Trinidadians Stranded Abroad for 340+ Days

Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

There have been more than 5,000 Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) nationals and citizens left outside of their homeland. The borders have been closed since March 2020 – a year ago – as a Government’s COVID-19 prevention measure.

It is more than 340 days, and counting, and some nationals and citizens are still stranded abroad.

Sangeeta Jagdeo, a T&T national who returned to the country after being stranded in India, said:

The Minister of National Security puts it very nicely on paper, but the implementation of the process is a total failure … They are misleading the population.

Guardian 27/12/20

These citizens feel that they have been abandoned by the Government. They have been left in a foreign land, some of them hungry, homeless and penniless. They sleep in train stations and on the pavements, and are facing a very cold winter. Many of them – like the migrant seasonal farmworkers in Canada – are dying to return home.

Meanwhile, Government Ministers and their families (with their dogs) are granted exemptions to leave and return as they wish.

The following are HIGHLIGHTS of a ZOOM public meeting held recently (14/02/21) on the topic “5,000 T&T Citizens stranded abroad for 320+ days.” The Pan-Caribbean public meeting was hosted by the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre (ICC). It was chaired by Sharlene Maharaj and moderated by Bindu Deokinath Maharaj, both women of Trinidad.

The speakers were KAREN LEE GHIN, a Trinidadian-American activist helping stranded Trinidadians in the USA since March last year; SHALLENA BUJAN, a T&T citizen in the UK whose mother is critically ill at home; GERALD RAMDEEN, an attorney-at-law who has taken legal against the Government to re-open the country’s borders to nationals; and ANONYMOUS STRANDED SPEAKERS (past and present) who did not reveal their names and photos for fear of victimisation.

Stranded in Venezuela,

SALIM wrote the following to us just after the ZOOM meeting:

“Please just give me hope that very soon I will overcome the worst and most disastrous time of my life, being stranded and abandoned here in Venezuela. I came here for 10 days on the 15th March 2020 to open a registered import-export company.

At first, I had been staying at a hotel here, who I now owe $5,800 USD for the period from 26th March 2020 to the ending of September.

I was put out on the streets from the said hotel because of the lack of money to pay. Then I stayed in a church for 5 days, then I had to move out and stay on the streets for 3 sleepless days and nights. I was robbed of my cell phone, my jewels and some of my clothes and $75. USD which my family had sent for me to survive.

Here in this country, Venezuela is facing a humanitarian crisis. People have no food, no medicine, no water and no justice – for their own people, much less for outsiders like me. I have sent numerous emails to the Minister of National Security, and Foreign Affairs, and I have never received a response, up to this date. None.

I met a vendor on the street who felt sorry for me and invited me to stay at his house until better can be done. I accepted the invitation because I had no choice. His house has 2 rooms, he has a family of 5, for him and his wife and 3 children.

He has no facilities in his house: no fan, no bed, little water and a small electric one-burner stove. No fridge, and little food for he and his family to eat. So I took my bed-spot on the ground where I have sleeping for the past 6 months. I got sick badly, and thanks be to god, I got better without any medication, only bush medicine.

A couple of times when my family sent me money and I go to town to buy food, the police would search me and take all my money without asking any question here. Sometimes I eat 4-5 times per week here, sometimes days without food, only water, and I go to bed. It’s disturbing my mental health now, and it’s affecting me very badly, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Also, my passport has been expired since June 2020. Presently, I am illegal here in Venezuela – no money, no food, no justice. I must pay that hotel bill of US $5,800, before I depart for Trinidad. It is just frustrating and depressing here every day, more and more.

I urgently need help here. No food or money, no clothes, nothing. Just living here like a destitute, and I am praying to god. I am a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, and I have been denied my constitutional right to return home. Thank you for hearing my cry.”

29 thoughts on “Trinidadians Stranded Abroad for 340+ Days

  1. A travesty!

    That a country would not do all it its power to protect its citizens.

    One is lift to ponder if this were a Barbados scenario what would have been the response.

    What should be the response from a Caricom?

    Man’s inhumanity to man.

  2. Savage! Almost unbelievable!

    And they say we have problems!

    You bring them home and isolate them!

    What is the problem??????

