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Protest Fuels Illicit Backtrack Activities in Region 9

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21st of September, 2021. Region 9, Guyana, South America

Last updated: September 21, 2021 at 16:42 pm

This publication has made contact with residents on the ground in Region 9 to find out how the protest which blocked merchandise from Brazil is affecting them. We received a wide variety of answers. Some residents reported that, although the prices of some items have gone up, and there is a scarcity of cooking gas, the blockage of the bridge by Brazilian protestors has not completely deterred Brazilian goods from entering Region 9.

Residents say that the goods are still coming, but they are coming across the river at various unmonitored points between St. Ignatius Village and Bonfim and other “backtrack routes.” According to the residents, the trucks carry the goods to the river on the Brazil side where they are loaded unto boats and transported over to the Guyana shore. Then, the goods are taken to the various shops and businesses in Lethem.

The residents say that the authorities, including the Covid-19 Task Force in Region 9, have been turning a blind eye to the illicit back track activities which have dramatically increased since the Brazilian protestors started blocking the Takutu River Bridge. The Brazilian protestors, some of whom are actually Guyanese living in Bonfim, have said that they will not relent until a better deal is sealed for cross-border activities between Guyana and Brazil.

Some residents of Lethem are complaining that the locally produced eggs and chicken which are sold, for example, by Rupununi Farms, are about 40 to 60 percent more expensive than those imported from Brazil.

At the same time, some diehard residents are holding out that they don’t need Brazilian imports. For example, one resident, Mr. Manley Thomas, of Aishalton Village, commented that he just had a hearty meal of wild meat and farine, and that he and his family are well supplied for the next ten months. Of course, jungle survival is nothing uncommon for many residents of the Rupununi. But then again, not all of them.

On the other side of the bridge, the protestors in Bonfim, being alerted about the illicit backtrack activities, are worried that this will render their efforts futile. As such, they have called on the Brazilian authorities to investigate and impede these illicit backtrack activities. The protestors have held their ground for six days straight on the Brazil side of the Guyana/Brazil border, day and night, through rain and shine, blocking all merchandise from leaving Brazil via the Takutu River Bridge into Guyana.

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