Venezuelan nationals

Flashback October 2020:- A group of Venezuelan nationals walk along Independence Square, Port of Spain . Photo ISHMAEL SALANDY.

One hundred and seventy-eight Venezuelan nationals were repatriated on Friday.

This was confirmed in a statement from the Ministry of National Security yesterday.

The process was managed by the Immigration Division, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and authorities from Venezuela.

The 178 Venezuelans, including a number of children, departed from a ship at the Chaguaramas heliport, the Sunday Express was told, with the consent of the Venezuelan authorities received since the end of 2020.

On February 27, a repatriation flight from Piarco to Caracas, organised by the Venezuelan government, took 96 Venezuelans home.

Initially, the flight encountered difficulties, as the Conviasa plane to be used had been denied permission to land, as that airline has been sanctioned by the ­United States. The ministry reached out to the United States Embassy, and cooperative discussions resulted in the 96 Venezuelan citizens being returned to their home ­country on the aircraft.

In an unrelated incident, 17 Venezuelans were jailed when they appeared at the Siparia Magistrates’ Court on March 29 and March 31. They were all charged for several offences—including illegally entering the borders, in contravention of the Immigration Act and Public Health Regulations. They all received custodial sentences ranging from 14 days to six weeks’ imprisonment, police said in a statement. The drivers in the group, Eliomar Daniel Malalu Sotollio and Johanson Jose Jaimez Carpios, were additionally charged for aiding and abetting the others in illegally entering the borders, as well as driving ­without a certificate of insurance.

Carpios was also charged for driving without a ­permit. The vehicles driven by the two men to facilitate the illegal entry were seized by an order of the court. The group was arrested on March 21 by officers of the South Western Division and Emergency Response Patrol (ERP).

Around 9 a.m., the officers conducted a stop-and-search exercise along the SS Erin Road, Siparia.

During the exercise, they stopped a green ­Toyota Corolla driven by Sotollio and a black Nissan Tiida ­driven by Carpios. There were five men, four women and two infants in both vehicles. They were all arrested ­after they were unable to provide evidence that they had ­legally entered the country, police said.

Based on additional information received, the officers proceeded to Quarry Road #1, Siparia, where they found other Spanish-speaking people hiding in bushes.

They were also unable to provide evidence of legal entry into the country and were arrested. They were all charged with the offences, police said. —AB

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