Mea­sures needed to pro­tect min­ers from Sindi­cato gangs

-women min­ers’ pres­i­dent

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - -women min­ers’ pres­i­dent

In wake of the re­cent armed at­tack on a Cuyuni min­ing camp, where over two dozen min­ers were robbed, Pres­i­dent of the Guyana Women Min­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion (GWMO) Urica Primus says she is hope­ful that the re­sus­ci­tated Hin­ter­land In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee can put mea­sures in place to pro­tect min­ers against the feared “Sindi­cato” gangs re­ported to be op­er­at­ing here.

Speak­ing to Sun­day Stabroek yes­ter­day, Primus said that the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s mem­bers as well as other min­ers work­ing in ar­eas close to the Guyana/Venezuela bor­der have been ex­press­ing con­cerns about the pres­ence of the gangs since the mid­dle of last year.

The in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, which com­prises a num­ber of stake­hold­ers, was set up by gov­ern­ment to ad­dress se­cu­rity is­sues in hin­ter­land ar­eas. The GWMO re­ceived a for­mal in­vi­ta­tion re­cently to at­tend a com­mit­tee meet­ing, which is sched­uled for later this month.

The GWMO at the mo­ment has ap­prox­i­mately 40 mem­bers work­ing in ar­eas along the bor­der.

“As it is, peo­ple tra­verse the bor­der back and forth and peo­ple don’t know who is who or have the right to stop any­body,” Primus said, while stress­ing that the pro­tec­tion of min­ers, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas in the Cuyuni as well as Port Kai­tuma, Matthews Ridge, and Baramita in Re­gion One, is of great im­por­tance.

She said that the best ad­vice the or­gan­i­sa­tion can give to min­ers is to make the best ef­forts to re­frain from keep­ing high pro­duc­tion in camps and trav­el­ling at nights. Primus re­called that last July, while ex­e­cut­ing a Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons (TIP) project in Re­gion One, the GWMO was in­formed that two min­ers were robbed of their ATVs while nav­i­gat­ing a trail in a back­dam, where they were tied to a tree.

She added that de­spite the cir­cu­la­tion of a video pur­port­edly of a lo­cal miner be­ing be­headed, the or­gan­i­sa­tion is yet hear about mea­sures to be put in place to pre­vent a re­oc­cur­rence and to pro­tect min­ers. That in­ci­dent, she said, should have been an eye opener for the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties and should have led to the in­stan­ta­neous iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and sub­se­quent im­ple­men­ta­tion of pro­tec­tive mea­sures.

Primus stressed too that there is no emer­gency ar­range­ment in place for min­ers to ac­cess help if they are un­der at­tack.

“How do we get an emer­gency re­sponse if some­thing hap­pens? There is no 911,” she said, while ques­tion­ing what the small miner is to do if the Sindi­cato gangs at­tack.

A group of gold and di­a­mond min­ers op­er­at­ing in the Cuyuni area in March ap­pealed to gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary to pro­vide pro­tec­tion, say­ing that the gangs were ter­ror­is­ing them.

The min­ers, in an ad which was pub­lished in this newspaper, ex­plained that a gang had es­tab­lished a camp about three miles be­low Eter­ing­bang on the Cuyuni River and had been stop­ping all boats, Guyanese and Venezue­lan, trans­port­ing fuel and ra­tions to min­ing camps and de­mand­ing gold and cash.

“This Sindi­cato Gang is heav­ily armed and would fire at our boats if we do not stop. They also have boats and would drive up be­hind us if we do not stop,” the min­ers had stated.

Ac­cord­ing to the ad, another gang had set up a base at Bu­tanamo, about twenty miles fur­ther down the Cuyuni and it was also en­gag­ing in sim­i­lar at­tacks.

The po­lice then had ac­knowl­edged that it had re­ceived in­for­ma­tion about the pres­ence of the gangs and said that pa­trols had spot­ted men on the Venezue­lan side of the river. It could not be es­tab­lished whether the men were Venezue­lan sol­diers or mem­bers of the Sindi­cato gangs.

The fol­low­ing month the Par­lia­men­tary Over­sight Com­mit­tee on the Se­cu­rity Sec­tor, led by Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Khem­raj Ram­jat­tan, vis­ited sev­eral bor­der com­mu­ni­ties in Re­gion One. That visit was pre­ceded by a trip by Pres­i­dent David Granger to the area, where he out­lined a fron­tier vil­lages’ pol­icy.

The Guyana De­fence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Po­lice Force had also mounted vis­its by se­nior of­fi­cers to the area as part of an ap­proach which in­cluded cit­i­zens, the Guyana Gold and Di­a­mond Min­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources’ core of war­dens in an at­tempt to ad­dress the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion.

The Guyana Po­lice Force said in a me­dia re­lease on Fri­day that 28 min­ers were robbed at a min­ing camp at Ba­boon Back­dam, Cuyuni River, last Wed­nes­day. The at­tack was car­ried out between 7 pm and 12 am by four masked men armed with a ri­fle and shot­guns. They were re­port­edly out­fit­ted in dark-coloured cloth­ing and spoke a for­eign lan­guage.

A quan­tity of raw gold and other valu­ables, in­clud­ing a li­censed shot­gun, were carted off. None of the work­ers, who are said to be em­ployed by a camp owned by Mo­hammed’s Enterprise, were in­jured.

The po­lice re­lease came on the same day that the GDF said that it had briefed par­lia­men­tar­i­ans on an op­er­a­tion launched in wake of al­le­ga­tions of the crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties on the western bor­der by mem­bers of the for­eign crim­i­nal gang.

In a state­ment, the GDF said Chief-of-Staff, Bri­gadier Pa­trick West, along with a team of of­fi­cers de­liv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion on May 3rd, 2018 to Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment on the con­duct of “Op­er­a­tion Ar­madillo,” which has been on­go­ing since Fe­bru­ary 16th, 2018.

Urica Primus

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.