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Fishermen still stuck in V’zuela

Published: 
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Gannah Afrose signs an affidavit in order to obtain the birth certificate for her son Shammie Supersad, who is still in Venezuela. Looking on, from left, are JP Deodath Toolsie, her daughter Rachel Hosein and councillor Shankar Teelucksingh. PICTURE RISHI RAGOONATH

The three Cedros fishermen who have been in Venezuela for the past three weeks still cannot leave the country because one of them does not have proper identification. This was confirmed by Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh, who said National Security Minister Edmund Dillon informed him of the latest impediment yesterday.

Two of the men, Awardnath Hajarie and son Nicholas, have identification cards, but Shami Seepersad does not even have a birth certificate, which means he will not be able to get the documentation needed to leave Venezuela for now.

This came a day after Dillon and acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert said the Government was seeking permission from Venezuela to send a Coast Guard vessel to bring the fishermen home. Responding to claims Government was not doing enough to help the fishermen on Thursday, Dillon said they had opted to stay at the home of a relative instead of returning home upon their release.

But their relatives in Cedros have not spoken to the fishermen since they were arrested by the Guardia Nacional for allegedly fishing in Venezuela water on April 5. They were reportedly released from custody on April 11 and were expected back home earlier this week, but the vessel they were due to come back in had no fuel.

Yesterday, Teelucksingh accompanied Seepersad’s mother Afrose Gannah and sister Rachel Hosein to the Cedros office of Justice of the Peace Deodath Toolsie to get the necessary paperwork.

Teeluckingh said, “The identification and travel documents are required for the fishermen to board a vessel in Venezuela back to Trinidad, which we have been reiterating before.”

He said the T&T Embassy in Venezuela had failed to properly update the Security Ministry on the requirements for the fishermen’s return. He said Hajarie and his son’s identification card had been faxed to the Embassy but they were trying to get the necessary documents for Seepersad. (See editorial on Page A16)

“What is the Minister of National Security’s role? And what is the Prime Minister’s role in this, he is the head of the National Security Council of T&T. I am calling on these goodly ministers, yesterday they were having good time around the table and saying that these fishermen are free to travel and free to roam the Venezuela community, which is totally false.”

As a tear streamed down her face, Seepersad’s mother said the only information she was getting about her son was from the councillor.

“It is very sad,” said the heartbroken mother.

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