LA BREA MP Nicole Olivierre has cited a video of people purportedly entering TT illegally at a beach on the southeast coast as another example of the contribution the offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) would have made to the national security apparatus.
On Monday, a video of people jumping off a boat and running to the beach, with bags in their hands, began circulating on Facebook. The beach seemed to be Los Iros, Erin.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Olivierre said while coastal villages on the southwestern coast have always had a brisk trade with Venezuela, this seemed to have increased in recent times. “It is certainly not a new phenomenon. Persons have expressed concerns about the importation of wildlife and other contraband.
More people were also entering the country this way now, she said, “And we trust the authorities are doing whatever they can to control it and ensure that persons residing along the south coast remain safe.” She said this increase was directly linked to TT’s open coastline.
“It is not surprising, given the vast amount of open coastline, that these type of activities would be prevalent. “Now this really shows why the OPVs would have been so critical in ensuring the protection of our numerous exposed borders, particularly across the entire south, which is in close proximity to the Venezuelan mainland.”
The last PNM government had planned to buy three OPVs, but they were cancelled by the People’s Partnership administration in 2010. Several Erin village residents said the illegal immigrants did not stay in the village, but used it as an entry point into the country.
When Newsday visited yesterday, the Los Iros beachfront was deserted except for several lifeguards who had put red warning flags along the beach. The beach itself was littered with debris, which included discarded plastic bottles and logs and branches from fallen coconut trees.
Several bars which lined the road leading to the beach were closed. A staff member at a business place said she had not seen the video and had never encountered any foreigners on the street.
“I have never seen any of them personally. But I have heard talk about them coming here. It seems as if they just use here as an entry point, here and Cedros.” A resident said he too had never seen any foreigners coming ashore, as the police made regular patrols in the area.
He said the government should be lenient towards them, as people from TT had also migrated to other countries during difficult economic times.