Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Muslims detained in Venezuela 14 freed; rest to follow next week
Fourteen of the 22 T&T nationals detained in Venezuela since last week have been released. Just after 10 o’clock on Friday night, a small group of bedraggled women and children, dressed in Muslim garb, left the Piarco International Airport and were quickly shepherded into a private vehicle. The group, eight children and six women, were released from detention in Venezuela. While they are safely back at home, their eight male relatives remain in Venezuelan custody.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith, in a text exchange with the Sunday Guardian, confirmed yesterday that negotiations are still under way to have the men released, but said he was expecting them back home by early next week. The still unfolding and sketchy situation began last week when the group was detained for an alleged plot to overthrow that country’s president Nicholas Maduro. Griffith has sent a team to mediate the release and said yesterday he was informed that the men would be released next week.
Two Venezuelan nationals waited at the airport, armed with small placards bearing messages of support for the women and children. They called for more attention to the issue, saying that it was Maduro’s regime that was treating them—and now non-Venezuelan citizens—badly. The women and children landed at the airport at 6.45 pm, after an almost one-hour delay. They were kept at local immigration for several hours, leaving the airport three hours after they landed. Griffith said he was being informed of all ongoing negotiations.