Thousands of Venezuelans await registration cards

Three months af­ter the reg­is­tra­tion process end­ed thou­sands of Venezue­lans are yet to re­ceive their reg­is­tra­tion cards.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia, one Venezue­lan na­tion­al who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty said he has been work­ing in a su­per­mar­ket since June even though he does not have his reg­is­tra­tion card.


“We ex­pect­ed to get it by now. We are not crim­i­nals. I was a po­lice of­fi­cer in Venezuela but we still wait­ing,” Miguel said.

An­oth­er Venezue­lan fam­i­ly who was fea­tured on a BBC doc­u­men­tary which sparked the ire of Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley said they too were wait­ing.

“We were in the first batch of ap­pli­cants but no­body has called us yet,” one of the ap­pli­cants said.

In an in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, one of the founders of the La Ro­maine Mi­grant Sup­port (LAMS) group Ang­ie Ram­nar­ine said less than 25 per cent of the peo­ple who reg­is­tered to work have re­ceived reg­is­tra­tion cards.

She said LAMS has been as­sist­ing hun­dreds of mi­grants and out of the batch which they kept in con­tact with, on­ly two peo­ple re­ceived their of­fi­cial reg­is­tra­tion cards.

She said the mi­grants were tasked with col­lect­ing the cards in Port-of-Spain and many of them were un­clear where they had to go.

“It is dif­fi­cult to get peo­ple from the Im­mi­gra­tion to ex­plain why the process is tak­ing so long. In the mean­time, the vol­un­teers and sup­port groups are work­ing around the clock to lend as­sis­tance,” Ram­nar­ine said.

She said Liv­ing Wa­ters and the UN­HCR have tried to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion­al op­por­tu­ni­ties to the Venezue­lan mi­grant chil­dren by cre­at­ing spaces in some pri­ma­ry schools.

“In one class­room we had 70 chil­dren to one teacher. The chil­dren don’t get meals and a lot of them have left LAMS to get spaces in schools but not all of them could be ac­com­mo­dat­ed in the pri­ma­ry school sys­tem,” Ram­nar­ine said.

Say­ing there were in­ad­e­quate re­sources to as­sist the chil­dren, Ram­nar­ine called on the gov­ern­ment to put sys­tems in place to help the mi­grants.

“The vol­un­teers and NGO’s are try­ing to cope but there is a pauci­ty of re­sources. The UN­HCR and Liv­ing Wa­ters have been try­ing to cre­ate Child-Friend­ly spaces but the gov­ern­ment has not as­sist­ed. Where is the hu­man­i­ty in the pol­i­tics?” Ram­nar­ine asked.

Mean­while, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the T&T Venezuela Sol­i­dar­i­ty Net­work said based on pre­lim­i­nary da­ta col­lect­ed on­ly 30 out of 1,000 plus Venezue­lans as­so­ci­at­ed with her net­work have re­ceived cards.

The of­fi­cial said the one-year stip­u­la­tion takes ef­fect from the date of is­sue, and they are con­cerned about why the process has been tak­ing so long.

While sup­port groups were work­ing fever­ish­ly with Liv­ing Wa­ters and the UNHRC, the spokesper­son said many Venezue­lan chil­dren were still with­out ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port.

“There are very few peo­ple who have ac­tu­al­ly re­ceived the cards. From a group of 5,000 that the gov­ern­ment said was dis­trib­uted on­ly 30 peo­ple said they re­ceived the cards. We have What­sapp groups com­pris­ing of over 1,000 peo­ple and I am in con­stant con­tact with about 20 peo­ple. None of them has re­ceived a card,” the source said.

She said a team of Venezue­lans and lo­cal psy­chol­o­gists have been work­ing to as­sist the for­eign­ers. How­ev­er, she said the gov­ern­ment need­ed to put a sys­tem in place to as­sist. She not­ed that many in­ter­na­tion­al agen­cies were ready and will­ing to as­sist, but the gov­ern­ment has been re­fus­ing to help.

Ef­forts to con­tact Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young proved fu­tile as calls to his cel­lu­lar phone went unan­swered and he did not re­spond to What­sapp mes­sages.

Last week in Par­lia­ment, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert said af­ter ver­i­fi­ca­tion by Venezuela’s law en­force­ment agen­cies, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and In­ter­pol, 5,148 peo­ple have been cleared to live and work in T&T.

He said out of this, 3091 reg­is­tra­tion cards have been processed and dis­trib­uted. Im­bert said a to­tal of 16, 523 na­tion­als were reg­is­tered dur­ing the two-week reg­is­tra­tion win­dow on May 31 to June 14.

Im­bert said out of the ap­pli­ca­tions re­ceived, 112 Venezue­lans were re­ject­ed af­ter it was found that they had crim­i­nal records for of­fences in­clud­ing rob­bery, lar­ce­ny, drug traf­fick­ing and homi­cide.



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