A Venezuelan Bishop on a visit to Trinidad and Tobago has appealed to locals to treat his countrymen seeking refuge here with kindness.
During a press conference at the Living Water Community in Port-of-Spain, Bishop Jaime José Villarroel Rodriguez said Venezuelans have been enduring terrible suffering in their homeland.
He said in 2018 alone last year alone, 20,000 Venezuelan newborns died because of a lack of prenatal health care. He said according to global estimates, 190,000 Venezuelans around the world have been forced into some form of slavery.
Rodriguez could not say how many of those have been estimated to be in Trinidad but he said the gap left behind by those women forced into prostitution was evident on the streets of Venezuela.
“This situation has broken families, more and more in Venezuela children are being found left alone without the presence of their parents. These children remain on the streets alone, without education, without proper food at the mercy of the delinquent groups in Venezuela,” translator Michelle Watkins told reporters.
Rodriguez said many families have also been left to grieve for their loved ones lost at sea trying to get to Trinidad as they have no closure.
“Boats were shipwrecked and they never found their bodies. These families are living in anguish and pain, there is no closure. We are living in very difficult times in Venezuela right now…open your hearts, it does not cost anything and it does not make you poor.”
Rodriguez thanked the government of T&T for allowing Venezuelans to register here and work legally for a year. He said he understands that the government could not have anticipated just how many Venezuelans would come here seeking refuge.
“Certainly the government has tried to help some of the people who have come here but we also understand that solutions don’t come from one day to the next. But I also believe that the relationship between Trinidad and Venezuela goes back many, many years not just these last few years but for centuries and we can always do more for each other.”
He urged Venezuelans living in T&T to have hope that one day Venezuela would be out of its crisis state and they would be able to return to their homelands and resume their lives.
- by Sharlene Rampersad. Photo by Nicole Drayton