Guyana’s President, Dr Irfaan Ali is assuring his people that “robust” systems are in place to identify possible disguised Venezuelan militants among migrants as the two South American countries remain locked in a border controversy.
During a press conference on Saturday, the Guyanese Leader noted that the implantation of Venezuelan soldiers in migrants’ groups is a concern that his government shares, but nevertheless, said that Guyanese law enforcement agencies are pulling out all the stops in their vetting process at the border. He, however, acknowledged the imperfection of these processes and stressed the importance of intelligence gathering.
“The possibility of that is a concern to us, but we’ve had a very robust system in as far as possible in monitoring those who are entering. There can be cracks, but we are also using a lot of intelligence gathering to find out and to have a constant flow of information in relation to this. But that is something that we are monitoring – domain awareness and understanding who is coming across the border,” Ali said.
He revealed that a Venezuelan migrant – who was suspected of being “someone of interest” – was intercepted and questioned on Saturday morning. Preliminary investigations have revealed that the individual is a Venezuelan Community Policing Officer and not someone attached to the Venezuelan military. President Ali used this interception to reinforce his commentary on the “robust” work being done on vetting incoming Venezuelans.
More than 20,000 Venezuelans fleeing economic crisis are in Guyana, with droves reportedly arriving weekly leading to mounting concerns about the possibility of ‘fifth columnists” in communities across the country. This has led to some amount of unease among the Guyanese population, forcing Guyanese leaders to caution their people to act humanely and to treat these migrants – some of whom are returning Guyanese – with respect and dignity.
Many of these migrants have taken refuge in Guyana’s hinterland regions close to the border. Even in the nation’s capital, the Venezuelan presence in established with many being absorbed by the local workforce, with a few partaking in entrepreneurial endeavours. Throughout the coastland, the Venezuelan presence is becoming more pronounced with hundreds taking up residence in the West Demerara area.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Government remains steadfast in executing its referendum on December 3, that will determine the possible seizing of the Essequibo – two-thirds of Guyana’s territory – and the planned conversion of Guyanese living there to “Venezuelans” with the provision of supporting Venezuelan documents of citizenship.
Guyana has already appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for interventions aimed at blocking a Venezuelan intrusion and the possible seizing of the Essequibo. However, the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro has long aired his disenchantment with the ICJ and his refusal to acknowledge the court as the appropriate entity to end the deadlock. The Venezuelan strongman prefers the appointment of a United Nations (UN) “Good Officer” to end the controversy, although the method has failed abysmally for more than 25 years to accomplish that singular objective.
President Irfaan Ali also emphasized that his government’s concerted efforts, both domestically and internationally, are yielding positive results and strengthening Guyana’s relationships with its partners. He noted that there has been “unwavering” commitment from the international community.
He underscored the commitment to keeping these partners well-informed about every aspect of the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy. The ongoing engagement, both regionally and globally, involves a proactive communication strategy and the exchange of information.
The Chief of the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) is collaborating with counterparts within and beyond the region, and these efforts are progressing rapidly and continuously. President Ali has personally engaged with leaders worldwide, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the situation.