T&T Implements New Visa Policy For Venezuelans

Trinidad Guardian:- From Mon­day, Venezue­lans seek­ing to en­ter T&T will have to get a visa as the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced the new mea­sure to pre­vent the free flow of im­mi­grants in­to this coun­try.

Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young made the an­nounce­ment at a me­dia brief­ing at the close of the two-week reg­is­tra­tion process which end­ed at 5 pm on Fri­day.

He said over 15,000 Venezue­lans were reg­is­tered at three cen­tres—Queen’s Park Oval, in Port-of-Spain, Achie­vors Ban­quet Hall, in San Fer­nan­do and Car­o­line Build­ing, in To­ba­go.

The Min­ster said from his in­for­ma­tion all the peo­ple wait­ing to be reg­is­tered were ac­com­mo­dat­ed but the sit­u­a­tion in San Fer­nan­do and To­ba­go was in to­tal con­trast to his state­ments. Told by re­porters that the sit­u­a­tion was not as he de­scribed, the Min­is­ter said that was the in­for­ma­tion he had.

“We have com­plet­ed the reg­is­tra­tion process as we had said we would, we stuck to it. There were ab­solute­ly no in­ci­dents or in­juries to any­one dur­ing the two-week process.”

Young claimed there no crowds of mi­grants wait­ing to be reg­is­tered by the cut-off time, but rather per­sons who were “ring-fenced” and would have been processed last night.

He said, “The sig­nif­i­cance of that is it shows the suc­cess of this reg­is­tra­tion process and the ac­cu­ra­cy of it.”

“This reg­is­tra­tion process was a well thought out and im­ple­ment­ed process that is now a suc­cess, al­so al­lowed to gath­er in­tel­li­gence,” he added.

In San Fer­nan­do, hun­dreds were turned away out­side Achie­vors Ban­quet Hall af­ter po­lice cor­doned off the line short­ly af­ter 5 pm. Those with on­line reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments they were lat­er told by an of­fi­cial from the reg­is­tra­tion cen­tre to vis­it the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion next week to com­plete the process.

By night­fall, the group dis­persed, many of them miss­ing out the chance of ben­e­fit­ing from the amnesty which would have al­lowed them to live and work in this coun­try. Ear­li­er, the at­mos­phere was chaot­ic and tense as Venezue­lans were not sure what was hap­pen­ing and were try­ing to get in­for­ma­tion as what was go­ing to hap­pen to them as the cut off time was al­most up­on them.

Cal­iz Puer­to said they had or­gan­ised about five lists among them­selves which they were pass­ing on to the of­fi­cials to try to en­sure or­der and dis­ci­pline in the line.

She said each list had about 2,000 plus names. How­ev­er, that col­lapsed when the cut off time was ex­tend­ed by an hour and im­mi­grants be­gan rush­ing, hop­ing to get a place.

Po­lice of­fi­cers, sol­diers and mem­bers of the Air Guard stood guard to en­sure law and or­der. There were sev­er­al at­tempts to jump the line, caus­ing some to protest.

Around 6 pm law en­force­ment of­fi­cers stopped any­one else from join­ing the line. An of­fi­cial in­volved in the reg­is­tra­tion process came out about 15 min­utes lat­er and of­fi­cial­ly an­nounced that reg­is­tra­tion was closed.

Speak­ing in Span­ish, she in­formed them that those with the on­line reg­is­tra­tion forms to vis­it the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion from Mon­day to com­plete the process. When asked about the peo­ple who have no forms, the of­fi­cial said she was not giv­en any in­for­ma­tion about them. This left many im­mi­grants in fear that the po­lice would ar­rest them.

In To­ba­go close to 600 im­mi­grants were ush­ered to Port Mall where they were lat­er told that they would have to spend the night and will be processed on Sat­ur­day.

In Port-of-Spain, there were no im­mi­grants wait­ing in the line when the venue closed reg­is­tra­tion at 5 pm but there were about 300 in­side the venue still to be processed.

Speak­ing at a brief­ing at the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty, in Port-of-Spain, the Min­is­ter said he had signed an or­der giv­ing ef­fect to the new visa re­quire­ment.

“Those visas will be is­sued out of Port-of-Spain via an ap­pli­ca­tion process that will take place out of our func­tion­ing em­bassy in Cara­cas.”

“On­ly Venezue­lans who will be al­lowed to en­ter our ports of en­try legal­ly are those to whom we is­sue visas,” he said.

Young said ad­di­tion­al dis­cus­sions are to held re­lat­ing to this lat­est pol­i­cy de­ci­sion—which pre­vi­ous­ly al­lowed per­sons to en­ter T&T and re­main for a 90-day pe­ri­od.

He warned that those who did not come for­ward to reg­is­ter will now be sub­ject to the laws of T&T when they are held and will be de­port­ed.

The Min­is­ter said de­tails on the num­ber of im­mi­grants who were processed dur­ing the two-week reg­is­tra­tion will be pro­vid­ed at a lat­er date.

The Min­is­ter said dur­ing the ex­er­cise the Po­lice Ser­vice was able to in­ter­ro­gate im­mi­grants and gath­er valu­able in­for­ma­tion to as­sist of­fi­cials mov­ing for­ward.

Young de­nounced the crit­i­cisms and mis­in­for­ma­tion he said had been cir­cu­lat­ed to, “mis­lead the world at large about our bor­der sit­u­a­tion.”

He de­nounced state­ments by the Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar who claimed that T&T coast­line was be­ing in­vad­ed by Venezue­lan im­mi­grants, adding that the Coast Guard had been able to turn back sev­er­al boat­loads of mi­grants in the past two weeks.

He al­so ac­cused the Op­po­si­tion of in­cit­ing peo­ple to protest the pres­ence of the Venezue­lan mi­grants, re­fer­ring to a protest ac­tion out­side the Oval on Thurs­day night.

2 COMMENTS

  1. THE COMMON GOOD

    National borders shall be protected. So too are migrants control.

    But what of leaders that have created situations that have caused people to flee to where living is safer and the quality of life is much better?

    That which is universally known, but seldom recognized when situations became grave, have never about ‘…The Common Good.’

    Whenever it involved those in leadership positions that have been accused of creating ‘…unbearable hardship; …starvation; …miseries and despair,’ forcing people to flee, some global and regional leaders see it as ‘…domestic affairs and national sovereignty.’

    The ‘…CARICOM body’ appeared to have been more concerned with the benefits of ‘…PETROCARIBE OIL ARRANGEMENTS,’ than the perennial chronic suffering of the Venezuelan people.

    Then when the people take flight, they impose ‘…Visa Restrictions.’ Good for border control.

    But they shall be brave enough to take a principled or humanitarian stand, and tell the Venezuelan leader, ‘…What you are doing to your people and nation is creating problems for our nations; …Find and reach a compromise or just relinquish power.’

    Of course, this is easier said than done.

    • Well said. I do agree with you on this 100%. We have always pretended to care but ONLY for the benefits.

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