There is said to be an “invasion” of Colombians and Venezuelans at Brickfield in Carapichaima which are causing grave concerns by villagers who are claiming that illegal activities are on a rampant increase including State land grabbing, drug trafficking, guns and ammunition trafficking and human trafficking.
The villagers are now calling on Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and other relevant authorities to intervene and “clean up the area” in an attempt to restore peace, law and order.
They claim that their numerous reports to a nearby police station have fallen on “deaf ears and blind eyes” mainly because they believe that there is an alleged relationship between a senior police officer at the station and a female Colombian woman.
It is alleged that the woman is the mother of a young Colombian man who is described as the “mastermind” behind many of the illegal activities in the area.
It is alleged that the Colombian young man is involved in backfilling swamp lands at Temple Road and blocking off lots of land with steel posts and wire fencing and selling it between $10,000 to $15,000.
Guardian Media went to the area and captured several images of the land development. When approached several squatters denied to divulge any information regarding how they ended up living in their respective spots. Some, who allegedly purchased land from the Colombian also refused to divulge any information, however, pointed out a small wooden house that is allegedly owned and occupied by the young man. No one was at the house at the time of Guardian Media’s visit.
One villager, who wished not to be identified for fear of his life, said villagers are threatened to “keep their mouths shut.”
“Many times our reports to the station are not being taken. If our calls are answered we are being told that there is no police car available...most times the station’s phones ring out...no answer,” the villager said.
“We need our village back! We have guns pointed to our faces, we are robbed and bullied by the Venezuelans and Colombians. We see the transport vehicles coming in and going out with drugs and guns including private cars, police vehicles and ambulances because who really going to stop an ambulance or police car?” the villager added.
There are also several bars operating in the area that have hired the Colombian and Venezuelan women to work 24/7, some of whom are being described as “slaves” by the villagers who claim that they strongly believe that their passport are being taken away by the bar owners and therefore they have no other choice but to work in the bars and “follow whatever instructions they are allegedly given.”
At least four private cars have been observed and identified as “transporter vehicles” one of which is seen being driven by the Colombian man.
When contacted yesterday for comment Couva North Member of Parliament Ramona Ramdial confirmed State land grabbing issues over the years since the People’s Partnership government but admitted that in the last year there has been an increase in squatters in the Temple Road, Bay Road and an area referred to as Montano Farms.
Ramdial, whilst not being able to divulge the identities of the people involved in the illegal land development and sale of the lands said that she wouldn’t put it pass the involvement of the Colombians.
“State lands being taken and sold over by squatters and criminal elements is in fact true. I know people have gotten shot over land that was sold to them and before they knew it the land was resold to someone else. The issue of squatting has been a very volatile issue in Brickfield for many years, “ Ramdial said.
She, however, noted that some squatters have been given letters of comfort because of the length of time they have been occupying the lands but added that even they are now the targets of the increasing immigrant population in the area.
“I would want to believe that the Colombians may be involved because of some stories I have heard that are amazing,” Ramdial said.
The member of parliament also said that the Brickfield area is a very viable area to explore for tourist purposes because years ago people would go there because of the swamp and for bird watching, “What is also brewing is that locals squatting on a portion of state lands called Montano Farms by the fishing depot which was given for aqua culture where shrimp farming was done but that didn’t work out so the land was left abandoned...now because of the squatters a massive steel structure has been erected blocking off the coastline disrupting fishermen, oyster and crab catchers from plying their trade. Their access is blocked off.”
Ramdial said she has submitted reports to the Minister of Agricultre Clarence Rambharat and the Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis. She added that positive feedback was given by both ministers to address the issues.
CoP Griffith is in receipt of the information and will intervene.