Trinidad and Tobago's opposition leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said in a statement, she was horrified that Trinidad and Tobago's coast guard opened fire on a Venezuelan migrant boat and "murdered" a baby.
by Maibort Petit
Persad-Bissessar said the incident has made international news, as it also pointed to the rising homicide rate in T&T.
In the statement, he stressed that the following:
Since 2018 I have been urging the PNM Government, led by Keith Rowley, to address the humanitarian disaster unfolding on our shores with respect to Venezuelan migrants illegally entering our borders. Nonetheless, the administration, Rowley not only refused to seriously address this serious issue, but flatly denied that it was happening in August 2018. The former energy minister, the late Franklin Khan, even went so far as to tell reporters that he was "unaware of any humanitarian crisis" regarding Venezuela.
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In 2020, when the Rowley government allowed sanctioned Venezuelan officials to enter Trinidad and Tobago, while our borders were closed to nationals, the country was told that this was due to discussions about a mutual refugee and Covid policy. However, for a year later no details of such a policy ever emerged.
The recent shooting of a migrant vessel near our borders, involving the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, which resulted in a tragically dead baby, is a very serious event that merits a thorough investigation. However, now faced with the specter of international condemnation, Keith Rowley is struggling to cover up, desperately trying to suggest that this tragedy is a one-off accident.
Unsurprisingly, Rowley once again resorted to blaming me for raising this issue, accusing me of disrespecting our Coast Guard.
About the Author
Maibort Petit is a Venezuelan writer, researcher and political scientist specialized in Transnational Organized Crime. Based in New York, she works for various Hispanic media outlets and as a consultant for various firms in New York and Washington DC.
The only person who continues to disrespect our Coast Guard and the nation is Keith Rowley. This incident is far from a one-off accident, as Rowley pathetically attempts to cover his tracks in the tragic murder of this baby is the culmination of Rowley's adventure. with a repeated failure to address the massive humanitarian crisis unfolding in Venezuela and institute appropriate policies regarding migrants and border security.
I want to remind Keith Rowley that it was his government that brazenly deported 16 children, including a four-month-old baby, placing them in canoes in Cedros and telling them that they had to cross the treacherous waters of the Gulf of Paria to go to Venezuela.
In 2019, a migrant boat carrying more than 30 people capsized in the Gulf of Paria and only nine survivors were found. This incident was never acknowledged by the Rowley regime, and no attempt was made to prevent it from happening again.
Despite the cozy relationship that exists between Keith Rowley and Nicolás Maduro, no serious attempts have been made for Keith Rowley holding Venezuelan authorities accountable for preventing illegal border crossings.
Rowley's failure to implement an immigration system and border policy seems predicated to appease the drug trafficking regime of Nicolás Maduro.
Today our nation faces shame and scrutiny from the media and international agencies over the horrific death of a migrant baby.
Headlines range from:
1) "Baby killed after coastguard opens fire on boat carrying Venezuelan migrants" (UK Guardian)
2) "Venezuelan baby killed in his mother's arms while on his way to Trinidad and
3) The Tobago Coast Guard shoots at a migrant boat" (Washington Post).
These are not the words of Kamla Persad-Bissessar or UNC. No. These are the words of the international community that is horrified by such an atrocity.
Being the spineless leader that he is, Keith Rowley is once again running away from responsibility and blaming everyone but himself.
A responsible government would immediately fire National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, but in Rowley's failed state and anarchy, his choice is to 'blame Kamla'.
If the lives of our own citizens are lost in crime day in and day out in Trinidad and Tobago it doesn't matter to Keith Rowley, perhaps it's too much to expect the PNM government to care about the children killed at our borders.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, South Carolina, Deputy
Leader of the opposition
February 9, 2022