Jagdeo rubbishes opposition’s claim that Indian nationals are being favoured over Haitians

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has rubbished the contention that the government is giving favourable treatment to Indian nationals when compared to Haitians and persons coming from African countries to Guyana.

The general secretary was on Thursday responding to a claim made by PNC activist Darren Wade, who at the United Nations Forum for the People of African Descent alleged that the government is involved in discrimination against these foreign nationals.

Dr Jagdeo has made it categorically clear that this is not the case, rather it is the intention of the administration to end the issue of trafficking in persons from Guyana to other countries.

“Anybody who has been trafficked through the country; we’re going to stop it, any person. It wasn’t out of favouring any people but APNU and the others lost a lot of income because I heard many of them in those five years were collecting $1000 each for meeting the people airside,” Dr Jagdeo pointed out.

He reminded that under the previous APNU+AFC administration, some 40,000 Haitian nationals arrived in the country and were never accounted for by the then government.

“We still need to find out who they are and you remember Winston Felix when you asked about the numbers, he didn’t know where the people are. He knew they came into the country, imagine a minister responsible for immigration didn’t know that the people left the country,” he reminded at his weekly press conference.

Additionally, it was recently discovered that a certain individual who was involved in bringing Haitian nationals was also involved in bringing some 260 Bangladeshis into the country.

 “They had gotten permission to fly a plane from UAE through Lisbon directly to Guyana, all the requisite permission and we discovered this by chance one evening. They were supposed to come this Saturday, but when we checked the individual who was bringing in the Haitians, the same individuals,” the general secretary informed media operatives.

In 2021, the administration made the decision to implement a visa requirement for Haitian and Cuban nationals travelling to the country. It was made clear that it was being implemented in an effort to tackle and prevent Guyana from being used as a transshipment destination for human trafficking.

According to immigration data provided to the Guyana Chronicle, from 2015 to June 17, 2021, there was an unusually large influx of Haitian nationals who entered Guyana but failed to leave, at least through the requisite legal channels.

The statistics highlight that of the 42,100 arrivals of Haitian nationals for the stated period, some 38,187 of them cannot be accounted for. Only 3,913 have been registered to have legally departed the shores of Guyana.

The data shows that from 2015 to 2020, there was a steep and continuous annual increase in Haitian nationals arriving in the country.