(DEMERARA WAVES) – The more than 200 mostly Cuban shoppers, who are stranded in Guyana due to the closure of this country’s two international airports, are expected to leave on emergency flights being facilitated by Guyanese authorities, the Cuban Embassy said Thursday night.
Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Narciso Reinaldo Armador Soeorro told reporters that Aruba Airlines would dispatch a plane to leave Friday night at 8 o’clock and another on Saturday.
He advised the stranded Cubans to contact Aruba Airlines.
Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Retired Lt. Col. Egbert Field confirmed that the Aruba Airlines flights will arrive empty and the crew will remain on board and the passengers would be allowed to depart. “This is just to relieve the Cubans. We have asked them to conduct a flight to take out the passengers. They (the planes) will come empty and the passengers will leave on the outbound flights,” he told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News.
The Cuban Ambassador assures the nationals that efforts were being made to alleviate their distress as a result of the restricted operations of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the Eugene F. Correia ‘Ogle’ International Airport from March 18 to 31, 2020 to stem the spread of the coronavirus. “We are working to find a solution to try to help the persons who are stranded here,” the Cuban envoy said. “We are very sorry for the situation but it’s a situation that is a worldwide problem,” he added.
He recommended that the Cubans contact the embassy in High Street, Kingston, Georgetown, if they need assistance. “The door of the embassy is open for all Cubans who need to communicate with the embassy and the embassy will inform everyone,” he said. “The embassy is making all efforts with the Guyanese authority, with a group of business friends from Cuba, some of the owners of the hostels that the Cubans own.
Earlier Thursday, several Cubans flocked outside the Cuban embassy, seeking help with accommodation and other necessities.
Aruba Airlines is unable to provide any flights to Guyana since the airports are on lockdown from international and domestic flights. The Cubans were unable to return to Cuba after the government ordered Guyana’s airports closed from March 18 to 31, 2020.
Proprietor of Hotel Guyana International Sonet Balua and one of the stranded passengers visited the Cuban embassy in Guyana to seek help with accommodation.
Balua says he is hoping that an arrangement can be worked out between the Cuban Embassy and the Government of Guyana to help the stranded nationals. “So right now, they don’t have money. All of the money, they had shopped and paid rent. All their monies are finished up. Right now they don’t have any money to pay rent, buy food or transportation. I have a hotel but I can’t afford fourteen days,” he told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News.
The Cubans come mainly to shop large quantities of clothing, electrical and electronic products from Chinese stores to take back to Cuba to sell. The spin-off in the local economy is in airport ground handling, taxis, hotels and eateries.