  3. Look, we done know that Trini politicians are a breed unto themselves. What wunna expect? Since Robinson was no longer PM, the xxxt has hit the fan.

    If Trini has six or seven Robinson’s since independence it would be far better off.


    • Everyday you read the T&T newspapers to see big ups given exceptions to travel to N America and other places.

  4. Someone should advise the individual who is stranded in Venezuela to catch the nearest Venezuelan fishing boat headed to Trinidad via the Gulf of Paria, the Trini’s would have to take him in or at least I think so.

    We should take solace in the fact that a Gov’t that isn’t an ATM for other Caribbean countries is not benevolent when it comes to the welfare of its own citizens which means we haven’t been singled out.

  5. Geese nesting with the hens?

    Is Trinidad and Tobago prepared for returnee ISIS families from Syria.

    No way Jose

  6. @ Vincent and David,
    Be careful with your words. You do realise that the Trinis dominate Barbados domestic economy. If they are capable of treating their own with such ruthless disdain, then we in Barbados could be exposed to similar appalling treatment.

  7. @R&C

    Almost all countries are leaving their ISIS fighters and supporters right where they are (BTW does anyone know if any Bajans went to help launch the Caliphate?) Canada just repatriated a 4 year old child and told the mother in effect “Stay where you are we are not taking you back” . Previously Canada had allowed another child whose ISIS parents died in the fighting to return

  8. In times of disaster everybody for themselves. Government priority is to safeguard the population at home. Those who are stranded all over the globe is secondary. And it is unreasonable to expect the government to save everybody in this confused and chaotic situation. 5000 stranded out of a population of 1.3 million and less than 200 death at home is Okay in my book. Panama with 4 million people has over 6000 death alone. Let that sink in.

    Venezuelans migrate to Trinidad illegally regularly. Those Trini strandeded in Venezuela are not serious.

  9. Forty Acres

    Excuse me????? Why would you need to leave them stranded when you can simply repatriate them and keep them isolated?????

    Ok in your book? We need to burn that book! QUICKLY!


    But we have some work to do at the Government Non-Industrial School.

    Fortunately, the young people have discovered protest!

  10. Salim “I came here for 10 days on the 15th March 2020 to open a registered import-export company.”

    The COVID-19 pandemic in Trinidad and Tobago is part of the ongoing global viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was confirmed to have reached the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on 12 March 2020.

    The first two cases in Venezuela were confirmed on 13 March 2020; the first death was reported on 26 March.

    Governments all over should try to repatriate their citizens, but reasonably the government should make the citizens pay the cost of a regular commercial flight home, and if the citizen has no money the government should extend credit and let the citizen pay later. And when citizens come home is their responsibility not to be hardears but to remain in quarantine as instructed, Not to go out, not to receive friends and relatives. Barbados trusted people to remain in quarantine, clearly some did not and now the obedient citizens have a $100 million dollar bill to pay off

  11. @Donna. Globalisation have caused people to travel all over the world. You think it’s that simple for government to mange such logistic arrangements in this worldwide confusion. Even wealthy countries are challenged much less TnT. Government cannot save everybody. We must temper our expectation of what government can and cannot do in this crisis.

  12. @Sarge 4:12 p.m
    (BTW does anyone know if any Bajans went to help launch the Caliphate?)
    Are you serious or kidding? The question made me laugh. I suspect the answer is “Not one”.
    Highly unlikely they would meet an unarmed 14-year old boy or girl.

  13. How will they know? If someone leaves Barbados ostensibly to visit relatives in Pakistan, then go off to fight with Isis, how will the Barbados state know?
    If someone goes off to study at some Saudi University, and goes off to fight with Jihadists in Afghanistan, how will the Barbados state know?
    What we do know is that we send ‘students’ off to study so-called in the Middle East and that has been going on for years..

  14. @ Donna at 5:06 PM

    We Bajans always have work to do. We identify our problem areas and try to correct them. It is not a perfect society but we keep working on it.

  15. It’s good to see you VC.
    I was wondering if you were posting and I was missing your post, if you had created a new moniker that I did not know, or if you were just missing.

    Whatever the reason, it if=s good to see you are still here.

