10 Venezuelans held coming off boat in Cedros

Ten il­le­gal Venezue­lan im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing five chil­dren, have been de­tained at the Ce­dros Po­lice Sta­tion af­ter be­ing found wan­der­ing on the Gal­far beach af­ter com­ing off a boat.

A source said the fam­i­ly was forced to sleep on the floor of the sta­tion as they await­ed pro­cess­ing by the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion.

It is un­cer­tain why the chil­dren, aged four to ten, were not put un­der the care of the Child Pro­tec­tion Unit at the Oropouche Po­lice Sta­tion.

Po­lice con­firmed that the fam­i­ly was picked up at the de­sert­ed beach near Green­hill short­ly af­ter they were dropped off by a ves­sel on Mon­day.

This is a spot which Guardian Me­dia ex­clu­sive­ly iden­ti­fied as one of the five il­le­gal drop-off points for im­mi­grants flee­ing the so­cio-eco­nom­ic cri­sis in Venezuela.

Since Venezuela’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in­ten­si­fied, the in­flux of Venezue­lans has in­creased in Ce­dros. More than 700 Venezue­lans come legal­ly through the Ce­dros base every week, but hun­dreds more come in pirogues and hide along the coast­lines be­fore be­ing picked up by Trinida­di­ans.

Some of the Venezue­lans have sought refuge from fam­i­lies in Ce­dros. Oth­ers have made their homes in aban­doned build­ings.

One of them was Jose Yamil, who lives in a shed on the Ce­dros beach.

Dur­ing an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, Yamil said he looked for­ward to the time when Venezue­lans could live peace­ful­ly in their home­land.

He said he came to Trinidad as a child and moved back and forth over the years, as his fa­ther was a Trinida­di­an and his moth­er Venezue­lan.

Since mov­ing to Trinidad per­ma­nent­ly over the past four years, Yamil said he has been work­ing as a fish­er­man.

“I want to get a prop­er place to live. I like the idea that we will be reg­is­tered,” Yamil added, show­ing his iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card which en­ables him to find work in the area.

An­oth­er Venezue­lan fam­i­ly seen on the beach said they wel­comed plans by Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young to reg­is­ter all Venezue­lans now in T&T.

Ani­ray Salazar, who has two chil­dren aged five and four months, said she has been liv­ing in Ce­dros over the past year. Her hus­band is still in Venezuela but Salazar said she now lives in Ce­dros with a new hus­band.

“I came here last year Feb­ru­ary on the pas­sen­ger boat. I end­ed up stay­ing here be­cause in Venezuela there is no food, no wa­ter and I was preg­nant.

My grand­moth­er and aunts are still in Venezuela. Dur­ing the (re­cent) black­out I could not speak to them for a week,” she re­vealed.

Salazar said she want­ed her chil­dren to get ed­u­ca­tion­al op­por­tu­ni­ties in Trinidad.

“I used to send my daugh­ter to a pri­vate school. I paid $200 a week. Right now I want her en­rolled in a pub­lic school,” she said.

The oth­er mem­bers of her fam­i­ly, Mis­ladis Subero and her sis­ter Ash­ley Or­doz, said they were al­so hap­py with the Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to reg­is­ter them.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment yes­ter­day, Dean of the Fac­ul­ty of Law at the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies, Pro­fes­sor Rose-Marie Belle An­toine, who has been pi­o­neer­ing a cam­paign for the pro­tec­tion of Venezue­lans here, said the de­tained chil­dren should have been placed in the Chil­dren’s Au­thor­i­ty’s care. An­toine not­ed, how­ev­er, that there is no set pro­ce­dure when it comes to Venezue­lan im­mi­grants.

“We should pay even more re­gards to the rights of chil­dren. Chil­dren’s rights should be of para­mount im­por­tance,” An­toine said.

Al­so con­tact­ed yes­ter­day, Ce­dros coun­cil­lor Shankar Teelucks­ingh said there were sev­er­al build­ings which could be up­grad­ed to house Venezue­lan im­mi­grants. He con­grat­u­lat­ed the Catholic com­mu­ni­ty for of­fer­ing ed­u­ca­tion and ac­com­mo­da­tion to the Venezue­lans.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva

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