An undocumented Guyanese couple in Barbados heard a knock on their door early one morning and then the intruders used a crowbar to wrench it open and soon after they found themselves among others enduring the long wait before being put aboard the next plane back home.
A woman who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Stabroek News on Wednesday that she regretted being sent home but will pick up the pieces and eventually move to another country since she has lost hope of accomplishing much in her homeland.
They were sent home prior to the May 5 announcement by Prime Minister David Thompson of the crackdown on undocumented Caricom nationals.
The new policy took immediate effect and those undocumented Caricom nationals living there for less than eight years prior to 2005 would be “removed” from the island.
Recounting her experience the woman told Stabroek News that it was about 2 o’clock on a Saturday morning and she was half dressed and fast asleep when she heard a loud noise at the door and she and her reputed husband stayed down hoping that the people who were hitting at their door would leave.
“But they keep hitting and they punched a hole in the door and used something to pull out the blind. One of them said, ‘open the f… door is police and we looking for the drugs and the guns.’ I barely had on anything and they started tumbling up the house and somehow found our passports,” the woman recounted.
She said they were told to pack and before they could really do much in that regard, they were told there was not much time and were ushered into a vehicle.
The brigade included police and members of a task force, she said, adding that only minutes later they carried out another raid all together rounding up a total of about 26 Guyanese. They were then all homeward bound. Many of them had come from the St. John’s Parish.
The woman recounted that she and two other women, one from Albouystown and the other from Mahaicony, were the only women in the lot.
She said they were taken to a prison located behind the Grantley Adams International Airport where she was housed in a cold cell with women who were being held on drug charges and were awaiting a return trip home.
“But there was a large amount of Guyanese in there,” she emphasized.
She said she had to purchase her own ticket back home and if she were unable to do this, she would have had to work at the prison and come up with enough money to pay for her ticket.
She returned home on Sunday morning but unlike the other Guyanese who came back for the same purpose she was not ushered to Eve Leary. She said she was accosted by an immigration officer here who asked her to “pass something”. She said she bluntly told him she had nothing to pass and went along her way.
She had been living in Barbados for two and a half years and had been able to help relatives back home, including her seven-year-old daughter.
“Now I have lost everything, a whole house full of appliances, clothes and so much more. I miss work because I could afford to do so much, now to come back home and just leave that, it’s hard,” the woman lamented.
Refuting reports that the homes of Guyanese were not being raided, the woman said she felt that all the authorities in Barbados are aware of this and are behind it one hundred percent.
Since the election of Prime Minister David Thompson, there has been a focus on getting illegal Caricom nationals out. “So he’s just fulfilling a promise he had during his election campaign and I feel he is aware of all that is happening,” she said.
President Bharrat Jagdeo had disclosed last week that Thompson had said that the new policy was targeting undocumented nationals but he had denied knowledge of any raids on the homes of Guyanese.
The woman said many of her undocumented acquaintances were also sent home following raids on homes and job sites where many Guyanese are employed.
She felt that the authorities must have received a tip-off to be able to find her since she had never gotten into trouble and worked for a decent living.
Meanwhile, the woman said she could not attest to being ill-treated by Barbadians during the time she lived there since her employer had employed many non-nationals.
She was last employed as a landscaping worker but also washed bottles, did babysitting and sold fish and chips in Barbados. Before she left Guyana she worked as an inventory clerk.
“I was paid reasonably well and when I worked overtime I was paid and the Barbadians I worked with I never had problems with them. I knew I wasn’t straight and so I kept inline. I never really suffer from exploitation – if they don’t pay, I gone but there are a particular set of Guyanese who work for nothing much… they want to stoop to conquer,” she said.
Even though the government had introduced the policy only in May, the woman said from the end of January onwards the homes of Guyanese were being raided and many were being sent home.
“I figured that after all of this start happening our government and the Barbadian government would come to some strategy, like to give us some time or work something out,” she said.
She admitted that some Guyanese were not well behaved but on the other hand “many who do bad things back home here, reform themselves and trying to work hard.”
She noted too that many Barbadians preferred to rent their homes to Guyanese at exorbitant rates since they knew that they would work and pay every cent each month.
According to her the general feeling among the illegals over there was that they were not coming home.
“You see they know what they leave here and some people change their whole life and every morning everybody is just be hustling to work to make a dollar… after all the Barbadian money got value.”
“I think the two heads should talk though or if they can’t arrive at anything to help us, we should stop sending our stuff there,” she said.
“Barbados doesn’t really have anything. The place nice and so they get many tourists. When you work you get money and the money got good value and so they tell themselves they got the best country,” she said.
BBD$100 to informants
She said she would miss the country since most of all she was able to help her mother financially in a big way.
The woman told Stabroek News that though many Guyanese are prepared to stick it out, they “are sleeping with one eye open.”
“Cause you never know when it’s your turn.” She said the immigration department has been offering over BDS$100 for each person they receive information on and who subsequently is sent back to their homeland.
She added that Guyanese are well known in Barbados for assembling in Bridgetown on Friday and Saturday evenings for their usual ‘beer drinking’ and sometimes this is the opportunity seized by immigration officials.
She also said that many of the documented nationals also squealed on those without the necessary papers.
Asked whether she would stick around to see what government had in store regarding a resettlement plan, the woman questioned what were the exact plans in this regard.
Meanwhile the woman insisted that Guyana has too much for it not to be able to ensure a decent life for all of its citizens, adding that she could not stay but would move on to earn more.