Venezuelans aren’t over-running Guyana’s registration process- Jagdeo

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 October 2023, 19:22 by Denis Chabrol

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday refuted claims by the parliamentary opposition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) that large numbers of Venezuelans were being registered to vote in future general and regional elections.

He provided figures to bolster his position that the registration trend and population density were similar to those in previous years.

According to the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) General Secretary, latest registration figures dating back to January 1, 2023 show a total of 13,679 persons – 8,698 persons in category A (eligible for immediate placement on the list of registrants) and 4,981 in category B (14 years and older)- were registered. He said the largest number of registrants was from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) that accounted for 5,330; 2,198 from Region Three (West Demerara- Essequibo Islands) and more than 1,600 from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).

“We’ve seen no evidence about Venezuelans overrunning our registration system or anything of that sort,” he told a news conference.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton earlier this week said APNU had collected data showing that government was using loopholes in the registration law to register Venezuelans as Guyanese by having pro- People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) Justices of the Peace, Notaries Public and Toshaos falsely attest that those persons were born in Guyana so that they could obtain Guyanese birth certificates and then get on the voters list. Mr Norton said the data would be sent to its representatives on the Guyana Elections Commission.

Mr Jagdeo also accused the opposition of inventing another excuse for its defeat at the hands of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) in the next general and regional elections due in just over one year. “Now, the new bogeyman is the group of people who are here now, the Venezuelans who are here; that somehow they are being registered across the country in large numbers by the People’s Progressive Party and they will determine the next elections,” he said.

He noted that in the past the coalition had cited voter irregularities and interference by Russian operatives for their loss. “Clearly APNU knows they are going to lose the 2025 elections. I think they know this. Internally, the discussions have taken place in their camp and they know they’re going to lose the elections,” he said.

Mr Norton this week expressed the fear of Venezuelans becoming a significant voting block in Guyana and eventually holding the balance of power in Guyana’s 65-seat National Assembly.

Mr Jagdeo noted that many of the Venezuelans arriving here were born to Guyanese parents who had fled Guyana during the PNCR’s rule in the 1970 and 1980s. That period had been characterised by severe food and fuel shortages, rigged elections and repression of opponents.