(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) A “lock-down” of Trinidad and Tobago’s borders is the reason why there is no sign of activity at the Cedros port, says National Security Minister Stuart Young.
However, the minister said the port remains “completely functional” and Immigration, Customs and Coastguard officials are all on duty.
“What you may not be seeing is boats that were accustomed coming into that port,” he said yesterday at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
He said the Government took a decision to secure this country’s borders.
“Securing our borders out on the maritime means that you secure our borders. That is exactly what is happening, you can’t pick and choose who is coming in, who is not coming in. That’s not a decision. We said we would ‘lock-down’—as the term the lay people use—the borders, we gave certain instructions to our men and women in Trinidad and Tobago coast guard, you can’t have it one way or the other,” he said.
He said one minute people were saying there are “streams” of Venezuelans coming into the country and the next minute there is talk about no boats.
The minister reiterated that a decision was taken and implemented and resources were also pumped to ensure that this country’s maritime borders are properly manned and patrolled.
Young, describing himself as a “pragmatic realist” said it is impossible to lock down every square inch of T&T as it is country surrounded by water.
However he said the authorities are doing all they can to try and reduce the number of illegal persons trying to enter the country.
Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh told the Express by phone yesterday that the decision to “lock down” the borders is affecting all vessels and people—legal and illegal—trying to get into the country.
He said if a decision was taken to lock-down the borders then the Foreign Affairs Ministry should have communicated with Venezuelan authorities and advised them to not send their vessels into Trinidad waters because all boats are being denied entry.
He said in some cases, T&T passengers on these vessels are being allowed to enter the country but everyone else—legal and illegal—are being sent back to Venezuela.
Teelucksingh said it is denying entrance to immigrants who are trying to enter legally to buy foodstuff and return to their country as well as bona fide persons who have their documentation in order.
He said Venezuelans were coming in by the “droves” through illegal means because the coastguard vessels do not always pick up the pirogues and fishing vessels under the radar.
Teelucksingh said vessels are also using other ports such as those in San Fernando, Port of Spain and Chaguaramas.