Desperate Guyanese students in Cuba plead with Gov’t to bring them home

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As the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to rise in Cuba, other groups of Guyanese students have broken their silence on what they believe to be a “cover-up” by the Government to downplay the plight of Guyanese students in that country.

“We know we have to make a sacrifice and that is why we don’t complain when we are without necessities for days. But the situation over the last few weeks has deteriorated tremendously and we are fearful because we know the risks it poses to our lives,” one student said.

“We’re not here to give anyone a bad name. If we did, we would complain about everything. But we desperately need the help and right now we aren’t being offered that help and to top it off, the Government is making it seem like we’re lying.”

Out of fear of personal victimization, the students spoke to the News Room under the condition of anonymity.

“We would like our country to know that we are completely and utterly alone. Our Government has seemingly abandoned us and is lying blatantly to the media about their courses of action and their false face of compassion and for that, we are deeply hurt and angry,” one student said.

Earlier this week, news broke of the Government’s refusal to repatriate more than 70 Guyanese students from Cuba, because of deteriorating conditions in that country due to COVID-19.

Cuba has recorded just over 1,200 cases of COVID-19 – one of the highest in the region.

The students reportedly dispatched an email to the Guyanese authorities in hopes of the latter providing some form of assistance.

However, the Government, through the Department of Public Service, rejected those claims and offered that 80% of students there did not want to return home since the situation there was stable.

But a student described the Department’s claim as a “fallacy,” disclosing that more than 80% of them actually want to return to the safety of their homes at this time.

“It was stated by authorities of the public service ministry that 80% of the students don’t want to return home. This too is a big lie.

“We have a Whatsapp group with 64 of us and I can say definitively that of that amount, 59 said that they wish to return home now because of how bad the situation is here [in Cuba],” the student revealed.

To support their claims about conditions deteriorating in Cuba, the student pointed to an April 20, 2020 online article from ADN Cuba, which revealed that 50 Dominican Doctors were returned home after making a request to their country’s authorities.

According to that article: “…the [Dominican] doctors have been experiencing difficulties in Cuba since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and… they are eager to return to the Dominican Republic to be with their families.”

The whistle-blower further noted that Guyana has been seen by other students in Cuba as a “laughing stock” because of the Government’s attempts to downplay the plight of its students.

“Other students here know that we are not making this up because they facing the difficulties just as we are. So they know how desperate we are in wanting to leave here and some of them have expressed solidarity with us on social media.

“Those who cannot return home at this time, are being taken care of by their governments that are sending supplies and so. For us, it’s nothing. We are braving this alone and to compound it, the Government is lying to make it seem like we have some ulterior motives. Why would we? How would we benefit from that?”

The Public Service Department also claimed that it remains in contact with Guyana’s Student Affairs Officer in Cuba to provide updates on the situation as it develops.

However, a student was keen to note that it was only after it was reported in the media that they wanted to return home that the Student Affairs Officer contacted some of them.

“The first case of COVID-19 was reported here on March 11 and it was not until last week that some students were contacted.

“As a matter of fact, when they were contacted, it was routine, and not to offer any form of assistance.

“Prior to that, we made numerous attempts to contact the embassy here and every one of those attempts proved futile until the media got involved,” the student shared.

The student explained that life in Cuba is generally difficult for them since they lack basic necessities and resources such as water and food. However, it was noted that they try their best to brave these

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