Twelve Brazilian miners arrested at Port Kaituma

According to the president of the Brazilian Mining and General Association (BMGA), Antonio Szala some 12 Brazilian miners were arrested yesterday in the Port Kaituma area and will likely be deported after court proceedings.

Szala said that he could not confirm how many of the 12 were part of the BMGA, but that one of the association’s members did make contact to see if anything could be done. Szala said that the men produced to police their receipts for their work permit applications.  He said that some of the men have been waiting up to six months for their work permits to be issued, but that this has been a longstanding issue for Brazilian miners.

“The men had their receipts and some of them last went into the Ministry of Home Affairs up to a month back and they were told it was still processing.

This is always the issues these men are being threatened with deportation,” Szala stated. He said that the police would be charging the men with working illegally, but that if the men were charged and deported that meant  they could not come back to Guyana for over a year.

He said that “one of the men has a dredge and they are going through the process like they are supposed to, but the ministry just takes so long, the men have their receipts, but it didn’t seem to matter.” He noted that the men were all arrested under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment’s Geology and Mines Commission’s Operation El Dorado aimed at reducing illegal mining in partnership with the Guyana Police Force. Szala told this publication that the Home Affairs Ministry along with the GGMC continuously made it difficult for Brazilian miners although they have routinely promised to assist with the fast-tracking of paperwork.

When contacted, GGMC commissioner Rickford Vieira stated that this was just a few of the expected arrests that are likely to be made in the following days.

He said that “while you pay for the work permit application, an application does not guarantee that you will be issued the work permit.”

He said that “you need a work permit to work, it is that simple, the receipt doesn’t mean anything and they know that”. Vieira told Stabroek News that the BMGA is well aware of requirements associated with working in Guyana and they should not be surprised by any arrest where illegal mining is concerned.

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