'New' Venezuelans in registration line

Despite assurances from National Security Minister Stuart Young that T&T's borders were locked down, Venezuelan migrants who entered the country this week are among those seeking to sign up on the final day of registration for Government amnesty programme.

Up to Thursday, migrants entered the country through Erin and were outside the Achievors Banquet Hall, Duncan Village in San Fernando, seeking to register.

Ramon Villegas, 55, told Guardian Media that he and 17 others came through Palo Seco on Monday and immediately went to get registered. But like many others, they were given numbers and had to wait for days.

Military forces had confirmed that boatloads of Venezuelan migrants continued to try entering the country over the past two weeks.
Through translator Angie Ramnarine, from the La Romaine Migrant Support group, Villegas said he came to Trinidad to work so he can support his wife and four children back in Venezuela. He, like many

Venezuelan migrants, were confident that they would be registered before the end of the day. If he is deported, he will go to another country in search of work. The former machine operator said that although he learnt of the amnesty weeks ago, he and many others were waiting to see if the Nicholas Maduro government would be overthrown. But with the economic situation getting worse, he along with 11 adults and six children boarded a pirogue to Trinidad and have been staying in Siparia.

"The lines for gas in Venezuela has about 1000 cars. It is the same for food. The lines here are similar to the lines in Venezuela except there seems to be hope at the end the lines here as opposed to in

Venezuela. When we line up for food, we are not sure to get anything," Villegas said.

He is hoping to get work operating machinery but can also do carpentry or masonry.

He said once he is registered, he will work and at the end of the period, will go to another country and seek employment. He lamented that Venezuela has many natural resources yet citizens cannot even get gas.

"It was such a rich country."

He said that only the government and high ranking military officers are living well and that the answer to Venezuela's problem is a change of government.

"Maduro has taken everything and left us impoverished. The only people living good in Venezuela are in the government and the highest rank in the military. There are lower ranked military officers here in Trinidad."

Damaris Rodriguez came to Trinidad on April 12 but has not been able to find work since. However, she was assured that she will get employment soon. The former nurse said that she had to leave her 14-year-old child behind in Guiria while she and her 19-year-old son search for work. Despite waiting to be registered for several days, she said she has already received a number and has immense faith in God.

She hopes to make as much money as she can to send back to her family in Guiria.

She said the conditions back home is depressing as there is no medicine in the hospital where she worked on contract. With the hospital being short staffed and crammed, the patients are quite aggressive.

"People are sick and suffering, and they can't get any medicine," Rodriguez said.

As the crowd continued to build throughout the morning, donuts and water were given out to the migrants and police officers from Pundit Sunil Persad. As migrants continued to feel to stress of standing in humid condition for hours, the stench of garbage began to eminate.

- by Kevon Felmine. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath.


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