Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trinis Kept Safe

...8 killed in riots

The Trinidad and Tobago Em­bas­sy in Caracas, Venezuela, is taking steps to protect nationals employed there as ongoing pro­tests against the government of Venezuela and its president, Nicolás Maduro, have escalated into killings and violent demon­strations in the South American country that is only seven miles away from Trinidad.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday the embassy in Caracas has undertaken initiatives to reduce the possibility of any of this country’s citizens employed at the embassy falling victim to violence.

Despite remaining open to the public for business, the embassy has reduced its hours of work in an attempt to adjust to the country’s current state of affairs.

The ministry, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, said in a statement yesterday, it had taken the measures to keep Trinidad and Tobago nationals “secured”.

The ministry pointed out it was maintaining regular contact with the embassy as it continues to closely monitor events as they unfold.

Violence escalated in the oil-rich nation earlier this month as citizens protested scarcity of basic goods and alleged human-rights violations, as well as high levels of criminal violence. 

Up to yesterday, eight people had been killed and scores of others injured in the protests, which involve mostly university students who are calling for Maduro’s departure.

There have been clashes between the protesters and rival groups of go­vernment and opposition sup­porters, along with law-enforcement officers. 

So far, there have been no reports of any Trinidad and Tobago citizens being killed or injured in the protests.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said it has adopted “standard protocols that are observed when any of its missions overseas face uncertainties, and these protocols will be observed during this time and adjusted as required to meet the changing environment”.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs con­­tinues to be concerned about the

ongoing unrest in Venezuela, as well

as the acts of violence that have disrup­ted the peace of Venezuela,” it added.

It said it will continue to monitor the events in Caracas and other parts of Venezuela, and will co-ordinate with the embassy in Caracas to respond appropriately to the situation. 

Last week, this country’s ambas­sa­dor to Venezuela, Anthony Edge­hill, said there were six Trinidad and Tobago nationals employed at the embassy and many others throughout the country.

He said should there be any extreme developments, the embassy had an evacuation plan. 

Two Thursdays ago, Venezuelans living in Trinidad staged a candlelight vigil outside the Venezuelan Embassy on Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain, to protest the violence in that country. 

Yesenia Gonzalez, who has been resident in Trinidad and Tobago for a number of years and is regarded as one of the country’s leading psy­chics, said the current Venezuelan government is guilty of a number of infractions such as the jailing of reporters, students and anyone who challenges its authority. 

She explained protests tend to begin peacefully but when infiltrated by “government thugs”, they turn into nasty affairs. She slammed politicians for using “thugs” to terrorise those who don’t support the government under the guise of street crimes. 

She said some of the murders com­mitted in the country were really a case of political terrorism made to look like a robbery gone wrong. 

But Venezuelan ambassador to T&T Coromoto Godoy Calderon said last Tuesday, the Maduro ad­mi­­nistration was facing an attempted coup promoted by extremist right-wing­ers and encouraged by several international media organisations. 

She also accused Venezuela’s private media of manipulating the news out of the unrest-ridden country.

Calderon spoke on Tuesday night about the latest problems plaguing her homeland during the launch of a permanent photo exhibition featuring the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s interaction with leaders, including former prime minister Patrick Manning, at Bretton Hall, Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain, the Guardian reported.