Less than a generation ago, not unlike our Venezuelan neighbours who are now scattering all over the world due to the political fallout in their country, Guyanese were leaving by legal or illegal means, trying to get to somewhere to make a decent living for themselves and their families. To this day, notwithstanding all the promises of great wealth from oil Guyanese migration has not ceased and this history has gone into making Guyanese quite understanding and tolerant of economic and political migration. However, the present influx of Venezuelans, Guyana’s recent discovery oil and gas, which is likely to attract other foreigners, its relatively liberal citizenship rules, and the electoral numbers game (the recent quarrel in the press between the government and the opposition about the method and numbers of foreigners who are being made citizens SN: 14/04/2019) that our politicians are playing have raised concerns that the interest of the native population is likely to be submerged.
It is our duty to treat migrants and all those who come to these shores in a humane and responsible manner. Where migration is concerned, we should provide migrants with all the help we can, and in collaboration with global partners, attempt to find solutions to the underlying causes of their exodus. However, no government, particularly of a small country with a population of 786,000, should allow migration or labour needs to fundamentally negatively affect the well-being of its people. Guyanese have been encouraged to believe that the good life beckons and the policies of other governments, particularly those of the relatively small and resource-rich countries in the Arab world, are suggestive of an approach. ….