We continue to receive mixed signals from those who are supposed to know more than we do about the Venezuelan migrant issue. As the registration process continues, there appears to be a level of relative order throughout the process. Other than the occasional rain wetting or the non availability of the necessary documents, our South American neighbours seem relieved to be over the process that could have gone worse. They seem somewhat satisfied that they now possess some sort of regularity with regards to being treated like a person with dignity in a foreign country. But other than being registered by the government as a refugee with the right to seek employment, we wonder what else are our Venezuelan visitors entitled to?
We have heard horror stories in the recent past where these asylum seekers were subjected to imprisonment and forced labour by unscrupulous citizens. Some have been beaten, robbed and raped. Stripped of their dignity by those who should have offered a helping hand. And because of their illegal entry into Trinidad, making a report to the police was not an option. Now that they are taking the opportunity to regularise their positions here, we wonder if they would be offered more protection under the law? Would the police respond if a registered Venezuelan migrant were under attack? It’s a valid question that many on social media are asking. What about the reports of law enforcement officers operating bars that are alleged fronts for human trafficking? Or worse, those who imprison young girls that are sold as sex slaves. Would the police now investigate these cases that could involve their own?
Now we’re hearing too, that the Health Minister is saying we are prepared to take proper care of these extra souls who may require medical attention. Really? How could there be enough to take care of these migrants when there’s little to no facilities little take care of our own Trini people? Who amongst us has received above average care at one of our local facilities in recent times or ever at all? Raise your hand if you have ever received immediate attention upon entering a hospital. And who do you know that has ever been ‘warded’ and placed on a hospital bed in quick time at any public hospital? Yet, we are prepared for the thousands of Venezuelans who would undoubtedly require attention one day?
We are among the few who have called for the proper treatment of these struggling individuals from the very start so we are more than pleased that some effort is being made to finally offer some hope. However, it seems that with almost everything we undertake, we do it without much deep thought. All of these basic necessities that a human being requires should have been thought of and declared openly before the registration started. It just makes us look like baboons when we hear that the health services say they are prepared when they are in fact not. And worse, we look idiotic when the one in charge of our education sector declares that education for migrant children is not a priority. So which is it? Are we prepared or aren’t we?