RADHICA DE SILVA
Even though Minister of National Security Stuart Young says the Cedros port is operational, three Venezuelan ferries are still awaiting clearance to come to the Cedros port with 86 legitimate passengers.
A source who requested anonymity said up to noon on Tuesday, the vessels Virgen de Valle from Guiria which carried 28 passengers, another vessel named Virgen de Valle from Tucupita carrying 30 passengers and Poseidon carrying 18 passengers failed to dock at the Cedros port.
Even though the vessels had clearance to leave Venezuela, the source said brokers advised them that they had no clearance to come to Trinidad.
"No vessels are coming in tomorrow again. Immigration said they would not be attending to any vessel until they get written word from the Coast Guard, National Security and the Chief Immigration Officer that the vessels can resume sailings," the source added.
At the Cedros port on Tuesday, more than a dozen Venezuelans were waiting to go back to Venezuela on the ferry.
Councillor for Cedros, Shankar Teelucksingh said many people left their families in Venezuela to come to Trinidad to get basic food items.
He said preventing the arrival of legitimate ferries was making a bad situation worse.
"Why are they interfering with the Venezuelans who are trying to get here legally. Why not concentrate all efforts on stopping illegal entry and let the ferries continue their normal activities?" Teelucksingh said.
He added, "How do they expect legitimate passengers to get back to Venezuela?"
The T&T Coast Guard has not answered queries from Guardian Media about why the ferries are not being allowed to dock.
Meanwhile, several businesses in Cedros said the barring of Venezuelan ferries has affected business operations in Cedros.
Burt Beharry said some of the Venezuelans come to the supermarkets and shops to make purchases of flour, rice, milk, diapers and other goods. However, he said since activities slowed down at the port, business has also slowed.