Sunday, February 18, 2018

40,000 Venezuelans in T&T? - Dillon responds

FLASK to June 2016: Nationals of Venezuela, with their luggage in tow, walk along the jetty at the port in Cedros before boarding a vessel to return home. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon says there is no evidence that there are more than 40,000 Venezuelan nationals living in Trinidad and Tobago.

Dillon was responding to comments made by programme coordinator of the Living Water Community's Ministry For Refugees and Asylum Seekers Rochelle Nakhid.

During a stakeholder meeting at the University of the West Indies (UWI) on Tuesday, Nakhid said there was an estimated 40,000 Venezuelan nationals living in this country both legally and illegally. But she said the majority were illegal migrants.

Former director of the UWI Institute of International Relations, Dr Anthony Gonzales, said this posed a security threat to T&T as migrants could be involved in crimes like drug and weapons trading as well as trafficking.

Questioned on the matter following a National Security Symposium at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain on Wednesday, Dillon said there was no way to know for certain the number of Venezuelans currently in Trinidad and Tobago.

However he said based on information he has received from the immigration department, it is no where near 40,000.

He said the Ministry has been monitoring the number of Venezuelans coming into and leaving Trinidad or a number of years and there has been a decrease in arrivals over the past three years.

NOTE: You can read more about this story in the Thursday edition of the Trinidad Express.