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Foreign Ministry: Cedros fishermen free to leave Venezuela
T&T’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says the Cedros fishermen detained in Venezuela were free to return home if they chose since last week Wednesday and are not in the custody of the Guardia Nacional.
In a surprising twist which left relatives baffled, Keren Israel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying the men—Awardnath Hajarie, 52, son Nicholas Hajarie, 26, and friend Shammi Seepersad, 36, had been freed since April 11 having appeared in court and granted a Certificate of Voluntary Abandonment of Venezuela which allows them safe legal passage out of the country.
“The Venezuelan immigration authorities further agreed to release the fishing boat upon receipt of ownership documents provided by the boat’s owner,” the release said.
The Ministry said it made arrangements with the T&T Coast Guard for the fishermen to be received in T&T waters on Sunday but when the Coast Guard vessel was en route to the meeting point, the Embassy was informed of the cancellation of the arrangement. No reason was given as to why.
“The three fishermen are free to leave Venezuela on their own volition. Consular officials at the T&T Embassy have informed that the fishermen are currently housed with relatives in Tucupita. While all diplomatic avenues were pursued to secure the timely release of the detained fishermen, it was also necessary to ensure that the laws and procedures of Venezuela were fully respected and that due process was allowed to take place in accordance with these laws,” the Ministry said.
However, councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh said the new information was upsetting.
“If they were free to leave, why didn’t the T&T Embassy make provisions for them to return to T&T. Why didn’t we know this? We could have sent someone for them! What we have an Embassy in Caracas for?” Teelucksingh questioned.
“How can they come home if they have no money, no food and no help,” he added.
Sister-in-law Sunita Hajarie said they were confused with the new information released by the Ministry. “So long we waiting for news and now we hearing they could have come home all the time? I don’t know much but what they saying now is very strange.”
Heermatie Sanker said she was praying that her family will be brought back home today or Wednesday. A ferry usually leaves Venezuela on Wednesday to come to Trinidad and the three fishermen may likely come home then.
The three fishermen were arrested by the Guardia on April 5. Their arrests were captured by a Trinmar worker who posted it on Facebook.
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