Trinidad And Tobago Is Ignoring Its Venezuelan Refugee Problem (HBO)

Cedros, on the remote southwestern tip of the island of Trinidad, is a sleepy fishing village unaccustomed to heavy traffic. Its port is little more than a narrow jetty sticking out into the water and a small customs house on shore.

But in recent months, ferries have been dropping off passengers by the dozen, most of them hauling large rolling suitcases behind them. That’s because Cedros happens to be seven miles away from the Venezuelan coast, where political turmoil and a collapsing economy is driving people out by the thousands.

“Before this situation developed, the number of [Venezuelans] entering through the port was under 100 weekly,” said Shankar Teelucksingh, the councillor for Cedros. “Today we have over 1,500. And that’s just what we can keep track of — that excludes the ones that come into the country illegally.”

Roughly 3.4 million people have left Venezuela in recent years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The large majority have gone overland to Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries. But proportionally, Trinidad and Tobago has received the most: an estimated 60,000 Venezuelans now live in the island nation, which amounts to more than four percent of its population.

And yet, of all the countries bearing the brunt of the Venezuelan refugee crisis, Trinidad and Tobago has done the least to address it. Venezuelans there can apply for refugee status from the UNHCR, which entitles them to stay in the country. But the government has not otherwise made significant efforts to integrate them or provide them with legal status.

Adults are not legally allowed to work, and children are not given the right to a public education. As a result, Venezuelans in Trinidad live mostly underground. The lucky ones find local residents who are willing to help them.

After months of living in overcrowded conditions with other families, Josué Campos and his family met a local school principal named Kelly-Ann Langdon-Pascal, who let them enroll their daughter for free in her small private school. Langdon-Pascal also rented them her basement apartment for cheap.

Campos and his wife now work odd jobs cleaning houses and on construction sites. “It’s tough, because you have to live in fear,” Campos said. “You’re working and you’re wondering if immigration is coming, if the police are coming. It’s not stable.”

Still, odd jobs in Trinidad are a better deal than a stable job in Venezuela: A day’s work in Trinidad is enough to buy food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Campos said. “With the minimum wage you get in Venezuela, you can’t even buy breakfast.”

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Trinidad And Tobago Is Ignoring Its Venezuelan Refugee Problem (HBO)

Cedros, on the remote southwestern tip of the island of Trinidad, is a sleepy fishing village unaccustomed to heavy traffic. Its port is little more than a narrow jetty sticking out into the water and a small customs house on shore.

But in recent months, ferries have been dropping off passengers by the dozen, most of them hauling large rolling suitcases behind them. That’s because Cedros happens to be seven miles away from the Venezuelan coast, where political turmoil and a collapsing economy is driving people out by the thousands.

“Before this situation developed, the number of [Venezuelans] entering through the port was under 100 weekly,” said Shankar Teelucksingh, the councillor for Cedros. “Today we have over 1,500. And that’s just what we can keep track of — that excludes the ones that come into the country illegally.”

Roughly 3.4 million people have left Venezuela in recent years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The large majority have gone overland to Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries. But proportionally, Trinidad and Tobago has received the most: an estimated 60,000 Venezuelans now live in the island nation, which amounts to more than four percent of its population.

And yet, of all the countries bearing the brunt of the Venezuelan refugee crisis, Trinidad and Tobago has done the least to address it. Venezuelans there can apply for refugee status from the UNHCR, which entitles them to stay in the country. But the government has not otherwise made significant efforts to integrate them or provide them with legal status.

Adults are not legally allowed to work, and children are not given the right to a public education. As a result, Venezuelans in Trinidad live mostly underground. The lucky ones find local residents who are willing to help them.

After months of living in overcrowded conditions with other families, Josué Campos and his family met a local school principal named Kelly-Ann Langdon-Pascal, who let them enroll their daughter for free in her small private school. Langdon-Pascal also rented them her basement apartment for cheap.

