The lev­el of ex­ploita­tion of Venezue­lan mi­grants in T&T is in­creas­ing says Ang­ie Ram­nar­ine, co-or­di­na­tor, La Ro­maine Mi­grant Sup­port Group.

“What we have now is a loom­ing hu­man­i­tar­i­an cri­sis. I have been deal­ing on a dai­ly ba­sis with peo­ple who have been evict­ed from homes be­cause they can­not af­ford the ex­tor­tion­ist rents. These mi­grants present a read­i­ly ex­ploitable source of labour. The lev­els of ex­ploita­tion have in­creased. “Em­ploy­ers promise work and af­ter one week, Venezue­lan work­ers are not paid. Em­ploy­ers keep mi­grants work­ing from 6 am to 10 pm in the night with noth­ing to eat,” she said at a vir­tu­al sem­i­nar on Venezue­lan mi­grant im­pact on the lo­cal labour mar­ket on Fri­day night.

It was host­ed by the Trade and Eco­nom­ic De­vel­op­ment Unit, Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI), St Au­gus­tine.

Say­ing that the Gov­ern­ment does not have a pol­i­cy on mi­grants in T&T, Ram­nar­ie point­ed out that when the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic hit the coun­try ear­li­er this year 98 per cent of the par­ents of mi­grant chil­dren lost their jobs.

Mar­i­ano Browne, an econ­o­mist and for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter who al­so spoke at the vir­tu­al sem­i­nar, said the Gov­ern­ment must ac­cept the re­al­i­ty that there are more than 16,000 Venezue­lans in T&T and how they will be in­cor­po­rat­ed in­to the labour mar­ket.

“They are here. What are we go­ing to do? The re­al­i­ty is that we know we have more than 16,000 mi­grants. That shows that from a pol­i­cy per­spec­tive we are not pre­pared to face on-the-ground prac­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties of deal­ing with it. There are Venezue­lan doc­tors, teach­ers, lawyers, den­tists, car­pen­ters, the en­tire range of the ar­ti­san class.”

He said the T&T au­thor­i­ties have been speak­ing about pen­e­trat­ing the Latin Amer­i­can mar­kets in terms of trade and Span­ish-speak­ing Venezue­lan mi­grants can as­sist in this.

Browne said that the au­thor­i­ties need to col­lect da­ta on how many skilled and un­skilled Venezue­lans are in T&T and oth­er da­ta on their de­mo­graph­ics.

Econ­o­mist Dr An­tho­ny Gon­salves, who al­so spoke, said that many lo­cal cit­i­zens have lost their jobs since the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic hit the coun­try and he is not sure how many for­eign mi­grants that the coun­try can af­ford to take in again.

He urged the Gov­ern­ment to de­vel­op a pol­i­cy on mi­grants en­ter­ing the coun­try.

Source: Guardian T&T