No Venezuelan visas at T&T Embassy, business deal under threat

A phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal con­sul­tant says he will take le­gal ac­tion against the State if a mil­lion dol­lar deal falls through be­cause of the Gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to put prop­er struc­tures in place for Venezue­lan visas.

Lin­wald Be­har­ry, a con­sul­tant with a ma­jor strate­gic firm, said he start­ed ne­go­ti­at­ing with a Pana­ma-based com­pa­ny to pro­vide phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to T&T, two years ago.

The com­pa­ny, whose name he has with­held, has op­er­a­tions in Venezuela and Be­har­ry said they were sup­posed to sign a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing with the com­pa­ny of­fi­cials last Sat­ur­day. How­ev­er, he said the of­fi­cials were un­able to en­ter T&T be­cause they had no visas.

Show­ing footage of the Em­bassy, Be­har­ry said, “When our as­so­ciates went to the Em­bassy, there were on­ly three peo­ple avail­able. They said they do not have cor­re­spon­dence from the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty in Trinidad re­gard­ing the re­quire­ments for visas. Be­cause of this, they are not al­lowed to trav­el. We stand a big chance of los­ing two years of re­search and de­vel­op­ment which will to­tal in the mil­lions. The Em­bassy says they do not have the visa re­quire­ments from T&T, so visas can­not be grant­ed,” Be­har­ry said.

He said state­ments from Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young that the Em­bassy in Venezuela was ful­ly staffed and func­tion­al were not ac­cu­rate.

“No one to­day knows what the truth is and I want to know what is the truth. If they are ful­ly staffed they should be giv­ing visas from the next day. We will lose mil­lions and the op­por­tu­ni­ty to give em­ploy­ment will be ter­mi­nat­ed. Caribbean Air­lines will lose mil­lions every week be­cause no one is fly­ing to this coun­try from Venezuela and this too will be dev­as­tat­ing,” Be­har­ry said.He crit­i­cised the gov­ern­ment for pe­nal­is­ing the Venezue­lan na­tion­als who were try­ing to get in­to T&T legal­ly.

“I want the Min­is­ter to look at the hon­est busi­ness­peo­ple who are trav­el­ling and fol­low­ing the guide­lines. It seems he is pe­nal­is­ing the Venezue­lans who are fol­low­ing reg­u­la­tions and the il­le­gal Venezue­lans are be­ing treat­ed with re­spect and get­ting doc­u­ments,” Be­har­ry said.

He urged Young to put the prop­er sys­tems in place to en­sure that de­serv­ing Venezue­lans get visas.

Asked whether he planned to take le­gal ac­tion, Be­har­ry said if the deal falls through and his as­so­ciates do not get here by Sat­ur­day, he will ini­ti­ate le­gal ac­tion. He not­ed that the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny would have pro­vid­ed cheap­er med­i­cine to the cit­i­zens of T&T. Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young did not re­spond to calls. Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs Den­nis Moses is cur­rent­ly out of the coun­try.

T&T’s con­sul in the Venezue­lan Em­bassy at Cara­cas, Dayne Marc Chin Slick re­ferred ques­tions to the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­vi­son of the Min­istry of For­eign and Cari­com Af­fairs for re­sponse but none was forth­com­ing.

How­ev­er, Min­is­ter Young said last week that the Gov­ern­ment was “try­ing to en­sure” it has suf­fi­cient re­sources at its Cara­cas em­bassy to process visa ap­pli­ca­tions for Venezue­lans.

Young said, “I’ve been in dis­cus­sions with the For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter on how this will be car­ried out from our em­bassy in Cara­cas which is cur­rent­ly staffed. He added the ap­proval for the visa will come from “head­quar­ters” in T&T.”

“What it will be, is ap­pli­ca­tions will be done in Cara­cas and head­quar­ters will say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ to the ap­pli­ca­tions that are made in Cara­cas,” he added.

He said all in­for­ma­tion on the cost of the visa, the ap­pli­ca­tion process, lo­gis­ti­cal el­e­ments and oth­er as­pects will be pro­vid­ed “in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.”

Reporter: Radhica De Silva

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