The Council for Hemispheric Affairs has just posted news on the heated dialogue that has ensued after the compulsory deportation of Guyanese nationals from Barbados following the implementation of the “Barbadian First” amnesty law announced by the island’s Prime Minister David Thompson on May 5. This amnesty measure resulted in the deportation of Guyanese workers as an attempt to resolve the rising poverty and crime rates in Barbados.
Andrew Herweg reports that thousands of Guyanese have fled their country to find employment opportunities in Barbados, an island that has experienced strong economic growth throughout the years. The flood of illegal immigrants has been deemed harmful to Barbadian society. Although Barbados has enacted an amnesty provision, the legislation has a series of stringent stipulations for allowing people to normalize their residency status. Some of these are that a person must have been a resident of Barbados prior to December 31, 1998; that the individual must have proof of employment in Barbados and must go through a thorough background and security check; and that if an individual has three or more dependents, he or she will not qualify for amnesty automatically.
The COHA report states that, since the law was put into effect, 53 Guyanese immigrants have been removed from the country and that “as there are an estimated 34,000 Guyanese living on the island, the alarmingly high number of deportees has aroused concerns that the law specifically discriminates against Guyanese residents in Barbados.” For example, the newly enacted legislation fails to regulate European residents who are living in Barbados illegally. Guyanese nationals are also concerned about violations of privacy, pre-dawn raids of suspected aliens’ homes between 3am and 6am, the looting of possessions upon deportation, and other irregularities considered to be discriminatory practices. Critics of Prime Minister Thompson’s policies charge that Bajans have failed to recognize the importance of the Guyanese to the Barbadian economy in providing inexpensive labor. The article also notes that, although Antigua and Canada have deported scores of deportation of Guyanese, Barbados seems to be receiving the most criticism.
For full report by Andrew Herweg, see http://www.coha.org/2009/08/barbadian-first-policy-flogs-guyanese-in-barbados/