Did you know that there is one (and only one) country in South America where English is the official language? Guyana is tucked in a northern part of South America, where rainforests are pristine and land is some of the oldest in the world. While vastly unpopular among travellers, Guyana is home to some of the most spectacular natural sites in the world, including what I consider the most beautiful waterfall in the world – Kaieteur Falls. However, beautiful nature doesn’t mean low crime. As a matter of fact, crime in Guyana is quite a bit out of hand with the police force often slow or incompetent in responding.
The East Coast Demerara village of Lusignan was one of the least significant places in Guyana – so un-noteworthy that most people of Guyana never heard of it. It all changed on January 26, 2008 in an event that has become forever known as the Lusignan Massacre. In the early morning hours of that Saturday night, while most of the village was asleep, a group of about 20 gunmen armed with shotguns and AK-47 assault rifles stormed five Lusignan houses, kicking in doors and opening fire at everyone they saw. The slaughter lasted for more than 15 minutes, during which 11 people, including 5 children were murdered and additional 3 people shot but survived. 3 more people were in the houses attacked by the gunmen but they managed to hide and stay out of gunmen’s sight. One whole family (a mother and her two children) were all victims of the massacre.
The real motive behind the Lusignan Massacre has never been found. According to some reports, Guyana’s notorious killer Rondell Rawlins had claimed responsibility for the massacre, stating that it was his vengeance after his girlfriend Tenisha Morgan who was pregnant with his child disappeared. The former soldier, Rondell Rawlins was known throughout Guyana by a nickname ‘Fine Man” and was already wanted by the police for the assassination of Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh from 2006. Fine Man? Really?
Lusignan Massacre Victims
Following is the list of the Lusignan Massacre victims, along with their ages:
- Clarence Thomas, 48
- Vanessa Thomas, 12
- Ron Thomas, 11
- Mohandan Goordat, 32
- Seegopaul Harilall, 10
- Seegobin Harilall, 4
- Dhanwajie Ramsingh, 52
- Seecharran Rooplall, 56
- Raywattie Ramsingh, 11
- Shazam Mohammed, 22
- Shaleem Baksh, 52
Following three people were wounded, but survived the massacre:
- Howard Thomas 19
- Nadir Mohamed, 48
- Roberto Thomas, 5
Both Roberto and Howard Thomas sustained life threatening gun-shot wounds to the head, but survived. However, they are both scarred on their faces with a reminder of a night of horror they went through. Some of the children slaughtered in the Lusignan Massacre were found in a pool of blood, while still covered with blankets as they were sleeping on their beds.
There was a $5 Million bounty on the Rondell Rawlins’ head, but the Lusignan Massacre made Fine Man’s head worth $30 Million. That’s Guyanese Dollars, though, not US ones. The police caught up with the killer on August 28, 2008 and shot him to death. I don’t know whether the police officer who offed him got the reward but it was most likely a joint operation of the entire force. Unfortunately, before the police got him, Rondell Rawlins and his gang slaughtered additional 13 people (3 policemen and 9 civilians) in what became known as the Bartica Massacre. That boosted the bounty to $50 Million Guyanese Dollars ($250,000 USD).
This video is a BBC report on the The Lusignan Massacre:
Gallery of photos of the Lusignan Massacre, including the (cheesy) magazine cover with Rondell Rawlins aka Fine Man and Jermaine Charles aka Skinny is below.