“NO WORK and no water!” cried 14 Venezuelans on Monday when they appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, charged with entering Guyana illegally by sea on July 20 at Eteringbang, Cuyuni River; and disembarking without presenting themselves to an immigration officer.Speaking through an interpreter, the foreign nationals — five women and nine men — pleaded guilty to the charges while explaining to the court that they had come to Guyana for betterment, because of the economic crisis in their country.
The nine men — all miners, ranging in age from 20 years to 42 years — are: Gabriel Cheverria, Richard Delgado, Edgar Castillo, Leonardo Liendro, Jose Sudero, Dannys Diaz, David Rengel, Jesus Figueria and Ramon Rodriquez.
The five women, aged from 22 to 30 and all single mothers of two or more children, are: Kisriana Garcia, Helle Burgos, Yecser Toledo, Erik Maza and Yineurys Lara.
Unrepresented by legal counsel, they told the court that they had ventured into Guyana because they had no other alternative; since there was no food, job, or clean water in their country.
“Guyanese come over into our country and work freely, so we tried the same thing,” 26-year-old Yineurys Lara, a single mother of three, told the court with the aid of a translator.
The men stressed that they had come to Guyana to “try their luck” seeking work, to send money back home for their families.
They were each fined $10,000, in default of paying which they would be sentenced to six days’ imprisonment. They were ordered to be kept in police custody until they reached the nearest port of exit, from where they would be deported.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had in May, during an interview with the Guyana Chronicle at the Georgetown Club, noted Guyana’s willingness to extend a hand to neighbouring Venezuela. With this situation at hand, Minister Greenidge was keen to note that Guyana is concerned with what has been transpiring within her neighbour to the west. This concern, he told this publication, extends to the point where Guyana would try to ensure that it does not contribute to the problems, including through making comments which are inimical to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Mr. Greenidge was of the view that Guyanese would, if they deemed it necessary, try to provide humanitarian or other assistance to Venezuela.
Given the unfolding crisis, some Guyanese “clearly may come (home); and if they decide to, we (Guyana) have an obligation to accommodate them. If a crisis is announced on the other side, we will do what a good neighbour is obliged to do — which is to help them,” the Foreign Affairs Minister had said.
He did not share the view that there was likely to be an influx of Venezuelans here due to the ongoing crisis, and had contended that the Government of Venezuela had the capacity to control movement of its people.
The Venezuelan economy has, over the last three years, been on a downturn, and that country’s political opposition has contended that this has resulted from the poor policies implemented by the Nicolas Maduro-led Administration.