Venezue­lan mi­grants ap­peal to Gov­ern­ment: Extend registration deadline

With the end of the reg­is­tra­tion pe­ri­od draw­ing close and the mi­grant num­bers in­creas­ing, Venezue­lans are ap­peal­ing to the Gov­ern­ment to ex­tend the dead­line.

The ap­peal came as hun­dreds of Venezue­lans, many with their ba­bies and chil­dren, con­verge dai­ly out­side of Achie­vor’s Ban­quet Hall in Dun­can Vil­lage, San Fer­nan­do for hours, hop­ing to be reg­is­tered.

Many Venezue­lans camp in front of the build­ing, on the pave­ment and by neigh­bour­ing busi­ness hop­ing to be in the first batch of Venezue­lans to be reg­is­tered. Guardian Me­dia Ltd was told that the process took longer on day nine yes­ter­day be­cause not all the reg­is­tra­tion per­son­nel turned out to work.

At 12.45 pm there were still hun­dreds of Venezue­lans wait­ing out­side the venue. With the as­sis­tance of Ang­ie Ram­nar­ine, one of the founders of La Ro­maine Mi­grant Sup­port group (LAMS), who speaks flu­ent Span­ish, Venezue­lans Ed­ward Valera, 24, and Jose Basti­das, 25, com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Guardian Me­dia Ltd.

They had been wait­ing out­side the venue for about 16 hours and were still un­sure whether they would be reg­is­tered.

They ex­pressed their grat­i­tude to the Gov­ern­ment for pro­vid­ing them with the two-week pe­ri­od of amnesty but felt that not all of them would be able to reg­is­ter with­in that time frame.

Not­ing that for the South of the is­land there was on­ly one cen­tre, he said many Venezue­lans have been com­ing from var­i­ous out­lin­ing ar­eas such as Ce­dros, Ma­yaro, Moru­ga and South Oropouche and the sys­tem is sat­u­rat­ed.

Valera did not think that the time will be enough to process every­one.

“He is sug­gest­ing that may be be­cause of the whole de­mo­graph­ic na­ture of the crowds that come here, that the process can be ex­tend­ed to ac­com­mo­date every­one,” said Ram­nar­ine. One of the chal­lenges they are fac­ing and for which they are ask­ing for the po­lice as­sis­tance, is en­sur­ing that their fel­low Venezue­lans com­ply with a num­ber sys­tem which they cre­at­ed. “Some­times peo­ple don’t re­spect the list. They have peo­ple jump­ing the lines and he wants his fel­low Venezue­lans to set an ex­am­ple of re­al­ly how the Venezue­lan peo­ple are. They have been re­ceiv­ing a lot of do­na­tions of food and drink and they would ask that their coun­try­men help keep the place clean and in or­der so that they don’t on­ly re­ceive things but they main­tain the sense of clean­li­ness and or­der in what they do. They are al­so ap­peal­ing to their fel­low Venezue­lans not to jump the line,” said Ram­nar­ine.

Basti­das al­so ap­pealed to Gov­ern­ment to con­sid­er a sep­a­rate line for peo­ple who are in T&T legal­ly.

They thanked the good samar­i­tans from San Fer­nan­do and en­vi­rons “from the bot­tom of their hearts” for help­ing them with wa­ter, food, cloth­ing and every­thing else.

Mon­sign­or Chris­t­ian Per­reira and his parish­ioners from the St Bene­dict’s Ro­man Catholic Church have al­so been dis­trib­ut­ing sand­wich­es, soup, wa­ter and cof­fee to the Venezue­lans dur­ing the day and night.

Per­reira as­sist­ed with pick­ing up the trash left by the mi­grants.

He said, “To­day we gave corn soup made by parish­ioners un­for­tu­nate­ly af­ter 400 cups we had no more soup.”

He said they have put their dai­ly ser­vices on hold un­til June 18 to help the Venezue­lans.

“We don’t know if reg­is­tra­tion will be fin­ish by then. It does not seem as the Gov­ern­ment or the of­fi­cers can com­plete reg­is­tra­tion of all the mi­grants. But, that is up to them to de­cide. We do what we can do.”

While they have been re­ceiv­ing some help and sup­port, Per­reira said more do­na­tions of food, bev­er­ages and fi­nances are need­ed.

They al­so re­quire the ser­vices of priests who can con­duct con­fes­sions in Span­ish and per­sons who can teach Eng­lish, lit­er­a­cy and nu­mer­a­cy.

Reg­is­tra­tion ends on Fri­day.

- Sascha Wilson

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