Guyana plans to open a Consulate in French Guiana to look after the interests and welfare of thousands of Guyanese who live in that overseas department of France as well as ensure that suspected criminals are sent back to their homeland.
“Some of them might be criminals, and we hope that when we establish a consulate, we’ll be able to ensure that persons who are identified as criminals in their homeland will be identified to the authorities in Cayenne, and we will be able to extradite persons who are wanted for criminal offences,” President David Granger was quoted by the Government Information Agency (GINA) as telling French Television.
It was noted that French Guiana has a large migrant population of Guyanese and such a facility would help to service their needs, and assist in the building of closer ties between the two nations.
“I will ensure that there is a consulate in French Guiana to look after the interest of the Guyanese there,” said Granger.
According to the Head of State, many of Guyana’s diplomatic representatives have been serving overseas for 22 years or more and “this is unacceptable”. Many countries rotate or change their diplomats every three or four years. Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge has already indicated that those who were political appointees to the Foreign Service will be asked to step down.
The president was told of a negative perception that is given to many Guyanese in French Guiana, notwithstanding the fact many who have migrated to the territory are hardworking, law abiding citizens. He responded that as with any community, “You will find that the good people outnumber the bad people. We are aware that many fugitives from justice and many persons from poor economic conditions go to neighbouring countries to seek a better life,” he said.
He added that it is not his government’s intention to export crime, but rather offer protection to law abiding citizens. “I am very confident that in the long- term, you will be very confident of Guyanese who seek employment in your country. We have economic problems and what you are seeing may be a consequence of that but we are not a criminal state, we are not a rogue state”.
With regards to the Diaspora, and Guyanese in general who reside overseas, President Granger said that while many departed this country, “in the 1980s and 90s, to the present time” due to mostly economic reasons, he is optimistic that as Guyana begins to improve economically, this trend will be reversed. “I think they love their homeland and I’m confident that they will like to make a better future for themselves and their children, right here in Guyana so they would return home. I expect migration to be reduced, the Diaspora will come home, they love their country”.
The question of whether he would support the efforts of French Guiana to become a member of Caricom was met with a positive response from President Granger. He explained that while the Caribbean Community was launched initially with English speaking countries, Haiti and Suriname which are not English speaking are now members.
The president said, “We feel that the Caribbean Community has as its objective the alleviation of poverty and the provision of a good life for all its citizens so I would welcome the citizens of French Guiana although it is the smallest of the Guianas. I would welcome it in to the Caribbean family”.