Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, Monday expressed concern after four Venezuelans and three Saint Lucians were held at sea last weekend.
Law enforcement officials said the men who were travelling in a pirogue, were intercepted by a United States Coast Guard vessel and brought here Monday morning.
Acting Police Commissioner, Milton Desir, told St Lucia Times that the vessel is believed to be from the Vieux Fort area.
He said the non-nationals had no form of identification, but preliminary investigations have led law enforcement authorities to believe that they are from Venezuela.
Desir said an investigation into the matter is ongoing.
“We did not capture any of the evidence – We believe that they dropped it off in the ocean,” Prime Minister Chastanet told reporters.
The Prime Minister is just back from a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) conference in Trinidad focusing on citizen safety and security.
He questioned why Saint Lucian nationals would be bringing four Venezuelans to this country in boat.
“This is a growing issue for all of us. I am hoping that it stays at just drugs and arms and it does not become anything else,” Chastanet stated.
“When I went to Trinidad you are seeing it is much bigger than that. There are thousands of Venezuelans who are coming across on a regular basis and taking up residence in Trinidad which is now putting pressure on the education system, the health care system and the local policing system,” the Saint Lucia Prime Minister explained.
“My fears are still there – Saint Lucia has taken some strong and bold initiatives,” Chastanet stated.
He recalled that Saint Lucia has imposed visa requirements on Venezuelans.
But Acting Police Commissioner, Milton Desir, while acknowledging that the visa requirement provides an opportunity to screen individuals, observed that there are sill others who seek to enter Saint Lucia through the ‘back door’.
Nevertheless, he expressed the view that the visa requirement is working and that joint patrols would reduce the incidence of illegal entry.