Crime needs to be tackled collaboratively, US Ambassador says at GMSA luncheon

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United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway

United States (US) Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway is of the opinion that oil will not contribute to crime locally, but people and money surely will.

As such, in his address on Tuesday during a business luncheon hosted by Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Holloway urged stakeholder to work together “to fight it.”

 “One of the things that I think everyone is worried about and I heard a little bit about it here is what is gonna happen when Oil gets here. I don’t think it’s Oil and Gas that attracts crime. I think it’s more people, more money…if it [brings] more money and more people, you guys are good business people but lemme tell ya, the criminals out there are also business people and what do they want? The same thing you want, a profit,” he said.

The US diplomat asserted that while crime in Guyana is not at its worst compared to other countries, there is some level which needs to be tackled collaboratively.

“My bottom line is the Government, the Private Sector and the public, and civil society all have to work together. You will not do it on your own…There is no other way. We are going to continue, as US Government, putting in millions of dollars a year in security in Guyana…but again, our money only helps…[if] everyone else is willing to invest their time and energy,” he noted.

Holloway says one thing Guyana should pay close attention to is the fact that the growing production of cocaine in Colombia which will eventually end up in transshipment countries like here.

“…and they don’t have an international distribution network so what do they do? They start selling it locally. That increases demand. Once demand increases, there is certain drugs, cocaine, and heroin is another one that once you get into the cycle and get further into the addiction, well you will do anything to get more of the drug and once your money runs out, what is your only option? It is to steal or sell your body or some other horrible thing,” he posited.

GMSA President Shyam Nokta

According to the GMSA President Shyam Nokta “…high crime levels are a key factor that affects national security and by extension the business climate. In such an environment, all citizens and businesses are vulnerable and are potential victims of crime…”

“In the March 10 2010 edition of the Economist-this article lamented the increasing levels of violent crimes in the region and made the point that beyond the toll on society, crime and violence carry high economic cost, including an adverse impact on foreign investment and Tourism. Fast forward to 2017, where the IDB states that while the crime situation varies among countries, broadly speaking, the Caribbean suffers from uniquely high levels of violent crime,” he said.

A 2018 U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory, released by the OSAC in May had advised Americans travelling to Guyana to exercise normal precautions but advised that the crime situation is “critical.”

According to the 2018 report, “Corruption is widely perceived to be commonplace within many government agencies. Police officers often are reportedly paid off by criminal elements and are alleged to work with criminals by either assisting or protecting them. The judicial system is strained by limited resources and often influenced by threats/bribes. Defendants linked to drug organization often use attorneys who are effective in getting cases dismissed or postponed; as a result, criminals go free on a regular basis.”

Moreover, drug trafficking was outlined as a serious concern and poses the biggest challenge to law enforcement in Guyana.

“Airport security and customs officials frequently detain and arrest individuals attempting to smuggle drugs out of Guyana. Apprehensions of drug mules, often U.S. citizens due to the perceived ease to which a U.S. passport holder can travel, have increased” the report noted.

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