As was the case three years ago when his name surfaced as one of the main cabinet links between government and the narco underworld, Guyana Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy has once again felt the need to defend himself against some very damaging information emerging from cables published by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks in the past week.
Then American Charge d’Affaires Karen Williams cabled her bosses in Washington to tell them that Ramsammy, a U.S. citizen, had once been proposed by former cocaine kingpin Shaheed Roger Khan as the man who could broker a deal between him and authorities as they were stepping up the pressure on officials to curb his activities and to bring him to justice.
Ramsammy has in the past stringently denied any links between him, Khan and the remaining brigade of the well-known local kingpins who still operate with impunity in Guyana, but the cable by the diplomat also supports what a Guyanese informant and former close associate of Khan, had told a court during Khan’s cocaine trial in New York three years ago.
Selwyn Vaughn had said that he was present at a shady night club in central Georgetown one night when Khan called Ramsammy to tell him that a hit job had been completed successfully, charges that Ramsammy has vehemently denied to snickers from rights groups, opposition politicians, local media and critics in general.
In a cable dated July 31, 2009, the Americans also attacked local authorities for denying that the Guyana cabinet had anything to do with the purchase of high-tech eavesdropping equipment, its handing over to Khan and his cohorts for use on behalf of government and Ramsammy’s denil that he was the go-between in all this.
“A close associate of Khan worked with Ramsammy in the ministry of health, and the former death squad leader himself is widely rumored to have had regular Saturday meetings with the minister. While being pursued by U.S. law enforcement in 2006, Khan put Ramsammy’s name forward as a potential mediator between him and the U.S. government.
Ramsammy, who is a U.S. citizen, emphatically denies that he provided a letter giving Khan the government’s permission to purchase the equipment, and postulated to embassy officials that his signature was forged on Ministry of Health letterhead.”
Since the cables became public in the past month, Ramsammy has been under similar or even greater pressure than Police Chief Henry Greene whose visas were cancelled by the Americans because of his alleged links to the narco underworld and for materially benefitting from illegal activity, charges he has also denied with threats of libel suits.
The cables postured that the “government is believed to have sanctioned Khan’s Phantom death squad and drug trafficking because it was unable to restore order following a 2002 prison break. The government has resisted calls to investigate any allegations related to Khan – though it did ask the Embassy for any information the U.S. government had in the case.
Most recently, Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran disallowed a motion enabling the body to investigate the link between Ramsammy and Khan. In protest the opposition leader hurled a set of law books off his desk and stormed out of parliament followed by the rest of the opposition. The majority People’s Progressive Party (PPP) responded by using the walkout as an opportunity to pass its version of a local government reform bill without opposition,” the cable stated.