Image courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG).
AKASH SAMAROO

A Venezuelan activist says he believes reports that the actions of this country’s Coast Guard led to the deaths of 11 Venezuelans at sea are untrue.

Following the drowning over the weekend, two stories emerged.

An article in a Venezuelan newspaper alleged that the Coast Guard denied the migrants access to Trinidad and Tobago and did not even allow them to restock fuel and supplies.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has stated categorically that it had no interaction with the vessel.

Venezuelan activist, Ignacio Smith, told CNC3 News that he believes the Coast Guard’s version of events.

“All military forces would carry very good records of their activities,” he says, “and if they were intercepted by the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard would have recorded it in their logbook on the vessel. That is something you would not be able to alter.”

Ignacio Smith says the desperate situation in Venezuela is forcing some people to avoid going through the proper channels, but he reminds them they must adhere to procedure, for their own safety.

“We do have a situation where people are trying to leave, probably to re-join their families here in Trinidad, which is why you see children on these vessels,” he explains.

“But they need to understand there is a procedure whereby you must obtain a visa,” Smith advises. “Then, should you wish to come across after you get your visa, you go through the normal procedure involving an Immigration Officer stamping your passport. However, with the current reality where T&T’s borders are closed, that won’t happen so easily.”

The Venezuelan activist is warning his countrymen against falling victim to criminal elements.

“There are many unscrupulous people who will take money from those persons who wish to come, and then they ride on these unsecure and unstable vessels and try to come across through what we call ‘Los Caminos Verdes’, or The Green Passages,” he said.