Jagdeo casts doubt on Opposition claims about Venezuelan migrants being registered in Guyana

Jagdeo casts doubt on Opposition claims about Venezuelan migrants being registered in Guyana

Second Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has cast doubt on Opposition claims that Venezuelan nationals are being registed in Guyana and could therefore impact elections locally.

At a Freedom House press conference on Thursday, Mr. Jagdeo said that for this year, a total of 13,600 persons have so far been registered with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

While he did not offer details on those who have been registered, he said the registration pattern for the first 10 months of the year is no different from pevious years.

“From January 1 to now, it’s in category A, it’s about 8,698 and category B 4,981 about 13,600 or so persons. Category B are those who 14 years and above, and Category A are the ones who can get on the list immediately. If you look at the regional breakdown it mirrors the population density, the population of the region so the largest are from Region Four, 5,330 from Region Four of the 13,600. The next most populous region is Region Three, 2,198, then Region Six,” the Vice President said.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton and AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan

At a press conference earlier this week, the APNU+AFC Opposition expressed worry that thousands of Venezuela migrants are crossing over to Guyana without any proper screening being done, and some of them are being registered, so that they could be provided with local ID cards.

While raising a number of security concerns including possible threat to the country’s territorial integrity, the Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton said there is also a threat pose to the country’s electoral system. He said his party has received credible evidence that government operatives have been registering Venezuelans in the hinterland.

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan made similar claims.

But the Vice President, while brushing the issue aside, said many of the Venezuelans coming to Guyana have Guyanese roots.

“I want to remind Ramjattan because I think he himself has family who was born abroad and close family that they will be eligible for Guyanese citizenship too because a lot of the Venezuelans, the people who you are calling Venezuelans, they are really Guyanese. Their parents migrated when they were driven out by the PNC when we were starving in this country,” Jagdeo said.

He said the Opposition is clearly running scared of losing the next general elections, and as such, is seeking to weaponize the issue.

He nonetheless acknowledged that the growing number of Venezuelans in the country is of concern, adding that those with no ties to Guyana would have to be repatriated in the future.

“Clearly, the concern about people who come here and have no connection with Guyana that there is need for some point in time to repatriate them. When APNU was in Government, and we were in opposition, and they spoke about building settlements in Region One for people, we expressed a similar concern but that concern,” the Vice President said.

Jagdeo said while the concern raised by the Opposition is a valid one, he is dissatisfied with the attempt by the Opposition Leader to create the impression that Venezuelans are being exploited for electoral purposes. He said the claim is nonsensical.

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