NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young could not be any clearer yesterday when he spoke of Government’s amnesty registration for fleeing Venezuelans. There will be no extension when the registration ends on Friday.
He was quite clear on this point even as chaotic scenes played out yesterday at the three registration points in Tobago, the Queen’s Park Oval and at the Achievors Banquet Hall in San Fernando, where frustration boiled over among the migrants who have been waiting for days in line.
“The Government is not going to be extending the registration process. We have had the online process set up, we have been processing people and we are not going to be extending,” Young said.
He met with officials to witness the process at the San Fernando centre. As on previous days, hundreds of Venezuelans gathered hoping to register for a chance to live and work for up to a year in TT.
Young said that on Monday he met with the acting Chief of Defence Staff, the Police Commissioner and members of the intelligence services to ensure they continue as much as they can to lock down TT’s borders.
One of the discussions he is having with heads of security relates to what Government intends to do after the registration process. Young said it would be premature for him to pronounce on this.
“The Prime Minister and myself have been very clear: post the registration, come June 15, we revert to the law, and we will be upholding the laws of TT. I can say this: those who are in our prison system and those who have committed criminal acts, I will be deporting them.”
He dismissed reports by Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh of droves of Venezuelans coming in at all hours to try and register.
“That is not true. The police service and Defence Force have been monitoring the borders. We are doing the best we can in the seas. We have been turning away boatloads of people trying to come to TT, and we have been manning our borders on land.”
A woman speaking in Spanish told Young of the many problems in Venezuela. She repeatedly thanked him for having the process. Among the immigrants were many pregnant women and children.
Young said a child who has epilepsy was receiving medical care yesterday. He assured that the Government is doing its best and treating people as humanely as possible.
“As a citizen of TT, I am very proud of the process. There were a lot of criticisms even before. By and large, it has gone extremely well.”
Newsday spoke to Carmen Julia, 19, who is in the sixth month of her pregnancy. The Tucupita resident said she slept under a tent outside the centre because she wanted to be among the first group to register.
Speaking in Spanish, she said: “My feet are swollen. I was here yesterday but there were too many people and I got a number and remained overnight. It was very cold last night. Coming to Trinidad, the river was very bad. I was vomiting a lot.”
Julia said given the economic situation, she made the trip seeking a better future for her unborn child.
Mother of two Mirielvis Cabral, 26, said for the past four years she had been working in a hospital in Tucupita. Patients are dying daily due to acute shortages of medicine.
Cabral said: “A lot of us nurses are now working in restaurants and doing any other odd jobs. I have the experience and I would like to work in a hospital here.”
She cannot speak English and plans to learn it. She thanked all her neighbours in Penal who have now become her family’s English teachers.