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Could CARICOM Come Crashing Down Over The `Ethnic Cleansing` Of Guyanese From Barbados?

CaribWorldNews, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Weds. July 1, 2009: There seems to be the mother of a row brewing over the seeming discrimination, early morning raids on their homes and the `ethnic cleansing` of illegal Guyanese immigrants in Barbados.

So far this month four Guyanese have been deported from Barbados and  Prime Minister David Thompson  revealed on Saturday that from June 1 to 26, visits were made to 15 residences on June 9, 11 and 13 between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

`These visits led to the detention and removal of 47 non-nationals, 34 of whom were Guyanese nationals, who were in the country illegally,` Thompson said  and out of that number eight were deported including the four Guyanese.

The Guyanese were deported from the CARICOM nation for reasons such as `theft, overstaying and possession of a false work permit stamp, destitute and deception.`

Thompson also said 177 people had their stay extended and some 71 Guyanese were in that number. There are also 380 applications for renewal of short-term permits and 294 of that number are on behalf of Guyanese.

President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana is chairing the 13th Meeting of the CARICOM summit of heads of states this weekend. Last Friday he said that  the treatment of Guyanese immigrants in other countries continued to be of great concern to him and he urged that they be treated with `respect` and `dignity` wherever they go.
He has asked any who thinks they have been maltreated to report the behavior to the Office of Foreign Affairs in Georgetown.

Two fellow Prime ministers, St. Lucian Prime Minister Stephenson King, and Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, have joined in on the side of the Guyanese.

Much fireworks are promised at the International Convention Centre later this week. It may even lead to deeper fissures in the Community as it runs directly counter to the free movement of labor to which CARICOM aspires.

Thompson announced on May 5th that all undocumented CARICOM nationals in his country, who arrived before December 2005 would be rounded up and deported.

The Guyanese came to Barbados in droves to serve sectors like construction in times of boom, many without proper papers. There used to be a `Guyanese Bench` at Grantley Adams airport for those refused entry on the way in. Now there seems to be a Guyana bench for those on the way out too.

Last week, Guyanese economist and President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Compton Bourne decried the early morning raids against the undocumented in Barbados and said that the situation should be handled with greater sensitivity than it seems to have been handled with so far.

Eminent regionalist, Sir Shridath Ramphal, also of Guyanese origin, in an apparent reference to the Barbados deportations, told a meeting in Trinidad on Thursday that it was sad that the Caribbean was experiencing a period when both policies and practices are deepening divisions and he cautioned that `we forget our oneness at our peril.`

He added, “The knock on the door at night` is not within our regional culture; still less are intimations of `ethnic cleansing.`
Thompson, the English born premier of Barbados, is unrepentant.

He said he is bewildered and disgusted at the `reckless and grossly unfair` generalizations and slurs leveled against his island`s public officers on the issue of unchecked migration into the island.

`The bottom line here is that Barbados has a serious problem of illegal; unchecked and undocumented migration and this government is doing something about it,` he promised.

For its part, The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy President, Rickford Burke, has said that Barbados`s new immigration policy is `divisive` and `supercilious,` and undermines the Caribbean Community.`
 `The extant immigration practices in Barbados lack careful thought, have been fundamentally discriminatory and are antithetical to the values of the integration movement,` Burke asserted.

He called on Thompson `To halt all draconian immigration practices and confer with his regional counterparts to conceptualize a more `altruistic, uniform and progressive` immigration policy that is congruous with the spirit of Caribbean integration and free movement of peoples, as envisioned by the revised Treaty of Chaguramas.`

Watch out for several rounds of prime ministerial fisticuffs in Georgetown from July 2-5th. – By John Mair/Special To CWNN