Venezuelans continue to enter South coast

Boat­loads of Venezue­lans are still con­tin­u­ing to se­cret­ly en­ter Trinidad through Ica­cos even though the Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young an­nounced that all bor­ders are now in lock­down.

Guardian Me­dia vis­it­ed the coastal vil­lages of Coro­man­del, Fullar­ton, Ica­cos and Bonasse yes­ter­day to see whether there was any phys­i­cal proof of ad­di­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty. No ad­di­tion­al po­lice, sol­diers or coast guard were seen.

How­ev­er, res­i­dents said the num­ber of il­le­gal Venezue­lans had in­creased since vi­o­lent street protests erupt­ed in Venezuela fol­low­ing the at­tempt by Op­po­si­tion leader Juan Guai­do to oust Pres­i­dent Nicholas Maduro.

Short­ly be­fore the T&T Guardian team ar­rived at Ica­cos Beach at noon, res­i­dents said a boat with five Venezue­lans pulled up and the oc­cu­pants ran out and en­tered a forest­ed area to hide.

A source, who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty, said more than 50 Venezue­lans were seen en­ter­ing Ica­cos dur­ing Mon­day night and about a dozen ven­tured in dur­ing the day.

“On Tues­day at 5 am, three max­is were at the beach pick­ing up the women and chil­dren, many of whom could be no more than 20-years old.

“This is a reg­u­lar thing. We can­not talk about it but every­one sees and knows what is go­ing on,” the source said.

Some fish­er­men, who were try­ing to hoist a boat off the sand and who the source claimed had or­ches­trat­ed the il­le­gal trip, de­nied see­ing any Venezue­lans on the beach. They did not want pho­tos tak­en.

Sev­er­al fish­er­men said since the min­is­ter an­nounced a lock­down there has been no ad­di­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty.

Adri­an Massey, who was kid­napped by Venezue­lans two years ago while fish­ing in lo­cal wa­ters, said he was con­cerned about de­vel­op­ments in Venezuela.

“It is cause for con­cern be­cause there is war in Venezuela . It will mean a lot of Venezue­lans com­ing here,” he said.

He said while lo­cals could not fish in ter­ri­to­r­i­al wa­ters, the Venezue­lans were com­ing in with lit­tle or no re­stric­tions.

While he ex­pressed sym­pa­thy for the plight of the Venezue­lans, Massey said one could not be cer­tain whether the for­eign­ers were crim­i­nals.

Pres­i­dent of Ica­cos Unit­ed Fish­er­men As­so­ci­a­tion Gary Ed­wards said, “There is no lock­down here. Who cares what is hap­pen­ing in Ica­cos. Do you think peo­ple don’t know what is hap­pen­ing? You know and that is why you are here.”

He added that Venezue­lans were liv­ing in every part of the penin­su­la.

At Bonasse Vil­lage, Ce­dros tour guide Ed­ward Mar­celle said there was no ev­i­dence of a bor­der lock­down be­cause of the Coast Guard in­ter­cep­tor was not sta­tioned off the coast.

How­ev­er, at Bowen and Carlise Trace, Coro­man­del, army of­fi­cers were spot­ted in­side the for­est trails. There were al­so ad­di­tion­al sol­diers seen by res­i­dents in the Gal­fa area.

On Mon­day, Young said the bor­ders will be locked down to stop il­le­gal en­try. He said the gov­ern­ment is tak­ing a non-in­ter­fer­ence and non-in­ter­ven­tion stance to the Venezue­lan cri­sis.

- by Radhica De Silva

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