Despite their proximity to Venezuela, inhabitants of the Guyanese border town of Mabaruma have little to do with their Spanish-speaking neighbors, says Brentnol Ashley, governor for the Barima-Waini region.
Like other communities dotted across the dense jungles of the Essequibo region, Mabaruma is a patchwork of Indigenous peoples bound together by the English language and Guyana’s national culture.
“We are a diverse nation, but at the end of the day we are all one people: the Guyanese,” said Ashley.
The only Spanish speakers in the riverside settlement are Venezuelans who have sought refuge there in recent years after fleeing their home country’s economic collapse, Ashley said.
So when the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, announced this week that he would issue his country’s ID cards to the local population, and step up efforts to convert Essequibo into a Venezuelan state, local people showed little interest in taking up the offer.