The Death Squad/criminal connection
Guyana Chronicle
February 28, 2004

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THE front-page story in last Sunday's SN, titled "Courier may have been used then silenced," recounted the late-life activities and execution of Lloyd Bourne. Of particular note, the article stated that "reports about Bourne's murder also reveal a link between criminals like Phillips and some suspected members of a death squad that was said to have been set up to eliminate them." Phillips, of course, refers to the late Mark "Big Batty" Phillips, a criminal suspect wanted then by the police for all sorts of violent transgressions.

For many Guyanese, news of this death squad/criminal association came as no surprise. Members of the death squad, after all, were not recruited from the boys' scouts. They were recruited from the criminal underworld. And some of those killed by the squad may even have worked with its members in various escapades.

Some have suggested in these columns that we, the citizens, should entrust our safety and that of our families to these hired guns and their paymasters. We have been asked to disregard the fact that members of the death squad are criminally-bent themselves and can rob and kill us as they deem fit. We have been asked to imagine that these men have only sprung up in our midst as moral crusaders against crime and would fade into the mist when their job is done.

The death squad/criminal alliance, however, brought out in the SN article, only re-emphasizes the warning of sound-minded Guyanese that the fundamental nature of these squads (who forms them and why, how they are funded, who gets recruited, their modus operandi, their sense of invulnerability, etc) does not permit them to be disciplined and controllable outfits working to a single set agenda. These men are themselves heartless and lawless and will try their hands at anything, in any fashion, to earn money.

If Bacchus' revelations prove accurate, then it would only mean that Minister Gajraj happened at the time to have made the best offer to these slayers from among those willing and able to hire them.

Poor societies such as ours are highly malleable and susceptible. Given our economic backwardness and pervasive lawlessness high and low, it would be effortless for death squads to take root and blossom - and blossom into life forms that even those who introduced the scheme and those who now applaud it would not have conceptualized. Like several of our Latin American countries, our society would soon be overrun with gunmen on a variety of errands set by a variety of private (and state) paymasters. In this deadly wildness, all of us can become direct and indirect victims.

Guyana, therefore, stands on the brink. Violent crime is still rampant. The core conditions for crime still exist - and are worsening. To add to the disorder the new element of hired killers, with or without state connections, is madness! The sane majority must rise up and take this country back!
Sherwood Lowe