No explanation from CANU

Dear Editor,

I have utmost respect for the mission and purpose of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit of Guyana. As an American who is married to a wonderful Guyana-born businessman, I have dedicated the past 14 years of my life to collaboratively working with my husband to promote quality Guyana products to the north-east Caribbean including the US territories. As young entrepreneurs, we have built a stellar business and we take extreme pride in showcasing the products we sell. Our primary product is high quality lumber and the hardwood byproducts such as doors, wallaba shingles and charcoal.  More recently we have had much success with food and beverage products such as ICEE sodas, chow mein,  pepper sauce, etc, and tremendous success with health products such as Ferrol, Tussadryl, Nutrophos, etc.

Now to address my grievance… In the year 2012 alone, we have had two detained containers with no evidence of why we were targeted. Per the USA collaboration in fighting the war against drugs, we know that there is a multi-million dollar scanner in Guyana which is used for outbound container shipments. As a God-fearing couple, we have no interest whatsoever in narcotics and applaud every time CANU successfully halts such shipments. However, as we already know that Guyana has a “less than perfect” reputation in many regards, our sliver of sunshine, and a positive ode to your country, is that our clients love your products and our professional service. We take personal losses at times just to ensure our clients are happy and have what they need in a timely manner. Our biggest reward is knowing that these store owners and shopkeepers can look at a Guyanese product and promote it with confidence and share with their customers. It is a seamless win-win situation. They trust us with their funds in order to deliver Guyana products in a timely manner.

Now, due to CANU’s unwarranted detention of my containers, I am now losing clients’ trust and business. They are quick to remind us that “you can’t trust Guyanese.“ Thanks to the actions of CANU on my containers, this mentality will start to surface. Something we have succeeded at reversing.

What are CANU’s criteria for detentions on perfectly legitimate shipments? Who is to take the responsibility when my clients cannot get their products in a timely manner, thus causing them loss of revenue and causing me loss of future business? Who suffers? I am suffering. Ultimately, Guyana will suffer. There are many other countries in South and Central America which are attractively positioned to get our business. But, we choose to be loyal to Guyana.

In addition to my delays for over 3 weeks due to the Linden situation, I was finally pleased to know all was in order for my container to ship on August 18, 2012. Now, due to the inexcusable action of the CANU officer who deemed it necessary to delay my container for “inspection”, my clients have every right to demand refunds. Their products are sitting in a container in Georgetown awaiting inspection for what reason?  Some doors, some pieces of wood and beverages? I am no drug dealer. Never was, never will be. The Bible says that “By the sweat of my brow, I shall eat bread.“

And we do sweat and work hard… in an honest fashion to promote Guyanese products that are in high demand in the Caribbean and US territories. Every container CANU holds back, with no cause, no explanation and no regard for entrepreneurship, hurts my company and hurts Guyana.

I have not been successful in getting a response from anyone at the CANU office from my various emails and letters mailed by post. I am therefore resorting to this method in the hope that I will be contacted in a professional and courteous manner.

CANU has personnel and has scanners. Why are they holding back legitimate containers? Don’t give me this “the innocent suffer for the guilty” line. That is sheer nonsense. This is unfair and disheartening to me, my companies and my clients. I demand answers and I demand them now. There is absolutely no reason why my container should not have been sailing out of Guyana tomorrow. None whatsoever. Again, I politely and fervently demand an immediate explanation from the CANU office.

Yours faithfully,
Jeannine Gittens

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