16th of September, 2021. Region 9, Guyana, South America.Last updated: September 16, 2021 at 9:54 am
After failed negotiations with authorities in both Guyana and Brazil earlier this week, residents of Bonfim, Brazil are set to block trucks carrying merchandise, as well as all flow of traffic, into Guyana from Brazil today, 16th of September, 2021. A similar incident took place last Thursday, 9th of September, 2021 where residents of Bonfim, Roraima, Brazil blocked the flow of traffic into Guyana to protest the continued closure of the Guyana/Brazil border. Most residents of Brazil and some of Region 9 want the Guyana/Brazil border to reopen.
In a move suggested first by Brazil’s Association of Doctors and upheld by the Brazilian and Guyana Governments, the Guyana/Brazil border was closed on the 19th of March 2020 when Covid-19 infections had first started spiraling out of control in Brazil. Since then, a concession was made to allow merchandise to pass from Brazil into Guyana every Thursday. It should be noted here that Region 9 depends largely on Brazilian imports since it is cheaper and closer than Georgetown. Some of the merchandise passing every Thursday are destined for Georgetown, Guyana. On the other hand, nothing has been done to cater for Brazilians who have been fettered by the closure of the border.
Last Thursday, residents of Bonfim, Brazil expressed their frustration at the protracted border closure by blocking trucks from entering Guyana. However, after an appeal by the Mayor of Lethem, Mr. John Macedo, the crowd of protestors disbursed. A meeting between officials of Region 9 and Bonfim earlier this week resulted in a stalemate – it was decided that the border simply cannot be reopened at this time because of fears of the Covid-19 virus and the Delta variant.
But residents of Bonfim, many of whom have businesses, second homes, and jobs in Lethem, Region 9, and many of whom are Guyanese or have dual citizenship, will not take no for an answer. A new notice calling for protest actions, circulated earlier this week, was posted on Social Media by residents of Bonfim, Brazil.
The notice above, posted and shared by residents of Bonfim, Brazil earlier this week, is calling for renewed protest action by residents demanding the reopening the Guyana/Brazil border. It reads:
Invitation to the entire population of Bonfim.
Only we residents know the difficulties faced with the border closure, many lost jobs, Uber without the means to sustain their families, individual sellers without merchandise. To change the situation, we have to react! This Tuesday, 14th of September, 2021, a meeting will address the future of our border. Powers from Guyana and Brazil will meet to try to find a solution. We’re counting on the support of population in front of the municipal building from 7:00 am to show that it is important for us. Attend, because change only happens if we fight.end quote
Well, the meeting did happen, but it did not bear a positive result. It was decided that the border simply cannot be opened. The meeting which took place last Tuesday, 14th of September, 2021, was attended by Region 9 Chairman, Mr. Bryan Allicock, Mayor of Lethem, Mr. John Macedo, President of the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Daniel Gajie, amongst others.
Residents of Bonfim started blocking the road leading to the Takutu River Bridge since yesterday, Wednesday, 15th of September, 2021, and the show is expected to continue throughout today. This way, Guyanese will feel the pressure of not having access to Brazil, and possibly be more sympathetic to the cause of Brazilians not having access to Guyana.
In the midst of all the turmoil however, this development proves one thing: the dependence of the peoples of the two countries on each other.