Kaieteur News – President Ali on more than one occasion expressed severe disappointment on the reality of not having access to the EU visa (known as Schengen visa). He raised it with the recent outgoing EU ambassador.
The Schengen visa cannot be obtained in Guyana because it has to be issued by the embassy of a country that belongs to the EU. There isn’t an EU country with a diplomatic mission in Guyana.
What the President may not have known at the time that right here in Guyana, there is a Canadian embassy (officially known as High Commission) that does not offer visa services.
The Canadian scenario is more confusing than the Schengen visa thing because Canada has an embassy here. It is a sprawling complex on Young Street in Kingston. It stopped offering consular services in 1980 when it withdrew visa services.
When you apply for a Canadian visa, your passport is forwarded to Trinidad. Herein lies the danger. As I stated in my column yesterday, a passport is an extremely precious thing. An embassy in Guyana should never send that document outside.
If it is lost, there is an ensuing nightmare. Suppose you apply for a UK visa or Canadian visa and inside your passport are an American and Schengen stamps. If your passport is lost at another airport when it is sent abroad, then you will face a nightmare.
It takes a year to get a visa appointment at the US Embassy. You have to leave Guyana to have your Schengen stamp replaced. The question that the Guyana government must ask itself is why visa services are not offered at the diplomatic missions of the UK and Canada right here in Georgetown? Why take the risk in sending applicants’ passport abroad?
The answer from the UK and Canada should be fascinating because both countries offer consular services in other countries where they have embassies. Why is Guyana an exception? Why do you have to go to a private company named VFS Global to get a UK visa?
Why Guyanese have to go to Trinidad to get a Canadian visa? I took the decision since I was 18 years old not to get involved in party politics because I would not be a good representative of the party I belonged to if it should be in power.
I would say things that are on my mind that may embarrass my government. If I were a parliamentarian for the ruling party, I would tell the British High Commission that the requirement of a TB test for a student visa is nonsense and the imposition of only four doctors in the entire country to do the test is nonsense. I would use that very word.
I walked into the Bank of Guyana Building in 1978 and went straight into the Canadian High Commission housed in that complex to get my student visa. I wore a soiled pair of jeans, an old army jacket, a pair of rubber slippers, and a basket hat on my head.
I presented my MacMaster University scholarship offer. No one asked me any question. My passport was stamped and I never looked back, philosophically speaking. Those days are gone. Unfortunately, the world has become a far more difficult place for Third World (TW) people to live in.
I can imagine the millions of TW people who are turned down for a Western visa each day around the world but those very TW countries are warned and advised each day to have nothing to do with the countries of China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc.
As I wrote yesterday, the Chinese Embassy gives you the visa right here. Fifteen years ago, Glenn Lall, Ravi Dev and I had dinner with the Chinese Ambassador. We were introduced to the consular officers. They all seem to be modest people. You do not have to go by Bourda Market at VFS Global office to get your passport back when you apply for a Chinese visa. I am saying with unashamed boldness that VFS office is situated at a place where you can easily get robbed. It is a bad area where as I stated in my column yesterday, a Venezuelan youth got mugged and knifed to death right near to VFS Global office.
The Canadian High Commission stopped issuing visa to Guyanese in 1980 because the mission was overwhelmed with Guyanese fleeing the insane hegemony of President Burnham. That was forty years ago.
Guyana has left that era a long time ago. Why do Guyanese have to go to Trinidad? Why Trinidad? I like Burt Bacharach. I love his composition; “That’s what friends are for.” Listen to it and then apply for a Canadian or UK visa.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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