Out of jobs and forgotten by the State. That is how some registered and unregistered Venezuelans are describing their current situation in T&T.
Already facing hardships, the onset of the coronavirus and the subsequent shutdowns of bars, restaurants and casinos have now added to their collective pain.
“There are no jobs,” one woman told Guardian Media.
She lives in Mayaro and said that there are as many 42 men and women who are now out of jobs.
She is not alone.
In Central Trinidad, Guardian Media spoke with two women who worked at a bar in Cunupia.
“Nothing. They just tell us it over and nothing,” one said in stilted English.
She said that it’s not just the lack of jobs.
“We getting told no at hospitals and the centres (health),” she said.
This is another worrying trend among the over 16,000 registered Venezuelans migrants who came to the T&T during the amnesty period last year.
Part of the registration process allowed the registered Venezuelan nationals to access the hospitals for emergency care.
“But that not always the case,” one woman said.
One of the women gave her name as Marisol but said that it was not her real name. She said a friend worked as a bricklayer in Trinidad but hurt his leg and was taken to the hospital. Some tests were run and he learned he had leukaemia.
“They turn him away because he not a Trinidadian and he died. He was not even 25 yet and nobody cared,” she said.
With 50 cases of COVID-19 in the country, some 28 people being held in quarantine in Camp Balandra and an innumerable amount in self-imposed isolation, the registered migrants are worried. They also seem more scared of being too vocal in case they are further victimised by Trinidadians.
“We listen to the news, we listen and we hear nothing about us. We are registered, we have numbers and cards and we not getting any information on what to do if we are sick,” she said.
But one man, who lived near the two women also came to speak with Guardian Media. He too asked that he not be photographed and asked not to use his real name.
He is not here legally.
“What happening here…it better than there,” he said, motioning in a southern direction.
“Home? Home not good,” he said, meaning Venezuela.
According to the man, he received news from home which upon translation paints a picture of a collapsing health care system in Venezuela where medical professionals are forced to deal with COVID-19 while lacking simple cleaning supplies.
His report account matches international reports which state that Venezuelan hospitals are under pressure.
According to international media reports, there are as many as 200 cases in Venezuela but there were questions about whether that was the real figure.
One spokesperson for the Venezuelan people living in T&T, Yesenia Gonzalez said while the migrants were already facing harsh treatment in T&T, the coronavirus made it worse.
“They are out of jobs. Most of the men and women found jobs in the bars and casinos and restaurants and now we have thousands unemployed,” she said.
“They did not come alone, they came with children and now they have no money for food,” she said.
Gonzalez said that the Venezuelan community has not seen or heard any Government initiative to positively impact on them.
“We are hearing nothing about them,” she said.
On Wednesday, Guardian Media reached out to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Minister of National Security Stuart Young.
Guardian Media also attempted to contact the men on their mobile phones.
There was no response from any of the officials.
The registration process began on May 31, 2019, and it was expected then that as many as 28,000 migrants would register.
In January, Young announced a six-month extension to the registered Venezuelans.