If Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has evidence that the David Granger-led administration is involved in trafficking in persons, then he should take it to the Commissioner of Police, says Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix.
Felix’s utterance comes after over a year of constant allegations by Jagdeo. On a number of occasions, the Opposition Leader has accused the government of smuggling persons into the country to bloat the ruling party’s support base. He accused Felix’s ministry of facilitating the “people smuggling ring”.
Minister Felix told media operatives yesterday that there is no such thing occurring. He described the Opposition Leader as being disingenuous, saying that the former Head of State is trying to mislead the populace.
“This coalition government has not been involved in any people smuggling ring. As a matter of fact, we have regularised and put proper systems in place to ensure that immigration matters are dealt with in an efficient manner from passports to birth certificates to persons entering and leaving Guyana legally.
The Leader of the Opposition and his former Chief Whip have been trying to create issues around immigration matters and pointing at the Ministry of the Presidency. We have not found any evidence of smuggling so Mr Jagdeo’s reference to smuggling is quite disingenuous. The [Guyana Police Force] is the agency that must investigate smuggling, not the Department of Citizenship so if Mr Jagdeo has evidence of smuggling, he must take it to the Commissioner of Police,” he said.
Minister Felix noted too that the Opposition Leader has a tendency of identifying Haitians when he makes his spurious allegations and while questions must be raised as to why this particular group is always targeted, the Minister assures Guyanese that most of the persons travelling to Guyana enter and leave legally. He, however, noted that like any other country, there are a selected few who choose to take advantage of the country’s porous borders.
“I have been looking at this situation and what I have seen is that within Guyana there is a Haitian diaspora just as in Suriname, Cayenne, Brazil and Colombia and with the issues occurring in Haiti, they continue to leave their homeland and to seek refuge in countries where they have relatives and friends. In many cases, they use Guyana as a transit point. I have had cause to investigate Haitians in Guyana and I have found that they arrive here legally.
Many of them are here legally but there is a number who take advantage of our porous borders and they exit via Guyana to Suriname to Cayenne, and in more recent times, through Brazil on their way to Venezuela and Colombia,” he said.