After the Trinidad and Tobago coast guard vessel Scarborough opened fire on a boat carrying Venezuelan migrants, a baby died.
The Coast Guard has extended sincerest condolences in the aftermath of the incident.
According to the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, the one-year-old deceased has been identified as Ya Elvis Santoyo and his mother as Darie Elvis Eliagnis Sarabia.
The publication said former senator and humanitarian attorney Nafessa Mohammed described the incident as alarming and is calling for a full-scale investigation.
At the same time, the attorney made it clear she was not condoning illegal entry.
The Coast Guard said its vessel tried to intercept the boat that illegally entered Trinidad and Tobago’s territorial waters on Saturday just before midnight.
The Coast Guard said it used all available methods, including a loud hailer, ship’s horn, searchlight, and flares, to get the suspect boat to stop, but it continued evasive attempts.
A statement observed that the Coast Guard fired warning shots ahead of the boat in keeping with standard procedure, to no avail.
“At this point, the ship’s boat from TTS Scarborough attempted to intercept the vessel, however the vessel continued with aggressive maneuvers, first coming into contact with the ship’s boat and then making attempts to ram it,” according to the statement.
It said the coast guard crew were familiar with the ‘catastrophic results’ of ramming.
The statement cited two occasions when the lives of coast guard crew were at risk in ramming incidents resulting in total loss of the interceptor in one incident and major damage to the hull and interior of the other interceptor in the second incident.
“On this current occasion, the ramming effort by the suspect vessel which was larger than the ship’s boat caused its crew to fear for their lives and in self-defence, they fired at the engines of the suspect vessel in an attempt to bring it to a stop,” the release stated.
When the suspect vessel stopped, coast guard officials said they saw a female illegal migrant who was bleeding and holding an unresponsive infant.
The woman was transferred to a local health facility.
And the Coast Guard indicated that the remaining people on board the vessel would be processed in accordance with immigration and health protocols.
Headline photo of a Trinidad and Tobago coast guard vessel. (Photo: Facebook/Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard