Sixteen Venezuelans, including two women, were yesterday fined a total of $48,000 for illegally entering the country.
Another Venezuelan, a 20-year-old student, was given a chance as he was reprimanded and discharged.
They all appeared before San Fernando Senior Magistrate Jo-Anne Connor in the First Court.
They pleaded guilty. They were charged that on a date unknown, in an unknown area in the Gulf of Paria, they entered the country in a place not designated as a port of entry and failed to report to an immigration officer for examination.
With the assistance of interpreter Kristy Ramkissoon, Almeris Josefina Medrana Monroy and Yelitza Del Carmen Monroy, both housewives in their homeland, said they entered the country on Sunday.
One man said he came into the country two months ago and was planting crops with his friend in Ste Madeleine.
They stayed in various areas including Duncan Village, San Fernando, Penal, Marabella, Princes Town and Moruga.
Some of them left their children and wives in Venezuela to seek out work here while others came in search of a better life.
The student Pedro Chanel Maurera said he had to abandon his studies because of the economic and social crisis in his homeland.
The magistrate fined each of them $3,000 which they have to pay in three months or serve six months in prison.
- by Sascha Wilson