I would like to ask the attorney representing the Guyanese family who recently received refugee status in Canada the following questions :-
1) Can he relate exactly how the drug couriers plan-ned to secrete drugs among rice shipments?
2) How would the manager of a port facility be able to facilitate drug smugglers? In what way can he and he alone assist them without involving other employees or other personnel?
3) Did the Canadian authorities contact the wharf owner to verify the incident?
4) What about the vehicle whose windows were shot up? Can he verify that this indeed did happen?
As I wrote in a previous letter that was not published, this story sounds highly plausible and suits our sensibilities. It certainly suits the agenda of Stabroek News to publish such a story without challenging any of its statements. But on the surface there seems to be almost nothing substantive to corroborate the family’s version. Now I am not denying that this might have indeed happened. But there needs to be a more thorough investigation before conclusions are drawn. I hold no brief for the current administration. But I am of the opinion that Guyana can do without any more negative publicity, more so if it is not deserved.
The questions posed by Mr Ithaca would have been best answered by the police if they had taken the time to properly handle the complaint lodged by the wharf manager and the later query by his counsel for the purpose of the refugee status hearing to which there was no response.
What can be said is that the story related by the wharf manager has a ring of truth to it as shipments of rice and other goods such as timber, molasses and coconuts have been intercepted abroad stuffed with cocaine. It has also been known for a long time that drugs are transshipped in bulk from the wharves.
Stabroek News reported on the outcome of the refugee hearing which raised serious questions about the lack of police protection from the depredations of the drug lords. The police force can still challenge the statements made by the wharf manager and defend its action or inaction. As a matter of fact, the administration should require both the Minister of Home Affairs and the acting Police Commissioner to speak fully on the facts in this matter.
As to negative publicity, we are not in the business of managing news. Mr Ithaca would also appreciate that even without our reportage it would have been widely known here and abroad by word of mouth and through the grassroots that the family in question had been granted refugee status.