Venezuelan men plead: ‘We are dying at home’

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[Trinidad Express] – TWO Venezuelan men who said they wanted to enter Trinidad and Tobago legally, but due to the situation in their country were unable to, told the court they were not gangsters but came here seeking jobs.

Jordan Prada said he only brought his hands to work. He said his family was waiting for him to return home, and now he would be going back with nothing.

Prada and Jose Ramos faced Senior Magistrate Cherril-Anne Antoine in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court yesterday, charged with entering this country illegally.

It was alleged that on a date unknown and at an unknown beach and a place ­other than a point of entry, they failed to report to an immigration officer for examination.

Police prosecutor Cleyon Seedan said that on April 16, officers from Ste Madeleine Police Station were on an exercise in Palmyra, when they went to a house and spoke to the two men about their legal ­status. The men were detained and checks revealed they were here illegally. They were charged by Corporal Ramsamooj.

Spanish interpreter Luz Marina Tapias de Copilah was present for the matter.

Both men, who cried in court, said they entered on fishing vessels at an unknown beach on April 12. Prada said he came to “work and get some money”.

He told the court he only brought his hands in order to get a job. Prada said he did not come with a dollar and he was ­returning home empty-handed.

Prada, 24, said he wished to enter this country legally, but the circumstances were not at their best in his country to allow for this. He said he applied for his passport four years ago.

“The future of the youth in ­Venezuela is not very good. There are no job ­opportunities,” he said.

He said he is a father of a child under two years old and he has another on the way. He also told the court that while in his homeland he was robbed and left naked.

An apologetic Ramos said he came to look for a better life. Ramos said he was a sports co-ordinator in Venezuela.

He told the court: “As you are aware, in Venezuela, we are dying of hunger. I did it (enter illegally) for my family, my wife, my children… I just came to get a job and maintain my family in Venezuela… To get a passport is too much money.”

He told the court he is a father of three and his 66-year-old mother is in “very ­delicate health”.

“We are not a gangster. We are very humble and respectful people,” Ramos said.

Antoine reprimanded and discharged both men. he said they would be handed over to the Immigration Department and would be sent back home.

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