After 14 Venezuelans who said they illegally entered Guyana in search of food were arrested and ordered for deportation, the Guyanese Ministry of State on Wednesday said Venezuelans are welcomed but must enter the country legally. An economic crisis in Venezuela has created a lack of necessities that has led tens of thousands of Venezuelans to find provisions elsewhere -- mainly in Colombia, seen here in a border crossing, but also in Guyana. Photo courtesy of Colombian National Police
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 28 (UPI) -- The Guyanese Ministry of State on Wednesday said only Venezuelans entering legally in search of food and basic goods are welcomed after 14 Venezuelans who entered illegally were ordered to be deported.
Venezuela is facing an economic crisis in which food, medicines and basic goods are in short supply. The lack of necessities has led tens of thousands of Venezuelans to find provisions elsewhere -- mainly in Colombia, but also in Guyana.
"We have made it clear that on humanitarian grounds we will not turn back Venezuelans who come to seek help here in Guyana," Guyanese State Minister Joseph Harmon said in a press conference. "The law is the law. The government will not tell the courts how to act. The fact that the persons were actually brought to the court meant that there would have been some offense that would have been committed."
Guyanese authorities this week announced nine men and five women from Venezuela who were detained after illegally entering Guyana would be deported back. Those Venezuelans, who were fined about $50 and who will be deported by the end of the week, said they traveled to Guyana in search of food.
A Guyanese court found the 14 Venezuelans guilty of entering by sea on July 20 and disembarking without presenting themselves to an immigration officer.
Harmon said Guyana was internationally obligated to help Venezuelans on humanitarian grounds, but stressed any Venezuelans traveling to the country must do so legally through the designated ports of entry.
"We off course have a responsibility to ensure the integrity of our borders and that the immigration procedures will be applied to all," Harmon said.