Culture will be changed by Venezuelan migrants – Norton
Guyana has seen thousands of migrants entering therein through the border to escape the economic crisis in Venezuela, and this will ultimately have some effect on Guyana’s culture and practices.
This was posited by Social Cohesion Minister Dr George Norton during the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) meeting, as he noted that these refugees will bring their own traditions and changes, evolving the cultural composition of the country.
The most recent statistics have indicated that 5123 documented Venezuelan migrants have been recorded in Guyana, having fled their country in light of the growing social, political and economic crisis under the Nicolas Maduro Government.
Many of them have been coming into neighbouring Guyana while others have dispersed to other countries in the region.
“Our communal culture has been, and continues to be, shaped by the meaningful inclusion of a variety of forces. As we face the challenges of humanitarian crisis on our borders: migrants coming with their own culture, their dances, language and values, and those in the diaspora who exercise their right to return, our culture in the Caribbean will change and evolve,” the Minister stated.
The situation has attracted international attention, and only recently the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced that it would work with the Guyana Government to expand the infrastructure of hinterland schools to cater for migrant children.
Public officers have also been trained on international best practices in assisting migrants and protecting them from abuse and/or exploitation of any kind.
Additionally, the Region Two Administration – which also has a huge migrant population – has identified a two-storey building that will serve as a support centre for migrants.
Although the Government has managed to put certain mechanisms in place to deal with Venezuelans seeking refuge in Guyana, it faces a major challenge of monitoring these individuals, due to the length of the border between the two countries.
As Norton expounded on these social factors, he also mentioned the importance of policies being crafted to assist the creative sector in increasing capacity-building and lending financial support.
The Minister said, “As we force uneconomic development and industry in many aspects, the culture and creative industry can become one of the key vehicles, driving development. It is up to us, the policy makers, to foster an environment which lends support to the artistic community, through development-friendly policies which address capacity building, technical assistance and assistance to source funding.”
He added, “Culture is the tapestry that binds us and allows us to identify with each other. It inculcates the love of the diverse art forms. It preserves and transmits our common history and customs. It contributes to the aesthetics of our environment and remains at the core of our continued quest for sustained unity.”