Over 200 Venezuelans arrived at the Caroline building in Scarborough just after noon on Sunday to get away from the tedious registration process in Trinidad. At the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain and Achievor's Banquet Hall in San Fernando, thousands of Venezuelans have been rushing to get registered before the Friday deadline. But with only about 500 per day being registered, many have had to camp overnight at the venues to be among those processed for the day.
For many, it has been a necessary sacrifice as the opportunity to get regularised and live in Trinidad legally for a year is better than the hardship currently being experiences in their homeland.
Newsday understands the Venezuelans came to Tobago on the Cabo Star while others used the airbridge. One person told Newsday he will return to Trinidad once he gets registered. Many were turned back because they were unable to provide copies of original documents. Around 1pm, bad weather sent those lined up outside scattering for shelter as inside the building was completely packed. This is the first time the Tobago station registered this many Venezuelans in one day.
One woman who lives and works in Trinidad told Newsday she was hesitant to register initially because she thought it was a trick to detain those who are here illegally. After waiting to see her compatriots complete the process, she said she felt comfortable and decided to register. She described TT citizens as "nice people," adding that if TT's economy suffered a crisis they would be welcomed in Venezuela.
During the first nine days of registrations there were no long lines or rush at the Tobago registration station. Up to Saturday, police confirmed 221 Venezuelans registered in Tobago.
ACP Ansley Garrick told Newsday on Sunday the influx was expected within the last week of registration. He said police are not concerned and regular patrols in the area will continue.
“It was expected there would be a rush since word would have gotten out that Tobago is a breeze…We have adequate patrols to ensure safety. When you look at the trend on how Tobago process flowed over the last day, we expected a boat will come with 300 coming off at once.”
The registration closed off at 4:50pm and many were asked to return on Monday morning. Children and seniors were seen in the group crossing the road towards an old fruit stall to stay during the night.
Venezuelans have three more days until the two-week amnesty period is over.