Venezuelan ferries keep coming as electrical blackout continues

With Venezuela entering its fifth day of an electrical blackout, Venezuelan ferries are operating as normal at the Cedros port. 

Around 2 pm, over 50 Venezuelans were waiting to be processed.

An Immigration source said two large vessels, fully booked, docked in Cedros on Monday. 

"A lot of vessels are registering right now for increased transportation. Due to power outrage in Venezuela, some paperwork could not be processed. We were expecting two more vessels but these could not be processed," the source added.

Since Minister of National Security announced that an amnesty will be offered to Venezuelans, the source said many other vessels were waiting to come to T&T.

"Lots of Venezuelans are waiting for the amnesty to pass so that they will come in once the amnesty is passed," the source added.

Usually, between 500 to 700 Venezuelans come weekly to the port at least four days for the week.

However, councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh said he was fearful that as the Venezuelan crisis intensifies, more desperate Venezuelans will use every possible means to enter T&T illegally. 

There has been greater surveillance on the coasts by the T&T Coast Guard and teams from the United States Army have also been doing work in Moruga, one of the areas where Venezuelans enter illegally.

Teelucksingh said the blackout has triggered a medical crisis in the mainland.

"We are hearing that between 20,000 to 30,000 people have died in hospitals throughout Venezuela and with this crisis, I am certain that more Venezuelans will be flocking to Trinidad in search of medical aid," Teelucksingh said.

He again urged the government to make arrangements for international humanitarian bodies such as Red Cross International to set up a base in Cedros whereby Venezuelans could get access to medical care. He also called for the reopening of the Cedros Health Centre on a 24/7 basis to cater for the Venezuelan influx.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan national Manuel said he was unsure what was happening to his friends in Venezuela.

"We are very worried. People cannot get through to their families. People are just waiting and they are using batteries to charge their phones. Babies are dying in neonatal centres. You can't pump water and soon they will run out of gasoline," Manuel said.

Fox News reported that there are 1,800 gas stations in Venezuela but only 100 were operational. Food has been rotting in the refrigerator and thousands of people have no water for months.

The latest power cut has been described as an act of sabotage by the United States according to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. 

Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-declared interim president, said Sunday that 16 states continued to be completely without power, while six had partial power. He said the private sector had lost at least $400 million from power outages.

Electricity was cut to 70 percent late last week and officials warned that hospitals were at risk.

So far 16 people have died.

- by Radhica De Silva

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