Eyewitness: Back to…

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…backtrack?

Here it is, just when your Eyewitness thought that the “backtrack” route to the US had been shut down for good (by the US giving out visas like Father Christmas!), there came the news that four Guyanese lads drowned when the boat transporting them from the Bahamas to Florida capsized. The backtrack route, of course, had flourished for decades, going all the way back to the 1980s, and several present “big ones” here started with loot raked in from the trade. There was big money involved with the going rate per body being a cool US$10,000 and up.

With all that money sloshing around, there were quite a few schemes in play back then. Substituting pictures of persons into passports of some authentic visa holders was a simple one. People working their way to the Bahamas, from where they’d be ferried over to Florida was another. Getting into Canada legally (the Canadians were more lenient with visas) and then being smuggled over the border (secreted into false wall dividers in vans) into the US near Detroit was another.

But the biggest scam of all wasn’t really a scam, but an American consular officer operating out of the US Embassy in Georgetown giving out LEGAL visas to individuals garnered by the official’s local bag men. Since the fella was caught and convicted, your Eyewitness can tell the tale of Thomas Carrol, which rocked the operations of what had been assumed to be one of the most secure institutions in the world – an American Embassy!

It all occurred between 1999 and 2000, by which time Carroll had already completed the first year of his posting, and was tempted by the huge sums he could make with American visas so much in demand. With just 5 visas a day, five days a week at US$8000 a pop, he was making US$200,000 a week! His henchmen, notably one fella from West Demerara, who procured the bodies with the necessary cash, made their cut by adding another US$2000 onto the “basic” US$8000.

Now, you may want to know where all this money came from? Well, some came from friends and relatives of the bodies, who’d go as far as selling their homes. But since they had to deliver the money in US dollars, the demand created by Carroll actually drove up the exchange rate of the greenbacks!! Most of the money, however, came from relatives of the bodies living in the US; they passed in the cold cash to the middle man from WCD.
Carroll was busted when a Diamond dealer finked to the US authorities: Carroll had cornered his sellers to smuggle his money to the US in diamonds!!
Diamonds weren’t his best friend!

…a complete lockdown?

With the COVID-19 infection numbers and deaths creeping inexorably upwards, some are calling for a lockdown. Now, there’s no question that a complete lockdown – where no one, say, can leave their house – would solve the problem. With everyone unable to interact with others, the spread would be brought to a grinding halt! But we know that’s impossible, don’t we?

So, the best we can do is strike a balance between what’s possible and what’s practicable. And here’s where we’ll have to become serious and accept that we haven’t followed the practices of those countries that have halted the spread – like China. First of all, they had their lockdown early: which, in our case, the PNC blew with their playing politics!
Then there’s the observance of the non-medical protocols: it’s only now we’re getting serious. But we’ve fallen down on the “contact tracing” the authorities have to conduct once it’s discovered that someone was infected.
And this is where more needs to be done.

…justice at last

Forty years after the PNC railroaded Donald Rodney, the brother of Walter whom they’d assassinated, and convicted him for possessing a walkie talkie with a bomb, the “judgement” was overturned.
Maybe the COI Report will now be officially released?