Over 1000 Guyanese join People’s Militia
By Bibi Khatoon
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon today reported to the National Assembly that a total of 1,608 persons were recruited to the Guyana People’s Militia over the last two years.
He was at the time responding to questions posed by Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira who also alleged that APNU+AFC operatives are being recruited as well.
Teixeira requested information on the recruitment process used for the People’s Militia, the number of persons recruited in each region and the types of training administered.
Harmon in his response said persons between the ages 18-35 who are physically and mentally stable are recruited by teams deployed to the various regions.
Harmon disclosed that 36 persons have been recruited in Region One (Barima-Waini), 154 from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), 365 from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), 204 from Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), 405 from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), 93 from Region Seven (Cuyuni- Mazaruni), 42 from Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), 45 from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and 264 from Region Ten (Upper Demerara- Berbice).
Each person receives $2,829 for days which they are required to attend events or do some sort of activity, the Minister said.
However, Teixeira alleged that the persons recruited have political ties. She pointed to Region Two, which is predominantly made up of supporters of the People’s Progressive Party and who are not part of the People’s Militia while Regions Four and Ten make up the majority of the recruits.
“It appears to me as if the political party in power seems to be assisting rather aggressively with the recruitment…is the political party in office using their political apparatus to mobilize people as was done pre 1992?” Teixeira questioned.
The Minister denied this claim but said preference is given to highly skilled and retired military personnel.
“I said that this was a voluntary process and that there is a whole range of advertisements that went out, people responded, there was no coercion that actually went out there to bring people in,” the State Minister told the National Assembly.
He emphasized the need for Militia units in the border regions with Venezuela.
The Guyana People’s Militia was re-established in January 2016 after an 18-year hiatus.
The body was first created in 1976 during a period of heightened tension along the Guyana-Venezuela border.