The announcement by National Security Minister Stuart Young that nationals in Venezuela and Guyana will be allowed to return home has given a group of Trinidadian women stranded in Margarita renewed hope.
The women have packed their bags and are anxiously waiting to be reunited with their young children in Trinidad. But the borders in Venezuela remain sealed, the group says.
Young stated last week that Trinidad and Tobago nationals in Venezuela would be allowed to return home. He said, however, they will have to make their own flight arrangements as the Government will not incur the cost for their return.
But, according to Ainsley Boodoosingh, chief executive officer of Krystal Tours, Venezuela’s borders are closed and the T&T Government needs to make a request for the nationals to fly home.
Boodoosingh said a chartered humanitarian flight would be sent to bring the nationals home at no cost. The Trinidadian women said they were grateful for the consideration. But now they feel disappointed and are asking the T&T Government to act.
“This is great news. We are suffering here and we need to come home now. We are missing our families and we want to see our children. It has been too long. Please, Mr Minister, please do what is necessary to get us home. This is very difficult,” one of the women said.
The women said it had been almost six weeks since they had seen their children and their experience in the foreign land was disastrous. The group boarded a flight to Margarita on March 15 for a seven-day trip to perform corrective surgery.
But five days into their stay Venezuelan authorities closed their borders to prevent the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.
At that time there were 42 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Venezuela and a decision was taken to implement a nationwide quarantine.
Trinidad and Tobago recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 12. And Young announced that the country’s borders would be closed to international flights to curb the spread of the virus on March 22.
At that time, Young said he had received reports of the 70 people in Margarita. He said the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Venezuela was in contact with the nationals. But the Government could not extract T&T citizens from other countries affected by Covid-19 once those countries had closed their borders.
The women contacted the Express on WhatsApp last month with an appeal to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. One woman, who asked not to be identified, said, “Prime Minister Dr Rowley please…we are mothers, we have babies. Please bring us back home.”
The women said they had pooled their resources to pay for accommodation and food.
But funds were low and the Venezuelan landlord was not willing to assist them.
“It was very difficult. We have to pay for everything. We have no money, food is low and we are depending on help from others,” she said.
The women in Venezuela were among several groups of Trinidad and Tobago nationals in countries across the world desperately trying to get home.
The Express was contacted by groups in Guyana, India, Japan, United States and Caribbean countries.