Campos and his wife now work odd jobs cleaning houses and on construction sites. “It’s tough, because you have to live in fear,” Campos said. “You’re working and you’re wondering if immigration is coming, if the police are coming. It’s not stable.”

Still, odd jobs in Trinidad are a better deal than a stable job in Venezuela: A day’s work in Trinidad is enough to buy food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Campos said. “With the minimum wage you get in Venezuela, you can’t even buy breakfast.”

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Guns in Puerto Rico: Locked and Loaded in the Tropics

At 91 per cent, Puerto Rico has the world’s highest overall percentage of homicides by firearms. But this statistic hasn’t stopped the NRA from setting up shop, establishing their 51st chapter in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s sky-high murder rates and extremely strict gun laws have only encouraged the association to fight for their constitutional rights, and arm the island with more and more guns. In 2014 alone, gun permit applications doubled, possession of guns tripled, and licenses for shooting ranges quadrupled the previous year’s numbers.

Vice News traveled to Puerto Rico to look at the rising tide of firearms that are changing the commonwealth and the culture. We met up with street thugs, the Puerto Rican SWAT team, pro-gun advocates, a gun control politician, and a women’s gun group, to find out how the NRA’s 51st and newest testing ground is working out.

Read “A Former Marine Is Being Prosecuted on Kidnapping and Gun Charges — and the NRA Is Taking His Case” – http://bit.ly/1xmv7Hy

Read “‘Rambo’ Has PTSD: The Strange Case of an International DEA Murder-For-Hire Drug Sting” – http://bit.ly/1EUC5Je

Watch “Peru: The New King of Cocaine (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1AiOHUh

Watch “Murder and Corruption in Trinidad” – http://bit.ly/1AmD8il

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Rosario: Violence, Drugs and Football (Full Length)

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In Rosario, Argentina’s third most populated city, slums known as villas miserias are beset with poverty and crime. As narcotics use has grown among the city’s population, it has spawned a violent drug war that is little known outside of the country.

Local drug dealers have managed to infiltrate the police, Rosario’s economy, and its society, especially through the supporter groups, known as “barras bravas”, of the city’s two football teams: Rosario Central and Newell’s Old Boys. And in the villas, the gangs have setup fortified kiosks, known as bunkers, where drugs are sold at plain daylight all over the city.

Check out “Corruption, Cocaine, and Murder in Trinidad” –
http://bit.ly/1r0lNH8

Click to watch “Cocaine & Crude (Part 1): http://bit.ly/1nRvExR

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Cartels and Football Fan Clubs: Rosario – Violence, Drugs, and Football (Part 2)

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VICE News traveled to Rosario to meet with relatives of victims of recent narco-violence in Argentina, such as rapper Ariel Avila, who was gunned down in front of his house. We also joined the “barra brava” of the Newell’s Old Boys soccer team for a game, to understand the ties between the Los Monos drug gang and the supporters’ groups of the local clubs.

In Rosario, Argentina’s third most populated city, slums known a villas are beset with poverty and crime. As drug use has grown among the city’s population, it’s spawned a violent drug war that is little known outside of the country.

Check out “Corruption, Cocaine, and Murder in Trinidad” –
http://bit.ly/1r0lNH8

Click to watch “Cocaine & Crude (Part 1)” – http://bit.ly/1nRvExR

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The Next Drug-Trafficking Frontier: Rosario – Violence, Drugs, and Football (Part 1)

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In Rosario, Argentina’s third most populated city, slums known as villas are beset with poverty and crime. As drug use has grown among the city’s population, it’s spawned a violent drug war that is little know outside of the country.

VICE NEWS traveled to Rosario to investigate how the increase in violence has affected the city. We tagged along with Argentina’s militarized police force, the gendarmerie, as they patrolled the streets of the villas, met with a local crime reporter, and interviewed a paid assassin to understand how this port town became Argentina’s most violent city.

