There is a sex trade with a “black Prado” clientele that continues to thrive under low post-Covid-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.
And part of the Venezuelan migration to T&T is to ensure the existence and, more so, the growth and expansion of this trade.
This was disclosed by Garvin Heerah, security official and former executive director of the National Operations Centre, lead presenter during a virtual discussion on “The Impact of Venezuelan Migration on Trinidad and Tobago: A Geo-Political Analysis”, last Friday evening.
Heerah said before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Trinidad and Tobago, this country was identified as a sex tourism destination.
“People were leaving all over the world to come to Trinidad for sex tourism.
“But the flesh trade continues (after Covid-19) under low as a thriving business, well-organised, well-structured and firewalled with a Black Prado clientele.”
Heerah said based on intelligence gathered by his team, “young Venezuelan girls are being sexually abused by their employers and they cannot report it because they may be here illegally or their passports are held or they held under duress by being given somewhere to live.”
He further disclosed that based on surveys done, many Trinbagonians no longer want to venture into the island of Chacachachare off T&T for a day of leisure.
“It is alleged there are Venezuelans on the island illegally who may pounce on them for food or money or whatever.
“People are camping out and hiding on the island of Chacachacare. That’s what I was told.”
Heerah said human trafficking is being confused with human smuggling, in which people are paying money to come across the border illegally for their own safety and security.
“Those who have been paying money have been dropped off in the dead of night in Chacachacare.
“Others have been thrown overboard after engine failure and swam their way to the island.
“There is an issue concerning security and Chacachacare.”
Heerah said his team has also seen, with evidence, a cross fertilization between criminality in Latin America and T&T and the slow emergence of a new face of criminal.
T&T is starting to see a rise in transnational organized crime with a link to megabandas. Megabandas are large criminal gangs with over 50 members who are part of the transnational organized crime network in Latin America
“I don’t say this as hearsay. I’m saying this based in information that is available out there.”
Heerah also prophesied that in the next ten to 15 years, the face of the Trinbagonian “will look different”
Theming his presentation, “Two Empanadoubles with Slight Pepper”, he elaborated,
“What we’re seeing now is that the doubles vendor is alongside the empanada vendor and there’s something in the middle called empanadoubles, which is a mixture of empanada and doubles with slight pepper.
“We’re starting to see that intertwining, that empanadoubles with slight pepper.”
He said the geopolitical impact of Venezuelan migration on T&T is important given strained US/Venezuela relations and the connectivity with Russia, China and Iran.
On the more positive side, he said Venezuelan migrants can have a positive impact on the blue-collar economy and the agricultural sector, with a goal of food security in mind.
“There’s also a thriving boat trade with X amount of US dollars per head and real estate, groceries and small business enterprises benefitted from cheap Venezuelan labour here.”
Heerah said a Caricom task force is needed to urgently consider a risk, threat and vulnerability assessment of Venezuelan migration in the region with an inter-agency maritime operation.
Moderator Colin Sealey said there are approximately 50,000 Venezuelans who migrated to T&T over the past three years.
The National Security Ministry said it registered some 16,000 Venezuelans just over a year ago.