The Rev Juliana Pena was the girlfriend of former broadcaster Neil Giuseppi.
The startling revelation is made in Giuseppi’s 380-page autobiography, No Regrets, which was launched at the Audio-Visual Room of the National Library of Trinidad and Tobago (Nalis) in Port of Spain on Thursday.
Giuseppi is the former head of news and current affairs at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT, now Caribbean New Media Group—CNMG).
The event attracted a who’s who from different sectors in this country, including outgoing Arima Mayor Ghassan Youseph and former government minister and Port of Spain mayor John Rahael.
The launch of the autobiography coincides with Giuseppi’s 65th birthday, which is today.
He wrote the book in four months.
Giuseppi said writing an autobiography was not originally on his “bucket list” and described the book as a “series of remembrances from his fairly interesting life”.
The first chapter of No Regrets is entitled “The Early Years”.
Valerie Thomas read a section of that chapter to the audience on Thursday.
In that chapter, Giuseppi talks about his “first serious girlfriend”, named Juliana Pereira.
Pereira, the daughter of the area’s butcher, Shirley, and Giuseppi were a couple for “about five years”.
Giuseppi met her when he was 18.
Pereira was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Giuseppi’s sister, Diana, in 1969.
The couple eventually broke up.
“I last saw her around 1998 and then lost track of her again until she surfaced many years later as the Rev Juliana Pena, the spiritual adviser of the country’s prime minister Patrick Manning and became quite infamous as the lady behind the $30 million church at Guanapo,” Thomas read from No Regrets.
The crowd laughed.
Thomas is the daughter of a former principal of the Arima Government Secondary School, which Arima-born Giuseppi attended.
In chapter seven of the book, entitled “Famous Men and Women I Have Met”, Giuseppi talks about his first meeting with former president of Guyana Forbes Burnham.
Giuseppi had flown to Guyana to interview Burnham,who was the Caribbean Community (Caricom) chairman at the time.
The first meeting between Burnham and Giuseppi took place in Guyana on June 16, 1980, the day after Dr Walter Rodney, a political activist from that country, was assassinated.
It was rumoured Burnham had ordered Rodney’s killing.
Giuseppi said he asked Burnham to comment on Rodney’s death during the interview.
Giuseppi said he expected Burnham to give “a typical political answer” to that question, but “that is where I got a rude awakening”.
“His response was, ‘People who live by the sword must be prepared to die by the sword.’ I was taken aback,” Giuseppi read.
Giuseppi then asked Burnham to address the rumours he had a part to play in Rodney’s death.
“His reply was swift. ‘I have a country to run; if I issue a statement of denial, nobody will believe me if they decide that I am guilty, so why should I bother? Let them think whatever they wish to think,’ and that was the end of the matter for him,” Giuseppi read.
Giuseppi also wrote about his love for golf and his globetrotting to play the sport.
He bought his first set of golf clubs from former finance minister Selby Wilson.
Wilson was at the launch and read an excerpt from the autobiography dealing with golf.
The cost of No Regrets is $200.