Valentina Hernandez with her daughter Sofia Rivas. -
Valentina Hernandez with her daughter Sofia Rivas. -

THE search was continuing last night for a woman believed to have abducted the nine-month-old baby of a young Venezuelan mother from the victim's apartment in Central Trinidad.

Valentina Hernández, 17, was inconsolable and had to be physically supported by relatives and friends as she wept outside her home at Longdenville Local Road, Chaguanas when Newsday visited.

In a later phone interview, Hernández said she was with her daughter Sofia Rivas when at 7.30 am, a woman whom she had seen in the area in the past paid her a visit.

Hernández said the woman, whom she described as "thin with long black hair" spoke at length with her.

"The woman – she looks East Indian to me – she came to the place where we are renting in Longdenville Local Road.

"She greeted me and after we spoke for a little while, the woman – she was very friendly and she told me she wanted to take my baby to buy a juice for her in the supermarket that is downstairs from the apartment where we live," said a sobbing Hernández.

A man is taken in for questioning by the police, into the kidnapping of the baby of Venezeuelan national, Valentina Hernandez. - Angelo Marcelle

CCTV cameras at the supermarket later recorded the woman walking the aisles with baby Sofia in her arms before leaving with the child in a grey Nissan car with the licence plates PCU 642, which was parked nearby and driven by a man.

Realising that the woman had left with her child, Hernández went to the Chaguanas police station and with the aid of friends who acted as interpreters, made a report.

Hernández told Newsday she had previously seen the woman who stole her daughter at a neighbour's home.

"The woman came here sometimes, but we never had communication until today. I never imagined she would take my daughter, that's why I agreed to give her my child.

"I believed she was a good person when she offered to buy her a juice, like good Trinidadians do. But this time she was a bad person and now my baby is gone."

Hernández said she lives in the apartment with her daughter, husband and a cousin. The family is originally from the city of Puerto Ordaz in southern Venezuela.

She said that immediately after her baby was taken, she and her relatives used social media to share photos of the suspect holding baby Sofia taken from CCTV images from the supermarket.

Since then, the posts have been shared by several of Hernández's local friends in a group in Facebook.

This led to information that the woman who abducted the baby had at one time been an occupant of the St Jude's Home for Girls in Belmont. When Newsday tried to confirm this, Central Division police would only say they had no information on the status of the investigation.

While Newsday was at Hernández's home, police were seen taking away a man for questioning.

Up to press time, baby Sofia remained unaccounted for. The desperate mother is begging anyone who has seen her baby or knows of her whereabouts to call the nearest police station or 368-4714, with any information.

Attacks against Venezuelan migrants who have flocked to Trinidad to live and work following economic and social unrest in their homeland have been frequent in recent times.

In May three men stormed a house in South Trinidad and later gang-raped a 19-year-old Venezuelan woman who was asleep with her 20-year-old boyfriend. After the attack, the intruders robbed the couple. Police later arrested and charged three men.

Then in August, an 18-year-old Venezuelan woman who got into a taxi in Siparia to sell empanadas was abducted, raped, stabbed, and left to die in some bushes in La Romaine.

She was found covered in blood after crawling out of the bushes and on to the road. She had bruises to her arms and legs and was bleeding from stab wounds. The teen needed emergency surgery at San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH). Two men, one of them a Special Reserve policeman, have since been charged.



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