Georgetown, Guyana – Several of the more than 20,000 Guyanese who were expelled or forced to flee from Barbados when former Prime Minister David Thompson came to power in 2008 with a moratorium for them to leave the Island in a matter of weeks or be deported; are now hoping that new BLP Prime Minister Mia Motley would allow at least some of them to return.
Back in 2008, the then Barbados Prime Minister immigration directives had also seen the non-renewal and revocation of hundreds of work permits that were issued to Guyanese mainly in the construction and hotel services sector.
Guyanese were also no longer allowed to form companies or incorporate businesses in Barbados, among other things.
Many had initially decided to wait it out with the hope that Thompson would have changed his mind, as a result of pressure from the Caribbean Community to halt any such mass deportations.
But after the then Barbados Prime Minister made good on his promises by launching a series of immigration raids, literally thousands of Guyanese fled the Island, leaving valuables, including cars, among other things behind.
Back then, Caribbean Airlines had even had to increase its flights to shuttle out the thousands of Guyanese who were afraid of remaining before the end of the second deadline.
Their departure subsequently saw hundreds of Bajan landlords complaining about a drastic loss in rent revenue, and many defaulting mortgages, while national insurance contributions on the Island fell by almost 40%.
Several construction projects were also halted for a lack of skilled workers, leading to the cancellation of many others, and a drastic slowdown in the Island’s building sector.
But despite this, Thompson and his successor Freundel Stuart refuse to relent on the Island’s revised immigration policy.
Many Barbadians later acquiesce to the view that the mass departure of the more than 20,000 Guyanese turned out to have a negative economic impact on the Island instead, since spending across the private sector and revenue from the lower and middle-income real estate sector fell by more than 30%.
Some have even openly agreed that the Guyanese immigrant community was and still is an integral part of the Barbadian economy.
Many Guyanese who once lived on the Island similarly agrees.
But while many are no longer interested in returning because of the way that they were treated during the mass deportations, and hundreds of others have migrated to other countries including the US; – a handful of them (possibly around 300+) still wants to return.
Speaking to the Guyana Guardian, one of them who preferred only to be identified as Franky, his first name, shared some of his bitter experiences on the Island, and having to lose a car, a bobcat and other construction equipment after Barbadian immigration authorities deported him.
“I had a lot of things over there, and a lot of Bajan friends who even took a lawyer to try to get me free, but the immigration authorities quickly deported me,” said Franky, with an obvious look of despair in his eyes.
But in a sudden hopeful tone, he said “I think that Mia Motley is a better and fairer Prime Minister. And I am hoping that she would set up a panel to review all of the mass expulsions of Guyanese that Thompson and Freundel Stuart did”.
Like him, several others have also told this publication that they are waiting for the new PM to publicly state her position on Guyanese immigrants that were improperly expelled from the Island.
They are banking on the fact that the Barbados Labour Party, has historically been sympathetic towards immigrants, and prefers regularization rather than deportation.
Nonetheless, the Guyana Guardian is expected to formally interview the Barbados Prime Minister on this subject matter by the end of next week.