I feel very hurt, sad and even depressed, as I consider the economic and social conditions which Venezuela, a once great nation, has found itself in. Venezuela was such a successful, prosperous country, a benevolent nation with great, talented and amazing people.
Today, its economic situation is dismal with skyrocketing inflation, severe food shortages and a woeful health care system. People are desperate as they scramble to find the money to buy scarce and expensive supplies in Venezuela. We all know that some women will do anything to support their families, including descending to the oldest of occupations when there are no alternatives. On their part, the men are turning to criminality, human trafficking, drugs and more across borders.
Both men and women are coming to Guyana to find a reprieve, exacerbating existing social problems and creating new ones. Just look at Trinidad where Venezuelan women have turned to prostitution and are being abused and exploited on a large scale with adults and even young girls being forced to work in bars and provide sexual favours.
What has happened in Venezuela is the same thing that happened during the Forbes Burnham era when there was a serious experimentation with socialism, all with the encouragement of then leader of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Cheddi Jagan.
Socialism reduced Guyana to a beggar policy under which we were looking to Trinidad for funding our oil and depleting the resources of the Caribbean Development Bank. Back then, our women travelled to Trinidad, Barbados and Suriname and many resorted to trading their bodies and developed secondary, or in some cases, even primary, relationships in these countries without their husbands’ knowledge.
During those dark years, a lot of luxury and basic foods were smuggled across the Corentyne River. When the minds and the hearts of the people turn, when the economy turns, it is difficult to return them to normalcy. Considering that Guyana is intimately aware of the social repercussions of socialist experiments, can we not find a way to help our Venezuelan brothers and sisters? We can consider giving temporary refugee status or work permits without the necessity of fees to allow the Venezuelans to get wholesome jobs.
It is obvious to me that their labour is needed, considering that some of them have been absorbed by the private sector to do certain jobs that Guyanese do not want to do. Such positive actions can cause a nation to become divine. Likewise, the universe can repay a nation with evil preponderances in like fashion.
Venezuela has always been kind to us, even before Hugo Chavez. Let us show some compassion for these people who are in dire straits and help them.
Haji Roshan Khan