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Venezuelan detainees in protest at IDC

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Venezuelans detained at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Aripo are currently staging a hunger strike to protest for their freedom.

A video circulated on social media yesterday showed the Venezuelans standing united singing their national anthem in a form of protest. They are seeking either asylum or the opportunity to be returned to their homeland. This was the second day of protest by the Venezuelan detainees at the centre.

In confirming the situation yesterday, Venezuelan-born psychic and activist Yesenia Gonzalez said she was standing in solidarity with the detainees, noting they were protesting the conditions at the centre and other issues.

In a telephone interview, Gonzalez said she is hoping Government will resolve the issues facing the detainees at the IDC and the women who are incarcerated at the Women’s Prison in Arouca.

“The prisoners in the Detention Centre (IDC) are on hunger strike. I am planning to meet with the Minister of National Security to solve this problem. You can’t keep these people there when they serve their time,” she said.

“These are Venezuelan detainees at the Detention Centre singing their national anthem as part of their protest for asylum and freedom. Maybe the T&T Government could release them to persons willing to host them, under the supervision of the relevant authorities. I ask any lawyers, please help them, all those people who are suffering a violation of humans rights.”

Gonzalez said her compatriots face death in their homeland and come here for protection.

“They should release them and let somebody help them to go Canada or another country because they are seeking asylum. The Government should support that. They can’t get freedom, they hungry, they not treating them good,” she said.

Gonzalez said she often visits the IDC to chat with the Venezuelans detained there.

“I am seeking legal advice to get them out of there. I am asking for mercy, release them. You still have to pay money to keep them there,” she said.

Commenting on the issue yesterday, Prisons Commissioner Gerard Wilson said he was in the process of dealing with the issues of the Venezuelans at the Women’s Prison in Arouca. They are currently probing an incident last week in which there was an altercation between the Venezuelan and local inmates.

Wilson said he had since held a meeting with senior prison officers who were bilingual and received information from both parties.

“What I deduce is the language barrier is creating issues and the locals taunting the Spanish women indicating they were prostitutes,” he said.

He said at the moment he was implementing another strategy to place all the Spanish speaking inmates in one area with an officer who is bilingual to monitor them.

“Mixing them with the locals is creating some problem,” he said.


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