La Guerre: Brace for influx of migrants

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Prof John La Guerre is warn­ing Gov­ern­ment to brace for an in­flux of Venezue­lans seek­ing po­lit­i­cal asy­lum in T&T as the cri­sis in that coun­try un­folds.

La Guerre was speak­ing with Guardian Me­dia, as he weighed in on Venezuela's mount­ing tur­moil, fol­low­ing Wednes­day's protest ac­tion by thou­sands against Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro.

Be­tween Wednes­day and Thurs­day, Venezuela re­port­ed 12 deaths and scores in­jured as the cri­sis es­ca­lat­ed.

On Wednes­day, Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young said T&T's Gov­ern­ment would not get in­volved in Venezuela's af­fairs.

La Guerre said Trinidad has to be cau­tious of how we re­act or com­ment to Venezuela's on­go­ing sit­u­a­tion.

"I am ad­vis­ing the Gov­ern­ment to tread care­ful­ly on Venezuela's cri­sis be­cause it could af­fect our eco­nom­ic for­tunes through the gas deal."

He al­so ad­vised that we se­cure our sea bor­ders, as more Venezue­lans would be tempt­ed to come here il­le­gal­ly, giv­en the tense po­lit­i­cal cli­mate.

"Some peo­ple would be le­git­i­mate­ly seek­ing po­lit­i­cal asy­lum in T&T. There­fore, we have to be wary of how we treat with such re­quests. Their claims for asy­lum will be strength­ened, giv­en the sit­u­a­tion. The fact that oth­er coun­tries are back­ing the USA makes the case of those seek­ing asy­lum even stronger."

T&T has signed on­to a 1951 Refugee Con­ven­tion that agreed to in­ter­im stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures for treat­ing with asy­lum seek­ers and refugees in T&T.

"We would have to ho­n­our them. But that does not mean you would take any and every asy­lum case as le­git­i­mate. Cer­tain cri­te­ri­on must be met," La Guerre said.

The fact that For­eign and Cari­com Af­fairs Min­is­ter Den­nis Moses at­tend­ed Maduro's in­au­gu­ra­tion on Jan­u­ary 10, La Guerre said: "sug­gests that we would deal with asy­lum cas­es fair­ly and square­ly."

Oropouche East MP, Roodal Mooni­lal said there was clear­ly a show­down be­tween Maduro and Trump.

"This is fur­ther egg on the face of Prime Min­is­ter Row­ley and Stu­art Young since they played foot­sy with Maduro, giv­en the coun­try's po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­i­ty which the Op­po­si­tion had warned them about."

Mooni­lal said with the cri­sis in­ten­si­fy­ing, the Drag­on Field gas deal be­tween T&T and Venezuela may be in jeop­ardy, as the US moves to im­pose po­ten­tial oil sanc­tions on Maduro's coun­try.

While the UNC stands in sup­port of Venezue­lans who are call­ing for democ­ra­cy, Mooni­lal felt there was a need for po­lit­i­cal and diplo­mat­ic in­ter­ven­tion.

Reporter: Shaliza Hasanali

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