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Ramotar warns foreigners to stay clear of drug trade

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President Donald Ramotar (left at lectern) addressing foreigners living and working in Guyana.

President Donald Ramotar on Monday warned foreigners working here against getting involved in the drug trade and other illegal activities, while assuring them that immigration bottlenecks would addressed.

“We will have zero tolerance for anyone who gets themselves involved in these kinds of activities,” he told the gathering of mainly Chinese and Brazilians at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC). Also present were several nationals of African countries.

Ramotar said he would not use his influence on behalf of anyone who yields to the temptation of getting involved in illegal activities.

Only last week, Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud said government would soon be tightening the system to prevent drug traffickers from washing their ill-gotten gains in the gold industry.

The Guyanese leader noted that Guyana was working with its neighbours and internationally in fighting the narcotics trade which he described as “one of the major problems in the world.”

Brazilians are mainly involved in gold mining while Chinese are traders and restaurateurs. Most nationals from the African countries are students of offshore medical schools.

During the question and answer session of the meeting that was aimed at creating a greater awareness of Guyana’s immigration policy, concerns were raised by several persons about inordinate delays in acquiring residency and citizenships.

Ramotar referred them to the Home Affairs Ministry to seek clarifications and updates, while repeatedly reassuring them that government’s aim was to facilitate speedy processing rather than causing delays.

Among those present were the Commissioner of Police, Leroy Brummel;  Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Carol Lewis-Primo and senior members of the Private Sector Commission (PSC).

China’s Ambassador to Guyana, Zhang Limin said that while Chinese are law abiding and hardworking, they face at least two major problems in the course of contributing to  the social and economic development and cultural diversity of Guyana.

“To be frank, the local Chinese people also face some difficulties in their life and work. For instance, the prominent ones are processing speed for their applications for extension of stay and the safety of their life and property,” he said. At the same time, he was confident that those could be overcome.

Brazil’s Ambassador to Guyana outlined efforts to encourage his country men and women to abide by Guyana’s immigration laws. “Unfortunately, some of these immigrants might be violating Guyanese laws working without work permits or engaged in illegal mining or both,”

The Brazilian embassy does not approve this practice and is working towards creating a greater awareness among the Brazilian community of the need to fully comply to Guyanese laws,” he said.

The Guyana- Brazil group on Consular Cooperation is expected to meet shortly discuss immigration matters of concern to both countries. A Brazilian radio programme would soon be broadcast locally here.