CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says he is concerned at the number of illegal Venezuelans entering the island after law enforcement authorities intercepted four of them in a pirogue.
The four, along with three St Lucian nationals, were intercepted by a United States Coast Guard vessel and brought here on Monday.
“We did not capture any of the evidence. We believe that they dropped it off in the ocean,” Prime Minister Chastanet told reporters.
Chastanet, who attended a Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Governments summit on security in Trinidad and Tobago last Friday, said that the issue for Castries regarding the Venezuelans are mainly drugs and arms.
“When I went to Trinidad you are seeing it is much bigger than that. There are thousands of Venezuelans who are coming across on a regular basis and taking up residence in Trinidad, which is now putting pressure on the education system, the health care system and the local policing system,” Chastanet said.
Venezuelans have been fleeing their country by the thousands to neighbouring countries.
Chastanet, who has been critical of the elections that brought Maduro to office last year, said St Lucia has taken some “strong and bold initiatives”, including imposing visa restrictions on Venezuelans.
Acting Police Commissioner, Milton Desir told the online publication St Lucia Timesthat while the visa requirement provides an opportunity to screen individuals, there are still others who seek to enter the island through the ‘back door’.
But he said the initiative was working and that joint patrols would reduce the incidence of illegal entry.
The acting top cop said that the non-nationals had no form of identification, but preliminary investigations have led law enforcement authorities to believe that they are from Venezuela.
He said the investigations were continuing.