VP Jagdeo defends Gov’t’s integration strategy for Venezuelan migrants

Criticisms from Opposition Member of Parliament, Amanza Walton-Desir, regarding the government’s objective of integrating Venezuelan migrants into Guyanese society, were rubbished by Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, who pointed out that a significant portion of these migrants are Guyanese.

The Vice president was at the time speaking to media operatives at a press conference at Office of the President on Thursday.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

“Venezuelan migrant is a misnomer for most of those people. They’re Guyanese. When we say ‘Venezuelan migrants’, it’s just a few people of the lot that came back home. These are our people; they have our blood. They left this country, fled APNU’s hardships and oppression. They sought a better life there,” he explained.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation held a meeting of the Multi-Agency Coordinating Committee to address the influx of Migrants from Venezuela into Guyana. In a press release issued on Tuesday (March 12, 2024), the ministry underscored the committee’s agenda of providing the necessary humanitarian assistance to those migrants, inclusive of returning Guyanese fleeing the economic hardships in Venezuela.

MP Desir questioned this strategy, arguing that it is not in keeping with any international obligations.

But Dr Jagdeo reasoned that many of these migrants are Guyanese who sought better living conditions abroad and are returning home. He added that this pursuit of improved livelihood is no reason to begrudge these persons, as they are still entitled to the same rights afforded to all Guyanese.

“So, even those who fled Guyana and their kids, who were born [abroad], these are Guyanese children. Based on our constitution, they are citizens, they are eligible for citizenship here. And that’s 90 per cent of them. We have to extend some help to our own people when they come back here. Of course, we have to ensure that all those who stay here get a great education, health, and housing. But these are our people,” the vice president emphasised.

According to Dr Jagdeo, this criticism put forward by the MP speaks to the opposition’s narrow political view and ‘elitist’ approach to development. This approach, the VP said, has rendered them unsuitable to manage Guyana’s multi-ethnic makeup

“You have to have a broad-based approach. You have to approach this with the view that these are all our people regardless of their colour or their political affiliation,” Dr Jagdeo said.

In the past, the Vice President has emphasized the need to treat people with compassion and respect, just as Guyanese citizens would expect to be treated in other countries – adding that concerns that such xenophobic actions could lead to retaliatory responses.

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