Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix today, rubbished as “utter nonsense” the opposition’s insinuation that some 20,000 foreign nationals, mainly Haitians and Cubans, are being granted citizenship to vote in the 2020 General Elections.
The Minister was speaking on the sidelines of the 89th Sitting of the National Assembly. He said it is suspected that those foreign nationals unaccounted for may have left the country illegally through the country’s vast and porous borders.
“For years we have been battling to close down the eastern border, which we have been unsuccessful…unfortunately, while we can operate on the land, it is not so easy to operate on the Corentyne River,” the Minister noted.
Navigational challenges compounded by jurisdictional issues also hinder security forces from tracking down boats transporting those persons leaving the country through illegal exits.
Minister Felix said that Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, as a former Minister of Home Affairs, is aware of the failed attempt, in the 1990s, by the security forces when they embarked on shutting down the illegal entry and exit points in the East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six).
The Citizenship Minister described Teixeira’s comments as irresponsible and an attempt to create unease among Guyanese. Cognisant of his role, Minister Felix added he will appear before the Foreign Relations Committee and advance these arguments.
That operation, Minister Felix, a former Police Commissioner of the Guyana Police Force, reminded resulted in a death following a protest. Haitians, he noted, have traditionally transited in Guyana en route to French Guiana, “they are basically people who have been fleeing years and years of natural disasters.”
Further, Minister Felix further added that soon Guyana will have to follow in Barbados’ footsteps of removing the Visa requirement for Haitians to enter Guyana.
By: Stacy Carmichael.