In Stabroek News of Friday, April 6, it was reported that two men were arrested on Wednesday at JFK International Airport in New York for illegally smuggling finches from Guyana. What is also surprising, if the report is correct, is that these innocent birds can be sold for up to US$5,000.00 or more!
On Wednesday I was at Bourda Mall buying some fruit when I overheard a vendor asking a man about a friend of theirs. The man replied, “Me see the man only yesterday, he come to me house to barra a bird trap”, I asked the man: “Why trap innocent birds?” He said, “Wha, them thing does fetch lotta money in New York”.
I want to congratulate the US Customs and Border Protection for being so alert. If these men (one is 72 years old and the other 57) are convicted, they could face up to 20 years in jail (according to the article).
These innocent birds must suffer tremendously on their illicit journey. My question is now what happens to those birds? Will they be put in a zoo, released in the wild or returned to Guyana?
Our government institutions should be strengthened and our justice system made severe enough to discourage Guyanese from participating in this practice.
Reading this article brought to mind Ginn Bly’s beautiful and meaningful poem:
Deep within the soul of the lonely caged bird,
Beats the rhythm of a distant forest.
Etched upon its broken heart.
The faded memory of flight.