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By Mark DaCosta- On October 6, Village Voice News (VVN) published an article captioned, “Gov’t must clarify its policy position on Venezuelan migrants.” Unsolicited and later, requested feedback on the contents of that article have been interesting.
Of particular interest to many Guyanese is a statement by National Security Adviser Gerry Gouveia. The national security adviser has 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 on Guyana’s Essequibo region.
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.”
According to some estimates, up to 60,000 Venezuelan nationals may currently be present in Guyana.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the majority of those migrants reside in Barima-Waini, Region # 1. The population of Guyanese in Region # 1 is some 27,000. One Guyanese wondered if Venezuelans now outnumber Guyanese in that region.
Yet another Guyanese, who has a military and political background, spoke of the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) apparent naïve and “simple-minded” attitude to the influx of Venezuelans. He said that he would be absolutely shocked if Venezuela had not already taken advantage of the PPP regime’s childish and innocent policy of open arms, and introduced intelligence gathering agents as well as sleeper units into Guyana.
Such units could be activated at Venezuela’s will. The gentleman said too, that considering the current geopolitical climate, Venezuela may feel emboldened by President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and try a similar move against Guyana. Particularly, he said, because the world is busy and totally focused on the escalating situation in Europe.
The probability of Vladimir Putin’s actions emboldening Venezuela was also raised by Paul J. Angelo, the fellow for Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Wazim Mowla, the assistant director for the Caribbean Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. The matter was highlighted in an article entitled, “Another Conflict Is Brewing in the Caribbean — Russia’s war in Ukraine stirs Venezuela’s dreams of conquest in oil-rich Guyana.”
While some Guyanese have expressed the view that the PPP knows exactly what it is doing, and the admission of Venezuelan nationals may be related to electoral and voting plans by the PPP, citizens to whom this publican spoke appear to be more concerned about Guyana’s security. One man said to this publication, “As it is, with the amount of [Venezuelans] now in Guyana, [Venezuela’s president] Maduro could probably take Essequibo without one shot fired.”