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Venezuelans in Cedros

On Monday, the Venezuelan President- Nicolas Maduro will arrive in Trinidad and Tobago for a one-day state visit but as any one walking through the streets can tell, a number of Venezuelans are already here.
 
In Cedros, where the people are closer to Venezuela than they are to Port of Spain, four boats go back and forth between our two countries, twice a week and when they arrive they are packed with Venezuelans eager to leave the troubling situation in that country behind.
 
Several Venezuelans wait down in Cedros for their relatives to come through immigration. 
 
Kenny Marcano, a Venezuelan who has been in Trinidad for the last three years, is waiting for his aunt. 
 
He says the process to enter this country has become more involved for Venezuelan nationals.
 
The Venezuelan boats come to Trinidad via the Guardia Nacional port at Tupacpita and the Venezuelans rush off to our local supermarkets.
 
On Monday President Maduro declared a three month state of emergency across Venezuela, flouting the Opposition led-National Congress, which is like our Parliament. 
 
Mr. Marcano describes the reaction from his relatives who are still in Venezuela to this latest turn of events.
 
A trip on the boat costs 1,200 TT dollars one way, which is more than a year's salary for an average Venezuelan, some of whom are willing to mortgage their homes, take a loan or sell their cars to get the fare and find money to ensure that they get to a place where there is food and medicine readily available.
The Prime Minister has confirmed the country won't be caught unaware if economic problems in Venezuela continue and there's an influx of refugees here.
 
Dr Keith Rowley said when he speaks with president Nicholas Maduro on Monday - one of the top agenda topics will be the crisis engulfing T&T's Spanish-speaking neighbor.
The number of Venezuelans currently in Trinidad and Tobago has increased to 20,000.
 
The categories they fall into vary - from three-month visitors, to economic migrants seeking a better standard of living, to those who come and go after buying basic items or the highly prized US currency.
 
However, with the crisis getting worse in the Latin American country - inflation is at 700 % - there's concerns that sooner or later, if the economy collapses - Trinidad could see an influx of Venezuelans coming here seeking refuge.
 
The economic situation in Venezuela, according to leading economists, business writers and international experts, is getting worse daily.
 
Speaking at a parliament on Friday, the Prime Minister said Trinidad and Tobago has an obligation under international law to take in refugees, regardless of where they may originate.
 
However, Dr Rowley said one of the distinctions his government has observed so far is the Venezuelans coming here are more economic migrants buying everyday items.
 
President Maduro’s visit on Monday has tossed up some interesting questions amongst international commentators and Venezuelans working and living here - not least the fact the country has been described as being in economic meltdown and the sitting leader has chosen to leave at such a crucial time, when there's been riots, looting and general sense of civil unrest.
 
The general thinking is this visit is twofold - diplomatically it could be inferred Mr. Maduro is attempting to sure up international support in the face of political un-ease and calls for him to step down and, he's also looking for much needed foreign exchange - possibly gained by advancing energy agreements related to both oil refining and LNG from the Loran-Manatee field - which in essence will benefit both countries.
The Chief Justice Ivor Archie says judicial independence must be supported by financial, institutional administrative autonomy and maintained by IT.
 
Speaking at the 11th Annual Conference of the International Association of Court Administrators, Chief Justice Archie said the judiciary's lack of control over its finances and the management of its Human Resources have placed severe limitations on the organization’s ability to achieve its goals.
 
The CJ said the net overall impact is "an erosion of judicial independence and an ability to successfully fulfill its mandate.''

Pensioner murdered after land dispute

A dispute over land is believed to have cost a pensioner his life.
 
Shortly after 4 am on Sunday, 65 year Mookram Kanhai got into an argument with a relative concerning electricity for a plot of land at his Rio Claro home.
 
The argument escalated into violence as the 35-year old relative pulled out cutlass.
 
He severed the right hand of Kanhai, as well as dealing deadly blows to Mr Kanhai's face and head.
 
Following the incident, the relative called police - who detained him.
 
He’s expected to be charged in relation to the crime.
The Environmental group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea is once again calling on the Government and the Environmental Management Authority to look again look at reviewing the policies for seismic testing.
 
The group, along with some fishermen across the country believes the lack of regulation has brought the fishing industry to its knees.
 
The rains have meant that watercourses across the country are being replenished, but for fishermen it hasn't meant their nets are getting any fuller.
 
The fishermen are struggling to put a finger on what exactly is causing this problem.
 
But they believe that pollution and seismic testing may have a part to play.
 
As the industry continues to flounder, the fishermen believe they have been left to dry by the authorities and are pleading for their intervention.
 
The environmental group fisherman and friends of the sea had been defeated in the high court in March as the challenged the EMA's decision to grant certificates of environmental clearance to the PETROTRIN for seismic testing.
 
However now, they believe they have new data to sway the EMA.
 
The fishermen are hopeful they will listen this time, as they believe the industry can aid the current economic climate in the country.
 
But that's if the fish come back.
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