The Tapes of Paula Adams (Text)


Tape 1, Side 1
Number            Item

51            Mentions playing poker last night (nothing much).
504            Meeting Desmond Hoyte [Guyana Minister of Development] is why he is still here.
580            Appointment to meet Winston King [unknown] by order of Prime Minister [Forbes Burnham]
594            PA [Paula Adams] – It sounds like you’re ready to come home.
594            BM [Bonny Mann] – It seems to me that the only position I could come home as is prime minister. I want to be primus inter fare. First among equals.
628            BM – Why did you go to the P.M.’s May Day speech? I hear there was a lot of booing.
PA – Why?
BM – Because people are out of work, the cost of living is very high.


Tape 1, Side 2
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Tape 2, Side 1
Number            Item

130            PA – Corbin seems fairly capable. (Robert Corbin, Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development)
BM – Who?
PA – Corbin
BM – At doing what? Capable of doing what?
PA – Organizing enthusiasm.
BM – Yes, for what?
PA – I often think that loyalty is far more important than skills.
BM – The problem with most developing countries. They put the emphasis on the wrong things.


Tape 2, Side 2
Broken tape


Tape 3, Side 1



Tape 3, Side 2
Number            Item

101            [BM –] What I object to in interracial marriages is that a black man usually marries well below his station.
PA – With an egalitarian consciousness, what kind of a statement is that?
BM –  I’m just telling you what it’s like. I’m just telling you. Why don’t these women marry black man who can’t afford to support them.
504            (Talking on telephone with Rex McKay [Preeminent Guyanese attorney]) I was with Corbin this morning when you called… talking about Worrell’s job. (Some more talk about Worrell [unknown])


Tape 4, Side 1
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Tape 4, Side 2
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Tape 5, Side 1
Number            Item

135            A third party is not going to run my life. Two parties, that’s an agreement. I don’t want to hear “what people say” or “what people think.”


Tape 5, Side 2
Number            Item

181            Discussing the government taking over the schools. He’s arguing against it on the basis of economics.

This is a tape with Desiree [unknown, could be code] which can be listened to with more scrutiny if necessary.

Tape 6, Side 1
Number            Item

Broken tape


Tape 7, Side 1



Tape 7, Side 2





Tape 8, Side 1

549 [BM –]You think things have gone three cents free here. I remember the days when Burnham used to say his aim was to “give every poor man a car.” He said, “tax big cars like mine (he had a big Dodge), he said little cars like an Austin should be tax-free or duty cut, you know a car is a necessity or a reasonable social ambition in a country where you don’t have this and that… where you can take the family for a drive,” which was nice talk, or a nice idea. Now look what little 4-cylinder car costs, $23,000 for a Gallant or a Thing. They ain’t got no clerk who can buy that’s for sure. A lot of rich people won’t buy it either and that you can’t get any at all. Unfortunately, men are judged on their performance, not their words. Socialist theories are very nice, but they’ve got to work. They apply to people. Nobody is satisfied that they are on the road to socialism if one day they can see ahead on the road there is hunger, cars going up more, their expectation to own a car vanishes. Houses are out of sight. A theory has got to work and practice.

PA – Made a defensive statement for socialism.

[BM –] Good intentions are not enough, Paula, nobody is going to fault the Prime Minister or Dr. Reid [Ptolemy Reid, Deputy Prime Minister of Guyana], for their good intentions to help the poor man, but you can’t just have a good intention and see the means of achievement are going wrong and you just remain with the good intentions. You’re mad. You can’t get food to eat, the next thing we ration is clothing, including footwear. Look at the price of electricity for your house. Petrol you can’t get, that is the oil crisis, the subsidy had to come off flour, different things. Something is wrong with planning.

When things get hard, the harder things get, the more elitist society becomes, because a plutocracy, a rich class, Neil [unknown], Rex, Joe Chin [unknown], who will never suffer, they get richer, they can travel when they like, they can do what they like, and the scarcity only the rich can afford.

PA – They don’t travel much anymore, they don’t have any dollars to get out of the country.

BM – Who says so? What’s wrong with you? You mad or something? That’s only what you think. Then after the wealthy, the politically powerful. They are out scotching the house when poor people and other people can’t get. They’ll always have things and clothing in their house when other people can’t have [it], and they will justify it on the grounds that they are working for the people and they should have it if they need something.

[Paragraph has notation, “Don’t include,” and is crossed out] We have to stop, sit down, get the best heads together (and we ain’t got many of them left) and look to see what’s gone wrong. To begin with, we have to have the humility to admit that something went wrong.

Tape 8, Side 2
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Tape 9, Side 1
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Tape 9, Side 2



Tape 10, Side 1





Tape 10, Side 2



Tape 11, Side 1



Tape 11, Side 2
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Wound too tight. Can’t understand what is being said.
136            [BM –] Do you know that I love you, Miss Adams? (Kind of distorted because of the tightly wound tape).


Tape 12, Side 1
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283            Hey, Fred [Wills, Guyana Minister of Foreign Affairs]. Bonnie. Yes and tell her that there are no vacancies. I can only hope that some other mission will contact us. Sorry that we couldn’t have the girl, but we’re fully staffed.

I had a long talk with Corbin and Winnie Agard [unknown]. I told them that what we should do is move very slowly. Try to make interim arrangements until we get someone adequate for a whole lot of reasons. Worrell was fairly unique because he was a lawyer trained in American law and went to school in Washington, and knew all the judges. In the US, you can ring up the judge beforehand and he’ll tell you what the sentence is going to be or whether he will let him off. It is simple as that. I said that Prior [unknown] and I will try to do all we can. Andrew King [unknown] will continue to deal with students, Fox [unknown] with passports, Prior with national’s complaints, and with political work, in so far as making speeches and so on. I’ll simply go and do it. As long as it is in the interim. You see, one of the problems is that Worrell was virtually an embassy within an embassy, and if we put in anyone who was less able than he, you’ll create an awful lot of friction. Secondly, I know some things you can’t find in a week or two, that kind of person. There were two people I suggested that I like, and one of them is big fat Dundas from Springlands [unknown] and the other is brown skinned chap Hutton [unknown], but not as permanent, but to do something with the nationals. Both are pretty convincing speakers, and they could do some of the political work. That is half the problem, they wouldn’t. It seems to me that Hutton or Dundas would be the kind of person to do the political work. They could act in some capacity or other. I don’t want Winnie Agard or Corbin to surprise me. Let’s keep in touch. (pa a funny phrase). Essentially, he heard I was here and just wanted to have a chat and ask how I found things up there and little things very nice here. He said there were two things which were a little difficult for him: the ILO thing and I see in the papers that we’re not doing anything so that seems to be the end of that and the second was that he thought we were carrying the Cuban vote (or ball?) in Delhi on the Puerto Rican independence issue (he is talking about John Blacken [US Embassy official]), so I told him that this is not true, that I have talked to the participants and to the contrary, we were extremely low keyed. It is wrong information. He promised to show you the cables he got out of New Delhi. I think Rashleigh [Jackson, Guyana Foreign Minister] should make a point to talk to Andrew Young [U.S. Ambassador to United Nations] about it. So there are several points of contradiction. Surinam is getting pressure we are getting because people are saying look what happened. They are saying that these fellows were saying that they wouldn’t fly a kite for Puerto Rican independence and look what they think. And it is simply not true. And I’m going to make a point of… I’m going to try to get hold of Habeeb [unknown].




He did mention that he had put up his request for lots of things. I said that I was glad to hear it, and what did he think would come out of it? And he said he didn’t think that balance of payments, you know, cash flow on the loan, but some other form, including the type of arrangement with commodities which will be one form of assistance. He said they would probably put a package together. Then he talked about the state of the economy, what I thought, and what he thought. I didn’t even know that he had seen the chief. I don’t remember what day I saw him, on Tuesday or something.

