Georgetown, Guyana – (January 14, 2019) Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, today, said that the building to house the migrant support centre in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region, (Region Two) was identified by newly appointed Regional Executive Officer (REO), Mr. Denis Jaikarran.
Minister Felix was at the time responding to statements attributed to Mr. Devanand Ramdatt, Regional Chairman of the said Region, in the Guyana Times Newspaper on January 10, 2019. Mr. Ramdatt, according to the article headlined, “No consultations held with regional administration – Chairman” said the regional administration was not consulted on the establishment of a migrant support centre, as announced at a meeting of the National Multi-Sectoral Coordinating Committee on January 7, 2019.
However, the Minister debunked the assertions made by Mr. Ramdatt noting that the identification of the building to serve as the centre was done with the full involvement of the region’s new Regional Executive Officer (REO), Mr. Denis Jaikarran, who is essentially the region’s administrative clerk and is the second most important officer in the regional democratic architecture.
“It was with his [Mr. Jaikarran] assistance that the building in which the registration of migrants is to be done was facilitated. No migrant would be living in the building. It is Government’s work that will be conducted in that building which was identified by the REO. The Chairman is now saying that no consultations were facilitated with the regional administration and that, I am saying is not true…As far as I understand it, the Regional Executive Officer is the clerk of the regional administration and he was consulted and it was with his assistance that the building was identified. If the Regional Chairman is in disagreement with this position, then he should tell me who are the persons to be consulted in the future,” Minister Felix said.
Moreover, in October 2018, the Minister visited the Region and met with Mr. Ramdatt and the then REO, Mr. Rupert Hopkinson where they discussed the issues relative to the influx of migrants from Venezuela, both returning Guyanese and Venezuelans, in the Region.
“At that meeting, he told me that he had knowledge of some Venezuelans and Guyanese re-migrants in Region Two and he promised to assist me and my officers to get these people properly documented. To this day, after several contacts with him, we have no idea as to where the returning Guyanese or Venezuelans are, so for him to come out and say that he was never consulted is not within my style of operation. If I go to a region, I visit the Regional Chairman’s office first and let him know the purpose of my visit,” he explained.
In its efforts to continue to effectively manage the Venezuelan migrant situation, the National Coordinating Committee recognised the need for a centre that is situated closer to the point of arrival of the ferry. “This was to correct a situation where arriving boats would be putting off passengers at different points prior to arriving at the Charity Wharf and consequently, those arriving passengers who were put off earlier, would not have benefitted from registration by Immigration or inoculation by officials of the Ministry of Public Health,” Minister Felix said.
He also took the opportunity to clarify that the facility that will be set up in Region Two is not a relief or refugee centre as was stated in the said Guyana Times article but rather, a support centre where migrants can access immigration and be administered the necessary vaccines.