Police intercept 2 boats with 19 Venezuelan migrants at Moruca

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One of the boats carrying Venezuelans intercepted at Morua, Region One

Police in the Region One (Barima-Waini) Sub-District of Moruca on Thursday evening intercepted two boatloads of Venezuelan migrants in local waters.

INews was told that there was a total of 19 Venezuelans in the two boats – eight in one boat and 11 in the other, with only one female among them. The majority of these persons are between the ages of 25 to 30 years and none of them had any proper documentation.

This publication understands that the boats were captained by Guyanese, who were hired to transport the Spanish-speaking persons to Charity on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).

They were incepted sometime around 18:30h at the Moruca Waterfront area.

Reports are that one of the boats had stopped at the waterfront in Moruca to buy ration (groceries). At the time, Police officers from the Moruca Station, which is located nearby, were at the waterfront and observed the vessel.

The ranks intercepted the vessel, and upon realising that there were Venezuelan nationals in it, contact was made with the Divisional Headquarters in Mabaruma. The officers were then informed that based on intelligence received, there were two vessels transporting Venezuelans.

Based on that information, the Police officers teamed up with ranks from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and they went out into the Moruca River, where they intercepted the second vessel that was in the water awaiting the return of the other boat.

The two Guyanese boat captains told investigators that they were hired to transport these Venezuelans to Charity.

Nevertheless, this publication was told that the two captains along with the 19 Venezuelans were transferred on Friday morning to the Mabaruma Police Station, where they were processed and interrogated.

“We’re conducting investigations to find out who’re bringing these persons here and for what reasons; and whether if they’re being trafficked,” a source close to the investigation explained.

This publication further understands that these persons will likely be sent back to their home country.

Only last Saturday, another set of Venezuelan migrants arrived in Essequibo in three buses and made a stop in Anna Regina, where they disembarked and were reportedly processed by Police.

However, last Sunday, Region Two Police Commander Khemraj Shivbarran told this publication that the migrants were no longer in the region, but were transported to the North West District in Region One.

In recent weeks, Venezuelans have been entering Guyana’s territory in droves, fleeing harsh economic conditions in their homeland in search of betterment here. But the increased influx of Venezuelans in Guyana is sparking widespread public concern here, especially as it relates to security given the heightened tensions between Guyana and Venezuelan over the ongoing border controversy.

In August, President Dr Irfaan Ali indicated that his Government is cautious of the possibility of foreign agents infiltrating the country under the guise of being migrants but noted that systems are in place to ensure the nation’s national integrity remains protected.

Meanwhile, only Thursday, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo reminded that most of the Venezuelans coming here are persons who have connections, mainly through their parentage, and are coming here with little to nothing because they believe they can have a better life in Guyana.

Jagdeo, however, acknowledged that there are some Venezuelans with no connections here coming here. He pointed out that while they too are entitled to the protection of the State, the Government is still mindful that there could be elements that are coming here with nefarious intentions. But he argued that mistreatment cannot be meted out to all the Venezuelan migrants over fear of infiltration by a few who could potentially threaten Guyana’s sovereignty.

The Vice President’s remarks came on the heels of the inhumane treatment of Venezuelan migrants. He warned that such actions can affect the safety of those Guyanese who are still living in Venezuela.

A video circulating on social media had shown two migrants, accused of being thieves, being bullied into stripping and walking the road. The Guyana Police Force has since arrested a 37-year-old man of Peters Hall, East Bank Demerara, over the matter.

According to VP Jagdeo, such treatment of Venezuelan migrants is “totally reprehensible” and will not be tolerated. He noted that the suspect in this matter will face “serious consequences” for his actions.