Following criticism over attempts to deport a number of Haitians who came into Guyana but committed various immigration offences, Attorney General Anil Nandlall has made it clear that there is no discrimination involved but rather, a Government grappling with immigrants abusing Guyana as a transit point.
In an interview with Trinidad’s morning edition, Nandlall made it clear that the Haitians are by no means a unique situation as they are also dealing with thousands of Cubans who are aiming to use Guyana as a transit point to the United States.
“Currently we are dealing with a situation where it is believed, that there is a movement to assemble some 10,000 Cubans on Guyana’s soil before the end of December, to converge on the US embassy in Georgetown and/or to join a caravan that will go over to Brazil on its way to Mexico.”
“We have a thousand or more assembled at the borders of Suriname, attempting to cross illegally. We have a complaint from the Brazilian Government to say that Guyana is being used as a transhipment point for people smuggling into Brazil. And we are being blamed for this. We are not an island. We are a mainland. And we have extraordinarily wide borders that are almost impossible to monitor and police.”
Nandlall also noted that the Government has treaty obligations it has to ensure Guyana abides by. According to him, those obligations are at risk because, in the case of the Haitians, they do not have the capacity to hold them in Guyana and persons in the group have also been found to have lied to the authorities.
“The 26 Haitians for example. We simply don’t have the physical capacity to keep persons, among them persons who are here with two children and they are pretending to be the parents of those two children. They have conceded that to the authorities. The parents of these children are somewhere in French Guiana. But these people are said to be en route to Brazil.”
“You have children smuggling involved here, children being exported to be used as sex slaves internationally. You have people smuggling. This thing is extremely complex and this simplistic interpretation of it is quite unfortunate and leads to these assertions,” Nandlall said.
When it comes to the Cubans, the Cuban Embassy in Georgetown sent out a diplomatic note in which it pledged the assistance of the Cuban Government in ensuring that its citizens stop using Guyana as an irregular transit point. The embassy noted that in many cases, these Cuban citizens are vulnerable to human traffickers.
“As we have stated during the migration rounds held in the past, we reiterate Cuba’s willingness to receive all Cuban migrants who are today in Guyana in an irregular condition, and who wish to return, in accordance with those established in Cuban legislation. In these cases, the proper consular assistance and guarantees for a voluntary and safe return will be provided,” the statement said.
“The Cuban Government ratifies its willingness to continue working with the Guyanese immigration authorities, with the aim of implementing effective working mechanisms, in order to prevent Cuban citizens from continuing to use Guyanese territory as a space for irregular transit to the United States or other countries.”
Over the past few days, there has been a buildup of Cubans at Nickerie near the Suriname border, who were unable to cross into Guyana following the Government’s decision to postpone the resumption of the Guyana-Suriname ferry service and the cancellation of the Moleson Creek crossing.