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