The current Venezuela crisis is causing Venezuelans particularly the Indigenous Waraus to enter Guyana through the border at Mabaruma in the North West District (NWD) to seek medical attention and to buy foodstuff. At the same time relations are being strengthened and maintained between the Waraus of Venezuela and those of Guyana in keeping with Article 36 (1) (2) of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This article states: “1. Indigenous Peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other people across borders.
“2. States, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure the implementation of this right.”
This is why I am happy that Minister Joseph Harmon was reported as saying that Guyana will continue to offer malaria treatment to Venezuelans. It is therefore important to note that Article 36 (1) (2) of UNDRIP must not be violated by either the Guyana or the Venezuelan governments in the interest of Indigenous peoples. But what is currently making things look ugly is the unprofessional conduct of some members of the Mabaruma police. They wait at the Mora and Water Creek landings of White Water Amerindian village for the Venezuelans to arrive to seek medical attention and buy foodstuff and when they do arrive the police will stop them and take away their money. The little things that they bring to sell are also taken away by the police on the pretext of working with the Guyana Revenue Authority. This is what Minister Harmon and Deputy Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine need to know, so they have those police officers quickly moved from the Mabaruma Police Station and disciplined. They are not qualified to carry out law enforcement in Guyana’s hinterland regions.
The Deputy Commissioner has started cleaning up the Mabaruma Police Station and the Mabaruma sub-region residents wish to commend him. However there are two others they would like removed because of allegations of corruption. But it is important for Deputy Commissioner Ramnarine to know that there are police officers in ‘F’ Division who have over ten years of service and are not given promotions, and as a result they have lost morale. In this regard the Deputy Commissioner needs to conduct an examination of the current strength of the police in ‘F’ Division, and have the good ones promoted so that they can take over from some of those whose behaviour does not meet professional standards.