Refugee pleads: Help find my family

Friday, May 24, 2019 - 05:45

A Venezue­lan refugee who had six rel­a­tives aboard a pirogue which dis­ap­peared on May 16 with 29 pas­sen­gers which left Güiria for Ch­aguara­mas is plead­ing for au­thor­i­ties in T&T and Venezuela to lo­cate them.

Kender Berra, who has been liv­ing in this coun­try for more than a year, be­lieves the miss­ing pirogue Ana María was hi­jacked.

Berra, who is orig­i­nal­ly from El Ti­gre, An­zoátegui state, told a Venezue­lan news out­let he and his broth­er wait­ed in vain on a wharf in Ch­aguara­mas for the ves­sel to ar­rive.

On board were his fa­ther Luis Gua­ni­pa, 46, sis­ter Kather­ine Berra, sis­ter-in-law Maroly Bas­tar­do, who is six months preg­nant and her two chil­dren, Dy­land, 3, and Vic­to­ria Berra, 2, along with his un­cle An­to­nio Lopez, 44, he said in an in­ter­view with Tal Cual.

“It is im­pos­si­ble that on a boat with 29 pas­sen­gers there was on­ly one sur­vivor, the cap­tain. It is very strange that an en­tire ves­sel dis­ap­peared with­out a trace. If we were talk­ing about the Bermu­da Tri­an­gle, I would be­lieve it, but this is Trinidad and To­ba­go,” Berra said.

“That is a trip that is made dai­ly and af­ter that boat, two more ar­rived. I saw one that ar­rived at three in the morn­ing. I asked and they did not see any­thing, they did not know any­thing about that boat.”

Berra said he left Venezuela, which is mired in an eco­nom­ic and po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, along with his broth­er and his fa­ther in search of a bet­ter life in T&T. How­ev­er, his fa­ther re­turned to Venezuela to bring oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers to T&T “be­cause we sent them mon­ey but they nev­er enough mon­ey.”

He said al­though it was a strug­gle to pay rent and cov­er oth­er ex­pens­es in T&T, they worked and saved mon­ey to pay for tick­ets for their fam­i­ly mem­bers to trav­el from Güiria.

A month ago, they paid US$1,500 in boat fares to a man he iden­ti­fied as Juan Ve­ga, the own­er of a boat.

“His boat broke down, so he used an­oth­er boat, for the trip,” Berra said.

At 4.36 pm May 16, he got a phone call from his fa­ther that they had left for Ch­aguara­mas but he would not hear any­thing fur­ther un­til they ar­rived be­cause he was turn­ing off his phone.

His fa­ther’s last words to him were: “Amen, let’s go with God.”

Berra said he is des­per­ate for in­for­ma­tion on the where­abouts of his loved ones.

“I’m wor­ried, ex­haust­ed. I try to be strong for my moth­er and fam­i­ly. I think a lot about my moth­er . . . she is suf­fer­ing a lot,” he said

Reporter: Suzanne Sheppard