No official request from Venezuela for a meeting with Government was received by the Foreign Affairs Ministry up to yesterday evening.
This was confirmed by Foreign Affairs Minister Amery Browne yesterday.
Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza had on Wednesday issued word that he had been instructed by President Nicolas Maduro to convene a meeting with T&T officials.
Arreaza made the announcement via a tweet.
This followed T&T’s moves to send back to Venezuela a boatload of illegal migrants comprising 16 minors and 11 adults.
Arreaza had added that Venezuela was seeking to convened the meeting to review issues of security, human mobility, the fight against crime and drug trafficking.
He said it would be the second such meeting in four months.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister in charge of Communications, Symon de Nobriga also had no information on it.
The Venezuelan Embassy in T&T didn’t answer calls yesterday.
Cedros Councillor Shankar Teelucksingh told Guardian Media that even after the recent landing of the illegal Venezuelans, T&T fishermen are still reporting seeing Venezuelan vessels’ ‘lurking’ around the T&T coastline.
“It’s a continuous occurrence. Those boats seem to try to time their dash into T&T during the time when Coast Guard vessels change crews. That might take about an hour or so and it’s a matter of minutes to cover the seven miles between Venezuela to T&T with a good boat.”
Guardian Media sent queries to Coast Guard PRO Lt Kadija Lamy on whether any more Venezuelan vessels have been seen since the last boat landed, whether Coast Guard has indeed increased coastal patrols and if any innovations – like drones – are being employed. Lamy did not respond.
Meanwhile, UNC MP Rodney Charles called on Government to have a “serious policy” to lock down T&T borders.
“Because those deported returned almost immediately.”
“As it stands we don’t even know the number of Venezuelans in T&T. We’re not aware of how many Venezuelan children are born here and therefore entitled to all rights of citizenship. Will we keep their children born here but deport their parents? We haven’t given thought to what will happen after the registration process runs its course nor have we prepared schools for teaching bi-lingual pupils.”
Charles renewed UNC’s calls for a refugee policy “which is humane, consensually-developed, acknowledges our international treaty obligations and the skills gaps in our country, is consistent with our laws and global best practices, and most importantly recognizes the limits of our absorptive capacity.”
“This must be the first order of business for the recently appointed Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. We cannot continue to operate by vaps on this important matter.
“Local NGOs and stakeholders like the Coast Guard, TTPS, Immigration, Parliament and citizens will be in no doubt as to what’s required of them in a variety of situations such as arose recently with the deportation of Venezuelans including children and a four-month-old.
“As it stands our refugee policy is developed on the fly, seemingly by the Prime Minister taking his own counsel, without full ventilation of the issues, and in reaction to ongoing events,” he said calling on Government to have critical hard data to inform this policy.