Overwhelmed with a growing economic disaster back in Caracas, and now becoming victims themselves of the country’s prevailing food crisis, a handful of Venezuelan soldiers who were caught in Guyana yesterday (11 August 2017), told a party of Guyanese policemen that they were hungry and had only come into Guyana to look for food.
Armed with high powered rifles and full military gear, the bewildered soldiers made this disclosure after being confronted by a police team that was headed by Inspector Christopher Humphrey, at the Curisima/ Amakuru river mouth in Region one.
Only one of the soldiers was unarmed.
The police had gone to the location after receiving several complaints from persons in the community who reported that Venezuelan soldiers were entering Guyana daily and stealing food directly from their person or from wherever else it is being stored.
However, after being confronted by Guyanese police, several Venezuelan soldiers who were found on the Guyana side of the border denied the allegations.
With an obviously exhaustive look on their faces, the soldiers explained that they only come over to Guyana to beg for food because they are usually hungry. They added that asking for food on the Guyana side of the border was something that they did daily, and have never harmed anyone in the process.
Throughout the encounter, the Venezuelan soldiers remained cooperative, and complied with all instructions that were directed at them by the Guyana police.
Considering their circumstances, they were subsequently given some food and ordered to leave Guyana, which they immediately did without any resistance.
Venezuela has been rocked by a severe food and medicine shortage which has forced many of the country’s citizens to flee to various border countries, including Guyana, to escape starvation.
But while ordinary citizens were the ones that were initially being affected, several sections of the army, especially those in border areas are now feeling the squeeze, and would often leave their postings to go in search of food in neighboring countries.
However, with so many Venezuelan soldiers now crossing into Guyana for that very reason, some are of the view that the army might have to deploy troops in larger numbers along the border to deal with the ‘humanitarian’ incursions.
Additionally, a retired army Major told the Guyana Guardian that under the current circumstances, it might be appropriate for Guyana to consider sending food packages to the border for distribution to those in need, even if they are from the Venezuelan army.
But opponents have argued that if food is sent to the border, a large number of Venezuelans would want to rush there, and thus create another headache for the government.
The Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force already have a joint patrol arrangement on the border.