August 9 2019
President David Granger has described claims that Haitians are being used to pad the National Register of Registrants Database as “incredible”.
“Opposition leaders tend to oppose but there is no credibility to the claim,” he said during a press briefing yesterday at the Ministry of the Presidency on matters related to the Guyana Elections Commission.
According to the Head of State, Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix has stated government’s interpretation of the issue which is that many Haitians are heading for alternative destinations.
“They are not interested in staying here,” he stressed, adding that his government is concerned about protecting the sovereignty and integrity of Guyana and therefore making sure this country is not used as “a conduit for illegal migration”.
“We already have thousands of Venezuelan migrants in the country, we are concerned about that. We know of the influx of Cubans and suddenly there seems to be a great concern about the influx of Haitians and my understanding is that they are not involved in influencing the elections in Guyana, nor will the Cubans, nor will the Venezuelans”, Granger stated.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has continued to claim without evidence that Haitians and other foreigners are being provided with fake documents to facilitate their registration during the current House-to-House process.
On Monday, Felix said that the police have found no evidence of smuggling of Haitians and he called recent reportage on this matter “xenophobic”.
In an interview with the press unit of the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP), Felix condemned as inaccurate and deceptive, information published in both the Kaieteur News and Guyana Times about the arrival and departure of Haitian travellers here.
The articles, he said, have alleged that Haitians are being smuggled, are victims of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and that there are levels of collusion to have the Haitians registered to vote at the upcoming General and Regional Elections (GRE). “These are xenophobic”, Felix said in the MoTP interview.
Felix said during the January and July 2019 period, 8,476 Haitians arrived in Guyana and 1,170 departed the country. Forty-eight were refused leave to enter on landing, he added.
While Stabroek News has been informed that the migrants were “coming legally and going out legally at Lethem”, Felix’s figures would suggest that there was no record of the Haitians leaving via Lethem legally or that these records have not yet been reconciled.
Felix said in the interview that in 2019 there was a legislative adjustment to Schedule II of the Immigration Act, Cap. 14:02, to include Haiti as a beneficiary to the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME), which facilitates free movement within the Region and automatic entry and stay of six months in CARICOM countries.
“This position resembles xenophobia and is even practised by certain people in power. I cannot see why a CARICOM state, which has now gotten CSME status can be so vilified for passing through Guyana. They are just passing through and yet they are attracting all the negative thoughts and actions of people who are seeking power. We have 8,476 Haitians arriving in Guyana but for example, we have 11,119 Trinidadians also arriving for the same period and no one is making a noise about that but everyone is making noise about the Haitians who simply use Guyana as a point of transit to get to their diaspora in Colombia, Cayenne or Panama,” the Minister said.