GDF still to brief parliamentary committee on border security – Jagdeo

Bharrat Jagdeo

Despite President David Granger instructing the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to brief a parliamentary security committee on efforts to secure communities located along the 800-kilometre border with Venezuela, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has bemoaned that it is yet to happen.

“We’ve received nothing from Granger. He has gone silent. He just said that in passing, after being pressured as to why he is not treating this as a national issue, addressing the people of Guyana or the Parliament,” Jagdeo told a news conference last Friday.

Jagdeo said the opposition PPP/C is looking forward for not just the briefing but a decision taken to publicly show a unified political front on the border controversy with Venezuela.

“Getting a resolution passed through parliament that we support the UN Secretary General. It would be good if we get a resolution where all the sides get up and say, ‘We support this,’ and preparing people for the threat,” he said.

“He is very petulant too because he said it and didn’t do it. I think he has a problem with doing it and they live in this, ‘It’s our time now’ impervious to any comments [mentality,” he added.

In late February, President Granger announced that he had instructed the GDF to brief the parliamentary committee on security on the steps that are being taken to secure communities located along the border with Venezuela as a result of the unstable situation in that country, as well as the ongoing border controversy.

A release from the Ministry of the Presidency had said that the Head of State also indicated that he expects that civil society will continue to be fully briefed on the matter.

According to the release, Granger assured Guyanese that government is concerned about security and is deeply involved in ensuring the safety of the people.

“At the Defence Board meeting that was held last Thursday, I instructed that the Guyana Defence Force should brief the Parliamentary Committee on security to let them know what preparations are taking place and I expect that there will be full participation both by members of the Government side and the Opposition side. If necessary, we will take this to civil society and I have already briefed the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force that civil society must be aware of what is taking place. So, we are operating at different levels; we are operating at a local level in the villages, in the frontline villages themselves,” he said.

The President referenced the Frontline Village Policy that was announced during his visit to Whitewater, also in Region One, which includes the establishment of military patrol bases and heightened 24-hour security by the GDF and the Guyana Police Force.

The release said that the Commander-in-Chief, who chairs the Defence Board, has taken the lead in conducting outreaches to the frontline communities and it is because of this that he chose to remain in Guyana and let Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge attend the 29th Intersessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government for the Caribbean Community in Haiti in his stead.

The President said, according to the release, that the unstable situation in Venezuela has led to a surge in illegal migration, which has the potential to open avenues for illicit activities, such as gun-running and narco-trafficking.

Assuring that government is fully engaged in ensuring that security and all other public services are adequately provided to residents living in border communities, the Head of State noted that government is taking a total approach to protecting the  country.

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