“We don’t want you here.”
That is the strong message the Prime Minister sent to Venezuelans who failed to take advantage of the two-week registration period which would have allowed them to work and live in TT for the next year.
Especially those who may have a criminal record and pose a threat to this country’s national security, Dr Rowley insisted earlier this week.
“We will find you and deport you one time.”
He said two weekss was sufficient time for all those who came through the borders, legally or illegally, including 2,400 children, to get their documents in order.
He said those who did not register know why: “Because you must have known. and have a good reason to not want to be known by the people of TT. and it may very well be that the reason is you going to continue with some nefarious activity – and we don’t want you here.”
To criticism about TT’s porous borders and the continuing influx of Venezuelans, Rowley reminded the audience that “years before the Venezuela bacchanal,” it was the same opposition, while in government, which cancelled the offshore patrol vessels (OPV’s) which were ordered to guard the borders.
“We end up living long enough to see the problems in Venezuela and Venezuelans rushing here, good, bad or indifferent.”
To deal with that situation, he said, government had to know who was here, where they were, how they came and how many were here, because UN representatives in TT were inflating the number.
"Because the larger the number, the bigger role they got to play in your country, and by inflating the numbers they could put pressure on government to do certain things.”
On what will happen to the registered migrants in the next year , Rowley said the 15,000-plus registered will be reviewed in six months and further assessed based on what’s happening in Venezuela.
He is hoping for a resolution of the turmoil in that country, pointing out that many of the countries which favoured military intervention to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro are now leaning on the side of TT and Caricom’s non-interference and non-intervention principle.
“The original position of principle of Caricom is now the position of the wider world. Caricom has led the world.”
Rowley said once parties are talking and not fighting, there is hope.