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Tuesday 22 October 2019
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Tears, uncertainty in Tobago

Over 500 V'zuelans miss Friday deadline

Scores of remaining unregistered Venezuelans being escorted through Scarborough after the closing of registration Friday.
Scores of remaining unregistered Venezuelans being escorted through Scarborough after the closing of registration Friday.

AN uncertain future left over 500 Venezuelans in tears on Friday after they failed to register by the deadline in Tobago. Outside Caroline Building in Scarborough, Venezuelans told Newsday immigration staff told them, "God bless" and to have a good life after the 5pm deadline passed.

This came before Minister of National Security Stuart Young described the registration process in TT as a success and said all who had began the registration would receive their ID slip. He was speaking at a media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's at 6pm on Friday.

Venezuelans in Tobago were however confused as they were told no more people would be registered, leaving many heartbroken after they made the journey to Tobago hoping the process here would be smoother.

Minutes after the Tobago station was closed, Tobago Divisional Task Force police escorted the migrants to Port Mall, downtown Scarborough to occupy an empty third floor where many of the migrants have been provided with beds, food and shelter during the last four days. They were told more information would be provided by 7am the following day.

Venezuelan migrant George Silver told Newsday he was disturbed as information at Caroline Building conflicted with what was happening in Trinidad.

"My friends in Trinidad were told the people in charge said they will finish register. Here they tell us have a good life, God bless, because the deadline is here and they cannot process anyone else. What I understand is it is over for us?"

Minister Young was made aware of the situation in Tobago by Newsday during the media briefing but denied it was true.

He said, according to what he was told, those waiting on the outside were family members of others who have registered.

The final day for Venezuelan registration in Tobago had got off to a smooth start as a large number of migrants were registered by 10am. Even though the centre opened 15 minutes late, the process seemed to move faster than the previous day.

Keeping a watchful eye on proceedings was ACP Ansley Garrick who told Newsday he admired the number system implemented by the migrants to ease the long lines and avoid chaos. He said although people were speculating about an extension to the deadline, there was no official word on that.

“I haven heard anything about the time being extending, so police will work with the information we have. We are still keeping our ears open as information comes in. My interest is those returning and those who decide to stay. We want to know the figures.”

During the morning there were only a few Venezuelans disembarking the TT Spirit. ACP Garrick said he expected an influx during the last day but felt pleased the crowd didn’t become unbearable.

One migrant, who identified himself as Omar, said the number system was his idea. He said since the system was created on Monday morning over 400 people have registered, adding that he distributed numbers up to 1,005. He said if the registration continued at the morning pace all migrants who came to Tobago would have a chance to register.

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