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Tuesday 10 December 2019
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Fear, tears as V’zuelans turned away

Venezuelans cried when they learned registration was closed off at Caroline Building  Friday. Photo by David Reid
Venezuelans cried when they learned registration was closed off at Caroline Building Friday. Photo by David Reid

Venezuelans in Tobago and San Fernando are tonight afraid, confused and some of them in tears as Government closed registration centres, with some left outside.

In Tobago, one registration official exited the Caroline building in Scarborough minutes after the scheduled closing time at 5 pm, told Venezuelans the registration had closed, then police escorted them to the Port Mall in downtown Scarborough.

A few hundred remaining unregistered Venezuelans are escorted through Scarborough after the closing of registration Friday. Photo by David Reid

Some of them were waiting on family and friends, as noted by National Security Minister Stuart Young in a press conference Friday evening, but the majority said they had stood in line all day waiting to be registered.

National Security Minister Stuart Young speaking a on the Venezuelans registration at the Ministry head office on Abercromby Street in Port of Spain. PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI

It was a complete opposite from the situation in Port of Spain, where all immigrants lined up outside the Queen's Park Oval were called into the centre around 4.45 pm.

Chief Immigration Officer (Ag.) Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews, watches her time while speaking to CoP Garry Griffith, outside the Queen's Park Oval. Friday marked the end of the registration of Venezuelan migrants. PHOTO:ANGELO M. MARCELLE

There, two days ago, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith told Venezuelans if they had a chit, they had a chance.

In San Fernando and Tobago, officials seemed to be short of chits.

In San Fernando, immigrants were told different messages by police.
At first, police allowed some to go to the centre before telling others the centre was closed. Later, police asked Andreina Briceno-Brown, a Venezuelan living in TT to translate their instructions.

She told them that those with documents should go to the immigration departments Monday to Friday to complete the registration process.

Less than an hour later, an official told Venezuelans to go to the immigration office with documents to complete registration.

In Tobago, at around 7.30 an official told the crowd to return to Trinidad or return to the mall tomorrow for more information.

Find detailed stories from reporters Laurel V Williams, Elizabeth Gonzales and James Lanser in tomorrow's paper.

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