Former President David Granger has warned that the massive influx of Venezuelan migrants, especially in Region One (Barima-Waini) is posing serious demographic, economic, and strategic challenges to Guyana.
Appearing on his weekly Friday programme – The Public Interest – Granger said that the estimated 36,000 Venezuelan migrants in the country as a whole outnumber Guyanese residents in Region One which has a population of only 26, 000.
The former President explained that the migration problem has become a headache for officials, noting that Guyana shares a thinly-populated, 800 km border with Venezuela which has been a zone of banditry, crime, incursions, occupation, overflights, and harassment.
Granger bemoaned the PPP administration’s decision to dismantle the Department of Citizenship which was established in 2015 to manage migration from Venezuela. He said that dismantling this Department at a time when Guyana has become a destination for thousands of Venezuelan migrants was an “unintelligent policy”.
The former President believes that the PPP administration adopted a markedly different approach to dealing with Venezuelan migrants compared to the treatment meted out to Haitian migrants.
He pointed, specifically, to the creation of a small unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, official visits to Anna Regina in Region Two (Pomeroon Supenaam), and the grant of generous concessions, including the waiver of customs duties, to re-migrants.
Granger recalled that a senior PPP official described Venezuelan migration as “atrocious” in 2019 but, after seeing the PPP’s results in Region One in the General and Regional Elections in 2020, the migrants and re-migrants were deemed to be welcome by 2021.
The former President noted that local residents resented the Venezuelan intrusion. He believes that that the PPP administration should explain, publicly, how it intends to manage the mounting agricultural, educational, occupational, cultural, health, housing, and legal problems which such massive migration spawned.