Guyana/Brazil crossing to remain closed; Gov’t says safety of citizens is priority
Despite protest action by members of the communities at the borders of Guyana and Brazil against the closure of the crossing, the Guyana Government on Saturday said the crossing will remain closed.
The current arrangement that has been in place for more than a year restricts the movement of goods and people to one day per week. But persons have complained that it has severely impacted commerce in the area.
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said a meeting was held between members of the Guyana Government and authorities of the State of Roraima in Boa Vista, Brazil on Friday.
Brazil is among the countries with the highest COVID-19 infection rates and deaths in the world.
See full statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation below:
At the request of the Government of Guyana, a meeting was held with His Excellency Antonio Oliverio García de Almeida, Governor of the State of Roraima in Boa Vista, Brazil on September 17, 2021.
Guyana’s delegation comprised the Honourable Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Health and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Honourable Dr. Ashni Singh, Senior Minister in the Office of the President responsible for Finance and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the National Covid-19 Task Force.
The purpose of the meeting was to address the blockade of the border on the Brazil side by certain members of the Lethem and Bonfim communities. From the outset the Governor and State Representatives of Roraima and Guyana’s Ministers of Government highlighted the importance both Brazil and Guyana’s governments attach to the bilateral relationship.
Minister Frank Anthony expressed his understanding of the position of the members of the communities for an opening up of the border to allow for the movement of commerce and people. He noted that the arrangement put in place to restrict the movement of goods to one day per week had worked satisfactorily over the past year.
Minister Anthony pointed out that while it was Guyana’s desire to have the border between the two countries opened as quickly as possible, this had to be done safely given the continuing rise in Covid-19 cases and the threat of the spread of the Delta variant across the communities. This situation was compounded by the unfortunate position being taken by some persons in Guyana not to be vaccinated.
He highlighted that one possible solution is for all persons transiting the border to be fully vaccinated and produce a negative PCR test. Both sides will further discuss this.
Minister Ashni Singh underscored the special relationship between Guyana and Brazil and, in particular, the longstanding friendship enjoyed by Guyana with the State of Roraima. He stated that the economic destinies of Guyana and Roraima are very closely tied to each other. He reviewed the interest of both countries in further developing the relations, in particular strengthening commercial ties, partnering to finalise the Lethem-Linden road link, and exploring enhanced cooperation in the energy, agriculture, health and tourism sectors.
He also offered to facilitate a meeting between the private sector of Guyana and of the State of Roraima as a means of exploring business opportunities by both sides, at an appropriate time.
Minister Singh reiterated the strong commitment of the Government of Guyana to continue working to overcome the short-term challenges posed by Covid-19, and to closer collaboration with the Government of Brazil to secure the best interests of the people of both countries.
It was agreed that early discussions would be held with counterparts of the various sectors, as well as to convene a meeting to review the full implementation of the International Road Transport Agreement for Passengers and Goods and a meeting of the Frontier Committee responsible for monitoring the development and integration of the two border communities.
The Government of Guyana wishes to state categorically that it will not put citizens of any country at risk during this pandemic and, as a result, will continue to enforce measures in keeping with national and international protocols. The Government further encourages all citizens and the private sector to support these initiatives.