Days after President Ali imposed a “visa” requirement for Haitians entering Guyana, several persons suspected to be Haitian nationals were reportedly seen in the Kurupukari area on Sunday.
Based on information circulating, about 50 men, women and children were reportedly begging for food and water after they emerged from the forest.
When contacted late Sunday evening, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum said he was not in receipt of any information on the issue.
However, it is believed that the people have been abandoned by smugglers and were reportedly staying in the dense forest.
The revocation of the visa-free travel was done after it was discovered that most the 38,000 Haitians who arrived here since 2015 cannot be accounted for.
It is believed that most of these persons would have left illegally, using the “backtrack” to either Suriname or Brazil – places that demand visas for Haitians to enter. In fact, several busloads of Haitians were intercepted at Lethem, presumably on their way to Brazil last month.
However, the influx of Haitians to Guyana is viewed as a set of desperate poor people trying to better their lives following the collapse of their country’s economy.
Back in 2019, the then PNC Government had insisted that the Haitians weren’t being coerced to qualify as “trafficking in persons” (TIP).
The UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) says this about “migrant smuggling”: “Smuggling of Migrants is a crime involving the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident. It undermines the integrity of countries and communities, and costs thousands of people their lives every year.”
Back in February the Brazilian Federal Police arrested 27 immigrants who entered Bom Fim illegally via Guyana’s borders.
The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) had noted that of those arrested, there were 26 Haitian nationals and one Cuban.
“Some of the Haitians arrived in Lethem and were initially denied entry into Brazil, but it was suspected that they would try to use other routes to cross over, hence the information was passed on to Brazilian counterparts by CANU who then alerted their law enforcement units within the area,” CANU had stated.
Recently, Brazil’s Federal Police and CANU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to share information and conduct joint operations, involving narcotics and other criminal activities.
Guyana’s land borders with Brazil have been closed since March 2020.