“Mann’s version of his background” (Spring 1977)

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[Handwritten notation] Mann’s version of his background

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR L. MANN

Mann spent about an hour reviewing his past from knowing Burnham when he was a child to his days when he was with [opposition leader and one-time Prime Minister] Cheddi Jagan and how he finally joined the diplomatic service.

Mann said that his family and the Burnhams are cousins and the families were very close. Man’s father and Burnham’s father were both headmasters of schools and in those days it was somewhat unusual for a Black man to hold such a post. This shared experience made them closer.

Mann said that he went away to college and when he was a college he became a socialist revolutionary and in England they heard more about Jagan’s government than about the opposition, so when he returned to Guyana, he became a member of Jagan’s government. He was a parliamentary secretary and member of parliament.

Mann complained that Jagan only used him and that when Jagan made him the Minister of Education, that he didn’t even have the decency to tell him beforehand and the first time he knew that he was going to become a full minister was when he heard it on the radio.

Mann said they were heading for a racial clash when Jagan was in power and Jagan called in British troops to control the disturbances. Mann said this turned him and other members of the party off. They couldn’t understand why this so-called Communist leader was using British colonial troops. He said that a state of emergency was called and when the state of emergency was to be extended, many of the PPP-Jaganites either voted against it or not at all. The vote was an even tie and his vote was the one which would either reverse the decision or renew it, so he said he therefore abstained. Rumors were circulating that Mann was going to cross the floor, the rumors followed that saying that he would be killed off if he did cross the floor or vote against this emergency act. The police came to his home and requested that he allow the police to place two security people with him at all times because the rumors were quite strong. Mann intended to resign his post as minister and leave the country, so he had two security

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people living with him until he went to England.

His marriage broke up under the Jagan era. He went to England and left his children to live with his mother. He studied for his doctorate in law, got tired of living as a second-class citizen in England, so when Burnham asked them to come home and served in Guyana, he did.

Mann worked in the Ministry of Trade economist section and then went on to be the permanent secretary of either the Ministry of Trade or it was National Development under Dr. [Ptolemy] Reid. If he did work as p.s. [permanent secretary] at Trade, he went on to National Development with Dr. Reid as his minister. He stayed at National Development until he was asked by Sonny Ramphal to take the post in Brussels. Mann told Ramphal that he didn’t want the post unless he was made a full ambassador. Mann said that Dr. Reid (who was his boss at the time) agreed that he shouldn’t take the post unless he was given a full ambassadorship. Mann said that Burnham was reluctant to let one of his “bright boys” go and almost didn’t agree to Mann going to foreign service.

Mann said that he went swimming every morning with the prime minister, Viola, and the two children when they were small from the time that he got back until he went to Brussels. He said that every morning the P.M. would sweep down and pick him up on Robb St. and they would go to Calgrain House and go swimming. He said that on Sunday they would stop at Bourda Market with pistols tucked under their shirts in their waistbands (in case a mad person approached the P.M.) and they would sell a stack of New Nation each (political paper). He got back from England in 1968 or 67 and left for Brussels in 1973, so if he is giving the true facts, he had been going swimming with him every morning for 5 to 6 years.

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Originally posted on March 4th, 2022.

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