Times have changed for Guyana’s status in CARICOM!

first_imgDear Editor,As a young Guyanese, I have always heard of the callous and second class treatment of Guyanese in other CARICOM countries; namely, Trinidad and Barbados, which are two of the four major architects of the CARICOM Agreement with Guyana and Jamaica.Guyanese have complained for years of the difficulty of travelling to these countries, and the greater difficulty of obtaining work agreements (contrary to the CARICOM Single Market Agreement); and many other abuses, including severe ill-treatment and harassment in these territories.Let us not forget the mass kicking out of Guyanese workers recently in Barbados and ill-treatment of Guyanese entering Trinidad &Tobago, which the last administration tried to address unsuccessfully.It should be noted that under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), one of the core tenets of the agreement is the free movement of skills/labour for CARICOM nationals, and the ability to seek work and/or engage in gainful employment WITHOUT the need to obtain a work permit in the member state in which he/she wishes to work (https://foreign.gov.tt/services/csme/).This was hardly ever the case for Guyanese, a state which helped to craft the original agreement, and today houses the CARICOM Headquarters. How that can possibly happen for such an important member is beyond comprehension, and would require volumes of articles to detail.Editor, I always felt it was my duty to represent my country in the best light, and one of the more positive themes I would hear from residents of other sister territories is that Guyanese are some of the hardest working people they have ever known.While I agree that a few apples might have spoilt the lot, the contributions to CARICOM from many Guyanese in terms of skilled labour and entrepreneurship have for many decades been magnanimous, but not appreciated still to this day.Guyana’s best entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, artisans, carpenters etc. fleeing oppression and bad governance for much of its post-colonial history at the hands of the PNC and PPP, contributed immensely to the development of these territories; yet, many today cannot claim they are Guyanese in those territories due to shame, or fearing they will be denigrated.Editor, I must proclaim that today, with a sense of irony and prophesy, for which I predicted many years ago that there will come a time that nationals from those CARICOM countries (especially those known for the ill-treatment of Guyanese) will swim to our shores, we are now seeing some semblance of that.It has been reported recently that the majority of entrants into the country are citizens of Trinidad, arriving most likely due to oil bonanza currently being realised. I suspect many others will follow, especially as Guyana keeps racking up oil discoveries one after the other.Guyana is predicted to surpass oil extraction by miles more than Trinidad and Tobago at the height of its oil extraction years.Editor, we also, just today, saw former PM of Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, urging her current Government in the twin-island republic to pursue a partnership with neighbouring Guyana to refine its oil in order to avert the closure of the Petrotrin refinery (https://oilnow.gy/news/former-tt-prime-minister-thinks-guyana-oil-can-save-petrotrin-refinery-from-closure/).Who would have ever imagined that a high ranking member of CARICOM government would ever see Guyana as a key strategic partner and economically. Oh, how the times have changed!!!Where was the support for Guyana when her citizens were being mistreated and denigrated as second class citizens, for which many were rounded up out their beds and deported, belittled and ridiculed?I suspect that as the oil economy matures and the opportunities present themselves (if our current crop of leaders do not massively screw it up) we will see more nationals from the sister territories arriving, and despite the history of bad treatment, in my heart of hearts, I know fellow Guyanese will open the doors to other sister CARICOM nationals (as we for our South American neighbours) and not treat them the same as was done to us.I think we ought to be the bigger partner and do just that. We ran because we chose leaders who did not have our best interest at heart, and who were responsible for the bulk of our negative image and reputation.While we may forgive, we will NEVER forget how many countless Guyanese were belittled, chased, and persecuted in tough times when they needed a friend.I will continue to believe that my fellow countrymen and women are some of the best citizens in the world, with the biggest hearts, especially for those in need; as it reminds us so personally of our own struggles and experiences that still continue to this day, but hopefully will get better, if only for a short time.Editor, while I believe that the topic of our membership in CARICOM should be explored, I will leave that debate for some astute expert and thinker. However, I suspect that if Guyana were to ever elect a leader like Donald Trump, the idea of removing ourselves from that agreement would not be farfetched, as I believe that Guyana has not really been a beneficiary member of CARICOM, and the opposite may in fact be true.Humbly,Tony Persaudlast_img read more

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