The Ministry of Citizenship yesterday concluded its second round of bilateral talks on migration, with a delegation from the Government of Cuba and the spectre of human trafficking and the possible imposition of a visa requirement were raised.
Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, led the local contingent with the discussion focussed on strengthening collaboration between the two countries and providing a framework to review migratory patterns. The talks came at a time of rising controversy over the question of foreigners arriving here but there being no record to show the legal departure of a large number of them. Applications for naturalisation by various groups of foreigners have also spurred controversy.
According to a Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) press release, the meeting discussed the ways in which the two countries can combat irregular migration and ensure that persons travelling to both territories do so in a way that is lawful, safe and reduces opportunities for Trafficking in Persons (TIP), among other matters. The meeting also examined the possibility of instituting a requirement for Cubans entering Guyana to have a visa.
The first engagement on the issue between the two countries took place in Havana, Cuba in 2016.
Felix, according to the release, said Guyana welcomes persons who visit the country legally. “Once they leave Cuba legally and they arrive here legally; we are going to accept them and treat them as all other members of the Caribbean family are treated,” he was quoted as saying.
The Minister also stated that the Government’s policy has been to suppress visas as a requirement for entering the country, noting that in all countries there are groups of persons who sometimes, become invisible and cannot be accounted for. He added, “What we have to do is to manage it and to ensure that over time, those who are invisible can be brought to light and we can understand what is happening.”
Leader of the Cuban delegation and Director of the Division of Consular Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad, Ernesto Soberon Guzman, disclosed that his delegation was pleased with the conversation. He noted, “Our main concern is to try to avoid that Cuban people that visit Guyana, use its territory as a transit in irregular migration…these people become victims of the trafficking of human beings, so in this regard we are very pleased with the conversation, with the results. I think that we share common goals in order to promote this regular, safe, orderly travel and, at the same time, to fight against irregular migration and against human trafficking.”
The MoTP stated that the delegations are expected to meet again in another two years.