Plea to repatriate 76 Venezuelan nationals

A plea was made in the Venezuelan Parliament earlier this week to have the 76 nationals currently held at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Aripo repatriated to Venezuela.

Deputy to the National Assembly for the state of Delta Amacuro, Larissa González called for the Venezuelan government to send a plane for them this week and ensure that their repatriation is expedited.

This plea came almost one month after several Venezuelan and Nigerian detainees staged two separate protests at the IDC in “hostage like” situations where guards were confronted.

On June 28, in the second protest, riot police and soldiers were called out. About 10 Nigerian detainees were subsequently arrested. The first protest occurred on June 26, where seven Venezuelan detainees protested.

On Tuesday, González demanded on behalf of the 76 Venezuelan citizens detained in T&T and their families that the T&T and Venezuela governments “accelerate the necessary procedures for the repatriation of those who today are in the Immigration Detention Centre.”

She disclosed that there are currently 29 women and 47 Venezuelan men at the IDC.

According to an article in Venezuela’s El Nacional, González noted that both the detainees and their relatives, with whom they are in constant communication, “are desperate because of the lack of response from both governments.”

González disclosed that along with deputy Carlos Valero, correspondences and reports were sent to T&T officials. She also said that several meetings with diplomatic authorities of T&T in Caracas were held in a bid to find an outlet for the situation that the Venezuelans are going through.

She also expressed interest in coming to T&T “if necessary” as she denounced the alleged mistreatment and described it as “negligence from the inaction of the officials of the Embassy of Venezuela in Trinidad.”

Subsequent to the last protest at the IDC, on June 30, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, in a release, gave the assurance that “the Ministry of National Security is working assiduously in making arrangements to repatriate detainees to their homeland, as well as further improve living conditions at the facility.”

He reiterated that the Immigration Division has encountered and continues to face numerous repatriation challenges by detainees housed at the IDC.

On April 21, a Venezuelan military aircraft landed at Piarco International Airport to take back 82 nationals to their homeland. That arrangement was made between both governments, T&T and Venezuela, days before.

Just under 40 of those 82 Venezuelan nationals were said to have applied for asylum and refugee status in T&T but according to sources, the certificates they had in their possession were allegedly disregarded by Immigration officers here in T&T.

However, the Ministry of National Security remained adamant that the Venezuelan nationals were voluntarily repatriated with the assistance of the Ambassador of Venezuela to T&T, Coromoto Godoy.

Dillon, in response to the queries, responded via WhatsApp saying, “I do not have any official information concerning this matter.”