see the connection between the alleged police cover-up of the assassination, its repression of political opponents and the citizens who did not agree with the ruling party; as a means to make the linkage between those events as experiences that helped to produce increasing levels of incompetence, lack of professionalism, and corruption on the part of the police and security agencies, that is leading to increasing lack of confidence in these agencies by major segments of the population.

It is important that the friends and family of Walter Rodney internationally remain vigilant to ensure that the full truth of the circumstances of the June 13, 1980 assassination of Walter Rodney is brought to light. We agree with the view expressed by Patricia Rodney when she testified before the commission, that she wanted the inquiry to help to heal the nation.

For the original report go to http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Commission-of-Inquiry-into-the-Assassination-of-Walter-Rodney-20141209-0060.html

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