DIASPORA ENGAGEMENT:FAIT UN-ACCOMPLI

smallvIt follows that IOM, International Organization for Migration, will be as helpful as the homeland of the migrants wants it to be. It should not be assumed that this Organization, with its one hundred and fifty seven members, is eagerly crafting a Diaspora Plan for Guyana just because our country is a member.
What should be seriously considered is Guyana’s relationship with this organization and the capacity in which it has handled our country’s immigrants, so far.

Prior to us trying recruit the IOM for Diaspora Engagement we were amongst the countries that saw massive deportation of emigrants who had run afoul of the law in their new countries of residence. The deportations were occurring during the PPP rule and because this government’s ineptitude included being unable to reintegrate nationals into their country, they blamed the societies from which the deportees came and essentially blackmailed them into assisting in the repatriation process. Money was granted by this organization for housing and remedial programs to assist the displaced persons but like everything that involved money, those funds were siphoned into ‘projects’ more aptly labeled willful misappropriation.

So, that’s how we’re known to this International Organization of Migrants – as a country with a population of less than one million, with a proportionately high criminal return rate, as a recipient that has no record that the funds granted for returnees were used for the intended purpose.

With this in mind, let’s look at some very ostensible headlines that were published during the tenure of the PPP, possibly to mislead those of us who follow these things:

Guyanese Diaspora Project Launched in Canada
Posted:
12/07/12
Region-Country:
Canada / America
Canada – IOM and the Government of Guyana this week launched in Canada the Guyana Diaspora (GUYD) project, designed to contribute to the economic development of Guyana through the support and engagement of the Guyanese Diaspora.
The project, created in collaboration with the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a one-year initiative which began in April 2012 that seeks to engage the Guyanese Diaspora all over the world by documenting skills, resources, interests and plans of those willing to support the country’s development.

This week’s launch in Toronto was attended by some 300 members of the Guyanese diaspora, including diaspora groups, associations, and organizations.
The GUYD project was launched in New York in September and since then 220 members of the Guyanese diaspora in New York have fully completed an online survey and 970 have partially completed it.
The project was also launched in Barbados on 26 November and Antigua and Barbuda on 28 November, with than 150 members of the Guyanese diaspora in attendance.
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In describing it as ‘project’, the PPP confirmed that their knowledge of Diaspora Engagement was tenuous at best because project denotes a temporary state of existence which is atypical of what this engagement is to countries that use their Diaspora efficiently. Maybe their thinking was confined to deportation because that is what they had used this organization for – especially because they were allotted money for the reintegration of deportees; money being one of their primary motivators. I cannot remember any overtures by the PPP to Guyanese to repatriate to build, except it was done in very narrow quarters, to select groups.

So, it was with appropriate excitement that I welcomed the invitation to the Diaspora by the Coalition during its campaign and noted with enthusiasm that there was going to be an established Department of Diaspora under the charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I was even more excited when Foreign Minister Greenidge said, on behalf of the Administration, that they were exploring recruiting from the Diaspora to enhance its Foreign Service, both at home and abroad.

I have already pointed out that the reference disseminated from the CURRENT Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a defunct site that was last updated in 2012 complete with a welcome message from the previous Minister of Foreign Affairs.
http://guydproject.minfor.gov.gy/

What I want to underscore today is that part of this Ministry’s plan is “engaging the IOM for the formulation of a Diaspora Engagement Strategy”.

Minister Greenidge, that “formulation” of “strategy” is not the domain of the IOM. It is the duty of our country and the responsibility of your Ministry.

The paradox here is that you are going to an organization to create for you a formula to recruit us, Guyanese, who are all but screaming to you that we are here to help. The misstep here is that you are using a platform inherited from the PPP which was created to satisfy a Memorandum of Understanding to receive errant Guyanese back in to the country and not to utilize the skills and resources of Guyanese begging to help rebuild their country. The miscalculation here is that this department could be run by someone who does not understand the mechanics of Diaspora Engagement, which extends well beyond conversation and invitation, into the actual bolts and nuts of an economy that is in disrepair.

Reducing the cost of sending remittances to Guyana is deminimis effort for this venture and having a conference next year is an old solution to a current problem, even if they are couched between terms like exploring and consideration.

Part of the success of your ministry lies in how expeditiously you make appropriate use of the Diaspora.

We’re not here to see you fail.

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