Home Editorial Venezuela food crisis stark reminder of Guyana’s past
The long food lines, the stark hunger etched in hopeless faces staring at a future difficult to contemplate is a graphic portrayal of Guyanese in past times, but this time these faces are Venezuelan.
Guyanese fled similar circumstances in Guyana to carve a niche for themselves in a more prosperous neighbouring country, only to face such survival desolation in their adopted homeland decades later.
Venezuela’s contracting economy and the consequential degeneration of the quality of life in that country, to the extent that one of the most basic survival needs – food, has become difficult, almost impossible, to obtain, has brought Guyanese who migrated to that country to the point of making hard choices.
Leaving one’s home in which one has invested years of endeavour to attempt to create survival regimes in another country is a very difficult proposition. It happened to Guyanese when they became refugees fleeing to other countries to escape the oppression of the PNC era in government.
For those who fled to neighbouring Venezuela, Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Cheryl Miles, at the conclusion of a heads of missions conference held recently at the Pegasus Hotel, painted a harsh picture, where Guyanese living in Venezuela are turning to their original homeland for succour from their current plight.
Approximately 250,000 Guyanese are currently domiciled in Venezuela, according to Miles, with many of them trying to ride out the crisis, because many of them have no links remaining in the place of their birth.
However, some are finding the food crisis and socio-political upheaval difficult to cope with and are seriously considering returning home to Guyana.
However, there are many hindrances to reintegration into a Guyanese society, mainly because of the difficulties their children, many of them born and raised in a Spanish-speaking country, would face in an Anglophile school environment.
At present, there is a thriving cross-border trading in goods for food, with Guyanese resident in Venezuela, as well as Venezuelans, trading and/or selling their precious household items to Guyanese in bordering communities, dirt-cheap, for food.
The depreciation of Venezuela’s economy is projected to worsen with the plummeting oil revenues, Venezuela’s only solid export and foreign currency earner.
Many Guyanese have already returned, but even Guyana’s economy is contracting under another PNC-led regime and, except for gold, all sectors of the country that were main foreign currency earners are slowly being killed, with the expectation by Government that oil would replace them.
Guyana is no bed of roses anymore, and there is a constriction of its fiscal spaces, to the extent where even welfare services, health services, education, et al, are once again being negatively impacted, with punitive tax regimes imposed on an already overburdened public, so it would present great difficulty for the country to absorb refugees on any great scale, because even resident Guyanese are finding difficulty in surviving the current social impacts of the punitive policies of the coalition Government.
Given the current trends and signs, one can envisage the return of this country to a time and place where the most basic survival items, especially food, was difficult to acquire, but this time, with Venezuela’s economy unable to withstand another influx of Guyanese refugees, where would Guyanese refugees run?