“Massive” people smuggling racket exists in Guyana – PPP
…calls out Govt for refusal to address situation
The unaccounted figures for thousands of immigrants entering Guyana and failing to leave have led the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to call out Government on a smuggling racket, which it has failed to address.
The accusation was made on Friday after statistics revealed that thousands of immigrants, especially Haitians, are unaccounted for when the arrival and departure figures are examined.
“The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) believes that there is a massive people-smuggling racket and inaction cannot be the order of the day. This is an issue that was raised a year ago and the APNU/AFC coalition has refused to address it,” the party said in a statement.
The issue surfaced around the departure of foreign nationals, which indicated a smaller number of persons leaving the country than the initial arrival figure.
The Parliamentary Committee, the party noted, examined statistics provided by Minister Winston Felix himself for the period of 2015 to April 30, 2018. The immigration figures showed that a total of 93,374 Cubans arrived in Guyana, but only 76,663 were recorded to have left. “This meant that 16,711 Cubans were unaccounted for and probably still in Guyana. With regards to the Haitians, for the same period, a total of 6245 arrived in Guyana, but only 963 were recorded to have left. Again like the Cubans, a large number of 5282 Haitians were also unaccounted for and probably in Guyana.”
According to the party, the more recent exposés – detailing the arrival of over 8600 Haitians in the last seven months – have focused on one group of foreign nationals, but the issue at hand involves other nationals, including Cubans. This may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Two Government Ministers – Felix and then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge –were called out for this worrying issue and over unacceptable statements that were recently made by the Citizenship Minister.
Felix had remarked that these persons are using Guyana to visit other countries but the PPP reminded of other correlated issues such as human trafficking which are embedded in these errors.
“Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, has been quoted as saying that he believes that the Haitians are using Guyana as a stepping-stone to other countries, including Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana. It is alarming that this is the position of a Minister who should be concerned with the correlated issues of national security and human trafficking,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan was quoted as saying that foreigners are more attractive workers than locals, as they work for less. The party stated that Guyanese will be affected even more in the employment network if such issues persist. Already, thousands of jobs have been lost and youths continue to face difficulties in gaining employment.
“That this is the position of Guyana’s Finance Minister – effectively supporting the displacement of Guyanese from the job market, at a time when Guyana has recorded 30,000 jobs lost in the last four years – is unacceptable.”
The party called on the relevant authorities to treat this trend with the importance it commands.
Concerns were also raised about reports that foreign nationals are being issued with Guyanese documents, allowing them to be registered as eligible Guyanese voters in the ongoing House-to-House Registration.
The PPP’s document added, “Further, the party is primarily worried that these foreign nationals are being issued with Guyanese documents, which would allow them to be registered as eligible Guyanese voters in the ongoing House-to-House Registration being done by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The plan afoot seems to be one that envisages the padding of the voters’ list with fictitious persons.”
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has demonstrated worry over these issues repeatedly. The party reiterated calls for President David Granger to address the matter as one of importance and urgency, holding responsible agencies into account.
“The People’s Progressive Party firmly believes that Minister Felix is neck-deep in this matter and is complicit by his refusal to investigate this matter. One may wonder why this Minister is so vociferous in denying this racket, which is so patently obvious. The PPP is not convinced that the Minister is so obtuse. We believe that he knows who the facilitators are, including those in his Department of Citizenship. Minister Felix must be held accountable for what is happening,” the party said in a strongly-worded statement.
The party reiterated its call for a full-fledged investigation into the matter and also called on President David Granger to abandon his usual posture of silence in the face of the scandals embroiling his Administration and address this matter with urgency.
“…The magnitude of this operation has to involve the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Immigration Department, the Guyana Registrar’s Office and the airline; these must come clean on the worrying state of affairs,” the party said.