TT | 90,000 Venezuelans not in Trinidad & Tobago

Ambassador Perez Silva pledges openness |
Grevic Alvarado – Trinidad & Tobago Newsday

Venezuelan ambassador Carlos Amador Perez Silva wants to make the embassy more open to Venezuelans in TT. – JEFF K MAYERS

Venezuelan ambassador Carlos Amador Perez Silva wants to make his country’s embassy more open to its people residing in TT.

Perez Silva officially took over from longstanding former ambassador Coromoto Godoy Calderon in May, when he presented his credentials to President Paula-Mae Weeks.

Speaking with Sunday Newsday, on Friday, at the embassy on Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain – his first interview since assuming office – Perez Silva emphasised his objective to create new excitement and open up the embassy to the Venezuelan community.

As diplomatic chief, he’s announced improvements in the system of care and engagement for Venezuelans based in this country.

“We have started new programmes and strengthened those that were already running, especially through the consulate,” he said.

Since arriving on March 1, Perez Silva said he has spent some time learning the conditions in which many of his countrymen live in TT.

“It’s not a secret to anyone the large number of Venezuelans who have come to this country for various personal reasons and the situation (within our own country), so we think about giving as much support according to what international treaties allow us,” he said.

Through the consulate and the minister counselor (deputy head of mission) Ricardo Julio Sánchez Niño, Perez Silva has visited different detention centres to understand the needs of arrested Venezuelans.

“We know that there are a good number of people detained for various reasons and we are trying to register and analyse the conditions.”

He has also restarted the saime system (Venezuela’s civil registration service), which had been down due to technical problems, to make it easier for passport renewals and extensions. The embassy has so far handled more than 160 extensions. People who come to the embassy are treated in the best way possible, he said, by a team who understands the situation and role of the embassy is beyond political.

The embassy also hosts a basic English class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and for Trinidadians who want to learn Spanish, there are courses on Mondays and Fridays.

The ambassador is also open to working with different social, cultural and sporting organisations in Trinidad.

“We are open to receive them all, see how we can support. The idea is that we (all need) to work together. ”

Positive registration

Incidentally, Perez-Silva’s official appointment coincided to the day with the start of the national Venezuelan registration process – the TT government’s attempt to officially account and regularise the thousands of Venezuelans residing illegally in this country. At the end of the two-week registration period, just over 16,000 Venezuelans were granted temporary residency in TT, with adults granted a work permit for six months, with the possibility of a further six-month extension.

Perez-Silva believes the registration process has been something positive from every perspective.

“For six months or a year as they established it, it is an important step because it allows Venezuelans to access jobs legally, enjoy the benefits of law, and then they will evaluate the possibilities, but it is already a decision of TT as a country.”

He emphasised he does not personally handle figures beyond what the TT government has presented after the registration period.

“I do not like to speculate on figures. Officially there are more than 16,000 Venezuelans. The government gave a deadline. Those who could be out of the register (are assessed individually).”

And with the final count after the registration process, he hopes that the figures given by the TT government will end the speculation about the number of Venezuelans in the country. “People say there are up to 90,000 Venezuelans here. That is false. Legally, for us and for the TT government, there are 16,000 that are the registered.”

At the end of the one-year grace period granted by the TT government, each Venezuelan will have a choice to return to Venezuela, go to another country, or remain in TT with the risk of being in breach of the law.

“This is an independent country, with its own laws. Visitors must adapt to their regulations, respect their culture, traditions and conditions.”

The ambassador asked his countrymen to evaluate their individual conditions and those of each country when making the decision to leave Venezuela. Unfortunately, he said, there are many Venezuelans who come to other nations without documents and that is a problem.

He also noted the new visa application process for Venezuelans who want to come to TT, announced shortly after the registration period as a measure to stem the flow of migration. “It is (an) internal decision of each nation, we cannot judge. (We understand) that TT wants to maintain an immigration order, especially with the Venezuelans who have come in large numbers.”

He does not believe that Venezuela will take reciprocal measures for TT nationals who want to visit that country. “Everything is due to a complex mass movement and the needs that each country has at times. In this way, I do not think that in Venezuela, this type of measure (will be) adopted.”

About Ambassdor Perez Silva

Carlos Amador Pérez Silva is a Venezuelan diplomat with 37 years of service in the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Ministry. He has been stationed in the US, Guyana and Finland before formally assuming the role of Venezuela’s ambassador to Grenada. He followed that with a post as diplomatic chief in Antigua and Barbuda, before his latest assignment as ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.

Bron: Triindad Times Newsday

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