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Daly Bread: The continuing downward spiral, why Govt is out of its depth on Venezuela

It is readily apparent that, as predicted, the registration process for migrant Venezuelans is taking the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago into much deeper commitments than those anticipated.

Credible estimates put the number of Venezuelan migrants here at 40,000. A 14-day registration process—if well patronised by half that number—from the outset would have to be equipped to handle 1,400 plus persons per day.

Worryingly, additional persons reportedly have poured in from Venezuela in a rush to beat the deadline for registration and to take advantage of naïve arrangements that lent themselves to serious abuse.

Photo: Venezuelan refugees have pored into Trinidad by boat.

We have a Government that is becoming longer and longer on authoritarian attitudes and scorn but short on capacity to listen to sensible critiques directed to the worries of its citizens.

Quite rightly too, the Government has been forced to promise ‘amnesty’ to migrants from Africa, who, until the Venezuelan crisis, reportedly comprised the majority of the detainees in the Immigration Detention Centre.

Khafra Kambon, Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee referred last week to the situation where, by contrast to most of the Venezuelan migrants, African migrants are languishing in detention. He said this reflects ‘something very negative and deep in [Trinidad and Tobago’s] psyche as a nation’.

I have asserted before that we are a society pock-marked by destructive shade preference, practiced by citizens of all descents—even within ethnically kindred groups. It is sad, but consistent with our skewed view of humanity, that fairness favours the Venezuelans not only in terms of public law doctrines of fair treatment. Fair skin preference is rampant.

Also arising out of last Sunday’s column, a successful and regionally experienced businessman responded with approval to my criticism of the exemption of the migrants from NIS payments.

In addition, he thought that the assumption that PAYE arrangements were not likely to arise in the case of those migrants who gain employment was false, because, in his view, many of the migrants were well qualified to hold supervisory, technical and managerial jobs at salaries above the exemption from PAYE deductions.

Photo: National Security Minister Stuart barks orders at Venezuelan migrants outside a registration centre at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.

Then followed the bizarre sight of the Minister of National Security Stuart Young, personally attempting to carry out crowd control. This underlined how much bigger the Venezuelan migrant crisis is than the brains that have been applied to resolving it.

The Government has confirmed there will be no extension of time for the registration process despite its obvious burdens. The Commissioner of Police has supplemented this according to a report in this newspaper by saying ‘no chit, no chance’.

This phrase is apparently in reference to persons who were unable to register but were given a numbered chit and told to return. Once in possession of a chit they would still have an opportunity to register.

Is another problem going to be that chits will be for sale in a secondary market for an inflated price to those who want to get in belatedly on the registration process? The confusion grows.

Returning to Kambon’s comment, I would like to remind readers that over a decade ago I protested the indifference to violent crime of both Government and bourgeois elements in the society, who seem to think that crime would remain confined in so-called hotspots and that was okay.

I also protested the political alliances at the core of which were State funded contracts to criminal elements or their proxies.

I wrote in 2003 that: “[…] if any Government does not act independently of the criminal element in the society—whether they are grassroots bandits or the devils in disguise in our Westwood Parks—the regulation of society in the interest of the common good would eventually become impossible. The laws of the land will have legal validity but will cease to be effective.”

Photo: Former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan (right) shares a tender moment with UNC financier Ish Galbaransingh, who is wanted for corruption by the United States Government.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Sadly, the evolution of violent crime has taken its predictable path in the circumstances outlined. Now there is nowhere safe in Trinidad and Tobago from the danger of being held up at gun point and the authorities remain unable to do anything to make a difference.

Into this cauldron, we are placing migrants to compete for legitimate jobs and criminal opportunities alike.

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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4 comments

  1. Thank you, You sir are gifted your writing is flawless that touch on real issues I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  2. Alecia SampleBradshaw

    No Extension.

  3. Martin Daly continues to provide accurate commentary on the blunders and missteps of a government which was voted into power with the expectation that they would make a difference. Instead we have had blunder after bluder and a confirmation that they lack the capacity to make a positive difference. Your comment resonated with me: “Then followed the bizarre sight of the Minister of National Security Stuart Young, personally attempting to carry out crowd control. This underlined how much bigger the Venezuelan migrant crisis is than the brains that have been applied to resolving it”. Mr. Daly, let me assure you that this country has the brain capacity to solve our problems, what we do not have is the foresight, humility and wisdom to do what is right because it is the right thing to do. We continue to operate according to narrow partisan interests.

    • Earl Best

      ” We continue to operate according to narrow partisan interests.”

      Buss de mark, DD, buss de mark! Identify the “partisan interests” and call name.

      And doh study, the 1%; Gary Griffith on cockroack side.