`We are not surrendering one centimetre of our territory’

-President Granger at Baramita 

A resident holds up the national flag (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

“Venezuela has been claiming more than half of our country; the Barima-Waini, the Cuyuni-Mazaruni and the Rupununi regions, but I want you to know that we are not surrendering one centimetre of our territory; not a blade of grass. We are here to work with your village, with your region, with your Toshao, with your residents, whether they are Caribs, or Warraus or Arawaks or Arecunas to make sure Guyana is safe. Just as we inherited Guyana from our fore-parents we want to pass it on to our children,” President Granger said yesterday to the community of Baramita.

Guyana’s Head of State was at the time speaking to the residents at the Baramita Primary School during a visit to the community located in Barima-Waini, Region One, according to a press release from the Ministry of the Presidency (MoP). He assured the hinterland residents that his administration is doing everything in its power to ensure the security of their community and the other frontline communities along the 800 kilometre western border against threats to Guyana’s territorial integrity, as a result of claims to the nation’s territory by neighbouring Venezuela.

Guyana is only interested in a peaceful resolution to the conflict, President Granger told residents, as he related the decision by the United Nations’ Secretary General,  António Guterres’  to refer the matter to the International Court of Jus-tice (ICJ), the MoP release stated. He expressed confidence that the matter will be settled in Guyana’s favour and assured the villagers, “you will be able to pass on this land to your children and grandchildren.”

According to the ministry’s release, the unstable situation in Venezuela has presented some threats to Guyanese, who live in the bordering communities with that country.  It noted that Baramita is vulnerable to illegal migration, the spread of disease, transnational crime and attacks from what is known as the Venezuelan Sindicato gang. President Granger said that Government will work with the Regional Administration, the Toshao and the village councillors, as well as the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to sure up security mechanisms.

“We believe that Baramita is one of the frontline villages. When I say frontline, I mean that you are our eyes and ears to tell the rest of Guyana when there’s danger…,” the Head of State was quoted as saying, while he reminded the villagers of the part they are expected to play and asked them to report any threats they observed.  He further called on all Guyanese to treasure their nationality and to guard Guyana’s sovereignty, noting that peace in the region is critical to the development, safety and security of South America, including Guyana.

“All of us believe that Guyana should be allowed to live in peace; that Venezuela should live in peace; that Brazil should live in peace; that Suriname should live in peace… We want to develop our country so that our children could inherit this land…I would like you to treasure your citizenship. You must be proud of being Guyanese, proud of your flag, proud of your national pledge, proud of your national anthem, proud of your citizenship,” the Head of State was quoted in the release as saying.

According to the MoP statement, the President indicated that Government will ensure that there is complete registration of all residents so that they can access all of the services of the state. He identified education and enterprise as two key areas that will improve the lives of the residents of Baramita, while noting that it is Government’s aim in the future to ensure that teachers in the region are able to teach students in their native tongue. He added that no child must be prevented from learning because of language barriers and called for every child to be conversant in the language of the state, as well as their native language.

The Head of State said that in addition to providing improved social services such as quality healthcare to the residents of Baramita, his administration is working with the regional administration to improve communication and infrastructure since these are critical to the development of enterprises and the delivery of services, the press release stated. After the village meeting, Granger visited the site of the almost completed $82 million Government complex, which now houses the new Baramita Primary and Nursery School buildings, the Medical Centre, teachers and nurse’s quarters. He noted that the complex is part of the development of a model that will be replicated in other hinterland communities.  Other Government offices will be added to the complex over time.

Regional Chairman,  Brentnol Ashley noted that the Regional Administration is committed to working with the central Government for the good of all the residents of the Region, the press release stated.  Ashley expressed his satisfaction with the leading role the President has been taking in ensuring their security.

Toshao of Baramita, Trevor Matthews said that it is the first time in his memory that a Head of State has visited the community, according to the MoP’s media statement. The Toshao thanked the president and his team for giving their village the attention it was receiving in areas such as health, education and birth certificates.

Minister of Public Affairs, Dawn Hastings-Williams noted that Government will continue to work closely with the community to ensured continued development for residents.

Accompanying the President during the visit were Chief of Staff of the GDF, Mr. Patrick West, member of the National Security Committee, Brigadier Bruce Lovell and Senior Superintendent Kevin Adonis, GPF Divisional Commander.

Within the last two weeks, President Granger has also visited the frontline communities of Whitewater in Region One, and Kaikan in Region Seven.


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