Hungry Venezuelan soldiers robbing Guyanese

Venezuelan Bolivarian Army soldiers lineup to vote for the constitutional assembly outside of a poll station in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 30, 2017. President Nicolas Maduro asked for global acceptance on Sunday as he cast an unusual pre-dawn vote for an all-powerful constitutional assembly that his opponents fear he’ll use to replace Venezuelan democracy with a single-party authoritarian system.
Associated Press / Ariana Cubillos, File

Tribal village leaders in districts near Venezuela this week asked authorities to set up a military or police outpost in the area to deal with hungry Venezuelan soldiers crossing into Guyana and robbing residents of food in the midst of that country’s dire political and economic situation.

Cleveland DeSouza, captain of White Water Village on the border with Venezuela, said he plans to raise the issue with authorities during the annual conference of Amerindian tribal leaders starting in the city in the next week. Guyana’s has nine tribes consisting of about 10 percent of the population of close to 800,000 people.

He said that residents of village on Guyana’s northwestern border have several times since June been relieved of food supplies by armed Venezuelan solders who have taking nothing else from Warrau tribal villagers other than foodstuff. The village consists of about 1,600 people.

“We want government to set up both a police and military outpost in our village,” he said. “The Venezuelans have even set up camp on the Guyana side, waiting on villagers who bring supplies of cabbage and heart of palm plants to sell to rob them. They have not taken any money. We need help. They block access to the creek on the border then rob the people,” he said. The creek is a tributary on the border of the Amacuro River.

Authorities have sent patrols to the area, an hour by air from the Georgetown City, to investigate the complaints from the village because Spanish-speaking soldiers they believe are from across the border have been taking produce away from them in recent months.

He said the police officer in charge of the area recently caught some soldiers waiting for residents with food supplies and spoke with them. They left after apologizing and explaining that they had not been resupplied for 45 days.

Police Commander Ravi Budhram said he has also beefed up police presence in the heavily jungled and mountainous area in the wake of complaints from residents about being harassed by soldiers.

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