US/Guyana relations 'excellent'
- US Ambassador
Guyana Chronicle
February 7, 2004

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US Ambassador Roland Bullen implied this yesterday when the Governments of Guyana and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides the necessary framework under which persons can be deported from the United States to Guyana.

It was a very welcome and long-awaited change from the 'ad hoc' system used in the past.

According to Ambassador Bullen, the two countries enjoy very cordial relations and this is exemplified by the MOU and by agreements that were signed in the past.

The Ambassador also made it clear that Guyana's Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Clement Rohee has not been denied a US visa.

He explained that certain categories of visas have to be approved by Washington and Minister Rohee was one such case. The Ambassador further pointed out that this is the practice in other countries.

This point was reiterated by the Head of Consular Division of the US Embassy in Guyana, Mr. David Shenstead, who added that Minister Rohee was not found ineligible for a visa.

There have been widespread speculation, fueled by media reports, on why the Minister was not granted a visa.

Until word on the Minister's visa application is received from Washington, the application could be said to be under consideration.

The eight-part MOU was signed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Rudy Insanally, on behalf of the Guyana Government and Ambassador Bullen on behalf of the US Government.

"I think the agreement (MOU) will provide a framework for regularizing the deportees and their returning to Guyana from the United States (and) I therefore want to commend and compliment the hard work by both sides on finalizing this agreement," Minister Insanally told those gathered in the main conference room of the Foreign Ministry in Georgetown yesterday morning to witness the signing ceremony.

According to the Guyanese Foreign Minister, the MOU clearly sets out the procedures and timeframe for documents to be clarified and processed and guarantees the rights of persons to be deported.

It also addresses issues pertaining to travel documents for deportees and lists the procedures for making requests for travel documents for these persons, dubbed in the MOU as 'criminal aliens'.

"I think it provides a standard by which we can work and it sets out very clearly, the procedures which have to be followed, the timeframes, documentation and other aspects...and I think it guarantees the rights of the individuals concerned in terms of settling whatever residual duties they have before their deportation," Insanally posited.

Ambassador Bullen, in brief remarks immediately prior to the signing of the MOU, said "this is indeed a very significant milestone in the relationship between the Government of the United States and the Government of Guyana".

"As the Minister pointed out, this agreement has taken a long time in the making but I think that things of this nature we don't rush into because there are many different aspects to ensure equity on both sides," Bullen asserted.

"The United States is a very vast country and I think we probably have Guyanese all over the United States and this MOU provides a central procedure for handling the return of people who are deported for violation of immigration or other laws in the US," he told reporters.