No agreement reached on reopening of Guyana, Brazil border
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Prime Minister performing functions of President of Guyana, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips
Prime Minister performing functions of President of Guyana, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips

–authorities remain engaged in bringing resolution to existing issues, says Prime Minister Phillips

IN response to “patently false” reports circulating on social media, Prime Minister performing functions of President of Guyana, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips has said that there is no agreement on the reopening of the Guyana and Brazil border crossing.

According to a statement from Prime Minister Phillips, the information being circulated on social media seems to suggest that the Lethem/Bonfim border crossing has been reopened. However, the Prime Minister related that those reports are “patently false”.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, who is performing the duties of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, led a delegation to meet with Antonio Oliverio García de Almeida, Governor of the State of Roraima in Boa Vista, Brazil.

According to a press statement issued by Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Friday’s engagement, initiated by Dr. Anthony and his team, was intended to address the protests and blockade on the Brazil side of the border “by certain members of the Lethem and Bonfim communities”.

“Despite Ministers of the Government of Guyana holding talks with the Governor of the State of Roraima on September 17, 2021, no agreement has been reached on the reopening of the border crossing,” Prime Minister Phillips confirmed.

He went on to say: “I wish to assure residents of Region Nine and others who depend on the border crossing being opened for their livelihoods, both parties on either side of the border remain fully engaged in bringing a resolution to the issue, as soon as it is safe and reasonable to do so.”

Minister Anthony had said he understands the position of the members of both communities, who have been advocating for a full reopening of the border to allow for the movement of commerce and people.

Notwithstanding the challenges, Dr. Anthony pointed to the fact that the arrangement put in place to restrict the movement of goods to one day per week worked satisfactorily over the past year, and as such the border will remain closed until further notice.

He noted that although it was Guyana’s desire to have the border between the two countries opened as quickly as possible, this had to be done safely, given the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases here, and the threat of the spread of the Delta variant across the communities.

“This situation was compounded by the unfortunate position being taken by some persons in Guyana not to be vaccinated,” Dr. Anthony conceded. The Health Minister said that ensuring the safety of citizens remains a priority.

He also said, pointedly, that the Government of Guyana “will not put citizens of any country at risk during this pandemic, and, as a result, will continue to enforce measures, in keeping with national and international protocols. The government further encourages all citizens and the private sector to support these initiatives.”

The border with Brazil has been closed for more than a year. As it is, Brazil has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the world, with 21.1 million cases, and 590,000 deaths.

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