Long lines of migrants wait to register

Hours be­fore the of­fi­cial start of reg­is­tra­tion be­gan, hun­dreds of Venezue­lans be­gan as­sem­bling out­side of Achiev­ers Ban­quet Hall at Dun­can Vil­lage, San Fer­nan­do.

Most had spent the night hav­ing walked with chairs and cush­ions in an­tic­i­pa­tion for a long night. Ac­cus­tomed to hav­ing to line up for ba­sic ameni­ties in their home coun­try, the Venezue­lans were in good spir­its, ea­ger­ly ex­press­ing their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the T&T peo­ple who had as­sist­ed them.

A Venezue­lan man walked through the crowds, call­ing names and as­sign­ing num­bers. Moth­ers wheeled their ba­bies in prams while po­lice stood on ei­ther side of the road in case there was any dis­or­der but there was none.

Among those wait­ing was Venezue­lan judge Manuel Romero. He said he was sur­prised at the num­ber of peo­ple who ar­rived dur­ing the night for reg­is­tra­tion.

"I have been here since 10 pm last night. I'm tired but hap­py that I will fi­nal­ly get some pa­pers, " he said.

Romero's asy­lum pa­pers, grant­ed by the Unit­ed Na­tions High Com­mis­sion for Refugees (UN­HCR), were burnt in a fire last year.

An­oth­er Venezue­lan, Je­sus Gar­cia, said he want­ed the chance to con­tin­ue to work for a year. Gar­cia said he and 65 oth­er peo­ple have been work­ing at a com­pa­ny in Ch­agua­nas but their work per­mits will ex­pire soon.

He said he had to flee Venezuela be­cause of po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion.

Ivan Acagua and his fa­ther An­dres, who ar­rived at the fa­cil­i­ty at 9 pm on Thurs­day, said they were ea­ger to get reg­is­tered.

They said mass star­va­tion and po­lit­i­cal up­heaval forced them to leave their home­land.

More as this sto­ry de­vel­ops.

Reporter: Radhica Sookraj

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