by Linda Straker
- Grenada does not have a problem with Venezuelan migrants/refugees
- Venezuelan recently rescued at sea who disappeared from hospital, is wanted in Venezuela for human trafficking
- US Naval Hospital Ship “Comfort” to be in Grenada in September
A top law enforcement officer has said that Grenada does not have a problem with Venezuelan migrants/refugees despite an announcement from the US that its Naval Hospital Ship “Comfort” will be offering its services to the island during a 5-month humanitarian mission that will take it to countries “overwhelmed” by Venezuelan refugees.
“Comfort” began its journey on 5 June and during its deployment the ship will make stops in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago.
It is scheduled to be in Grenada during September.
Jessmon Prince, Assistant Commissioner of Police told the media during a briefing on Monday that current immigration data do not reflect that the island is experiencing an influx of Venezuelans.
“We do not have a situation of any influx of Venezuelans. We have people who come here normally like on vacation, spend their time and go back. If they are here illegally, they will be arrested, charged and we deport them. We have not had anybody coming here under any refugee status from Venezuela,” Prince said when questioned about the current state of Venezuelans arriving at the island’s ports of entry.
Data from the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) show that in 2017, 405 Venezuelans arrived in Grenada and in 2018 the number was 419. When comparing the first 5 months of 2018 and 2019, it shows a reduction in arrivals. January to May 2018 had 216 Venezuelans arriving in Grenada, while for January to May 2019 the number went down to 103.
Prince used the occasion to confirm that Venezuelans, like other nationals have had to be deported for violation of immigration laws such as overstaying without permission from an immigration officer.
“We have had to deport Venezuelans all the time. They have been coming here since time immemorial, and we have not seen any difference in what we have,” he said.
Venezuela’s Ambassador in Grenada, His Excellency Jorge Alfonzo Guerrero Veloz has also confirmed that his embassy has not received any information from government or any agency in Grenada that the island has had requests from Venezuelans seeking asylum or refugee status in accordance with international convention. A refugee, according to the international convention is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
“From our knowledge, the island of Grenada is not overwhelmed by Venezuelan refugees. No economic refugees are here,” Veloz said.
It must be noted that one Venezuelan who was rescued at sea in water close to both Trinidad and Grenada by a boat on its way to St Lucia, was recently presented to immigration officials in Grenada. He was taken to the hospital for medical observation but disappeared within hours. He is yet to be found locally.
Ambassador Veloz confirmed that that the man rescued is wanted in Venezuela for human trafficking.