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T&T Coast Guard going for Cedros fishermen again

Published: 
Friday, April 20, 2018
An image of fisherman Awardnath Hajarie, left and his son Nicholas, centre, which surfaced last night and is believed to have been taken on Saturday in Tucupita, Venezuela.

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Quashing speculation that it wasn’t doing its best to bring home the three T&T nationals in Venezuela, Government is again seeking to send a Coast Guard vessel there to transport the three fishermen back home - if they wish to use it.

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert confirmed this development at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing. Both appeared fed-up of delays on the issue and made it clear that Mykell Sankar, a relative of the men - with whom they’ve been staying in Tucupita - had promised to bring them back twice in the last week and all promises fell through.

The men, Nicholas and Awardath Hajarie and Shammie Supersad, were detained by Venezuelan authorities on April 5 for allegedly fishing in Venezuelan waters illegally. T&T’s mission intervened and a Tucupita court released them on April 11 minus punishment.

Imbert said, “Since all previous arrangements haven’t panned out the way they were supposed to, I’ve now instructed a (T&T) vessel be sent to Venezuela. If when it arrives they want to board it, I think that’s as much as a Government, we can do.”

He said information in the public domain conveyed the impression Government wasn’t dealing with it proactively, “in a caring compassionate way,” while Dillon’s information was different: that all possible arrangements for their return were being made.

Imbert said the reason to send the T&T Coast Guard boat to Venezuela was “the best thing to do that would end speculation that Government wasn’t doing its best to bring them home.”

Dillon said Venezuelan permission was expected between yesterday and today for the T&T vessel to go to Venezuela. Government has arranged with the Guardia Nacional to bring the men out to the tributary between T&T and Venezuela to meet the Coast Guard so they could come home.

Imbert added ,”But even if we have our vessel there, it’s still up to them if they want to take advantage of our assistance - we can’t force them on board our vessel.”

Dillon noted a Cedros councillor was “almost politicising the incident.” But he reiterated that after their release they opted not to return home and instead stay at the Tucupita home of Sankar, the brother of Hajarie’s wife.

An April 15 arrangement for Sankar to bring them to Soldado Rock to meet the Coast Guard was cancelled by Sankar without reason. Sankar’s promise to return them on Wednesday also failed. Then Wednesday night Sankar again promised T&T’s Venezuelan mission he was arranging to return them yesterday. Dillon noted the men never obtained the necessary immigration certificates to leave Venezuela despite a court remaining open to accommodate this.

“Which means they weren’t prepared to leave,” Dillon said.

“I feel don’t feel there was a sense of urgency for them to return, I feel they’re comfortable.

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