Migrating Venezuelans must enter legally – Foreign Affairs Minister

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Returning Guyanese and Venezuelans who wish to seek refuge in Guyana are urged to use official ports of entry or face consequences.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge explained that Guyana has taken a stance to assist the thousands who are fleeing worsening social and economic crisis but he contended that they must follow the immigration rules.

“What we have done is to try to ensure that those who seek entry have to establish where they are coming from and that they don’t fall into the category of being problematic and they are required to enter Guyana by its lawful entry points,” Greenidge told reporters at a press conference Monday morning.

He warned, “if you use some point other than a lawful port of entry, the authorities will have something to say about it.”

Greenidge, who also holds the portfolio of the country’s Second Vice President, explained that the region is encouraging countries to avoid deporting individuals who are in pursuit of better lives.

Persons claiming to be Guyanese nationals have also returned from Venezuela but Minister Greenidge asserted that those individuals have to prove their citizenship.

As the economic crisis in Venezuela worsens, Guyana has been an influx of nationals from the neighbouring country, who are seeking shelter in hinterland communities close to the borders.

More than 100 persons have crossed the Guyana/Venezuela border within a day and have settled in Region One (Barima-Waini), many of them, illegally.

The Ministry of Citizenship is said to be working with the Venezuelans and subject Minister Winston Felix is on record saying that the country is trying to “chart a course away from prosecution” for those who enter illegally.

Persons claiming to be Guyanese nationals have also returned from Venezuela but Minister Greenidge asserted that those individuals have to prove their citizenship.

“You can’t just appear on the border and say you are Guyanese and be shooed in,” he posited, noting that failure to support such claims will result in them being treated as non-Guyanese.

If those who are claiming to be Guyanese can prove their nationality, they will be free to move about the country.

On the other hand, failure to do so will result in them having to be registered and treated as an immigrant.

Greenidge further noted that all those returning will be subjected to vaccination in order to protect the health of citizens of Guyana.

If they refuse to be vaccinated, the Minister made it clear that “they will have to leave”.

The Government had announced that a special team to be led by Ms Barbara Haley, Director of the Frontier Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, would be travelling to Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela where an estimated 20,000 Guyanese are said to be living.

But that trip has been delayed due to a number of challenges, including the unavailability of flights to that location.

Meanwhile, Toshaos at bordering communities are struggling to cope with the influx of Venezuelans.

Region One Chairman, Brentnol Ashely has since pleaded with the public to donate items that would useful to those Venezuelans who are arriving in Guyana. Interested persons can contact the Office of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) – Mabaruma Compound on 777- 5029.

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