Brooklyn group warns crime will destabilize Guyana

The Brooklyn-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has warned that crime will destabilize Guyana if the David Granger-led administration fails to immediately enact modern laws and crime-fighting measures.

CGID said on Saturday that it was “concerned about the inability of Guyana’s law enforcement authorities to arrest violent crime,” claiming that murders, shootings, armed robberies, domestic violence, rape, car-jacking, felonious assaults and other serious crimes are “pervasive.”

“Sections of the population live in fear,” it said. “Guyanese abroad fear being robbed when visiting Guyana.”

CGID said that “pervasive violent crime” prompted the US State Department on Nov. 25, 2017 to warn US citizens to “exercise increased caution in Guyana due to crime.

Violent crime, such as armed robbery and murder, is common,” the State Department said. “Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”

CGID said the “brazen robbery and shooting to death of America Street money-changer, Shawn Nurse (aka ‘Fabulous’), on the morning of Sunday, February 4, 2018, while doing business in the busy Georgetown commercial district, and other murders, demonstrate that criminals are unafraid to strike at any time.

“Their bravery is driven by an insufficient deployment of security assets in strategic areas of Guyana,” it said. “Daily press reports of overseas visitors or senior citizens, business owners and ordinary citizens being robbed at gunpoint and/or killed are damaging to Guyana’s image. It will also hinder Guyana’s nascent ecotourism industry and deters foreign investment.”

CGID also claimed that residents in the hinterland/forest communities are “being terrorized by the murderous, Venezuelan gang, ‘Sindicato’.”

It said villagers, gold miners and business owners in Hosororo, White Water and communities in the Amakuru River, in Region One, and Arau, Mango Landing and surrounding Amerindian communities in Region Seven, have “detailed ordeals of Venezuelan gang members crossing the border into Guyana unrestricted.”

“They engage in shoot-outs, demand taxes, cash, gold, house hold items and store inventories, with impunity,” CGID said. “The gang has ostensibly slaughtered several Guyanese miners working in border areas in Venezuela.”

In January, CGID said Venezuelan gang members reportedly beheaded a young Guyanese miner, stating that the killing was “photographed, videotaped and allegedly released on social media.

“To date, the Guyana government has not announced an investigation of these murders or warned Guyanese about the dangers of crossing the border,” CGID claimed. “Residents report no increased security or capture of gang members to restore public safety. The borders remain, open, lawless and dangerous.”

CGID President Rickford Burke said crime fighting measures by the coalition government “have been inadequate or ineffective.”

He, therefore, called for Guyana’s criminal codes to be updated and existing penalties severely toughened to protect the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member-state from “modern crimes and new criminal techniques.

“Security services must dramatically increase patrols on the border and coastal waterways, as well as in the city and other population centers throughout the country,” Burke said. “These and other measures will give citizens confidence that the government is competent and deserving of their support.”

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