May 18, 2009 News
– houses reportedly being raided by night
“I don’t know if Jagdeo has any teeth,” Barbadian-based Guyanese
Guyanese nationals living in Barbados are calling on President Bharat Jagdeo to speak on behalf of his countrymen against what they described as atrocities against them by the Barbadian authorities.
The call comes in the wake of a warning by Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of a collapse of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) in the face of what he sees as discriminatory immigration policies in some territories of the regional integration bloc – CARICOM.
A new Barbadian immigration policy threatens the deportation of all illegal immigrants at the end of this year, but CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington has said that while CARICOM is not lenient towards “illegal” immigrants “the way” in which these policies are executed, matters.
According to Guyanese on the island, President Jagdeo appears to be a ‘toothless poodle’ when it comes to representing his people against atrocities meted out to them by authorities in CARICOM member countries, especially Barbados.
Several Guyanese and other Caribbean nationals have migrated to the island within the past decade.
Guyanese Benn Rajkumar has been living in Barbados for the past eight years and according to him, Barbadian Immigration Officials, with assistance from the Barbados Police Force, have been raiding the residences of Guyanese at nights under the guise of picking up suspected illegal immigrants.
The Guyanese said that suspects are rounded up and detained at a facility at the Grantley Adams International Airport, sometimes for four days under inhumane conditions.
“The police move around in the nights and they raid mostly the Guyanese East Indian residences because they are easily identifiable. I don’t know if President Jagdeo has any teeth,” Rajkumar.
He said that within recent times, Guyana’s Counsel in Barbados Norman Faria has been speaking out but this appears to be having little or no effect.
Barbados Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin refused to comment on the matter when questions were put to him during the recent Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police conference held here last week.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued in the Vincentian House of Parliament, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, while not naming Barbados specifically, said it was sad that some political leaders are “stoking chauvinistic fires which are latent in our Caribbean societies.”
“This has led here and there to an outpouring of a malignant xenophobia particularly against Guyanese, Jamaicans, Vincentians, St Lucians and Grenadians,” he is quoted by news reports as saying.
Gonsalves has been quoted as saying that if the discrimination does not stop, then “Caricom would shortly be rent asunder.”
The St. Vincent Prime Minister, who is known to be outspoken, drew an example of discrimination whereby a Vincentian woman, who is married to a Barbadian, was denied a student visa for her five-year-old niece who was attending school in Barbados and her 18-year-old niece who was writing exams last September.
Gonsalves said both had to leave Barbados within a seven-day period on instructions of the Immigration Department. A letter outlining the circumstances had been sent to Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson, Gonsalves said.
He said his government is being patient with CARICOM and will never “lightly abandon the CSME, but the discriminatory antics against our nationals by some immigration authorities must stop.”
Gonsalves asserted that the Vincentian government had gone way beyond the treaty and had accommodated CARICOM nationals who were not yet entitled to the right of employment.
CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington said the May 23 meeting of leaders in Trinidad would be the earliest opportunity to determine “whether we are going in the right direction.”
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