Oct 26, 2020 News
– political instability, inefficient health and education systems blamed
Kaieteur News – According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think-tank based in the United States of America, more than 30,000 of Guyanese migrate out of Guyana every year—a sizable portion for a country with a total population that has never reached one million.
Collaborating with the Embassy of Guyana in Washington, D.C. and with other public and private stakeholders, the Americas Program had initiated an ongoing series of presentations and publications on Guyana as well as efforts to gather the growing group of individuals and organizations, public and private, with an interest in and commitment to Guyana, including members of the Guyanese diaspora living in the United States.
In one of their recently published reports, CSIS indicated that since the 1960s, the Guyanese emigrant population has increased. This was to be blamed on the “difficult economic conditions, a tense social and political environment, a weak educational system, high levels of insecurity, and an inefficient healthcare system.”
Simultaneously, the report states that favorable immigration laws first in the United Kingdom, and later in Canada and the United States, as well as better job and education opportunities abroad, have helped to motivate high levels of emigration among Guyanese.
“As the number of Guyanese living abroad has increased since the 1960s, the pull factor represented by a growing number of diaspora family members has only helped to keep the emigration flow steady,” the report states.
The document records that the US continues to be the most popular destination for emigrating Guyanese. It is estimated that over 400,000 persons in the United States are Guyanese or of Guyanese ancestry.
It notes that the majority of Guyanese in the United States live in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, and Maryland, though smaller communities exist in other places, including Illinois, Minnesota, and California.
Canada is listed as another popular destination for Guyanese emigrants since the 1980s.
“In 2016,” the center writes, “88,570 people living in Canada reported Guyana as their country of birth, although some members of the diaspora estimate that Canada could be home to as many as 120,000 to 200,000 Guyanese. Most members of the Guyanese diaspora live in Ontario, mostly in Toronto, with also significant populations in Montreal.”
CSIS goes on to say that approximately 30,000 Guyanese live in the United Kingdom, mostly in the North East region, the East Midlands, and in the London metro area.
Unlike the US and Canada, the UK’s Guyanese immigrant demographic is mostly made up of well-established communities of older generations, given that its biggest immigration waves were in the early-1960s.
Other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean also have significant populations of Guyanese immigrants. Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados each have small Guyanese diaspora communities ranging in size from 5,000 to 15,000.
A key recommendation of the center’s report, directed at both the public and private sectors in Guyana and at Guyanese diaspora communities around the world, is to work collectively and deliberately to establish broader communications, engagement, and collaboration between Guyana and the diaspora through a “Guyana Global” initiative.
“Given the global dispersion of the diaspora and the current landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CSIS says, “This initiative should be based on a comprehensive digital strategy to harness the human capital within the Guyanese diaspora as a resource to be tapped in Guyana’s development. A cloud-based “portal,” including an online “community/platform” of diaspora experts, could serve as a framework and a formal means of communication between Guyana and the diaspora community.”
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