With just four days of registration left, thousands of Venezuelans continue to gather in droves outside the Achievors Banquet Hall in San Fernando, while unscrupulous taxi drivers capitalised on their distress.
Some Venezuelan families say they have been waiting for days to get registered but although numbers reached as high as 4,200, only 1,500 were cleared up to 2 pm. The situation at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain was similar where hundreds of migrants awaited to be registered.
They too want the Government to consider extending the period of registration.
In Tobago, some Venezuelans who could not get through journeyed to the island hoping for success.
Marlon Rambharose, who is married to Venezuelan national Mayra Nazez and has three children, called for an extension to the registration process.
“This is the third day we came and we still did not get through. My wife has a number of 2,346. It is really depressing coming here day after day. It would have made better sense to have a central centre set up as well because south seems to have the most number of people,” Rambharose said, outside the San Fernando centre.
A senior immigration official said even though the staff was working as quickly as possible, taking a minimum of 15 minutes to process an application, thousands of applicants were still waiting.
Instead of calling in batches of 50 as they did last week, only 25 people were being called in at a time.
This resulted in people spilling out from under the tents onto the SS Erin Road.
Discouraged Venezuelans sat on the sidewalk outside of VHN Enterprises, Enam Industrial Supplies and outside the NP Quick Shoppe. They looked harassed and tired. Mothers with crying children in their arms sat on the ground under the tents.
Venezuelan national Maria Carinezuz said she wanted an extension of time.
“My family still not registered. We have been camping out here since Saturday. We hope to get through today,” she said.
Carlos Huaz said he paid $140 to come from Chaguanas to Duncan Village with his family.
“I have no more money to pay for the passage back so we will wait here until we get through. We want to thank the people who have been bringing food for us,” he added.
The La Romaine Migrant Support group has been dropping off food and drinks to the Venezuelans since registration started on May 31.
One of the founders of La Romaine Migrant Support group (LAMS), Angie Ramnarine, who speaks fluent Spanish, collected unused school box lunches from surrounding schools in San Fernando and shared it with the migrants.
Ramnarine said she was also disgusted by the taxi drivers who have been charging higher than usual fares to bring the Venezuelans to the registration facility. Ramnarine agreed that an extension was needed in San Fernando where numbers have reached a record high since registration started.
On Sunday night, the Venezuelans who camped out under the tents entertained themselves with music and singing. LAMS brought some mattresses for the children to help ease the night and they also distributed food and water.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva