An estimated 100 Venezuelan families totaling about 500 persons, including about 200 children, are presently in survival mode on the Grove Sea Dam in the village of Golden Grove on the East Bank of Demerara. The residents are living in makeshift homes or shacks which they constructed themselves using cheap or free materials.
Some of these refugees are Guyanese remigrants, that is, people who were born in Guyana, migrated to Venezuela, and are now returning home after the devastating economic crisis hit Venezuela. Although some of the squatters are 100% Venezuelans, some have both Guyanese and Venezuelan residency or citizenship.
The residents related to this publication that life on Grove Sea Dam is difficult since they have no light or running water. The families have to walk several hundreds of meters away to residential places in Golden Grove to fetch water. What’s worse is that they have to pay for the water by the bucket since water consumption is metered in the village of Golden Grove.
Although most of the children in the Spanish speaking squatting community are enrolled in government schools in and around Golden Grove, some parents related to this publication that their children were turned down from enrollment because they didn’t have documents such as birth certificate.
Most of the residents are employed: some as skilled workers. and some as laborers. Many of them work long hours for minimum wages.
The residents told this publication that they were visited on several occasions by ministers or officials within the government, and they were promised relocation to proper houses and communities. However, some residents have been living there for as long as five years without being assisted with proper housing. The residents said they were promised turnkey houses by the government but they are frustrated that such promise is not coming to fruition.
The residents expressed that they are willing to put in the work in order to be afforded proper housing, and that they are willing to sign up for bank financing. They are calling on the Ministry of Housing to consider their plight and relieve their distress by relocating them to proper housing communities as soon as possible as their present living conditions are challenging. One woman pointed to her house and said, “Look, my house is sinking into the ground.”
Team Guyana, South America calls on the Guyana Government to do everything it can to assist the refugee squatters at Grove Sea Dam, Golden Grove, East Bank Demerara.