A meeting last week Thursday with Haitians and other nationals, and involving Chief Executive Officer of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Aubrey Heath-Retemyer, was held at the Critchlow Labour College. And the Ministry of the Presidency says the SARA official was there in his personal capacity.
The Director-General of the Ministry, Joseph Harmon, was yesterday asked about the matter.
Eyebrows were raised over the meeting which was not advertised and reportedly keep quiet.
However, Heath-Retemyer said that there is nothing suspicious about the meeting.
He disclosed that on Thursday, August 29th, he and Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, met with African and Haitian nationals who had applied for citizenship and work permits.
“The nationals had many questions with regards to the status of their applications and needed clarification. We met at the Critchlow Labour College which is a public place.”
The official said that MTV Channel 65 was there without interviewing anyone and subsequently aired on its newscast “a mischievous and grossly inaccurate representation of that meeting”.
A video was also posted on YouTube entitled “PNC plans got busted”.
“The reporters did not interview myself, Minister Felix or anyone present, yet they concocted a malicious story about promises being made to the Haitian and African nationals with regards to citizenships, work permits and paying off of tuition fees in exchange for votes.”
Heath-Retemyer insisted that no one was promised work permits, citizenship or assistance with paying off of tuition fees and more so in exchange for votes.
“It was simply a question and answer segment. The news report from Channel 65 is libelous and it is obvious that MTV channel 65 is desperately trying to tarnish my character and reputation and this is repugnant.”
The official pointed out that Haiti is one of the 15 full member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Guyana is a founding member.
“Haitians are entitled to work permits under the tenets of Caribbean Single Market and Economy. It is known that Channel 65 is a PPP biased media outlet,” Heath-Retemyer asserted.
He questioned that if help is being extended to Venezuelan nationals, why is it that help in the form of support and information cannot also be given to Haiti and African nationals who have reached out for necessary support.
The SARA official pointed out that in 2018, it was reported in the media that 298 foreigners acquired citizenship in Guyana and some 979 other foreigners were granted an extension of stay and work permits.
“This 979 foreigners included 225 Cubans, 175 Chinese, 165 Americans, 120 Indians, 70 Philippinos, 75 Venezuelans, 59 British, 45 from The Dominican Republic, 30 from Trinidad and Tobago and 15 Surinamese. There was no outrage or protest from the PPP or PPP biased media outlets.”
He said that it is obvious that Guyana is a destination choice for those near and far and as of December 31, 2018, Guyana recorded a total of 286,732 visitors, which is a 15.93 percent increase from the 247,330 visitors Guyana welcomed in 2017.
“With thousands of visitors that we have had in this country and the hundreds that sought citizenship, none has been treated more unfairly than the African and Haitian nationals by the PPP and their media outlets.”
Heath-Retemyer called on the Ethnic Relations Committee (ERC) to investigate and sanction those who persist in the unsubstantiated allegations and unwarranted alarms against African and Haitian nationals in Guyana.
“I am vehemently condemning the xenophobic and racist attacks against the African and Haitian nationals and the malicious attempt to stain my good character, as this is a poor attempt to remove the public attention from the corrupt practices of the PPP in Region (9) where persons have been caught with fraudulent birth certificates.”
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