Guyana Prepares for Venezuelan Refugees, Fears Economic Hardships Could Cause Mass Exodus
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defense Force, Brigadier Mark Phillips, says the GDF has been placed on alert in the wake of reports that Venezuelans could flee to neighboring countries as economic hardships continue to grip the country.
Phillips told Demerara Waves Online that while a lot of theories are being reported, the GDF cannot conduct operations based on theories, however the force would protect the integrity of Guyana’s borders.
“A lot of experts who have a lot of theories, (but) we cannot plan our operations based on these theories …we have our deployment, we are monitoring the situation and we are following the economic and political situation,” he said.
According to Phillips, so far there have been no reports of unusual cross-border activity between Guyana and neighboring Venezuela.
Meanwhile, President David Granger on Thursday said there is currently no agreement in place with Venezuela about refugees.
Granger, who was responding to questions from journalists, said the matter has not been considered.
He however said Guyana is obligated to accept any Guyanese returning from Venezuela.
“I am deeply concerned, Guyana has special interest because of the territorial question, but I think the whole region is concerned about what is taking place in Venezuela, and we hope that there is not going to be a resort to lawlessness,” the president said.
With the economic meltdown in Guyana and the reported shortage of basic medication, it is speculated that thousands of Venezuelans could leave the country for Guyana and elsewhere in the region.
Guyana and Venezuela are currently embroiled in a diplomatic controversy with the country claiming more than two-thirds of Guyana’s land and maritime space. Guyana is preparing to go to the International Court of Justice on the issue.
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