THE wait continues for the return of three fishermen held two weeks ago off the coast in Cedros by members of Venezuela’s La Guardia Nacional.
But apart from the return of the men, a 70-year-old man is also awaiting the return of his pirogue named Shakti. Suklal Mannah of Chatham, said his pirogue remained impounded by the Spanish-speaking officials and he is fearful he may lose it.
“I sent the documents to show ownership and also a copy of my ID card. One of the men’s relatives said the Venezuelan authorities wanted US $1,200 to release the vessel. I do not have kind of money, I am a pensioner,” Mannah said.
On April 5, members of the Guardia Nacional intercepted the vessel occupied by Awardnath Hajarie, 52, his son Nicholas, 26, and friend Shami Seepersad, 35, who went fishing. The armed Venezuelans forced them out of the pirogue and seized the vessel. The men later went to court charged with illegally fishing in Venezuela’s waters.
“So although they let go the men, I could lose my boat. I managed to rack up TT $6,000 and I give him that to carry. I sent the receipt for the engine. They ent release Shakti yet.”
He bought the boat about 15 years ago for $15,000 and later spent several thousands of dollars on it.
Hajarie is expected to marry his common-law wife Hermatie Sankar, 50, next month. Since the capture, she has been desperately waiting and praying for their safe return.
Councillor for the area Shankar Teelucksingh yesterday told reporters the fishermen were having problems to get fuel to return home. They were arranging to use another vessel, owned by a Venezuelan as Mannah’s is not yet cleared.
Teelucksingh is calling on the local authorities for answers and accused them of failing the people.
“What assistance is coming from the Ministry of Agriculture, who is in charge of fisheries, to assist the fishermen in distress at this point in time? How far is the investigation into what transpired in our waters?”