Tuesday 14 July, 2020

Rowley: BBC misrepresented T&T's handling of Venezuelan migrant issue

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is defending the government's handling of the Venezuelan migrant issue.

He was responding to a BBC report by Ashley John-Baptiste in a new series called "The Displaced".

Titled, 'The Displaced: When 40,000 people hit a tiny island', John-Baptise found that the Government failed to properly handle the issue of forced displacement as he cited political and economic displacement in the Bolivarian Republic.

He said Trinidad and Tobago only registered 16,000 Venezuelans, approving them to legally work for one year.

However, the BBC journalist said thousands more were rejected, having failed to register during the amnesty period. 

Commenting on the report, Dr Rowley warned that it was a misrepresentation of the country.

"We have been congratulated for what our little country had done in the face of a big problem. All those who are aware of what we had done; we have 16,000 Venezuelans within our border, we've registered them all including approximately 2000 children and they are here without let or hindrance as part of our national hospitality."

The Prime Minister also slammed the BBC whom he said he respected adding that the report was part of an agenda.

"As a lifelong listener and respecter of the BBC, the programme that the BBC mentioned on Trinidad and Tobago today is not worthy of the BBC. Everybody around have an agenda and I am not to believe that there are people in the BBC who allow themselves to be part of other people's agenda. The BBC is too sacred to us in the commonwealth for that nonsense to go on." 

Dr Rowley lamented that since January, Trinidad and Tobago has openly dealt with the Venezuelan migrant issue.

He further denied that thousands were not registered.

"We came up with a solution - the country's solution supported by the cabinet - talked to our country about it, executed it. We gave notice of a registration period, we had a two-week registration period. On the day when the last registration took place, there was nobody in the line to be registered that night, Sunday night, and we offered if any others turned up by the following Sunday we were going to continue over the weekend, that didn't happen. So it is quite wrong for the BBC to put a programme out there today saying that we have 40,000 Venezuelans here and we registered 16,000 and we did not allow the other 14,000 to be registered. That is feeding to agendas of people."

According to the Prime Minister, all Venezuelans were told they were free to register during the amnesty period. Failure to do so, he said, is not Trinidad's problem.

"Anybody who didn't come forward to be registered, well too bad for you. I don't know that there are 14,000 or even 14 Venezuelans here who wanted to be registered in that two-week period who didn't. So that, we take objection to and as a matter of fact, the BBC is a government agency in the UK and we'll make a formal complaint to the British Government about that. 

See the video below:

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