Would you advise relatives to come for Xmas?
What the People say about...
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
December 16, 2002

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Would you tell your overseas friends and relatives to come to Guyana for Christmas, considering the rampant crime and attacks on several returning Guyanese? Here are the responses of the man/woman-in-the-street to this question which we posed to them this week.

Dexter Reece - banker: `Yes, I would advise them to come to Guyana. In every country there are a lot of differences, and the social situation here might not be the best but you have to value the spirit of Christmas. It's all about family. If people believe that coming to Georgetown puts people at risk, then I don't think that anybody should come to Georgetown, overseas or local. You have to face certain challenges. I would fear for their safety if they came. You would have to put precautionary measures in place and of course, you would have to educate them about the present situation. But you have to be positive, let's not try to paint a dreary picture. Now, people are focusing on the negatives in the country but we need to look at the whole picture... there are a lot of people on the streets shopping and most people are in the christmas spirit.'

Waveney Marshall - teacher: `Yes I would advise my friends and relatives to come, seeing that they want to come and they haven't come to Guyana for such a long time. But they would have to try to be very careful because of what is going on. Sometimes you are walking on the street and you don't know if you will get attacked, you have to be on the lookout. But they know what is going on but if they want to come I think they should.'

R. Basdeo - housewife: `No. With the crime now in the country, everybody is afraid about the situation. At night you can't sleep and I worry everyday when I have to send my children to school. I am afraid. I have an uncle, he was supposed to come since September but he knows about what is going on and he is afraid to come. He usually comes every year, but not this year.'

Hugh Benfield a.k.a Akibi Atuk - security guard: `I would never stop my relatives from coming to this country. There are other happenings all over the world, worst than what is going on here. Guyana for me is the most blessed country in all the world, free from any natural disorders. I would never stop anyone from coming here. The only thing I am asking for is peace and stability. We need to work together, as one people, not as different ethnic groups. If we look upon ourselves as one people, one race, I think we can solve the problems that we are faced with. The crime situation in the country, I still believe we can handle it.'

Bibi Refeena Azeez - clerk: `No... I wouldn't, because of what is going on in the country. Most times, the bandits only want to hear that you come from overseas. And even though we have policemen all out on the streets, it doesn't help and I don't know what we can do. Some people would say that I will come and whatever happens, happens. It's still a chance that you are taking. You know, there are some people who come with their big gold chains and their US money and nothing happens to them. But at other times you don't even need to have those things and something happens.'

Pooran Ramlochan - home attendant: `I am based overseas and I would advise others to come to Guyana. I have seen on the television and in the newspapers since I have come here that there has been a lot of shootings, nearly everyday, especially on the East Coast. And I have relatives there that I would like to see but I am afraid to go on the East Coast. Now I noticed it has eased up a little. I still love my country and it's good being here especially at this time of the year. I made a call to New York and they told me that they had eight inches of snow already and I prefer this climate better. I still haven't gone to see my relatives on the East Coast as yet but I will pay them a visit for the holiday.'

Candeac Pereira - self-employed: `Yes, I would tell them to come, I mean it's Christmas. It's been so long since I have seen them. And I think this is the time when you are supposed to be with your family and be merry. Yes I would be scared for them and I would tell them to be alert, with the situation in the country, but I would still tell them to come anyway.'

Yolanda George - student: `I wouldn't advise any of my friends or relatives to come to Guyana now. They might be harassed or attacked by bandits. Everyday somebody is getting shot. I would rather go to my friends overseas. Although things do happen there, they are not as bad as what is happening here now. The police don't have the time to protect us, they are more afraid of the bandits. I wouldn't advise either my friends or relatives to come now, maybe sometime next year when things might get better.'

Samantha Higgins - security guard: `Yes I would advise them to come because Guyana is still a nice place. Don't bother with crime, it's only lately that major crimes have been occurring. They should come for Christmas, Guyana is still a nice place to live. Although there are a lot of people who want to leave there are a lot of people who want to come into the country also. I won't be afraid for them when they come because only people involved in criminal activities would have to be afraid. I am born and grown in Guyana and I am not going to go to some other place where the climate is cold for Christmas. I could not survive in that climate.'

Davanand Samaroo - labourer: `No. I wouldn't really due to all that is going on in the country. I mean everybody is hustling to leave the country. Things aren't nice and you don't know what will happen next year and I am just hoping and praying to God that things get better. How I see it, my family can come into the country and everything could be good but by the time they are ready to leave something could happen.'

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