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It is true Guyana’s vast borders are porous and there is paucity of resources, people, military hardware, etc., to effectively carry out meaningful security. It is equally true that the Government of Guyana, since independence, has been having difficulty policing the borders to prevent unlawful entry and abuse of Guyanese by foreigners. The recognition of these are known to Guyanese, the governments and people of bordering states. Some governments may take advantage of this as seen in Venezuela’s continuous unprovoked aggression towards Guyana. Foreign criminal gangs are taking advantage of the porosity to enter Guyana and are threatening, harassing, abusing and robbing Guyanese.
Understanding of the aforesaid would help Guyanese to better appreciate why the Forbes Burnham government sought to manage these challenges by seeking to populate the interior regions and had established Guyana National Service (GNS) in 1971 which was disbanded since 2000. At least 90 percent of Guyana’s population live on the narrow coastal strip and the interior/hinterland, where our Indigenous people inhabit, has in large part remained underpopulated.
The mining and logging businesses in the interior have not been sufficient to create sizable and permanent population and communities given their itinerary nature. When the resources in the areas are depleted or businesses face financial problems they shutter and people move on. In the case of the GNS, it was established to be different through permanency and crop cultivation.
Those criminal gangs are becoming more emboldened. News that the Joint Services were in the Baramita area, Region One, recently looking at the possibility to establish a base, though welcoming, exposes the travesty of Guyana’s politics. Were the GNS still existing, those gangs would not have been roaming free, robbing and taking advantage of Guyanese. Creating a Joint Services base would be reinvesting the wheel when it should have never been.
It remains a painful travesty to Guyana’s development and security when politics is not driven by common purpose but triumphalism and erasing of predecessors’ policies because that president was not from your party or there has been personal disagreement. The complete dismantling of the GNS is one such problem. Those GNS centres, such as in Kimbia and Paypaya, not only helped to maintain an interior security presence, given the institution’s paramilitary nature, but helped in the populating of the area with the establishment of new and permanent communities. With these communities it meant the hinterland would be more populated by Guyanese who through civic duty would help in guarding Guyana. But it is not too late for the Government to reestablish national service centres to support the Joint Services’ efforts to better police the interior and offer Guyanese needed security from foreign criminal gangs.