While riot squad police and Minister of National Security Stuart Young battled to control crowds at the Queen's Park Oval, on Tuesday morning Venezuelans in Tobago teamed together before the opening of the registration office to create a system to prevent long lines and havoc at the Caroline Building, Scarborough.
When Newsday visited around noon, one man was checking the envelopes of those joining the line. A translator explained that the migrants all agreed to have a number written on the top of their envelope so that they – particularly seniors and mothers with children – could sit in the shade until their turn was close.
Many Venezuelans were seen checking the man standing at the head of the line with an umbrella, apparently the facilitator of the number system, to ensure they had not missed their spot.
Those in the line held numbers 91 to 140; those before were already inside or had registered and left.
The translator explained by 11am the numbers had already passed 500. He said those now arriving from Trinidad to go to the Tobago registration office were briefed on the numbering system when they tried to join the line, then given the next available number and told to stay nearby.
Despite theese efforts, applicants still described the process in Tobago as slow, but less tedious than in Trinidad.
Meanwhile in Trinidad over 2,000 migrants reportedly gathered at the Oval to try to register by any means. Some began to push their way through while others were seen skipping the line, causing police to halt the process. Young arrived and asked for the gate to be kept clear before promising the Venezuelans that if order were maintained they would all have a chance to register.
The influx of Venezuelans to Tobago started on Sunday as word got out that the process was faster there. Police confirmed 80 people were registered on Sunday, the highest number to register at the Tobago office in one day. By Sunday night there were already 300 Venezuelans on the pavement and under an old shed waiting for the office to open on Monday.
On Monday there were long lines and according to some Venezuelans the process seemed longer than expected at the Tobago station. Despite the bad weather they remained in line, hoping to get inside the building to begin registering before the door closed at 5.
As the Venezuelans waited, groups and individuals delivered hot soup, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks for them. Members ofthe Church of Christ were seen sharing soup on Monday. On Tuesday Roxborough Police Youth club distributed water and fast food to those in line and others under nearby sheds, tents and on the pavements.
Help also came from members of the Tobago Mission of SDA on Monday night and breakfast was provided on Tuesday morning. Individuals including Tobago police volunteered blankets, food, umbrellas and water.
More Venezuelans are expected to arrive on the island to escape the long line at the registration stations in Trinidad. Registration ends on Friday.