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