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Lethem Residents Worried About Reckless Opening of Border for Voting

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15th of November, 2020. Region 9, Guyana, South America

Last updated: November 15, 2020 at 22:13 pm

It is a well known fact that about 90% of Region 9 residents have a second home or family in neighboring Brazil and vice-versa. Likewise, a great number of Brazilian citizens/residents live in Region 9, Guyana. On these grounds, the National COVID-19 Task Force had agreed to open the border on Brazil’s elections day (November 15) to allow Brazilians living on the Guyana side of the border to cast their votes and return to Region 9.

However, many residents of Lethem are alarmed at the manner in which this process was carried out. There was no monitoring at the Guyana side of the border of persons going over to neighboring Bonfim to vote. Further, there was no monitoring of the persons during their stay in Brazil – the voters were allowed to roam as far and wide as they wished before returning to Guyana. It was reported that some residents went as far as Boa Vista to vote while some voted in the border municipality of Bonfim.

Letter by National COVID-19 Task Force

The National COVID-19 Task Force wrote to Regional Chairman of Region 9, Mr. Bryan Allicock, on the 13th of November, 2020, informing that the decision was made to open the border for voting in Brazil on the 15th of November. However, residents were alarmed at the poor monitoring of border crossing activities at a time when Bonfim has been hit by a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Since there was very poor to no monitoring of persons who crossed the border to vote and absolutely no monitoring of where they went or whom they made contact with in Brazil, or whether they adhered to COVID-19 prevention protocols, there is great cause for concern that COVID-19 infections might spiral upward in Region 9 in the coming days.

Several residents have related to this publication that it is ironic that so much precaution is taken on Thursdays when merchandise is being transported from Brazil while today the border has been recklessly flung open on a free-for-all basis. “It defeats the purpose,” one resident said. “What is the point of taking so much care when goods are being transported and today there was total carelessness.”

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