Surge in Cubans and Haitians trafficking through Guyana
June 18, 2018
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — In the past two years there has been a surge in human trafficking via Guyana, especially from Cuba and Haiti, according to a June 13 Sectoral Committee on Foreign Affairs Report chaired by PPP/C member of Parliament, Gail Teixeira, who analysed arrival and departure records that were submitted by minister of citizenship, Winston Felix, at the request of the committee.
According to the Stabroek News of Guyana, which used the figures released by the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, “in the year 2016, 21,165 Cubans arrived and 19,225 left Guyana, a disparity of around 2,000. In 2017, the number was greater, 44,747 Cubans arrived and only 37,492 departed — roughly 7,000 unaccounted for. For this year, the trend continued, as up to April this year 22,520 Cubans had arrived but only 16,350 had been reported as having departed.”
The Stabroek News, also citing the Parliamentary report, claimed that in 2017 3,515 Haitians arrived in Guyana, but only 291 were recorded as having departed.
“Up to April this year, it was much the same: 1,238 had arrived and only 85 had been recorded as having left. These figures are disturbing,” Teixeira remarked.
There is little evidence of Cuban or Haitian settlements in Guyana and those unaccounted for are apparently not in Guyana, allegedly being trafficked out of Guyana to other countries like French Guiana (France/EU), Argentina, Chile, Suriname, the United States, and elsewhere.
Human trafficking is nothing new to Guyana. The country has been on Washington’s radar and will come under pressure from the Trump government to abolish the visa free movement of Haitians and Cubans to Guyana just like Suriname had to do last year.
Teixeira said in a letter to the media, “The annual US TIPs report placed Guyana on the watch list for two years in a row because there were too few cases of human trafficking in 2006-2013, I hope that the US officials will pay more interest to this unusual movement of people.”
Teixeira claimed that Haitians are being trafficked through Guyana, but there appears to be an additional twist to the story. More information is surfacing that, in return for their “safe passage” through Guyana, they are required and are facilitated in obtaining Guyanese identity documents such as birth certificates, national identity cards, with Guyanese names, which are then left in Guyana, after they depart. “For what purpose one may wonder and who is behind this?”
A year ago, a surge of human trafficking from Haiti via Guyana was reported by Caribbean News Now when Suriname abruptly closed its consulate in Port-au-Prince on “security” grounds. Suriname then bowed to international pressure and halted the visa free entrance of Haitians to Suriname. Guyana thus became the destination of choice for Haitians looking to get to French Guiana, the USA and beyond via Suriname. However, numerous reports on the issue in the media did not stem the flow of human trafficking via Guyana, the contrary took place.
In 2017 Guyanese authorities arrested a number of Surinamese involved in the smuggling of 27 Haitians, including 12 children, at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) who were on their way to French Guiana via Suriname. They arrived in Guyana on a Copa Airlines flight from Haiti via Panama, and no one was at the airport to meet them.
According to Guyana’s Kaieteur News, the police believe that the smugglers, after realizing that the investigators were onto them, did not show up at the airport.
From Guyana, it is very easy to get to Suriname and the rest of the Americas illegally through the “backtrack” without the need of a passport. It’s a breeding ground for crime, human trafficking, drugs, weapons, and pirating. The two countries have been examining ways and means of policing the illegal “backtrack” crossing via the Courantyne River that separates the two countries.
The international human trafficking network is complex and includes law enforcement officials from a number of countries far and near like Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Haiti, India, Suriname, Venezuela and the United States. And Guyana and Suriname seem to have little capacity to address the problem.
In total as of April 2018, according to the figures supplied, Table 3 shows the numbers who appear to have not left Guyana:-
These figures reveal that the years 2016 and 2017 show the highest upsurge in numbers of arrivals of several nationalities. Since the minister did not provide any information on those who were denied entry, one assumes that these arrival figures are, in fact, persons who entered Guyana.
Sectoral Committee on Foreign Affairs Report