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Roraima Airways boss dismisses Wikileaks claims

Roraima Airways boss dismisses Wikileaks claims

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The contents of a United States Embassy cable leaked by Wikileaks have raised questions about the man who last week promised Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves that on February 14 he would give him a Valentine’s Day gift by landing a 767 aircraft at the Argyle International Airport.

At the ground breaking ceremony of the Black Sands Resort last Thursday, Captain Gerald Gouveia, chief executive officer (CEO) of Guyana-based Roraima Airways, re-stated his interest operating flights to this country from New York and Cuba, utilizing his company’s partnership with US based airline Dynamic International Airways.

On Wednesday, SEARCHLIGHT became aware of a United States Embassy cable, dated September 11, 2009, which stated that Gouveia, who at the time was the chair of the Private Sector Commission in Guyana and two other prominent Guyanese either had their US visas revoked or would not be eligible for a visa.

Additionally, an article published in the February 24, 2016 edition of the Kaieteur News, cited two occasions on which employees of Roraima Airways were fingered in relation to the discovery of cocaine on a flight.

According to the article, the first discovery was in 2012, when a security officer with Roraima Airways was charged in relation to the discovery of cocaine among food items to be used on the plane. According to the article, Gouveia set up a private committee to investigate the flaws in his company’s system that allowed that employee to stash the drugs in the food.

However, Gouveia’s efforts may not have been sufficient, as according to the article, in February 2016, American drug officials found cocaine on a Dynamic Airways flight at JFK Airport and police were in search of another Roraima security guard in connection with the drug find.

Gouveia, in an exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, denied any wrongdoing and said his record speaks for itself.

“There are a lot of people who talk all kinds of things about people without any kind of backing or fact,” the Roraima CEO said.

He also dismissed the claim in the Wikileaks cable that his United States visa had either been revoked or that he would not be eligible for one.

“I have never had my US visa withdrawn. I also don’t have a US visa. I travel on a passport,” Gouveia stated, explaining that as a citizen of Canada, he travels to the US without a visa.

Gouveia, who is also a hotelier and a professional pilot, noted that he has never had a problem with the United States.

“I have very close relationships with the US government; even to today, my hotel is right across the street from the US Embassy, so I am not sure that what you’re reading is based on any semblance to facts and reality.”

Gouveia stated that he has always been a law-abiding citizen. He is the honorary consul of Barbados in Guyana and over the years has been either chair or a director on many boards in Guyana, including the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), the Guyana Central Housing & Planning Authority, the Guyana Export Promotion Council, the Law and Order Commission of Guyana, the Privatization Board and the Prison Sentencing Management Board, among others.

He stated that in the 25 years that he has operated his business, he has never invested outside of the Guyana; however, he chose to look at the St Vincent in good faith.

“In all good faith…that I have decided to look at St Vincent as a possible place to probably, maybe do some investment.”

He further explained that it was the imminent opening of the Argyle International Airport which caused him to look at possibly making some investment in St Vincent.

Gouveia noted that he first learned about the airport from St Vincent’s Ambassador to Cuba Elsworth John, and after visiting, he saw it as an opportunity to help contribute to what is happening in St Vincent.

“This move that I am looking at is one in good faith; there is not politics involved in this.”

He said that with the airport being in the embryonic stage, he will be bringing his expertise and innovation not only in aviation, but in tourism as well.

“I actually think that the whole atmosphere is one that is conducive to business development and that is what is encouraging me to look at it,” Gouveia pointed out.

He added that the airport also offers new opportunities.

“There is no other ulterior motive in my arsenal other than to come and join this new wave that is happening there.”

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