Teixeira fought lonely uphill battle against fraud, corruption as home minister – cables say

Back in 2007 former Minister of Home Affairs Gail Teixeira was seen by US Embassy officials in Georgetown as “fighting a lonely, uphill battle against fraud and corruption in the Ministry of Home Affairs.”

Former US Ambassador Roland Bullen in a February 9, 2006 diplomatic cable, now made public on the Wiki-Leaks website, had said that was a “shocking lack of control” over the country’s registry, visas, and passports presented narco-criminals, smuggled aliens, and potential terrorists with an easy way to obtain travel documents.

He said in two meetings, on January 12 and 20, 2006 meeting Teixeira expressed gratitude that the embassy was sharing information with her, “but complained that problems have worsened since she began to ‘turn screws’ on the ministry.”  “She believes that corrupt elements are either deliberately trying to embarrass her or trying to get as many fraud transactions through before she tightens the screws further,” the ambassador had written.

During that January 12 meeting Teixeira handed over a document to the ambassador containing a list of Indian nationals who had applied for Guyanese tourist visas through Indian “tour operators”. The list included name, date of birth, place of birth, and passport number of sixty-two visa applicants.  A copy of the list was later e-mailed to the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center (HSTC) and the consular sections of Embassy New Delhi and Embassy Islamabad. Bullen said that Teixeira also provided updates on her efforts to address corruption within the General Register Office (GRO) responsible for civil documents.

He revealed that embassy officials had given Teixeira a report on December 23, 2005, regarding fraudulent Guyanese visa applications. Upon receipt of the information she started exploring ways of improving document security. For example, she had obtained three estimates for systems that would print civil documents, which were handwritten.  She did not have money for such a project and Bullen had promised to investigate the possibility of US assistance for Teixeira’s initiative to clean up GRO.  He had said that two objectives of such a funding would have been;  assisting the government to computerize the civil registry system to improve document security and modernize archival record keeping; secondly a review of the then procedures at GRO to identify areas lacking security and provide training to correct deficiencies.

And Teixeira had also told Bullen that despite the prevalence of fraudulent marriages in Guyana, her colleague, then Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce Manzoor Nadir, wanted to amend the law to encourage marriage tourism.
Teixeira has since challenged the credulity of the cables.

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