Georgetown, Guyana – (February 28, 2018) President David Granger, today, told residents of Baramita, Barima-Waini (Region One) that the Government is working to ensure the security of their community and region against threats to Guyana’s territorial integrity as a result of claims to the nation’s territory by neighbouring Venezuela. Speaking at the Baramita Primary School this morning, the Head of State declared that his administration will do everything in its power to ensure the safety of the residents of Baramita and other residents of, what he has defined as, front line communities along the 800 kilometre border with Guyana’s western neighbour.
“Venezuela has been claiming more than half of our country; the Barima-Waini, the Cuyuni-Mazaruni and the Rupununi regions, but I want you to know that we are not surrendering one centimetre of our territory; not a blade of grass. We are here to work with your village, with your region, with your Toshao, with your residents, whether they are Caribs, or Warraus or Arawaks or Arecunas to make sure Guyana is safe. Just as we inherited Guyana from our fore parents we want to pass it on to our children,” he said.
Noting that Guyana is only interested in a peaceful resolution to the conflict, President Granger told residents of the decision by the United Nations’ Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres’ decision to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after the Government of Guyana had lobbied him and his predecessor, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. “We have fought, we have struggled to make sure that this country will not be invaded. We will go to court and we will settle the matter peacefully ad I am confident Baramita that it will be settled in your favour and you will be able to pass this land to your children and grandchildren,” he said.
While Guyana looks forward to making its case before the international court, the unstable situation in Venezuela has presented some threats to Guyanese, who live in the bordering communities with that country. Noting that Baramita is vulnerable to illegal migration, the spread of disease, transnational crime and attacks from what is known as the Venezuelan Sindicato gang, President Granger said that Government will work with the Regional Administration, the Toshao and the village councillors, as well as the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to sure up security mechanisms. He said, “We want to see a village that is strong, we want to see people who feel safe and we want a region that is secured that is why we are here. We are here to strengthen this village to protect the people and to ensure that their entire region remains secured.”
In that regard, the President said that there is a role for the people of Baramita to play and called on them to report any threats they observe. “We want Baramita to be safe, stable, and strong. We believe that Baramita is one of the frontline villages. When I say frontline, I mean that you are our eyes and ears to tell the rest of Guyana when there’s danger… Every one of us has to be concerned about protecting this country and I’m convinced that it is only because of the determination of Guyanese, ordinary Guyanese, that we were able to keep aggressors at bay for the last 52 years. Because they know that we love our country that we’ll fight to protect our country; every river, ever tree, every village,” he said.
President Granger called on all Guyanese to treasure their nationality and to guard Guyana’s sovereignty, noting that peace in the region is critical to the development, safety and security of South America, including Guyana. “Our country Guyana is democratic country. We gained Independence 52 years ago but for every one of us it is unique. All of us stood up when the national anthem was played, all of us recognised the national flag, all of us are citizens if Guyana. All of us believe that Guyana should be allowed to live in peace; that Venezuela should live in peace; that Brazil should live in peace; that Suriname should live in peace. We don’t want to invade anybody else and we don’t want anybody to invade us. We want to develop our country so that our children could inherit this land,” the Head of State said.
Noting the value of the symbols of national identity, President Granger told the residents of Baramita that all Guyanese should be proud of their nationality. He said, “I would like you to treasure your citizenship. You must be proud of being Guyanese, proud of your flag, proud of your national pledge, proud of your national anthem, proud of your citizenship,” even as he indicated that Government will ensure that there is complete registration of all residents so that they can access all of the services of the state.
The President identified education and enterprise as two key areas that will improve the lives of the residents of Baramita. He noted that it is Government’s aim in the future to ensure that teachers in the region are able to teach students in their native tongue. President Granger said that no child must be prevented from learning because of language barriers and called for every child to be conversant in the language of the state as well as their native language.
The Head of State noted that in addition to providing improved social services such as quality healthcare to the residents of Baramita, his administration is working with the regional administration to improve communication and infrastructure since these are critical to the development of enterprises and the delivery of services. Following the village meeting, he visited the site of the almost completed $82M Government complex, which now houses the new Baramita Primary and Nursery School buildings, the Medical Centre, teachers and nurse’s quarters. President Granger noted that the complex is part of the development of a model that will be replicated in other hinterland communities. Other Government offices will be added to the complex over time.
Regional Chairman, Mr. Brentnol Ashley noted that the Regional Administration is committed to working with the central Government for the good of all the residents of the Region. He expressed his satisfaction with the leading role the President has been taking in ensuring their security. “I want to thank you Your Excellency for coming to this community and to recommitting your solidarity in showing that the lives of all Guyanese and in specific to the people of Baramita is secured. I know that just a few days ago you were in the community of Whitewater in which you made a similar commitment to the people, who would have been gathered there and we at the level of the Regional Democratic Council reiterate our firm commitment to working with the Central Government in ensuring and securing the vision of a good life for all Guyanese and one of that being security of all our people,” he said.
Toshao of Baramita, Mr. Trevor Matthews said that it is the first time in his memory that a Head of State has visited the community. He noted as well, that the community has begun to notice some improvements in the delivery of services and development of infrastructure since 2015.
“We would like to thank you Mr. President and your team for showing a lot of attention to this village Baramita since you are in office you have turned your attention to Baramita and a lot of changes and development has been going on and a lot attention in all Government areas like health, education birth certificates and such,” the Toshao said.
Minister of Public Affairs, Ms. Dawn Hastings-Williams noted that Government will continue to work closely with the community to ensured continued development for residents.
Also President on during the visit were Chief of Staff of the GDF, Mr. Patrick West, member of the National Security Committee, Brigadier Bruce Lovell and Senior Superintendent Kevin Adonis, GPF Divisional Commander.