By Bibi Khatoon
Six Guyanese men, who are imprisoned in Venezuela since August 2019, are pleading for assistance from local authorities to return home.
“Every day I am begging the Guyanese government for assistance because in Venezuela here, they don’t even give you food, they just lock you away,” 38-year-old Omar Mohamed, a mechanical engineer, told the News Room on Tuesday.
“All we need is assistance from the government to get somebody to look into our situation, send somebody from the embassy to come here and take a look at the condition and even try to take us into their custody or get us out on the street on bail or something.
“Even deported; it don’t matter, all we need is to return home to our families,” he pleaded.
Mohamed, along with five other Guyanese men – Parmanand Sookhoo, Jerry Khan, Imtiaz Khan, Raymond Emanuel and Kamta Boodram –were all employed with C & C Solutions Guyana Inc.; the company supplies fuel to the fisheries sector in Guyana and Suriname.
Mohamed, who previously resided at Herstelling, East Bank Demerara (EBD), explained that he and his colleagues departed Guyana’s shore on August 23, 2019, on a vessel named ‘the MV Wanderer’; five days later, they were intercepted by the Venezuelan Coast Guards. The vessel was captained by a Venezuelan national.
Within one week, the men, including the Venezuelan national, were charged with the extraction of combustible, association with organised crime and transporting contraband; they were remanded to a prison facility on Margarita Island.
“They told us that we’re doing illegal activity with the vessel, but we had clearance and everything that we leave Guyana legally,” Mohamed said, as he maintained that they are innocent.
The company Mohamed and the men worked for paid US$65,000 to a lawyer to help with the case but, according to Mohamed, the lawyer took the cash without providing any help to them.
A second lawyer was hired and as a result, the first two charges against Mohamed and his colleagues were dropped. Mohamed told the News Room that it is difficult to survive in the foreign country since they are hardly fed and are even running out of clothes; they have been incarcerated for 15 months.
“There is a lot of exploitation here…they don’t give you food, they just lock you away. The only time they take you out is if you sick or you’re about to die or if you’re about to go to court.
“Water to drink, you have to buy it; if you don’t have money, you have to go thirsty. Water to take a shower, you have to purchase and we’ve been sitting here for 15 months,” the Guyanese national said.
Mohamed and the others are separated; the youngest is 28-years-old and they are all the main breadwinners for their families in Guyana.
When contacted by the News Room, Managing Director of C & C Solutions Guyana Inc., Surinder Etwaroo, said the company, along with family members, are forced to send a total of US$1,000 every month to assist the men.
Mohamed’s father, 68-year-old Fazal Mohamed, said with his only son locked away in a foreign territory, he has become the main breadwinner. In addition to paying GY$40,000 in rent per month and his medical bills, the senior Mohamed has to find US$200 per month to send to his son.
“I am a heart case and it is pressure on me. That is me only son… and I got to hustle all around to find that money,” Fazal told the News Room via a telephone interview Tuesday.
He said his wife is trying to source additional funds to send to Venezuela so that Mohamed can purchase clothing.
The incarcerated men said they reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2019 on numerous occasions along with the Guyanese embassy in Venezuela and several other persons but they have not been able to get any help.