President of Trinidad and Tobago Paula-Mae Weekes . (GP)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – President Paula-Mae Weekes Monday said that the increase in the number of Venezuelans arriving here over the past few weeks has prompted xenophobia and racism in Trinidad and Tobago.
Addressing the 44th annual conference of the Caribbean, Americas and the Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, she said in response to globalisation, one facet of nationalism that has reared its ugly head in countries across Europe and in the US is ethnic nationalism.
“In Trinidad and Tobago although the influx of Venezuelan migrants has seen an outpouring of generosity and kindness on the part of some Trinbagonians it has also opened the window into our parochialism, xenophobia and racism.
“Hostile and derogatory comments about migrants are made on social media and talk radio all in the name of patriotism,” she told the delegates, adding “it is for our lawmakers, representing the views and interests and aspirations of those on whose behalf they speak to set the tone. Our people will follow where we lead”.
Venezuelans have been fleeing their homeland as a result of the economic and political crisis in the South American country sparked by efforts by the opposition, backed by the United States and some western countries to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power.
Trinidad and Tobago recently provided a two week window for Venezuelans to be registered here and the Head of State said that the issue of immigration is also of pressing concern to the workforce in TT.
“Consensus on how to implement relevant legal frameworks and to fulfill our international obligations seems elusive and our people are anxious for clear, equitable, sustainable and humanitarian road maps for the long and short term. Only Parliament can provide that comfort.” (CMC)