They can’t have it both ways. They are saying that a lot of the Senators in Congress want to ensure that the US system of economic assistance doesn’t go to line the pockets of [the] elite of developing countries, on the other hand when you set out to create a society, they say the elite no longer exists and they say it is socialist or communist. That’s a fairly thin point. I’m very excited about the prospects of Habeeb coming and I know he’ll have a good visit. This is all very tentative and you must’ve repeated because only you and the chief know. He said that he would leave Washington about a week before the Grenada meeting of the OAS which begins in the second week, so we are really talking about a couple of weeks. As soon as I get back to Washington, I’ll try to get in touch with him and find out from him what’s happening. You don’t plan to go there of course to Grenada. He is going to be there and so is Vance [US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance]. I think the meeting is definitely to happen. I mean if the chief changes his mind that is his entitlement, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get an account.

What are the chief’s plans, to bring them here, definitely?

Long discussion continues on foreign affairs.

He suggested to Wills to go back to the P.M. [Prime Minister], even though he is not there to talk to Bonnie.


Tape 12, Side 2



Tape 13, Side 1

Wound too tight. Sound distorted.


Tape 13, Side 2



Tape 14, Side 1

Number            Item

126            What is John Blacken like? BM – He’s nice. A nice fellow

291            We had a long session yesterday, a small game, for 16 hours. I lost a couple of hundred, nothing much though, no big deal. (Discusses who will play poker). He uses the word played poker.




Tape 14, Side 2

I open his mail at his request and read it to him. Invitation to JOF Haynes [unknown] reception. Call the Prime Minister about the tour of Roslyn Carter, he asks me to remind him about this.

We discuss his business about phony investors contacting him to take advantage of Guyana.

Joe said they got a game.

It is a nice form of relaxation.

It is a very funny form of relaxation for a socialist.

I don’t understand what my playing poker has to do with being a socialist. I’m not trying to rob anybody, just playing a game. You find the stakes large, you could easily play poker for pennies. It’s just that I don’t know how to play poker for pennies. If that’s the limit that you can afford. (Explains the elements of poker). Anybody can afford to stick around for 20 cents, that ain’t anything. How much you going to lose, $20? That ain’t anything.

$20 to me is a lot of money.

Last night they had bets for $1000. The best one I made was for $850.

I don’t understand how you can afford to play.

Does the Prime Minister know you play poker.


I can afford this game easily. I ain’t a poor man. I never have been and probably never will be.

There was a time when people played less poker here when there was more to do. Now what you going to do. There isn’t very much activity. People don’t invest in houses, not much building. Businesses aren’t much. Except you put your money in a bank there isn’t anything for people to do like they used to: excursions, travel are not easy. The human system must find some way of relaxing itself and one way is for “people of means” to play poker, or something else. Whatever it is, I find poker to be a pretty harmless form of relaxation as long as you can afford it. You sit for hours with big men, you’re out of everybody’s way, out of danger of accidents and gossip.

People who have manual skills have manual hobbies.

We discussed how lazy he is in doing anything requiring manual labor, and the elitist attitude which grows out of [it].

He calls for the P.M. The P.M. is not able to come to the telephone at that time.

We discuss the value of [writer] Harold Robbins as a social writer. I talk about him has been a get rich and pacify the people author, and Mann thinks he is a social commentator.


Tape 15, Side 1

It must be idle interest or he would have contacted you right now.

He doesn’t regard that as his business. He’s a very funny man, he never discussed (unintelligible). He would discuss my being with a white woman, let me know that he knows something, but he’d never set out to cold bloodedly question me unless… You never told me he was questioning you. You said at the time it was nothing.


So the prime minister never asked you about your extracurricular activities.

Desiree, I remember… (Desiree Field-Ridley, Shirley’s sister, was at one time Bonnie’s girlfriend until it turned into a big scandal and Desiree’s husband divorced her over it).

When he heard about it, he gave me some kind of hint just like this time.

I don’t understand the similarity. The Prime Minister was my best man at the wedding, did you know that?

What does that have to do with it?

He would have an interest in its fate.

You mean that because we’ve been going out for two years, that he might think that it’s more




than a passing fancy?

I don’t know what he thinks. I didn’t ask him. I’d be interested to find out.

Burnham’s first wife was an optometrist. Viola was a classical scholar and schoolteacher at Bishops high school before she married Burnham.

