Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
By Mark DaCosta- October 3, 2022, marked the 123rd anniversary of the Arbitral Award of Paris that fixed the boundary between Venezuela and what was then British Guiana. Venezuela accepted the decision. However, in 1962, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela declared that it would no longer abide by that decision; Venezuela asserts that Guyana’s Essequibo Region is Venezuela’s territory. The matter is currently before the International Court of Justice. Most recently, Venezuela has intensified its assertion. Guyana’s position has remained unchanged over the years. Guyana views the arbitral decision of 1899 as final, as such, there is no “dispute,” and Venezuela’s claim is unfounded.
Meanwhile, since 2014, about 6.8 million Venezuelans have left their homeland owing to an economic crisis in that country. Currently, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some 30,000 of those migrants are known to reside in Guyana. Other observer agencies placed the number of Venezuelan migrants in Guyana at up to 60,000.
In July of this year, National Security Adviser Gerry Gouveia spoke at a security forum that was held by the American Chamber of Commerce-Guyana. At that forum, Mr. Gouveia expressed concern about Guyana’s national security situation in light of the huge number of Venezuelans currently living in Guyana within the context of Venezuela’s increasingly strident territorial claims. He said, “You could understand the security dilemma we face that in the [numbers of] migrants could be embedded Venezuelan agents and so this is not something that we don’t appreciate.”
On the other side of the coin, in March, at a gathering of residents at the Charity Secondary School, Region Two, Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo appeared to convey a different position. He said, “Venezuelans who have migrated to Guyana because of the economic hardship in their homeland must be treated with dignity and respect.”
The VP said “[Venezuelans] must be treated as family and should not be discriminated against and all efforts should be made to get [and integrate] the children of the migrants in school.” The apparent mixed messages coming from the officials of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime has been the cause of confusion and concern to many Guyanese who have expressed their bewilderment via social and other media.
While the UNHCR says that the majority of Venezuelan migrants reside in Region # 1, Barima-Waini, this publication notes that the capital city of Georgetown is now home to a huge number of Venezuelans. Spanish speaking Venezuelans may be observed at every part of the capital city.
Notably, many businesses now require prospective employees to be fluent in the Spanish language, and some public service announcements and press releases from State agencies are being conveyed in both the English and Spanish Languages.
Many Guyanese are expressing bewilderment about the situation. The interaction with citizens by this publication on the matter diverse expressions of concerns are shared. Citizens feel they deserve explanation of the Government’s policy position on the matter, as well as a statement from the regime’s of its intended course of action with regard to the influx of Venezuelan nationals.