Venezuelans: We want a chance to work

While po­lice locked down the coastal points at Beach Camp, Pa­lo Seco and Erin on Wednes­day night, three more boat­loads of Venezue­lans ar­rived at Ica­cos Beach and Colum­bus Bay, while many more hid in the forests.

A source who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty said the boats came in be­tween 11 pm on Wednes­day to 1.30 am on Thurs­day.

Short­ly af­ter mid­night, a con­tin­gent of po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived search­ing for the Venezue­lans.

It is be­lieved they fled in­to the forests near Con­stance Es­tate, La Ve­ga Es­tate, St Quintin Es­tate near Colum­bus Bay.

Three were ar­rest­ed near Gran Chemin and 12 held at Fullar­ton, Ce­dros.

Cus­toms of­fi­cers pa­trolled along with po­lice from the South­west­ern Di­vi­sion­al Task Force led by Se­nior Supt De­onar­ine Bas­deo.

Some of the Venezue­lans who were ar­rest­ed by po­lice at Pa­lo Seco on Wednes­day spent the night at the Ir­win Park fa­cil­i­ty at Siparia. Among those was Yorlis Jose­fi­na Gue­vara.

She said, “It was get­ting rough for my fam­i­ly and I need­ed a way to help them. It was not an easy de­ci­sion com­ing here.” Say­ing she was ter­ri­fied when they were caught, Gue­vara said she felt they were go­ing to be de­port­ed.

“But the po­lice treat­ed us well and gave us food and helped us with clothes and oth­er things,” she added.

An­oth­er Venezue­lan Je­sus Moreno said he came for work to help his sev­en broth­ers and his moth­er who stayed back in Venezuela. He said all he want­ed was a chance to work.

Miguel Cas­taro said he left his moth­er, aunts and sis­ters in Tu­cu­pi­ta and came to Trinidad with his wife and three daugh­ters. He said his sis­ter was suf­fer­ing from sores on her body and there was no med­i­cine to treat her.

Cas­taro said he worked with the Venezue­lan army and was will­ing to do any job just to feed his fam­i­ly.

In an in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, coun­cil­lor for the area, Shankar Teelucks­ingh ques­tioned whether the 360-de­gree radar was func­tion­al.

“I want to know whether the radar is work­ing? How is it that the Venezue­lans are still ar­riv­ing at the south­ern coasts?

Where is the Coast Guard? Is it that they are on­ly pa­trolling to stop the Venezue­lans fer­ries?” Teelucks­ingh asked.

He al­so ques­tioned why Im­mi­gra­tion grant­ed an or­der of su­per­vi­sion to 105 Venezue­lans to stay in the coun­try for three months.

They who were picked up on Wednes­day at Aguillera Trace, Beach Camp.

One of the or­ders of su­per­vi­sion pa­pers hand­ed to Er­i­ca Yohan Men­doza Miche­le­na ad­vised that he has to re­port to the se­nior im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer at Knox Street, San Fer­nan­do in Ju­ly.

Teelucks­ingh said the Venezue­lans should have re­ceived clear­ance to stay for one week in Trinidad to get sup­plies and then the fer­ries should have been hired to de­port them back to Venezuela.

He called on the Min­istry to set up refugee camps and to li­aise with agen­cies like the UNCHR and Red Cross to help the Venezue­lans.

Reg­is­tra­tion of all Venezue­lans will be­gin in a week’s time.

All Venezue­lans who qual­i­fy will be al­lowed to live and work in Trinidad for a year.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva and Mark Bassant