Watch Part 2 now: http://bit.ly/1tRLKXo

Check out “Corruption, Cocaine, and Murder in Trinidad” –
http://bit.ly/1r0lNH8

Click to watch “Cocaine & Crude (Part 1): http://bit.ly/1nRvExR

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Warriors Off The Res: Aboriginal Gangs in Winnipeg

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Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, Canada — and for 16 of the past 33 years, it has also been the country’s murder capital. The prairie city is home to just under 800,000 people, about 10 percent of whom are Aboriginal, meaning Winnipeg boasts the largest urban Aboriginal population in Canada. Largely impoverished and facing continual discrimination, the community has given rise to violent Aboriginal street gangs. VICE News went to Winnipeg to spend time with gang members and find out why they’re linked to the majority of the city’s murders.

Read more on VICE News: Why Canada’s Inclusiveness Doesn’t Include Its Aboriginal Population: http://bit.ly/1y0evnu

Murder and Corruption in Trinidad: http://bit.ly/1r0lNH8

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The Man Who Tried to Overthrow the Trinidad Government: Interview with Abu Bakr

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At his compound on the outskirts of Port of Spain, the man responsible for the only attempted militant Islamic overthrow of a Western government is smiling. “I’ve been charged with treason, I’ve been charged with sedition, with murder, conspiracy to murder, [stockpiling] guns….” Abu Bakr, the fiery 73-year-old leader of Jamaat al Muslimeen, rattles off the many accusations that the government of Trinidad and Tobago has leveled against him.

“Nothing has stuck, because it’s fabricated,” he continues. “They list all the charges in a book, and they just throw the book at me…. That’s not prosecution, that’s persecution!”

Bakr has mellowed a bit in his old age, but he still relishes the opportunity to serve as a thorn in the side of the government with whom he has clashed for decades. Depending on which local you ask, “The Jamaat” is either a jihadi group, a vast criminal organization, an invaluable community resource providing jobs and social services to Trinidad’s disadvantaged, or a combination of all three.

But everyone agrees that the coup that Bakr led in 1990 — which held the state hostage for six days, unleashed widespread looting and chaos, and resulted in 24 deaths and the shooting of the prime minister — changed the country forever.

More on VICE News:

The Islamic Leader Who Tried to Overthrow Trinidad Has Mellowed… a Little – https://news.vice.com/article/the-islamic-leader-who-tried-to-overthrow-trinidad-has-mellowed-a-little

Watch “Murder and Corruption in Trinidad” – https://news.vice.com/video/murder-and-corruption-in-trinidad

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Corruption, Cocaine and Murder in Trinidad

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Around midnight on May 3, Dana Seetahal, a prominent attorney and former senator in Trinidad and Tobago, had just left a casino in the capital of Port of Spain when her vehicle was stopped by another car blocking the road. A van pulled up alongside and let loose a burst of gunfire, killing her in a well orchestrated hit.

Her murder was one of approximately 170 that have occurred in the Caribbean nation so far this year, putting it on course for one of the highest murder rates in the world. The country saw only 93 murders in 1999. Last year, there were 407.

VICE News visited the slums of Port of Spain and spoke with police, activists, community leaders, and gangsters to understand the country’s decade-plus spike in killings. Many of the murders are attributed to ruthless and politically connected street gangs who control territories that are sometimes no larger than a city block. The gangs fight over lucrative government contracts meant to provide social services and combat unemployment.

But gang violence is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. Trinidad has become an important stop for drugs headed to West Africa and the United States. Many observers point to “the big fish” — the nameless political and business elites who are behind drug trafficking and the culture of endemic corruption and murder that come with it. They are accused of turning a country rich in oil and gas deposits into their own personal narco-state, fostering impunity through a web of bribes and murders. Unlike the profits from the energy industry, however, this phenomenon trickles all the way down to the street level.

Check out VICE News’ coverage of the situation in Venezuela: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw613M86o5o7JMOImqZ6tGwK7kkzufe0S

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