The United National Congress is on the record from as early as 2016 demanding that the Government be proactive and create a comprehensive refugee policy that would allow the country to be able to address what we are facing today.
In a statement today UNC PRO and Senator Anita Haynes noted:
“Instead of heeding numerous calls to take a proactive and sensible approach which would have allowed Trinidad and Tobago to be better equipped to deal with the numbers of Venezuelans coming here, the Government is now trying to pass off registration as policy.”
Keith Rowley, Stuart Young, Franklin Khan and Dennis Moses to a name a few, are among the high ranking Government officials on the record denying that there is a crisis in Venezuela. This denial a key component of what we are facing here today. The Rowley Administration systematically denied there was a problem, going as far as to say they were unaware of any humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
Now years later when they are forced to act, they present the country with a disorganised registration process which raises more questions than answers. The Government remains so short sighted that they cannot understand that registration by itself cannot be a policy, any responsible administration will know that it must be just one limb of a much wider policy.
For example, Imbert has stated “The Ministry has already announced that it will allow Venezuelans to work and have access to healthcare, not housing and not education” when he sought to bash the Central Bank Governor. However, we must be logical, we know children are accompanying their parents to Trinidad and Tobago, is it that the Government expects that they will not go to school? What is the plan for the Venezuelan children?
What happens to Venezuelans entering the country illegally post June 14, 2019? Or does the Government believe this two-week registration period cures that problem?
This Rowley administration from the onset has practiced a policy of denial and seemed totally bewildered by this crisis. The leader of the UNC and the Opposition Mrs Kamla Persad- Bissessar said early on let us not stand on the wrong side of history.
The Government’s approach to this issue is the latest example of their incompetence and inability to govern. It seems to save face from this debacle the Minister of National Security Stuart Young absconded and left in his place the hapless Fitzgerald Hinds to make a greater mess. When questioned by the media on the plans of the government going forward he had no answers. This is a man who does not even have the confidence of his own constituents far less the general population.They’ve offered no coherent or even substantive plan, and certainly no long-term measures to address the migration of Venezuelans fleeing their country.
The world is looking on at the manner in which our country is dealing with this issue, and already international groups such as Amnesty International have questioned ‘how the government proposes to process all the applicants in such a limited period of time, and how it plans to safeguard the confidentiality of those that register and ensure that it does not fall into the hands of the Venezuelan authorities.’
The Government must present a comprehensive policy that assists our Venezuelan neighbours whilst at the same time protects the interests of our citizens.