  16. @HA
    In case you thought otherwise, it is always good to see you.
    Let me change that, most of the time it is good to see you
    oops.. some of the time it is good to see you
    oops … Sometimes I see you
    oops Sometimes I see
    (I just wasted a few minutes that I will never get back)

    After all of that … It is always good to see you.

  17. @Theo

    I asked that question not expecting an answer but maybe, just maybe, Barbados is like an old fridge “it can’t keep”. We know Trinis; Aussies; Brits; French: Americans; Canadians etc. all a dem went so Bajans may not want to be left out.

    Wha ain’t pass yuh ain’t miss yuh

  18. Fortyacres,

    Your gibberish does not cut it!

    Pure poppycock! Gobblegook!

    Cuhdear Bajan,

    Was there any indication that the people do not wish to pay?

  19. @ TheOgazerts

    With all that bobble and weaving I am not sure whether to say thanks or keyboard a raspberry. I will err on the side of discretion. Thank you very much for noticing my reluctance to enter every contrived posts. I was kept busy responding on other blogs that David and Austin frequent. I will cherry pick on this one when I have a useful point to make. Lol !!

  20. @Donna. Your emotion is getting the best of you. It’s not like those 5000 people stranded are in one place, where the government could easily arranged for a massive airlift. And those who are in the USA, UK, Canada, and Venezuela and still cannot get home, I say shame on them. T&T doesn’t have embassies all over the world. You expect the government to jump through hoops to bring home everyone from Timbuktu to Port of Spain. That’s very unreasonable. You guys are too spoiled.

  21. Problem : Trinidadians stranded in other countries
    Solution: We get treat better than them. yet we still complain and throw shadow.
    Conclusion: Absolutely Brilliant

  22. There is a level of hypocrisy…

    AG says sorry for not wearing mask
    PORT OF SPAIN – Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has apologised for not wearing a mask while at a charity event that was streamed live on social media last week, as the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) called for him to be charged and fired.
    In a statement posted to his
    Facebook page on Sunday, Al-Rawi said the Vibes with Voicey weekly show had been held in a private residence with fewer than ten people in the room and insisted there was no breach in regulations, but he admitted that he should have worn the mask.
    “Even though participants took temperatures and sanitised, upon reflection, it would certainly have been more prudent to wear masks in that setting. It would’ve helped encourage the audience tuned in to keep the fight against COVID-19 alive,” he said “I am renewed in giving my personal redoubled commitment to do better by being seen to adopt best practices. I’m certainly very far from any perfection and have made numerous mistakes which I embrace openly. Even though no law was broken I should have acted better, and unreservedly apologise.”
    Al-Rawi appeared last Thursday on the show, hosted by soca artiste Aaron Voice St Louis and radio personality Jared Penny, along with North East Division Superintendent Roger Alexander, celebrity bodyguard Kevin Johnny Bravo Day Costa and media personality Ancil ‘Blaze’ Isaac. None of them wore masks.
    On Saturday, during the Ministry of Health COVID-19 media briefing, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he was disappointed that the Attorney General had appeared on the show without a mask, as he stressed that no official was exempt from following the public health regulations.
    However, the UNC said that “disappointment” was not enough and called for Al-Rawi to be sacked, noting that it was he who had taken the mask-wearing legislation to the Parliament in August last year.
    “He is a lawmaker in the day but a lawbreaker in the night,” charged Senator Wade Mark at the UNC’s weekly press conference on Sunday. “This gentleman came to the Parliament, as you recall, to demand through legislation the mandatory wearing of face masks. He say it was mandatory to wear face masks. He said if you do not wear face masks you can be fined, I think it is $1 000 (BDS$333) each, if you are not wearing your face mask.”
    “We are not going to rest until the Prime Minister fires Faris Al-Rawi. In the full glare of the public on a social media platform, the Prime Minister tells us he is disappointed. No, Mr Prime Minister, you are not supposed to be disappointed only. Arrest the Attorney General. He has broken the law. Any ordinary individual in this country who was caught without the mask. They would have been charged,” Senator Mark added.

    Source: Nation

  23. If you listen to the reasoning of the government, it has nothing to do with the logistics.

    They just are not interested. “To bad! The borders are closed!”

    That has been the attitude from the very beginning

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