As the Barbadian authorities tighten the screws on illegal immigrants,
paranoia is the common feeling on many Guyanese residing on the island
without legal status.
Many of them remain in hiding and are fearful that the authorities will soon catch up with them.
Even those who have spent in excess of five years on the island are fearful that the new edict by Prime Minister David Thompson will effectively lead to their deportation.
Thompson had declared a crackdown to rid the island of illegal immigrants and has given those who qualify to remain on the island up to the end of this year to regularize their status. There are reports of Guyanese and other illegal Caribbean nationals jumping through bus windows to escape immigration authorities on the island.
Even worse are reports that many tradesmen flee their worksite whenever the authorities swoop down on illegal immigrants.
At least two Guyanese carpenters claim they have lost money, having invested it in legal fees to legalise their status in Barbados.
“We paid a lawyer to look after our work permits but the people even investigating him,” one of the carpenters told Kaieteur News by telephone.
“These people stopping bus and you have to jump out the window and run. When they come at your worksite, you have to run and leave your tools and, they seizing it so you have to start all over again to buy them back. Even if you in the supermarket you might have to run and leave your goods,” the other carpenter explained.
Although some persons claim that the reports are exaggerated, several
Guyanese are taking no chances. The Guyanese tradesmen claim that since
the Prime Minister’s announcement, many illegal immigrants including
other Caribbean nationals have been fearful to go and renew their work
“What happen if you go to renew your work permit and they hold on to you and send you home? So a lot of people now working illegally because they frighten to go in,” the carpenter argued.
Already many illegal Guyanese immigrants are preparing for the worst and have started packing their personal belongings, including household articles to ship back home.
In a telephone interview with this newspaper, a Guyanese electrician who has been working in Barbados for the past six years said that he is prepared to leave should the island’s immigration authorities catch up with him.
“Since I’m here, I had bought a television set, washing machine, microwave and other things to make my apartment comfortable. I will start shipping them home because if they catch me and deport me these things will be left behind and I will loose a lot of money,” the electrician told Kaieteur News. Another bone of contention raised by some Guyanese is the sudden increase in the house rent imposed by Barbadian homeowners.
The electrician explained that when Barbados had experienced a construction boom a few years back, many of the citizens there had taken mortgages, which were used to extend their properties to accommodate the influx of foreign workers. These properties were rented to the migrant for a fee, which enabled the homeowners to repay the mortgages.
Now that the crackdown has been launched several persons have been returning either voluntarily or involuntarily to their respective homelands, leaving the homeowners with their unpaid mortgages.
To counter this situation it was reported that many of these homeowners have jacked up the rent for the remaining immigrants, a move that has angered many.
“I making sure I got my passage because when they catch you, you could be detained for long until there is money to deport you,” the electrician said.
Just last week General Secretary of Guyana’s ruling People’s Progressive Party, Donald Ramotar had accused the Barbadian government of using Guyanese as the scapegoat for their current economic situation.
“Now in particular, with the economic downturn that is having a significant effect on the Barbados economy…Guyanese are being made the scapegoats,” Ramotar told Kaieteur news in an invited comment.
He said that it is a real pity that the Barbados government is behaving in this manner, since Guyana and Barbados has very long links with persons in both countries having inter-relations and family ties.
“It is very sad when a government will be using these type of nationalistic behaviour to break up a relationship that has been built over centuries with people of common history,” the PPP General Secretary said. The move by the Barbados government has been criticized by several persons including CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Thursday, May 28, 2009