Padarath: Too late to now discuss locking down coastal borders

Even as Minister of National Security Stuart Young announced that security forces were locking down T&T's borders in response to Venezuela's worsening crisis, Opposition MPs said it was a little too late to do this.

During an interview, Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said nothing could stop desperate people from fleeing their homeland if civil war breaks out in neighbouring Venezuela.

Padarath said with fractions of Venezuela's military supporting Opposition leader Joan Guaido, TT could become caught in the fallout as fleeing Venezuelans could flock to the island creating a negative impact on TT national security.

"Could our resources handle the influx of Venezuelans and would we be able to manage the situation?" he asked in relation to governments decision to register Venezuelans and allow them to work for up to a year legally.

He said education and the health sector will also be strained adding that while it was important to deal with the situation in a humanitarian way, the government should also take precautions to ensure there is no negative impact on TTs security.

MP for Mayaro/ Rio Claro Rushton Paray said since the attempt was made by Guaido to overthrow the Nicholas Maduro regime there have been no reports of a high influx of Venezuelans coming to TT from the east coast.

However, he said he was sure they were coming in from other points in the coast.

He noted that the Mayaro region had a large number of hard working Venezuelans who were eagerly waiting for registration. He warned however that under the ad-hoc registration process no plan was put in place for Venezuelan woman who bears children in TT during the one year period.

"Will the children get citizenship? Will the parents be sent back. Why did the government allow a 50-day window before registration begins?" Paray asked.

He also predicted a higher influx of Venezuelans coming to TT over the next few days. He said while NGO's in Mayaro were assisting Venezuelans with accommodation and schooling, he was uncertain whether the country will be able to accommodate any great number of Venezuelans seeking refugee status in TT.

In a statement Tuesday, Minister Young said TT was maintaining its principled position of non- interference and none intervention in the Venezuelan crisis.

He said government hoped that the Venezuelan people could resolve their issues peacefully.

 -by Radhica De Silva

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