“Frontier communities are guardians of Guyana’s territorial integrity and national security. They are our first line of defence against any attempt at incursions and invasions,” President David Granger yesterday told residents of the border village of Kaikan, in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni, at a community meeting held at the Kaikan Primary School.
According to a media release from the Ministry of the Presidency (MoP), the residents of Kaikan, who have had a number of terrorising encounters with the notorious ‘Syndicatos’ gang, welcomed the Head of State’s visit, as well as, the boosting of security in the area by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). The community now benefits from 24-hour security which is necessitated by the situation in neighbouring Venezuela and “escalated by the age-old border controversy”, the release said.
“Venezuela is claiming that the boundaries are wrong…but that is not true. If you go to Mount Roraima you will see the markers; if you go in the Barima-Waini you will see the markers… The markers were put down there 110 years ago… the International Court will decide…but believe me, you are safe,” Guyana’s Head of State, was quoted as saying in the release, as he assured the villagers of their safety.
According to the MoP, Kaikan in Region Seven, like the village of Whitewater in Region One, which the President visited last week, has been seeing an influx of Venezuelans, particularly traders and persons seeking health care. During a briefing with GDF ranks deployed in the area, the President was told that Venezuelan civilians and even military personnel come over to the Kaikan Health Post to seek medical attention for malaria and other diseases, while the traders come over to sell or to barter their goods with villagers from communities like Kaikan, a stone’s throw from the Venezuela border, and Arau. The GDF have pledged to eradicate at all costs, the alleged activities of illegal smuggling of substances such as marijuana and cocaine, as reported by the Toshao of Kaikan.
President Granger said that while the army and the police will intensify their efforts to ensure their safety, the villagers have a significant role to play, as they are the eyes and ears on the ground, the MoP statement said. The president added that in weeks and months to come, he is asking them to join the People’s Militia so that they can be prepared to protect themselves and their families and their communities, from people who bring illegal guns into the country.
The President also spoke of his 10-point improvement plan for frontier villages which is aimed at ensuring access to public services in the areas of citizenship, registration and immigration, education, human safety, information communication technology, national defence, public health, public infrastructure, social cohesion and social protection, the MoP statement said.
Speaking of community development, according to the media release, the Head of State urged the residents to work closely with the three tiers of Government, local, regional and central, to find solutions to some of the problems the community faces in terms of socio-economic development. He called on the Regional Chairman to work closely with the community to devise plans to add value to their food production through agro-processing, which will enhance their competitiveness and boost their village economies.
Education was another major area that the President focused on, the statement said. He noted that while Kaikan is far-flung, no effort should be spared to ensure that every child attends school.
The President was accompanied to Kaikan by Minister of Public Affairs, Dawn Hastings-Williams, Chief of Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Patrick West and other senior officers of the Force. This visit follows a similar outreach to Region One, last week.