THE first day of Government’s two-weeks long amnesty registration drive of all Venezuelans in TT, was anything but smoothe yesterday at the registration centres at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain and Achievers Banquet Hall in San Fernando.
In the southland, women and children including babies overnighted in front of the San Fernando registration centre at Duncan Village waiting for the start of the process yesterday. When the registration began, there was confusion.
Dozens of Venezuelans were told to return today because of a mix-up of forms for registration. The forms are in English and many complained they were unable to submit information online, as required.
“It was rejecting the information. The first link was not working and when we clicked it, it keeps saying there was an error. There are no forms here and we went searching for an internet café in San Fernando. My family got fed up and said they would return later,” said Venezuelan Maria Perez.
It was only after the immigrants were processed that officials realised many had filled out the wrong documents. An interpreter told them to fill out the correct forms before returning back to be registered. “It is a kind of mess as we were not told properly what to do so it was a waste of time,” Jorge Alen said.
Due to the glitches, translators met with those who were not yet processed outside the compound and gave them a new link.
Angel Perez who lives in Anaco said both the original and new links were not working but up to late yesterday remained optimistic that it would function.
“They give us a new link and it is the same problems. But I am sure it will work. It is normal for Venezuelans to wait long hours for service because of the state Venezuela is in now. So we are accustomed. Some people spend nights outside supermarkets and banks waiting for the doors to open the next day,” Perez said.
Miguel Espinoza, 33, a former policeman who lives in Caracas, said he too must fill out, print and return with the correct form.
Holding her ten-month-old son in her arms, Carolay Villega said: “I just wanted to be here and get through. From about 11 pm (Thursday), we were here waiting. We did not sleep. I am number 74.”
She was among the first batch of immigrants who entered Achievers Banquet Hall, one of three registration centres. The immigrants went in batches of 100.
No arrangements were in place to feed the hundreds of Venezuelans in the line and it took Good Samaritans who brought bottles of water, packs of juice, and food. Not many however, were charitable. Cars passing by, slowed with people inside shouting “Get out we country!” and, “allyuh go back home.”
Acting National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds visited the centre and said while there were indeed “a few kinks along the way” and he said no system is perfect and officials are “ironing out the rocks as we go along.”
“We are putting systems in place so even by later today, even if they do not have online registration, it will be available to them to do inside of here at our expense,” Hinds said. The cost of the registration process is $5m.
He said on completion of the process, Venezuelans would be able to walk, live and work freely for a year without any discrimination or affliction. No longer will they have to duck and run from police and immigration officials, Hinds said. “They will maintain their human dignity in this hour of crisis.”
This story was originally published with the title "Mix-up of registration forms for V'zuelans" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
Dozens of Venezuelans were told to return to Achievors banquet hall at Duncan Village, San Fernando, because of a mix-up of forms for registrations.
From as early as 5pm Thursday, Venezuelans began gathering outside the compound waiting for the process to start. Some slept on the grass, including children, and at about 7 am today, the gates were opened. Under the watchful eyes of police, the immigrants went in in batches of one hundred.
Despite waiting for hours, they say it has become normal to stay overnight to get any service because of the economic situation in Venezuela.
It was only after the immigrants were processed, they realised many filled out the wrong documents. An interpreter told the Venezuelans to fill out the correct forms before returning.