When the Prime Minister said “the girl from Peoples Temple,” what did you say.

I didn’t say anything. I was thrown a little bit. I don’t remember, we were walking toward the car. I must have said something like, “Oh, how do you know?” He said, “Nothing escapes your Father’s attention, son.”

What do you think he will think me being from the states.

What should I do, write him a letter asking his permission.

I’m not saying to write him a letter, but what do you think he would think?

I stop thinking about that past detail about [what] Georgetown society thinks. They have no further shocks to receive from me. I’ve done everything. I’ve been brilliant, I’ve been unconventional, I’ve been witty, I’ve been maudlin. I’ve done it all. I broken up marriages, I’ve done the lot. There are no further shocks. I’ve shown my [missing word?] I’m very good, I’m ultra sophisticated, ultra intelligence, ultra wealth, (cut the tape at this point),… I’ve done the lot. There’s nothing left. There’s nothing left to shock people.

I would think there would be some concern about your girlfriend being from the US. You don’t think there would be.

I don’t think so.

What’s wrong with dedication, working over your hours.

There’s nothing wrong with that, I used to.

If you don’t think your appearance is important to your job, I told you that a long time ago. I think your appearance is important, but I don’t think I should pay for something PT should pay for. I understand if it was for an abortion or something or for something for a cocktail party or for something special, I can understand that, but PT should buy your everyday working clothes. I told you one year ago that in this country your appearance is important. You don’t see how Rai dresses. When I go to the town hall. From the time I go in there, they know it’s “one body,” the way I look, the way I dress, I don’t look like the next man coming off the street. The same with Rai, when she goes to the Corentyne, she doesn’t look like any Coolie girl coming to the Corentyne, the way she dresses, the way she looks. And that’s important in a country like this.

Looks, appearance, everything is appearance.

Well, it’s important.

It’s important to you.

You know in the country, I don’t go around the country looking like a Jesus freak as a government ambassador.

I don’t think there is one thing socialist about you.

The socialist revolution? You think that I was going to punish, that I’m going to go around walking around the street like Saul.

You told me yourself but that was nothing but eating money. You are talking about 2000-3000 dollars and you said yourself that that was nothing but eating money.

That’s what I said, what else can $2000 buy. I’m not poor, I sit around playing poker. What else [is] $2000 going to bring? You can open a business with that, or take off with that. I spend that much in a month.

You may spend more than not in a month, but a lot of people don’t see more than that in a year.


Tape 15, Side 2





Tape 16, Side 1



Tape 16, Side 2

The Prime Minister said what? I don’t think he knows you’re here at this time. What he was saying is… I don’t know what he was saying. I said something about my “creature comforts,” he said, yeah, the girl from Peoples Temple.


Tape 17, Side 1



Tape 17, Side 2



Tape 18, Side 1



Tape 18, Side 2



Tape 19, Side 1



Tape 19, Side 2



Tape 20, Side 1



20, 2
21, 1
bracketed numbers, with note of “nothing”


BB-1-gg-1 – gg-2


[Marginal note: Tape 14, Side 2]
April 15th, 1977
Lawrence [Laurence] Mann asked me to take notes for him:
(it turned out that these notes relate to discussions when the guests from the US State Department hold talks with the Guyana govt.)

  1. Intra-party scenario
  2. Inter party scenario
  3. Philosophy R/EV strategy – US of A. Added one point without discussing it, but I can’t remember what it was
  4. Caricom – Guyana’s role:
    1. historical
    2. Present
    3. Projected
    4. nonalignment
      1. present
      2. projected

Role of USA

  1. Border situation
  2. Economy – serious but manageable [handwritten addition: external {illegible} needed, source important to future policy, manageable once external finance received]
  3. general international affairs
    1. South Africa
    2. Korea
    3. Puerto Rico
    4. Ethiopia
    5. Somalia
  4. human rights – press freedom, Nielsen ratings, ownership of media, political, economic & cultural rights, Magna Charta rights of bourgeoisie, political prisoners, mirror, post of leader of the opposition, facilities therefore, consultations therewith, in train presently [handwritten addition: Creole sayings]
  5. sugar – Gavin
  6. other economy discussions, other relevant ministers. (There was more, but we went to another room and I can’t remember what it was.)
  7. Post Vance, Hussein
  8. NUJ/NPO  writes of privileged white minorities in UK

