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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, at his meeting with His Excellency Carlos Amador Perez Silva, the Venezuelan Ambassador, today (Monday 21 December 2020). Image courtesy Office of the Prime Minister.

National security and the safety of migrants were among issues discussed by Prime Minister Keith Rowley at yesterday’s meeting with Venezuelan Ambassador Carlos Amador Perez Silva.

Both met at the Diplomatic Center for the meeting which Rowley had called.

Also attending the meeting were Minister Amery Browne (Foreign Affairs) and Stuart Young (National Security) and Ricardo Sánchez, Chief of the Venezuelan Embassy’s Consular Section.

The meeting which focused on immigration among a range of issues also covered COVID-19 and migrant safety, Browne said.

The meeting followed recent days of controversy concerning illegal Venezuelan migrants entering Trinidad and Tobago and the drowning of almost 30 Venezuelans whose boat – reportedly destined for TT- overturned seven miles off Venezuela’s coast.

Venezuelan authorities which investigated a human trafficking ring arrested the boat’s owner plus the owner of a farm from where the group departed.

Ten others were also sought.

Some Venezuelans pointed fingers at TT blaming officials for the drownings.

There were even calls by some who tried to press the Government to make further concessions for migrants.

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Browne said, “Meetings such as these serve as a prelude to the Prime Minister’s taking up the mantle of chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) from next year.”

Rowley assumes the chairmanship at Caricom’s Inter-sessional meeting scheduled for February.

Last week Rowley said the issue of Venezuela and the migration of its people would not go away.

But he said he saw no reason to use the Caricom chairmanship to press for attention to issues like the OAS’s handling of matters concerning Venezuela – a situation this country’s Government has been odds with the OAS on.

Rowley recently announced the current amnesty for 16,523 Venezuelans who registered in TT in 2019, would be extended for another six months until July 2021.

He urged Venezuelans not to encourage their loved ones in Venezuela to risk their lives to make the sea crossing to TT, noting this country’s implementation of a visa application process.