For a very long time now I have noted with a great deal of interest that all my overseas mail delivered to me from the GPO has been tampered with. I received an item of mail from the USA last week and I noticed the envelope came in a sealed plastic bag. When I opened the bag I discovered that the envelope had been opened with a sharp object like a knife, but the person who opened it could not paste it back, so he/she took scotch tape and pasted the envelope then put it in a clear plastic bag. I also noticed a stamp at the back of the envelope with the words: ‘’Received at GPO: Taped, Soiled, Damaged, etc,” with a scratched signature and the date 24/11/15.
Editor, this is not the first time this has happened to my overseas mail; it has been happening for over five years, but when I went to inquire about it I was told that my mail had been received by GPO damaged, which I found difficult to believe. The stamp may have been to clear them of any suspicion of mail tampering. I believe the people who opened my mail were searching for Something, because the contents inside had finger or hand marks on it.
If Customs is opening mail, then I think their stamp should be on it. What is the purpose of the plastic bag if someone is not trying to cover something up? Then what about scanning mail? Overseas mail is checked through scanners; they have no need to cut open the envelopes.
Not very long ago I sent a package to England by express mail at the GPO which contained a cheque in pounds sterling. My package was destroyed and the cheque was stolen. Customs examined my package before posting and they knew I had a cheque in it, but though it was registered it was still stolen.
I was not aware of my missing package until the bank sent me a letter informing me that my cheque had not been cashed. Upon inquiry with the English company I was informed that my package had never been received.
When I took my receipt and inquired at the GPO I was told a few months had passed that my package would be very difficult to trace. In my opinion a registered express mail ought to be secure. It’s amazing that my other mail coming from GPL, GRA and GT&T is not tampered with and placed in a plastic bag.
If they are examining mail for money, cheques or drugs it would be wise to thoroughly examine both local and overseas mail. I would want to assume that a few items of mail coming from overseas can be tampered with, but it’s ridiculous that all my personal overseas mail is violated and searched all the time, while some I never received.
I visited a Post Office not long ago and I saw two female workers sorting out a bag of overseas mail. I behaved as if I was not watching them but I saw clearly that they were holding the mail to the sunlight to see what was inside the envelopes; one even had a little torchlight. That incident convinced me that most mail tampering is done right here in Guyana, and can be easily covered up because our security system which is supposed to catch corrupt workers is very weak.
Because mails move around like money, it’s easy to say: ‘’It arrived from Trinidad like that,” then Trinidad can blame St Lucia and they all can say it came like that from the USA. It’s very difficult therefore to make a case of this.
In my experience with FEDEX and DHL I have sent lots of packages to the USA that arrived in just a day or two, and nothing was missing. It’s time our new administration and the relevant authorities stepped up the standard of GPO.
With modern technology mail will soon become obsolete, yet we still need the mailing system to post important documents. How reliable is our mailing system? What kind of people do we have working in these offices? Are they people of integrity? Can they be trusted? Why is it mail posted from Georgetown takes three weeks to reach the East Coast and some two months to reach Berbice?
I am calling on the relevant authorities to implement the law in our post offices to eradicate mail tampering and theft.
Rev Gideon Cecil
We are sending a copy of this letter to PRO of the General Post Office, Ms Telesha Whyte, for any comment she might wish to make.