Venezuelan fishermen sheltering from rains arrested

Grande Riv­iere fish­er­men and vil­lagers are deny­ing re­ports that Venezue­lan na­tion­als were trans­port­ed to Grande Riv­iere Bay to gain il­le­gal en­try in­to the coun­try yes­ter­day. They al­so de­nied there were T&T Coast Guard boats and Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers at the coastal vil­lage round­ing up il­le­gal im­mi­grants who ar­rived in the vil­lage.

Rather, the vil­lagers said po­lice locked up six Venezue­lan fish­er­men who an­chored in the bay ear­li­er in the day to seek shel­ter due to bad weath­er.

A fish­er­man who iden­ti­fied him­self on­ly as Stafford said Venezue­lan fish­er­men, who were out with col­leagues in 15 boats, had an­chored their ves­sels around 9.30 am due to bad weath­er. He said this was a usu­al prac­tice of the Venezue­lans when there were such weath­er con­di­tions and Matelot fish­er­men re­ceived the same treat­ment if they found them­selves clos­er to the Venezuela coast­line in such con­di­tions.

Stafford said two men from one of the boats went ashore to get a part to re­pair one of their boats. But as they were about to make their way back a po­lice ve­hi­cle pulled up, two of­fi­cers came out, ar­rest­ed the fish­er­men and took them to the Matelot Po­lice Sta­tion where they were de­tained.

Around 3 pm when the Venezue­lan cap­tain did not see his men re­turn, he and four oth­ers went ashore in search of the oth­ers. The cap­tain lat­er learned the oth­er four fish­er­men were al­so de­tained by po­lice when they went to the sta­tion.

Around 4.45 pm, Stafford said a Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty He­li­copter land­ed on the beach, of­fi­cers got out and went to the sta­tion. The de­tained fish­er­men were then es­cort­ed to the he­li­copter in hand­cuffs and tak­en away. Stafford said he and oth­er lo­cal fish­er­men tried their best to per­suade the po­lice to re­lease the men, ex­plain­ing the cir­cum­stances un­der which they were there, but their pleas went un­heard.

The Matelot fish­er­men said they were very dis­pleased by the ar­rests and the sub­se­quent re­ports which sur­faced from an­oth­er news­pa­per which sug­gest­ed there was il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty in the vil­lage.

“They are good ones and we are pos­i­tive that they are in no way con­nect­ed in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, they are not like those pi­rates that op­er­ate in the South,” on Matelot fish­er­man said.

Matelot po­lice con­firmed that six Venezue­lans were ar­rest­ed and hand­ed over to of­fi­cers of NOC. They al­so de­nied the re­port that Venezue­lans were go­ing ashore in num­bers af­ter be­ing dropped off by fish­er­men yes­ter­day.

- by Ralph Banwarie

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