The estimates could be on the conservative side regarding the anticipated influx of neighbours looking for a way out of national distress and dangers, while manifesting that instinctively human characteristic: the desire, the struggle, the determination to survive.
Any outlet will do, and Guyana is as good as any and, when, all local promises on the table come to pass-even partially-then it is not merely encouraging, but infinitely better than most other destinations under consideration. Georgetown and its environs alone already are beehives of commercial activity.
Officially, the current guesstimate is somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 newcomers from Venezuela in the coming months, which could prove to be woefully underestimated and publicly understated.
Because it is the belief of this paper that if the oil comes on stream in the gushers released, and the attendant downstream businesses come onboard, then the opportunities will be there, the hope will spring stronger, urgings more urgent, in the breasts of our suffering neighbours, now compelled by circumstances to run for their lives, sometimes with just the scraps on their backs.
It is the pathos of refugees since time immemorial, and it is reminiscent of the plight once experienced by Guyanese, who went through (and still do) such arduous mental, emotional, and physical treks to this part and that place. We should know well, as we have the scars and siblings, the friends and family, settled in just about every locale that opened arms and welcomed us a while back, when our own troubles had intensified and left the savaging backwash that continues to this day.
The apprehensions are that services and agencies will be stretched. They are more than accurate, since even with our own populace, those needs can be long in coming, or sometimes not available to a sufficient degree, or not at all. The contemplation of 40,000 incoming is alarming, even with the most expansive, the most benevolent of mindsets, given what we have, and where we are at the present. It would be that even 10,000 Venezuelans could be a real challenge, which might make this society and its far from developed facilities falter, if not frizzle up, before such a volume of people, now deliberately minimised to emphasise and register the extent of the social and other pressures.
Another element that is due some consideration should be the commonsense assumption, if not comprehension, that migrants usually gravitate to where there is economic activity, as in businesses. For businesses have the need for workers, and the more businesses, the more are the workers that could be called upon to deliver.
It is sensible to envision that, even with the best of intentions, policy decisions, and procedural controls, most of the influx-first a steady trickle, and then a rush of tides-could end up in an already clogged capital city. That means hypothetically several hundred and then thousands in congested Georgetown.
This is not an appealing calculation, however remote it may look at this time, since it may not be so. It cannot be appealing to those, who are at the helm of the Guyana Police Force, or the Hon. Ministers of Public Health and Social Protection, to name a few of them only. This, of course, extends to the public hospital and clinics and the local schools, wherever they may be located.
All are known to be crowded and lacking in some aspects of deliverables. There is acknowledgement that these may represent the tip of the submerged, but ever-real, landmine only. This is posited because as the oil flows so, too, will the folks from afar, which before long could transform the native-born into a full-fledged minority in no time.
The options are not many, the answers not comforting, for there is a long, porous border that has too few human resources and too few resources period, with which to stand and guard the entrance bridges.
There is simply too much area near to and far from any official checkpoints to render them moot. Here is a last offering: what better way than to reclaim territory than to flood it with one’s own? That should be enough to bring sobriety to the local powers, trying to figure out how to go about national governance.
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