TOUGH TALKS: Justice Minister Emmanuel George, left, greets Venezuela’s Minister of Defence, Admiral-in-Chief Carmen Teresa Melendez-Rivas before the start of
yesterday’s Security Bilateral meeting at Tower C, International Waterfront Complex, Port of Spain. Looking on are Minister of National Security Gary Griffith, second left, Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Embau Moheni, centre, and Venezuela’s Minister for the Interior Relation, Justice and Peace, Miguel Rodriguez Torres.
—Photo: AYANNA KINSALE
‘Million-dollar sex trade in T&T’
Anna Ramdass firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a multi-million-dollar sex slave trade taking place between this country and South America where persons are being held against their will, forced into prostitution and threatened with death.
This was disclosed yesterday by government ministers from Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela who met yesterday to discuss initiatives to crack down on the illegal trafficking of humans, drugs and guns and protecting the borders of both countries.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith and Justice Minister Emmanuel George engaged in two hours of talks with the Venezuelan team—Minister of the People’s Power for Defence, Admiral-in-Chief Carmen Teresas Melendez-Rivas and Minister for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Major Miguel Rodriguez Torres.
The meeting took place at the Justice Ministry’s office at Tower C of the International Waterfront Complex, Port of Spain.
At a news conference following the meeting, both Griffith and Torres, when questioned, disclosed that humans were being trafficked into this country for prostitution.
Griffith said there were 14 cases where people were trafficked from Venezuela, Colombia and Guyana.
Questioned on whether people from this country were trafficked to Venezuela, Torres said there were cases of Trinidadians being forced to work in ice cream companies for low wages to the point of slavery.
“In Venezuela we have seen some incidents where Trinidad and Tobago citizens arrive who basically work in ice cream distribution companies in Venezuela without knowing the language and without documents, undocumented workers for very, very low pay, and work there many hours almost under conditions of slavery. We’ve been talking with the ministries, once we have appropriate information and studies we will forward them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
He said the Venezuelan authorities are aware of Venezuelans being brought to this country under false pretences and being forced into prostitution and inhumane work.
Both Torres and Griffith disclosed that the human trafficking ring was on the rise.
As such a representative from this country’s human trafficking unit will visit Venezuela and assist in the joint crackdown operation.
Griffith said Venezuela was used as a transshipment point where Colombians, guns and drugs were trafficked to this country.
He said the trade was on the rise and efforts will be intensified to clamp down it and, in doing this, the illegal entry of drugs and guns will also be curbed as they are all coming in on the same vessels.
“The concern right now is the fact that we have citizens from South America, they are being lured into Trinidad and Tobago and they are being held against their will. The concept of virtual slavery in Trinidad and Tobago is very serious one,” said Griffith.
“....When they get here, matters take place where their passports are being held, they are being threatened, they are being told certain things about their family and what will happen to their family and this is slavery and this must end...this is not just the trade of prostitution, this goes to the point of virtual slavery where women are being held against their will,” he added.
The minister said through joint collaborative work and the sharing of intelligence, this country’s law enforcement and Venezuela’s national guard will crack this slave trade.
A senior national security source told the Express yesterday that the sex slave trade was a grave and appalling issue that must be confronted immediately.
“These girls are locked in basements against their will and transported at gunpoint to brothels where they are forced to have sex with 30 to 40 men a day,” said the source.
“This is the kind of madness that is going on in this country and these men think they are going to get their jollies and have a good time but they do not know the torture these women are going through, they are being abused and told that their families will be killed if they do not do what they are told,” said the source.