Sep 20, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Officials from the Governments of Guyana and the Brazilian State of Roraima met on Friday to discuss a blockade which had developed at the border between the Lethem and Bonfim communities. Protestors on the Bonfim side had formed the blockade against the weekly cross-border transport of supplies into Guyana in recent weeks, calling on Guyana to reopen the border to regular passenger traffic of Brazilians’ into Lethem.
The meeting was called by Governor of Roraima, Antonio Oliverio García de Almeida. Minister Dr. Frank Anthony answered the call to Boa Vista, acting as Minister of Foreign Affairs while Hugh Todd is away with the President in Mexico. Anthony was accompanied by Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, as well as senior officials from the Foreign Ministry and the National COVID-19 Task Force.
According to a release from the Government of Guyana, Dr. Anthony told the meeting that he understood the communities wanted the border to be opened up for the movement of people and commerce, but noted that the arrangement put in place to facilitate the movement of goods to one day per week has been working satisfactorily over the past year.
He reportedly said that though Guyana wished to have the border opened up between the two jurisdictions, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic had to be considered, and the highly transmissible Delta variant. The Government said Dr. Anthony related that any decision to open the border had to make sure that doing so would be safe.
“This situation was compounded by the unfortunate position being taken by some persons in Guyana not to be vaccinated,” the release stated. “He highlighted that one possible solution is for all persons transiting the border to be fully vaccinated and produce a negative PCR test. Both sides will further discuss this.”
The Government of Guyana has continued to consider the public health situation in Brazil, in reviewing its decision to keep the border restricted. Brazil has been one of the nation’s worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for the state of Roraima, while having a smaller population than Guyana, has registered more than 4 times the number of COVID-19 cases as Guyana, and nearly three times the COVID-19 deaths.
“The Government of Guyana wishes to state categorically that it will not put citizens of any country at risk during this pandemic and, as a result, will continue to enforce measures in keeping with national and international protocols. The Government further encourages all citizens and the private sector to support these initiatives.”
Despite this, the Government still stressed that there is a special relationship between Guyana and Brazil, and the State of Roraima. The Finance Minister is reported as saying that the economic destinies of Guyana and Roraima are closely tied. Guyana is interested in enhanced cooperation with Brazil on energy, agriculture, health and tourism. He offered to facilitate a meeting between the Guyana private sector and Roraima State to explore business opportunities. The Government also said it was agreed that early discussions would be had on various sectors.
Authorities on both sides reportedly agreed that early discussions would be held with counterparts of the various sectors, as well as to convene a meeting to review the full implementation of the International Road Transport Agreement for Passengers and Goods and a meeting of the Frontier Committee responsible for monitoring the development and integration of the two border communities.
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