Desmond Alphonso, known as DA [in yellow], leaving the Cheddi Jagan International Airport accompanied by security officials following his arrival today June, 28, 2011
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Former BVI-based businessman, Desmond Alphonso (DA) arrived in Guyana shortly after 11:30 am via the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri after boarding a VI Airlink aircraft at the BVI's Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport earlier today, June 28.
Mr. Alphonso was taken into the custody of Guyana Police Force Officers and was driven to the Police Headquarters in Georgetown for processing.
When Mr. Alphonso emerged from the processing area at the airport, he hid his face from photographers and reporters. He also carried with him three pieces of luggage. It is expected that Mr. Alphonso will be released later today.
Mr. Alphonso was accompanied on the flight by his brother, Tony Alphonso and a cousin, Romeo Alphonso. There were also three Police Officers and one Immigration Officer onboard the aircraft.
Speaking to BVI Platinum News at the airport in Guyana, Mr. Tony Alphonso said that the flight was smooth and the best flight he ever had on a small plane. He said they shared jokes and the mood was jovial. He used the opportunity to explain to a Guyana journalist the circumstances surrounding his brother's return to Guyana.
"He was not arrested," Mr. Tony Alphonso explained.
He said that Mr. Alphonso had a deportation order against him which was served last Friday and he was also picked up the same day. Mr. Tony Alphonso said that BVI authorities wanted his brother to leave Sunday morning, giving him no time to sort out his business.
"Tortola is a lot of politics and envy and jealous people; but I put a stop to it. They couldn't leave Sunday and they couldn't leave Monday...I told them that the man has to come on his own free will and he is not leaving until one of his family comes with him. So they had to wait on me. They say who laughs last, laughs the best," Mr. Tony Alphonso stated.
He said that he does not expect any difficulties with moving his brother's cash assets to Guyana.
"Nobody can stop that because whatever he has is his own...They cant forfeit nothing not as far as I am alive. He left when he was a year old. He is home and I believe that home is home and he has never been here so he just wanted someone to come with him to show him the place. They decide that they did not want him to come to the bank to get anything...Our father left and died and left things for us so we safe man; we good," Mr. Tony Alphonso stated.
Prior to Desmond Alphonso's departure from the BVI, Guyana's Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said that persons who have been deported to the South American country have always been accepted as long their citizenship is proven.
Speaking to two BVI-based media entities, including BVI Platinum News, Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said that there have been similar cases like Mr. Alphonso's, where persons have been sent back to Guyana after leaving the country at a young age.
"What we have done in the past when we were in discussions with some countries where persons are deported after spending many years; we had raised concerns in respect because those persons would not have been brought up in our society so to speak, so when they come back they may find it difficult readjusting. That being said, once the person is a citizen of the country, in this case Guyana, we cannot refuse the person... Once he [Mr. Alphonso] is a citizen of Guyana and that is proven we cannot refuse his entry," said Minister Rodrigues-Birkett.
Mr. Desmond Alphonso was ordered deported after serving time for harboring three Jamaican nationals wanted for murder in the BVI.
After several failed legal attempts to block a deportation hearing by the Governor, a Court of Appeal decision ruled against Mr. Alphonso's application to have Justice Indra Hariprashad-Charles ruling stayed. Governor Boyd McCleary subsequently held a hearing and upheld a deportation order made by former Governor, David Pearey.
Mr. Alphonso was ordered to be deported last weekend and was taken into custody at the Road Town Police Station. However, Mr. Alphonso expressed the view that he should be given more time to get his businesses in order. On Sunday, officials could not get Mr. Alphonso transported from the Road Town Police Station to the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport where a LIAT flight was expected to fly him to Guyana.
On Monday, security officials transported Mr. Alphonso to the airport where a chartered flight was waiting to fly him to Guyana; however, Mr. Alphonso continued to make demands and was subsequently returned to the Road Town station.
Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said at this time, Guyana has not been furnished with all the information about Mr. Alphonso's investments, but from a Guyana perspective, "we have to consider all these things".
The Guyana Minister said under normal circumstances, Guyana receives information about deportees before they arrive.
Family Breaks Silence
On Monday, Tony Alphonso told ZBVI radio that his brother did not have a problem leaving the BVI, but had requested that a family member accompany him.
"The way how they deal with it is not right. They treat the man worse than a dog; worse than an animal; not even a dog gets treated that way anymore. The guy knows nothing about Guyana. He left there since he was a baby and he never went back. He wants to go, but he wants one of his family members to go with him. That is all I keep asking for," Mr. Tony Alphonso stated.
He further told ZBVI that his brother has no family in Guyana and that he was not brought to the BVI on his own, but by his mother and father as a baby. "He never been back to Guyana; it's the first time he is going. Let him go in peace, let one of us go with him," Mr. Toney Alphonso stated.
According to Mr. Tony Alphonso, his brother has been calm throughout the ordeal.
"DA was very calm; very quiet; he cuss no bad word; he fight nobody. All those things I am seeing on the news, I don't know where they come from. I was the one keeping noise. I was the one saying that somebody needs to go with him because he has nobody there. That is all I want, somebody to accompany him and everything go smooth and nice," Mr. Tony Alphonso said.
He explained that his brother does not know where he is going and has nobody to take care of him. Mr. Tony Alphonso also claimed that he had to beg police officer, Alwyn James to allow his brother access to clothes and diabetic treatment during his detention.
"He [DA] knows what they did to him was unjust, but he is going to respect the ruling and go, but just do it in the right way. He wanted a little time to sort out his business; they don't even want him to take his clothes or medication...I had to say, you will kill the man on the way, he is a diabetic and he is a strong diabetic. He was not placed on the flight [Monday] because he is not going alone. I asked them who he is going to; who will pick him up? They say all they are interested in is to drop him down there [Guyana]. If I don't go one of the cousins have to go. He is not going alone," Mr. Tony Alphonso stated.
Monitoring in Guyana
The VI Airlink aircraft at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
A senior security official in Guyana explained that under normal circumstances, once a deportee arrives at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, they are taken into Police custody and escorted to the Police Headquarters in the capital of Georgetown where certain paperwork must be completed.
BVI Platinum News was told that the Prevention of Crimes (Amendment) Bill 2002 allows for Guyanese convicted of certain offences in a foreign state and who are deported to Guyana to be monitored by the Police.
Guyana is also a beneficiary of the US-funded program that helps returnees with their integration into the society. This was made possible through an agreement between the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Guyana Government which was inked in 2009.
While the program was primarily set up to help deportees from the US returning to Guyana; it can be extended to returnees from other countries. Through the collaboration with the IOM, a permanent intake centre has been established and serves as a temporary residential facility for the deportees, who are provided with social and financial assistance to successfully reintegrate into society.
Guyana's Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee has expressed the view that the deviant behaviour of most deportees is a product of the environment in which they have resided, and these countries therefore have the moral responsibility for their rehabilitation. He noted that many deportees, particularly those without relatives in Guyana, find difficulty reintegrating into the Guyanese society and thus become a social burden to the state, as well as prime targets for recruitment by organised criminal gangs.