THE hope of making a new start in life ended in tragedy after the bodies of 11 Venezuelan nationals bound for Trinidad and Tobago, including four minors, were recovered in the waters close to the Venezuelan coastal town of Guiria.
It has been reported that seven adults and four children, including an 11-month-old baby, were found by Venezuelan authorities on Saturday afternoon.
Nine adults and children who were also believed to be on board are said to be still missing.
Reuters in Caracas yesterday said a woman named Omalirves, who did not provide her surname to the news agency, had warned her friend who had been a passenger on the boat about the perilous journey.
Omalirves said the friend had become increasingly desperate during the pandemic, after she was laid off from the bread shop she had been working at and her mother’s heart condition got increasingly severe.
Young noted that the Coast Guard has been in touch with Venezuelan authorities on the matter.
“I have seen all sorts of speculation and misinformation about the involvement of the Coast Guard, none of which is true. If this is an incident of human smuggling, it is very sad that once again the criminal elements have through their nefarious activities caused the loss of lives. I pray for the families,” Young said.
In a statement yesterday, the Coast Guard said it had received information from Venezuelan authorities indicating that 11 bodies had been recovered on Saturday from the waters close to the Venezuelan coastal town of Guiria.
“Preliminary information suggests that a vessel had departed Guiria on December, 6, 2020 with more than 20 persons on board. These persons have not been seen or heard from since that day.
“Checks have indicated that the Coast Guard has not intercepted any vessels coming from Guiria on December 6 or any time thereafter. At this time, the Coast Guard’s Rescue Co-ordination Centre has dispatched assets as part of a joint search effort with Venezuelan authorities,” the statement read.
The Coast Guard said it continues to provide border security services in the face of the threat of Covid-19 in order to maintain the safety and security of Trinidad and Tobago through the conduct of maritime security patrols within our area of operations.
Guaido: Criminal dictatorship
“I have personally communicated with the Ambassador of Venezuela and conveyed the sincere condolences of our people extended to the people of Venezuela,” Browne said. Many Venezuelan politicians also took to their Twitter accounts to express their sadness over the incident.
Leader of the Opposition Juan Guaidó in his Twitter post said Venezuela is in mourning over the tragic loss of nationals.
“We are in mourning because 20 people were expelled from the country by a criminal dictatorship and died,” Guaidó added.
Venezuelan political leader Leopoldo López said the Guiria tragedy touches all deeply: “We must put an end to president Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship, guilty of so much pain.”
On November 29, 160 Venezuelans were sent back even as lawyers for several groups of migrants, among them children, were seeking the court’s help to stop the deportations.
The National Security Minister, in a statement on November 28, said the exercise was done based on the country’s laws in fulfilment of government policy.
Call for dialogue
Briceño Brown is calling for dialogue with this country’s authorities as she says it is now a matter of life and death.
“We need to sit and discuss some way to come out of that migration crisis. We have to protect the rights of the migrants and I am pleading with the authorities to cooperate as well and it always has two ways to see the reality. This is an issue that is affecting everyone, so we need to come together,” Briceño Brown stated.