By the busloads… More than 100 Haitians, Cubans at Brazil border checkpoint daily – Brazilian Immigration

Days after the Government admitted that from evidence, Haitians were making it across the borders after landing legally in Guyana, there are indications that daily, up to seven vehicles are making it to Lethem.

The Lethem checkpoint at the Takutu Bridge

Lethem is the Region 9 town that borders Guyana with Brazil and connects via a bridge across the Takutu River. It has checkpoints on both sides of the river, with Immigration and Customs personnel manning the facilities.         

The bridge has been helping Lethem with Chinese stores springing up in recent years, attracting scores of Brazilian traders and shoppers daily.       

The crossing has also attracted something else…people who wanted to get across at all costs.

Over the years, they included Chinese, Venezuelans, and now Haitians.
There are also strong indications the Cubans, too, are capitalising on the no-visa entry to Guyana to make their way to Brazil.

“It is by the busloads. We have people here who are moving them to Brazil. It is good business,” one resident said.
There is no problem. The Haitians and Cubans are entering Guyana legally. They go to Lethem legally. Somehow, they make it across the river to the Brazilian checkpoint. They are not checking in on the Guyana side.

The problem is, on the books, they are not leaving legally. It meant Guyana is a transit point.
The Government is not too concerned, with little evidence that smuggling is a major issue, a statement from Government said this week.

However, on the Brazilian side, officials this week confirmed that on average up to 100 Haitians and Cubans would stamp in daily. Of that they are sure.

The Brazil checkpoint, called “The Federal”,

Cubans and Haitians are also using planes from Ogle Airport.
Like in the city, where persons are coordinating the arrival and movement of the nationals from the Timehri airport, at Lethem, there is an open system where drivers vie for the business.

It is ready business…that pays well in a place where trade with the Chinese is the biggest thing.

There are bars where the Haitians can freshen up, and even a bus service that is ready to take them. They are brought to certain homes and places, and at specific times are moved to Bom Fim, the area across the Takutu River, on the Brazilian side.

The situation of the volume of persons who were moving through the checkpoints daily has increased in recent months. It has largely been kept quiet.

BENEFITS
The transportation services have been benefitting. The planes from Ogle Airport are filled.
The situation only came to light recently when the Opposition continued to complain that it has information that thousands of Haitians and other foreigners are coming to Guyana and not leaving.

An investigation by Kaieteur News found an unusual number, indeed, daily from the Copa Airline flight from Panama. The Haitians, more than 50 of them, were landing here per day.
They are picked up in minibuses and whisked to city spots.
However, from checks, it was discovered that five to six minibuses were making it to Lethem daily from the city.

The Government has denied that the situation is human smuggling or trafficking.

In a statement, following the reports in Kaieteur News, Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, on Monday confirmed that for the year more than 8,400 Haitians arrived but Government can only account for a little more than 1,100 leaving.

In his statement, Felix, a former Commissioner of Police, was also highly critical of media entities, which he said were promoting xenophobia of Haitians.

The issue had triggered a bitter debate with the Opposition accusing the Government, which is facing early elections, of using the Haitians to register them on the voters’ list.

Minister Felix, in an interview with the Public Information and Press Service (PIPS) Unit of the Ministry of the Presidency, said it is clear that there is a sinister agenda afoot, aimed at using the arrival of Haitians in Guyana for political mileage through falsified information to deceive and sow seeds of discord among Guyanese.

Instead, he said, during the first seven months, 8,476 Haitians arrived in Guyana and 1,170 departed the country. Forty-eight were refused leave on landing.

“No one would deny that Haitians are one of the higher numbers arriving in Guyana from around the Caribbean, but the records produced…are grossly incorrect and cannot be trusted to guide the public as to what is really taking place,” Minster Felix said.

Records from the Department show that in 2013, 188 Haitians arrived in Guyana with 99 departures; in 2014, 227 arrivals and 113 departures; in 2015, 770 arrivals with 136 departures; in 2016, 722 arrivals with 451 departures; in 2018, 3,515 arrivals with 291 departures and in 2018, 1,238 arrivals with 85 departures.

In 2019, there was legislative adjustment to Schedule II of the Immigration Act, Cap. 14:02, to include Haiti as a beneficiary to the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME), which facilitates free movement within the Region and automatic entry and stay of six months in the CARICOM countries.

Prior to the amendment, the Act had facilitated the six months automatic stay to other CARICOM member states including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Montserrat, Grenada, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago with the exception of Haiti, whose nationals had required a visa and were only allowed to stay for up to 90 days or three months.

Since then, Haitians no longer need a visa to travel to Guyana and are afforded the same treatment and welcome that other CARICOM nationals have enjoyed.

FREE MOVEMENT
Further to this, Minister Felix said, Haitians have capitalised on free movement within the Region to travel to Guyana and other states.

“I know in some instances; the Haitians have walked over mountains to the Dominican Republic to catch flights to Central and South America using whatever airlines are available. This, along with the relaxation of the visa requirement, has allowed for freer movement of Haitians around the Region.”

He said that many of the news outlets have been making heavy weather of the Haitians who cannot be accounted for.
“We have large and unprotected borders on the East with Suriname, on the West with Venezuela and on the South with Brazil. It is very easy to travel from certain parts of the Rupununi to Brazil because of the porous borders. For Suriname, there is the decades-old back track, which the Haitians utilise to travel across and then onward to Cayenne,” he said.
“This position resembles xenophobia and is even practiced by certain people in power. I cannot see why a CARICOM state, which has now gotten CSME status can be so vilified for passing through Guyana. They are just passing through and yet they are attracting all the negative thoughts and actions of people who are seeking power.

The Minister of Citizenship pointed out that the Guyana Police Force has made checks and to date, has found no evidence to indicate even a single instance of people smuggling or Trafficking in Persons (TIP), relative to the Haitian travellers.

As a matter of fact, he said, the Force, since 2014 has not found a single case of Haitians being victims of either of the alleged crimes.

TAKUTU BRIDGE – Rupununi. Guyana

Masthead Picture – April 2010.  Guyanese Online

TAKUTU BRIDGE – Rupununi. Guyana (Near Lethem)

Takutu Bridge joining Brazil and Guyana

The Takutu Bridge (above) was built by Brazil to bridge the Takutu River border with Guyana.  It is located a few miles from Lethem in the Rupununi.  Its nearest Brazilian town is Bon Fim across the border but Boa Vista is just 120 km (80 mls) away by high speed highway.

Articles about the Takutu Bridge:

April 27, 2009: Takutu bridge opens to traffic

September 6, 2009: Takutu Bridge opens new frontiers

September 15, 2009:  Takutu Bridge Officially Opens

Photo Slide Slow:  Special Slideshow :  A Trip to Takutu Bridge

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On August 10, 2019 at 3:28 am

    Reads “speculation” by MSM (main stream media). Am sure the numbers of Venezuelans
    entering Guyana is of more concern. Maybe
    some investigative journalism into these numbers should be publicised.
    Maybe free movement of goods services
    and people’s (not unlike EU ambitions) is on the cards or in pipeline for carribean/Latin American immigrants…visa free !

    Go figure

    Kamtan

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On August 10, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    An interesting development in human mass migration–not to be confused with human trafficking. With the USA closing its southern border, economic and other migrants and asylum seekers must now look southwards for another haven. As the South American country with the largest economy, Brazil is no doubt a great attraction.

  • Trevor  On August 10, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Do you know how many European Americans, expats and wealthy foreigners are coming to Guyana daily? It seems that they are coming here by the thousands!

    Why are TPTB focusing on Haitians migrating to greener pastures when the Indian, Chinese, American and European national are buying up all of the waterfront properties and pricing the working class Guyanese from buying a home?

  • Trevor  On August 10, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Haitian uses Guyana as a route for refugee status in Brazil= “PNC rigging elections”

    Wealthy money launderer/businessman/oil tycoon comes to Guyana to buy a waterfront property for GY$150 to 325 Million= silence (crickets).

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