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Trinis in Venezuela in ‘no immediate danger’

By MIRANDA LA ROSE Tuesday, February 25 2014

click on pic to zoom in
VENEZUELA PROTEST: Demonstrators join hands to block the highway at Altamira neighbourhood in Caracas, Venezuela, yesterday. The banner over their hea...
VENEZUELA PROTEST: Demonstrators join hands to block the highway at Altamira neighbourhood in Caracas, Venezuela, yesterday. The banner over their hea...

TRINIDAD and Tobago Embassy staff in Caracas are “in no immediate danger”, but the embassy is on heightened alert given widespread protests TT Ambassador to the neighbouring country Anthony Edghill said yesterday.

“Our situation is one of more inconvenience than immediate danger,” Edghill told Newsday yesterday noting also that the embassy has a contingency plan in place and is in regular contact with the home-based Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While the level of protests is new to the Trini-staff and there is some concern, Edghill said “no one is feeling threatened.” The protests, however, he said was not new to him having lived through the attempted coups of former President Hugo Chavez in 1989 and then again in 1992. Regular meetings are held with the staff as they remain in a state of heightened alert and to boost morale, he said. “We have a contingency plan that involves evacuation if the need arises,” he said adding that the evacuation may or may not involve logistical arrangements from TT and the use of national carrier Caribbean Airlines Limited.

Trini nationals, he said were also in contact with the mission including two sets of nationals who are contracted to work with foreign companies. These include three or four families who are working on a more permanent basis with the Spanish energy company Repsol, and another 14 working on a temporary basis with a German company about an hour’s drive from Caracas.

However, he noted that the companies with which Trini nationals are working with also have contingency plans for their workers should the situation escalates.

Yesterday, he noted that Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro called for a conference of opposition parties, student leaders, non-governmental organisations, academia, and the private sector among others. He invited opposition leaders Henrique Capriles and Governor of Lara State Henry Falcon to a meeting to try to bring an end to the protests. Supporters of the government and opposition, Edghill said are using the social media to their own ends and people must be able to interpret what is going on. “It is very difficult to say what is going on in the rest of the country because of the close control of live coverage,” he said. News of the print media, he said, “is about what happened the day before the day before.”

He noted that the CNN reporters who had their licences revoked were reinstated, but the Colombian television station NTN 24 have not been allowed back in. Noting that the protests tend to erupt later in the afternoons, Edghill said that the office hours have been adjusted to mainly morning hours to cater for travel and the safety of the staff. The Government, he said has not allowed the blockage of the main thoroughfares.

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