More than 100 Haitians arrived aboard a chartered aircraft early Thursday morning, but Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Winston Felix said he is not worried.
“We did not have any issues with their bona fides, we saw nothing wrong. To me everything appeared very normal” Felix told Demerara Waves Online News. He said they have been given one month’s stay in Guyana. He said they are free to travel to neighbouring Suriname if they so desire and have the required visa. “They didn’t come to Guyana ti stick in Guyana,” he added.
Felix, a former Police Commissioner, said there was nothing wrong with a large number of Haitians arriving here in the same way that Chinese and Cubans have been coming here in large numbers.
However, their arrival here is said to be raising eyebrows among immigration authorities in Guyana, well-placed sources said.
Officials have confirmed to Demerara Waves Online News on condition of anonymity that 154 Haitians landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) at about 1:45 Thursday morning. A Fly Jamaica plane flew the passengers from Port-au-Prince to Guyana directly.
“They came as tourists. It’s the first time we are seeing it,” a well-placed source said. They were allowed entry and they all had travel documents. The source said “we are investigating it” , adding that the visitors gave a number of addresses.
Immigration officials could not confirm that 45 of the Haitians were shuttled across to neighbouring Suriname and another 45 are due to leave for that Dutch-speaking neighbour shortly.
The movement of Haitians to several Caribbean territories such as Turks and Caicos Islands and The Bahamas has proven to be troublesome because thousands of them have migrated legally and illegally and putting pressure on social and economic services.
Across in Suriname, authorities have introduced a visa requirement for Haitians because they have been flying there by air and moving on to French Guiana which shares a similar history and culture.