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A police officer directs Venezuelan migrants to a bus after their arrival at Los Iros beach in Erin on Tuesday. The migrants are currently in detention awaiting the outcome of a legal battle to get their freedom to seek asylum here.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that it remains a good neighbour to Venezuela despite the continuing controversy over the attempt to deport a group of Venezuelan migrants over the weekend.

The migrants, including 16 children, were cast off in two pirogues on the weekend before a habeas corpus writ contesting their detention was initially heard. The group has since returned to T&T and the court matter concerning them has resumed.

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry said: “Everywhere you go in Trinidad and Tobago you find our Venezuelan brothers and sisters living, working, being educated, and engaging fully with our health care system and other sectors. We assert that this reality must be well known and acknowledged by all responsible parties.”

Echoing concerns raised by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley about the matter, the Ministry pointed out: “There is another reality affecting our sovereign nation, and that is the flagrant disregard for our nation’s borders by drug runners, gun runners, human traffickers, others linked to organised crime in South America, and specifically by mercenaries who contribute to the exploitation of women and children and profit directly from the facilitation of illegal crossings. These exploiters do not seek the genuine interest of those they profit from, and they have no qualms about adjusting their strategies to take advantage of any loopholes that may be created by others.

“In the current circumstances, our nation simply cannot open its borders or reduce protections for the health and welfare of our people. Even developed nations with far greater resources face major challenges dealing with crossings of their borders, and no nation accepts non-nationals without due process.”

The statement continued: “Trinidad and Tobago has always been a good neighbour and hospitable land, and this will not change.

“We have neither inclination to be drawn into the internal political contests of other countries, nor are we disposed to respond to their various participants. Our local courts are now engaged in consideration of a recent situation involving the crossing of our borders by a boat transporting both adults and minors. We await the full determination of this matter within our legal system and reserve the right to make appropriate adjustments in accordance with the law and in pursuit of the best interests of our nation. “