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August 10,2020
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Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Washington Post: No response from T&T authorities over piracy reports

The Washington Post said they received no response from local authorities after repeated attempts while compiling a report on piracy in the waters between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

The report, which was the subject of a Washington Post feature on August 2, 2018, involved interviews with local fishermen as well as a Venezuelan informant who claimed members of Venezuela's Guardia Nacional were boarding boats and demanding money and supplies. 

"One Venezuelan port official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to address official corruption, said that Venezuelan coast guard officers have been boarding anchored vessels and demanding money and food. He said commercial ships, in response, are increasingly anchoring farther off the coast, and turning off their motors and lights to avoid being seen at night.

"Trinidadian authorities did not respond to repeated requests for comment."

Journalist Anthony Faiola spoke with several local fishermen, one of whom said there has been an increase in the trade of guns, women, wild animals and other items which Venezuelans can trade for food and supplies.

"Trafficking and piracy, locals say, have recently been expanding and becoming more violent. Five Trinidadian fishermen in the southern port of Cedros, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fear for their safety, said in interviews that they had witnessed a burst of Venezuelan boats arriving in recent months smuggling military-issue guns as well as drugs, women and exotic animals."

Faiola also spoke to 58-year-old fisherman Deoraj Balsingh, who said his son had been taken and had not yet returned. 

"We don't know if he living or dead," Balsingh said. 

On August 10, 2018, the Ministry of National Security indicated via a Twitter update that National Security Minister Stuart Young would be implementing measures to strengthen the country's radar system. 

"Minister Stuart Young announced a major upgrade to the country’s radar system. The work on the radar will be done in an effort to secure this country’s borders and to prevent trafficking in all its forms. Broadband connectivity will also be widened on the system," the Ministry said. 

LoopTT has reached out to National Security Minister Stuart Young and Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) PRO Lieutenant Sherron Manswell for a response. 


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