Boatloads of Venezuelans are still continuing to secretly enter Trinidad through Icacos even though the National Security Minister Stuart Young announced that all borders are now in lockdown.
Guardian Media visited the coastal villages of Coromandel, Fullarton, Icacos and Bonasse yesterday to see whether there was any physical proof of additional security. No additional police, soldiers or coast guard were seen.
However, residents said the number of illegal Venezuelans had increased since violent street protests erupted in Venezuela following the attempt by Opposition leader Juan Guaido to oust President Nicholas Maduro.
Shortly before the T&T Guardian team arrived at Icacos Beach at noon, residents said a boat with five Venezuelans pulled up and the occupants ran out and entered a forested area to hide.
A source, who requested anonymity, said more than 50 Venezuelans were seen entering Icacos during Monday night and about a dozen ventured in during the day.
“On Tuesday at 5 am, three maxis were at the beach picking up the women and children, many of whom could be no more than 20-years old.
“This is a regular thing. We cannot talk about it but everyone sees and knows what is going on,” the source said.
Some fishermen, who were trying to hoist a boat off the sand and who the source claimed had orchestrated the illegal trip, denied seeing any Venezuelans on the beach. They did not want photos taken.
Several fishermen said since the minister announced a lockdown there has been no additional security.
Adrian Massey, who was kidnapped by Venezuelans two years ago while fishing in local waters, said he was concerned about developments in Venezuela.
“It is cause for concern because there is war in Venezuela . It will mean a lot of Venezuelans coming here,” he said.
He said while locals could not fish in territorial waters, the Venezuelans were coming in with little or no restrictions.
While he expressed sympathy for the plight of the Venezuelans, Massey said one could not be certain whether the foreigners were criminals.
President of Icacos United Fishermen Association Gary Edwards said, “There is no lockdown here. Who cares what is happening in Icacos. Do you think people don’t know what is happening? You know and that is why you are here.”
He added that Venezuelans were living in every part of the peninsula.
At Bonasse Village, Cedros tour guide Edward Marcelle said there was no evidence of a border lockdown because of the Coast Guard interceptor was not stationed off the coast.
However, at Bowen and Carlise Trace, Coromandel, army officers were spotted inside the forest trails. There were also additional soldiers seen by residents in the Galfa area.
On Monday, Young said the borders will be locked down to stop illegal entry. He said the government is taking a non-interference and non-intervention stance to the Venezuelan crisis.
- by Radhica De Silva