Guyanese warned of security risks when crossing Guyana/Venezuela border

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By Devina Samaroo

Observing that law enforcement at the border with Venezuela is “very weak”, Major General (Retired) Joseph Singh has warned Guyanese to be cautious when crossing the frontier in search of work or for other purposes.

“I don’t believe that the Venezuelans are paying as much attention on what is happening on the eastern side, they are more concerned about what is happening in Caracas and the urban centers.

“So, the law enforcement on that eastern Venezuelan frontier bordering our western frontier is very weak,” the security expert stated during a public conversation on Guyana’s borders on Thursday evening (February 01, 2018) held at the Theatre Guild.

The event was organised by the University of Guyana and forms part of a series of public discussions on various issues impacting the country.

Singh, a former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), was at the time responding to a participant’s question on what can be done to ensure tighter security at the borders in light of the recent killing of a Guyanese miner purportedly by the Sindicato gang of Venezuela.

He explained, however, that there is little Guyana can do except to stay alert and to caution the people.

L-R: Ambassadors Keith George and Cedric Joseph and Major General (Retired), Joe Singh

“We have little control over the mining area except to ensure these reports are acted upon and they are publicized… there is little we can do except to warn people to be very conscious of securities at risk when crossing the border,” he stated.

Singh acknowledged that there are a lot of entry and exit points along the border for people of both nationalities as he underscored the importance of keeping a consistent watch on those areas.

“The people who are crossing the frontier are a source of information and they can identify where the entry points are and exit points [are]. Those are areas we need to keep under constant scrutiny,” the former Chief of Staff explained.

In an earlier presentation on the border controversy with Venezuela, Singh expressed hope that Guyana’s western neighbour does not take actions to compromise the country’s security.

He made reference to the controversy being referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and stated: “what I hope is that however long this process takes at the ICJ, that there is some clear commitment that Venezuela will neither compromise our security nor inhibit Guyana’s development.”

In his presentation as one of the guest panelists, Singh also touched on the social ramifications of the legal issue deriving from the territorial claims and explained that there are a lot of Guyanese who stand to be affected.

He recalled that in 1993, there were 50,000 Guyanese living in Delta Amacuro, Venezuela. Those numbers have likely increased over the years as there are now third generations residing there.

On the converse, Singh noted that there are a lot of Venezuelans living in Guyana – many in recent times would have fled the harsh conditions of their country.

In addition to the issue with Venezuela, the event saw presentations on the border controversy with Suriname over the New River Triangle. The other panelists were Ambassadors Keith George and Cedric Joseph.

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