While Guyana holds steadfast to commitments to accept Venezuelans wanting to move from their crisis-ridden country on humanitarian grounds, Government has raised concerns of Guyanese being “assaulted” by persons from the neighbouring country.
Speaking on the weekly televised programme – The Public Interest – which was aired on Friday, President David Granger pointed out that migration is currently a “ticklish” problem, especially in light of the events in Venezuela.
The President said he does not want to have people who are guilty of any wrong doing or involved in terrorism coming into Guyana, as he highlighted the troubles already existing at the border with the Spanish-speaking State.
“There are groups called “syndactylous”, which simply means gang or syndicates, which have been terrorising some of our indigenous people in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni Region, particularly in the Wenamu and Cuyuni areas. So we have to be very careful,” he remarked.
The Head of State noted that while Guyana is willing and prepared to accept people from Venezuela, or of any nationality in general on humanitarian grounds, the protection of Guyanese citizens comes first.
“Re-migrants who are fleeing economic or political persecution and who are prepared to abide by our laws, we are prepared to give favourable consideration. We are not simply going to open our borders to a flood of re-migrants – people who are casually drifting in and out. But if there is evidence of political persecution or economic deprivation we are prepared to give favourable consideration to this,” President Granger posited.
Granger’s concerns come in light of recent attacks on Guyanese citizenry. Earlier in July, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips, had confirmed that the army is working along with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to investigate reports of a Venezuelan gang attacking Guyanese in the Arau and Mango Landing areas, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), along the Wenamu River in the Cuyuni Mining District and close to the Venezuelan border. And in May 2016, Venezuelan soldiers opened fire at a vessel that was transporting mines officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in Guyanese waters.
Venezuela is experiencing economic turmoil following the decline of oil prices on the world market over the past months. The situation had escalated to the point where President Nicolas Maduro had declared a 60-day state of emergency in May.
Reports out of the Bolivarian State reveal that there is massive food shortage and limited access to basic health care and basic amenities such as electricity. Reports of rampant outbursts of looting and violence are also emerging from the neighbouring country.