An international study on Venezuelans in T&T showed 46 per cent of respondents have tertiary or university level education, 53 per cent complained of facing discrimination because of their nationality and 14 per cent complained of being mistreated at work.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who gave the details in the Senate on Tuesday night, said the study was done by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). He was speaking during debate on an Opposition motion to annul Government’s Immigration Regulations.
The regulations allow Venezuelans to work in T&T for a year under Government’s amnesty exercise. The motion was, however, defeated.
The Opposition has a similar motion for Private Members’ day in the Lower House, expected tomorrow.
Al-Rawi said the IOM study also showed the educational qualifications of Venezuelan respondents, includes Masters and other types of degrees. He said 20 per cent said they had received job offers in T&T and eight per cent complained of physical abuse at work.
He also noted that while Venezuelan women are appreciated for beauty, “on the other hand they’re objects of sexual predators—19 little girls were found incarcerated in sexual slavery here.”
He said while the IMF estimated half the Venezuelan population is unemployed, there has been a 232 per cent increase of Venezuelans at the Immigration Detention Centre.
“When I visited and spoke to people, the majority said they would happily return home but couldn’t pay for it and they asked for a chance to earn the passage to return home,” he told the Senate
Al-Rawi said it cost T&T taxpayers between $12,000 to $25,000 for each person at the IDC.
Opposition Senator Saddam Hosein said Government’s statements on “looking at” what would happen to the one year programme when it ends could not be trusted since the Office of the Prime Minister and Communications Ministry’s websites stated that the law will revert to normal and Venezuelans would be deported after the year.
Reporter: Gail Alexander