Conversation with Ruby Harry – (P.M.’s secy)
BM – Ruby, the P.M. has promised me you for about an hour to take some notes about something. Because it is for a “for your eyes only, for him, and I don’t want to mess around with it,” besides the people at foreign affairs are technically incompetent and what will take them three days will only take you three hours… This thing is so highly classified that I only want you to do it… When it’s finished, you and I will destroy the notes and the copy and will have only one copy and that will be for him… I will come to you… I didn’t know there was such a precedent, I only told him that I would like someone like you… you’re a p.s.?… I regard this as important enough to ask for you… why don’t you tell me about it… if you feel that strongly about it, I don’t want to press you… why go to approach him about it, he’s a very approachable man… I don’t know, I would ring him and say “I want you,” but I know you, so I ring you, you know what I mean… at Public Building…
Don’t let me forget to take my notes. (He was holding the notes I had just taken when he said this.)
PA – Ruby is overworked?
BM – Ruby is always grumbling.


[Editor’s note: BB-1-hh-1 – hh-2 is duplicate of BB-1-gg-1 – gg-2]




Tape 1, Side 1

BM – What is the big lady like her from San Francisco, of all places, and one of her flock going with a man who was a respectable ambassador and she is getting married to–

BM – The P.M., please. Bonnie Mann here.
Hi, comrade, I’m just calling to tell you about something you wanted me to remind you about, the newsletter. It will cost us one thousand American a month so we are talking about six months of continuous publication or we’re talking about $15,000 Guyanese. That’s one. Secondly, you might wonder is that, … Dr. Reid or Corbin so that they don’t think we are stalling or malingering; the question of Vic Persaud and I raised with you last night, if he agrees, that is, what about the name, last night you told me about the man and I told you Leon Dundas. Do you want me to find out sort of obliquely, uh… okay.

PA – (jokingly) You are going to have to get a bodyguard.
BM – For what, a thousand dollars, that ain’t money.
PA – That isn’t money?
BM – No. What am I going to do with it; poker money. Thousand dollars is four hundred US. That’s money?
PA – You and I have different concepts about what money is.


Tape 1, Side 2

We discuss marriage on this side.


Tape 3, Side 2
Tape is wound so tight, I can’t understand what is being said.




#90             We don’t get water, no electricity after 12. The only thing we haven’t been visited with yet is bubonic plague, chiggers in your toes, shankers in your scalp, guenara [gonorrhea?] in your belly.


Tape 3, Side 1



Sony Side A

BM – Your idea is to put me in a bad light to the bishop. He give you a night off and you up and go home.
PA – I’m not putting you in a bad light. I’ll tell him you’re not feeling well, because obviously you’re sick.
An argument starts. He tells me not to come back. He ain’t able to live with Peoples Temple telling him how to spend his life. He then tries to reconcile and ease over things.


Olympus Side B

This entire side is an argument about me going home.

Side B

This entire site is a continuation of the argument about my going home.


Sony Side A

PA – How will you adjust to living in Guyana?

BM – With a sense of privation, I suppose, in the sense that I take some things for granted. At any rate, better than the services you get here.

He explains that the one thing he can’t live without is a big comfortable car. He likes owning a big sedan. He said that when he was young he had normal expectations; he wants two cars. A big expensive and fairly exclusive air conditioned sedan and the other a sports car.

He says he can’t drink rum, that he can only drink scotch.

This side discusses how he will adjust to life in Guyana.




Veteran reporter who discussed discipline in Russia (he discusses it critically and then compares it with how things are getting in Guyana).

I can’t hear the side too well and would have to play it over and over to get the exact wording, therefore, I’ve summarized and will scrutinize it later. – PA


[Editor’s note: BB-1-jj-1 – jj-3 is duplicate of BB-1-ii-1 – ii-3]